If you are a DJ, you may have noticed something peculiar, many of today's EDM tracks are at 128bpm. With electronic dance music typically categorised within the "house" genre, it may be odd to see this tempo more prevalent than others. House can be anything between 115 and 135bpm, generally speaking, and so it seems odd that many producers gravitate towards this "magic" tempo.
So why is it that 128 is the magic number that so many producers go for? In part its because it is already popular. People will use the tempos they see in tutorials and stick with them. 128bpm is also an excellent tempo for mid-energy dancing. On top of that, producers want their tracks to mix easily into other tracks, hence mixes with extended intros and outros. A track at the same tempo as other popular tracks makes it convenient for the DJ to mix because no beatmatching is required.
But there is another reason, one that is of convenience for the producer. If you divide 128 by 4, you get 32. With 4 beats in a bar, this means that there are exactly 32 bars every minute. This is really handy because every minute, there will be a major change in the song.
So does this mean all your tracks should be 128bpm? I really don't think so. Even small bpm changes make a small difference, future-house is often 125bpm and works a lot better for it, this is partly because there is more space for the groove to flow between beats.
Also, if you only have songs at the one tempo, your music won't go anywhere when played in a set. DJs tend to start slower and work their way up. If all your tracks are the same speed, the energy never increases.
As a DJ who drops some of my own tracks throughout a set, it's nice knowing that if I progress from 120 to 140bpm, my tracks will be evenly spaced among other people's. If all my tracks were at the same tempo, I'd only be able to play them at one point in the night.
So if you are stuck in the 128bpm range as a producer, I recommend forcing yourself to break away from it, even just for your next few tracks. The different tempos may also lead to different feels for you as you jam melodies into your DAW and will give you more inspiration as you go!
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