Get started with the project tempo, key, and time signature

Each project has a set of properties, including tempo, key signature, and time signature. For new projects, the default project tempo is 120 beats per minute (bpm), the key is C, and the time signature is 4/4. You can change these project properties when you create a project, or later while you’re working.

The project tempo, key, and time signature are displayed in the LCD in the center of the control bar, along with the current playhead position.

Figure. Editing the tempo in the LCD.


The project tempo defines the musical speed of the project, expressed as the number of beats per minute (bpm). Changing the tempo can affect the playback speed of audio and software instrument recordings, Drummer regions, and Apple Loops, in the project.


The project key defines the central note (called the tonic), and whether the project uses the major or minor scale. Changing the key affects the playback of Apple Loops in the project, and the display of MIDI notes in the Score Editor.

Time signature

The project time signature defines how musical time is divided into measures and beats. The time signature contains two numbers separated by a slash (/), which looks similar to a fraction. The first number controls the number of beats in each bar, and the second number controls the beat value (the note that counts as one beat). Changing the time signature does not affect playback, but does affect the units displayed in the ruler and the bars in the Score Editor.

Show project properties in the LCD

  • Click the icon on the left side of the LCD, then choose Beats & Project from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Selecting Beats & Project in the LCD to display project properties.

Set the project tempo in the LCD

  • Click-hold the tempo value (above the letters “bpm”) and drag up or down.

Set the project key in the LCD

  • Click-hold the key, then choose a new key from the pop-up menu.

Set the project time signature in the LCD

  • Click-hold either of the numbers above the word “signature,” then drag up or down.

For more information about working with project properties, see Project properties overview.

When Show Advanced Tools is selected in the Advanced preferences pane, you can add tempo, key, and time signature changes in a project.