Finding the right beat

Waveclock - BPM detection

Waveclock - BPM detection

At those (admittedly few) occassions when I VJ alongside DJ I have often wished for a tool that would detect the tempo of the music for me. The more I searched for a Mac based solution the more I realized there is some pretty complex music analysis behind beat detection and that few or no freeware tools existed. Vj apps seem to have settled on a tap-the-beat solution and most of the existing BPM detectors are not real time as they only operate on prerecorded audio files.
Then someone posted a link to this ingenious little app in the Modul8 forums and I have been using it ever since. It picks up the beat after a few seconds and it’s pretty accurate – as long as there is a steady discernible beat to the music of course.


You try it out in demo mode (and click away a dialog box every twenty minutes). It’s an independent app so apart from Modul8 it ought to work with any VJ app that supports midi clock.

1. First you go to the Waveclock preferences and select your microphone or line-in for the input. And some midi channel for the output – IAC Driver for instance.

2. Then in Modul8 or your other VJ app you go to preferences and confirm that IAC Driver is activated as a midi input.

3. Then (in Modul8) you activate the BPM modul and click ‘use midi clock’.

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    Vibeke Bertelsen is a visual artist based in Copenhagen who specializes in motion graphics and video projections for live music and other events. Per 2010 I am a part of the group called Obscura working full time doing large scale visuals and video installations. Contact me on

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