BPM Calculator

Created by Rita Rain
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD candidate and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Feb 23, 2022

This BPM calculator (aka BPM to ms calculator) converts between beat duration, BPM, and notes duration.

From the text, you'll learn:

  • What BPM means in music;
  • How to find BPM with this beats per minute calculator; and
  • How to calculate BPM from a simple formula.

Once you learn about BPM, you may want to read about intervals, scales, chords, delay/reverb, or building a guitar.

What does BPM mean in music?

BPM stands for "beats per minute". In music, it is a measure of the tempo of a song.

And what is tempo? Tempo is the speed of music - the speed of the underlying pulse. If you tap your foot or clap your hands to different songs, you may notice that different songs have different paces. You can compare, e.g., Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" to "Turkish March" by Mozart.

How to use the BPM calculator? Find BPM

To find BPM with this BPM calculator:

  1. Set the time signature of a song in the BPM calculator. You can check it in the sheet music or determine it by yourself. To find it, tap your foot, count out loud, and choose the number which feels right. Start with counting to 4, then check 3 if 4 doesn't work.

  2. Check with a stopwatch how long each bar lasts. E.g., if you're in 4/4, start the stopwatch on 1, count to 4, and stop it on 1.

  3. Input the time result into the "Measure duration" field of the BPM calculator.

Once you do it, you can find the BPM at the bottom of the first section of the calculator.

That's probably the easiest way to find BPM, but you can also insert the beat duration or set any note duration and the time signature.

Many online metronomes have the option to determine BPM based on your tapping tempo. An offline way is to tap with your foot (or clap) and check with an offline metronome. After some time your intuition will begin to recognise BPM.

BPM to ms calculator: How to calculate BPM?

The first two fields of the BPM calculator are a simple converter between BPM and the beat duration. The beat duration can be expressed in seconds or milliseconds (hence "BPM to ms calculator").

The BPM calculator uses this simple equation:

BPM = 1 min / beat duration

To find how many beats occur in a minute, we divide a minute by a beat's duration. If the beat duration is expressed in seconds, we should convert the minute:

BPM = 60 s / beat duration

For example, if a beat lasts 0.5s, BPM would equal 60 s / 0.5 s = 120.

If we transform the equation, we get the formula for the beat duration (in seconds):

beat duration = 60 / BPM

For example, in a song with tempo of 100 BPM:

beat duration = 60 s / 100 = 0.6 s = 600 ms

Note duration in the beats per minute calculator

If you know the BPM of a song or the duration of any note and the time signature, you can find the rest of the notes' duration.

The notes durations are based on the following relationship between notes:

1 whole note

= 2 * half note

= 4 * quarter note

= 8 * eighth note

= 16 * sixteenth note

= 32 * thirty-second note

Each row of notes has the same duration (a whole note in the first row, two half notes in the second row, and so on):

Duration of notes - example

How time signature works?

Time signature is denoted with two stacked numbers resembling a fraction. The lower number tells us what type of note corresponds to the beat duration. If it's "2" - it's a half note; if it's "4" - it's a quarter note; if it's "8" - it's an eighth note.

The upper number tells us how many of these beats fit in one bar.

The duration of all notes and rests in a bar must equal the number and type of notes defined by the time signature.

Let's go through examples of common meters:

  • 2/2 - one bar must consist of a set of notes and rests that are equivalent in duration to 2 half notes.
  • 2/4 - two quarter notes fit in a bar.
  • 3/4 - three quarter notes fit in a bar.
  • 6/8 - six eight notes fit in a bar.

Most songs in contemporary Western music use a 4/4 time signature.

Rita Rain
Time signature
Measure duration
Beat duration
Notes duration
Whole note
Half note
Quarter note
Eighth note
Sixteenth note
Thirty-second note
Image of note types
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