Song Help Request Proper tempo for “It’s Only A Paper Moon”?

Oldscruggsfan

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With the help of a chord progression downloaded from the San Jose Ukulele Club’s great webpage, I’ve worked out a Key of G soprano solo for “It’s Only A Paper Moon” and am happy with it. Problem that I encounter every time I try a tune with which I’m not all that familiar, I’m unsure of the proper tempo.

In Spotify, I enjoy Ella Fitzgerald’s version and the Baritone instrumental by Gerald Ross but an online search says the tune should be played at 135-155bpm which seems far too fast.

Is there some other approach than getting in the habit of setting a one-minute timer while I listen to a preferred version and literally count the beats?
 
I love the Ella Fitzgerald version, but the Cliff Edwards versions of the song are also classic.

Though he goes uncredited here, I think it is Dick McDonough that plays the guitar on this recording.

 
Is there some other approach than getting in the habit of setting a one-minute timer while I listen to a preferred version and literally count the beats?
If I am trying to play to a BPM matching a recording, I play around with the movable weight on the metronome pendulum while I listen to the track. If I am really splitting hairs, I will even position the weight between the etched BPM marks and get the exact beat by interpolation.

If I just want to find a tempo that I like, I try things out, slower or faster, until I find something that sounds right to me and how I am 'feeling' the song. I usually write this favorite tempo down for future reference. Sometimes I will pull out a tune that I have not played for a long time and disagree with my former self as to the best tempo. I then revise the BPM I had written down as being the 'ideal' tempo.
 
For what it's worth, I checked my chart for Paper Moon. I had written 96 BPM for it. I played through it once in Ab (I think that was Ella's key) and it sounded good to me.
 
I never worry about beats per minute. Play it at the speed you play it comfortably and sounds best in your hands. If you think it's too slow, work on getting it faster. BPM is a banjo problem, not really a uke problem. If Earl played uke, things might be different.
 
I just checked this definitive recording by Ella. Key of Bb. My metronome said it was between the marks of 116 and 120. So, like 118 (assuming my metronome is accurate, which is a stretch.)

 
I don't understand how this question can be answered satisfactorily unless you offer a definition of the word "proper".
…point being that I AM over-thinking this. As long as I’m keeping the beat, it’s all “proper”. Thanks for sorting me out, JC!
 
I love the Ella Fitzgerald version, but the Cliff Edwards versions of the song are also classic.
Cliff Edwards clocked in at about 104. It comes down to how you want the song to feel: Croon, Swing, Jive...

The video that EDW shows in reply #15 (John Pizzarelli) is at about 157!

So there we are:
104 Edwards
124 Sinatra
157John Pizzarelli

[BTW - I estimated the videos using NCH TempoPerfect on Win 10]
 
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My suggestion is to put the uke away and just sing the lyric, keeping the syllables inside the barlines, or inside the four beats if you don't have bar lines. You will find a tempo where you can get all the syllables inside the four beats and still be understood and still sing the words. This is going to set the tempo for your version of the song, it will suit your vocal delivery and will be creative and amazing.

If you have not yet broken your arrangement down into syllables and put in your own bar lines, that may be a useful step.

Many people need a penny to drop to notice the relationship between the melody they sing and how it is presented as syllables in the written music, and how the length of each note often follows singing the syllables.

Record yourself so you only have to focus on a clear vocal delivery, then work out the tempo from your recording.
This makes soooo much sense and is the guidance I had hoped to gain. Thank you!
 
My suggestion is to put the uke away and just sing the lyric, keeping the syllables inside the barlines, or inside the four beats if you don't have bar lines. You will find a tempo where you can get all the syllables inside the four beats and still be understood and still sing the words. This is going to set the tempo for your version of the song, it will suit your vocal delivery and will be creative and amazing.

If you have not yet broken your arrangement down into syllables and put in your own bar lines, that may be a useful step.

Many people need a penny to drop to notice the relationship between the melody they sing and how it is presented as syllables in the written music, and how the length of each note often follows singing the syllables.

Record yourself so you only have to focus on a clear vocal delivery, then work out the tempo from your recording.

Yeah, this is it. Start the tempo where the vocal FEELS right, and stick to it.

Any jazz standard can be played in any tempo, but the melody must still shine. For example, there are many examples of ballads played as medium/up tempo tunes but they are then played in double time so as to allow the melody to still fit. By contrast, a singer like Carmen McRae is an expert at singing tunes far slower than is conventional, but man can she carry a tune.
 
If you can tap your spacebar to the recording, you'll know the bpm.
https://www.beatsperminuteonline.com/

I just realized I'm ignorant as to when the "click track" became a thing. It would serve no purpose on recordings where the whole group was recorded at once and it would not matter if the tempo drifted a few bpm here and there.
 
I played this as part of a medley at a World Make Music Day Performance. That particular day I did it kind of rubato. Tried to channel my inner Joe Pass. (my favorite guitarist) I play it at a variety of different tempos. No real right or wrong.
 
I played this as part of a medley at a World Make Music Day Performance. That particular day I did it kind of rubato. Tried to channel my inner Joe Pass. (my favorite guitarist) I play it at a variety of different tempos. No real right or wrong.
I’m also a Joe Pass fan. One of my most cherished CD’s is his Christmas album.
 
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