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Sep 5, 2023 - 2:05:31 AM
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Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

Maybe some of you noticed I kind of tend to mess up rhythm... Speed up and slow down and cannot always get it right.. For three years I hated the idea of a metronome. But today lol truth revealed itself. The tuner which I use has a metronome function and today I tried again with the sound on. All of a sudden I realized while watching my tuner there was also a pendule going from the right to the left and even two leds a red one and a green one. This discovery , that it works for me but in a visual way is about to change the way I practise. I have huge problems with the annoying sound but watching the leds turn or see that pendule moving brought instant rest and the idea : I CAN do this!!!
When I zoom out on sound and zoom in on the visual indications it feels like RIGHT.

NOW ONLY ONE QUESTION

How is it possible it took me three years to find out or even notice for real the visual parts of this metronome function on my tuner??!!!

 

Note that I am very well aware that I am a visual learner ... That's why I like written notes also. That I didn't figure this out any sooner than three years wth lol.

Edited by - Quincy on 09/05/2023 02:07:48

Sep 5, 2023 - 4:30:12 AM
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Erockin

USA

875 posts since 9/3/2022
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I am back and fourth with metronomes. Been playing 25 some years and never used one but with the fiddle, I know how important it is.
My teacher has one that's got a nice flash on it to follow. Thanks for the reminder, Quincy!

Sep 5, 2023 - 4:49:16 AM
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carlb

USA

2632 posts since 2/2/2008

Playing with others, in jams or in small groups, is my metronome.

Sep 5, 2023 - 5:06:20 AM
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14811 posts since 9/23/2009

I absolutely hate metronomes...lol. I never could play along with one. When I do multi track recordings, I suffer through with a preliminary "scratch track" to set up a foundation so I can add tracks and them not turn out to be a mess of conflicting rhythms...so with that preliminary scratch track...I slam through guitar chords along with the presonus's metronome...which about kills me to do...I get off of it a lot...I just cannot play with one...I also hum along and sometimes give myself a cue..."ready, Sing vs. 3," or "Fiddle Break," etc. But mainly I do the scratch track to try to make sure my other tracks have something with a fairly steady and solid rhythm to keep it all together. Anyway, my point is...the hardest track I record, the most struggle...is that scratch track, trying my best to follow that annoying metronome...lol...I know people say you should learn to play with one...I've tried on and off for 60 plus years now and still can't do it and hate trying...lol. But that's my experience...it's helpful for multi track recording but i still hate it. I've attempted to make a few recordings without the metronome and the tracks I keep do suffer some from not having that solid foundation. I think that's because naturally, people do alter their speeds somewhat while playing...you get to parts where you might wanna slow things down temporarily...like for emphasis or something...but mainly you tend to speed up as you play through a tune. Since this seems to just naturally happen...making a multi track recording will definitely become a mess if you don't have that scratch track to keep it together. Playing along with others in person...y'all naturally will hang together like a magnet...lol.

Sep 5, 2023 - 5:22:54 AM
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2584 posts since 10/1/2008

It is always amusing when we find our own blind spots. A bit embarrassing, yes, but growth in what we love, always a pleasure. R/

Sep 5, 2023 - 5:44:40 AM
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3314 posts since 10/22/2007
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I love a drum track. Different beats inspire me. But make no mistake, naked, unaccompanied play, requires good timing, and good timing takes work. I record a solo track. If I can't play along with it (Bass, guitar, banjer) I have to delete it.

I had a nome with a blinker. I didn't trust myself. I should try it again. It would really solve problems if it did work.

Sep 5, 2023 - 9:16:50 AM
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14811 posts since 9/23/2009

I tried going with a metronome blinking light before and it just wouldn't register in my mind...lol...as much as I tried to pay attention to that light, I just couldn't help but ignore it...I mean...yeah I think I've heard people say it's best to learn with one, use one here and there, etc., but for me...it just doesn't work. When I do my scratch tracks as I described above...believe me...that is HARD for me to do...I normally have to re-do them many times over just to not stray from the metronome in any big way...but I never manage to stick right to it.

Sep 5, 2023 - 9:20:47 AM
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387 posts since 12/2/2013
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a metronome that is fun
groovescribe

Sep 5, 2023 - 10:43:29 AM
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11441 posts since 3/19/2009

An audible metronome is IMO better than the visual ones.. You'll be fiddling to Sound with others and not with visual clues to timing. My theory is that If I can't play a tune two three or four speeds, then I still don't know it. I advise that you think of the sound Click as the sound that the tap of your favorite fiddler's foot makes.
Using a metronome can help a Lot to get that ''in your bones'' sense of timing.
I struggled with bad timing for years/decades but once I STUCK WITH a metronome for a couple of weeks I kicked the bad timing habit.. My metronome is now one of my best friends.... "Milage may vary"..wink  Good luck.

Sep 5, 2023 - 11:14:43 AM
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RichJ

USA

955 posts since 8/6/2013

Aside from the fact every metronome or similar devise I ever owned never kept proper time (lol) I'll throw my hat in the ring of metronome haters. HOWEVER, I couldn't live without my Strum Machine app. I've been using it for the last 5 years. This tool provides chords AND metronome like rhythm which I find much more fun. I have no pony in the race here but you can try SM free for 30 days to see if it's something you might like.

Edited by - RichJ on 09/05/2023 11:15:52

Sep 5, 2023 - 11:20:57 AM
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11441 posts since 3/19/2009

One time our band was trying to practice along with a metronome.. We sounded terrible.. Turned out that the old metronome was battery operated and the METRONOME kept slowing down and speeding up.. For ONCE it wasn't Us.. it WAS the metronome's fault.....laugh

Sep 5, 2023 - 11:21:45 AM
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Erockin

USA

875 posts since 9/3/2022
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quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Aside from the fact every metronome or similar devise I ever owned never kept proper time (lol) I'll throw my hat in the ring of metronome haters. HOWEVER, I couldn't live without my Strum Machine app. I've been using it for the last 5 years. This tool provides chords AND metronome like rhythm which I find much more fun. I have no pony in the race here but you can try SM free for 30 days to see if it's something you might like.


All the backing tracks that are online are metronomes in themselves. That's where I live and, it's more fun! 

Sep 5, 2023 - 11:44:41 AM
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RichJ

USA

955 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin
quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Aside from the fact every metronome or similar devise I ever owned never kept proper time (lol) I'll throw my hat in the ring of metronome haters. HOWEVER, I couldn't live without my Strum Machine app. I've been using it for the last 5 years. This tool provides chords AND metronome like rhythm which I find much more fun. I have no pony in the race here but you can try SM free for 30 days to see if it's something you might like.


All the backing tracks that are online are metronomes in themselves. That's where I live and, it's more fun! 


Hmmm, have to say I've never tried using an on-line backing track. What I like about SM is comes with a ton (over 200) built in OT/BG tunes, but you can also write chords for ANY tune, in ANY key (major/minor) and of course vary tempo. Luke Abbot, the author of SM, recently added some neat stuff like walking base lines and chord sounds with the capoe in various positions for many of the keys.  Well, to each his/her own I guess. 

Sep 5, 2023 - 11:50:48 AM
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2562 posts since 8/27/2008

Whenever metronomes come up I say this: The best way to use a metronome is for the click to be the backbeat. Old time and especially bluegrass lend themselves to this. It's what the mandolin provides, or the "chuck" in the boom-chuck on guitar and banjo. Your playing can swing around the backbeat in a way it just can't on the downbeat. The only trick to learning to play with the backbeat is to listen to the clicks and start your count "one" between the clicks. "one - And - two - And. - three - And - four - And..". Then stop counting and play.

The downbeat is stiff and prissy. The backbeat grooves.

Sep 5, 2023 - 2:24:12 PM
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1130 posts since 7/30/2021

I'm with Erockin...
when learning a tune, like to play along with backing tracks at OAIM (Online Academy of Irish Music) or I play along with YouTubes at 75% speed, and I like Strum Machine too...anything but that ole Metronome! Prefer bodhran backing tracks over metronome, too...metronome comes in last! But I know it's good practice...

Anja, as a visual learner you'd be great in orchestra. We keep the beat visually (by watching the conductor's arms/baton) and are reading sheet music at the same time. (And let me tell you, some of those conductors have a really weird feel of what the beat is...some seem to be doing random personal arm exercises...)

Sep 6, 2023 - 4:20:08 PM
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3564 posts since 9/13/2009

The mention of visual aspect is interesting. I see they also make watch devices that send a mild vibration or elec shock to feel in wrist. I never had much luck with visual... actually more distracting. But like Erockin I played for years, in bands and we never much used or even owned metronome; except sometimes in recording studio (for specific reasons to fit time constraint), and we found it a bit of struggle.

This reminds me of a good article I read, that pointed out there is bit of fundamental differences in how folks use a metronome; is it necessary, for what purpose and why some struggle. Why even experienced musicians, who can play live with good sense of steady beat and rhythm; can find themselves struggling when confronted with a metronome. Part of which differentiates timing and rhythm; here's a brief take away summary;

One is micro "Timing" of beats; zoomed in focused more on each individual beat at a time, going from beat to beat, how close came to hitting each individual target. Visual pendulum would make sense for this. Kind of like playing some of those video games, aiming for a moving target to next target.

The other is more macro, zoomed out just using it for feeling the "Rhythm", and entraining yourself to the feel of overall steady beat. This where folks find easier to listen, and use drum machines, or some midi or backing tracks, something with more sense of rhythmic feel.

This latter is where folks sometimes struggle or falter when trying to use metronome; is shifting their attention to former individual click timing; and the music lacks feel, a little stiff/constrained; another struggle can be the sound, either can't hear it, or the high click, beep, ping doesn't sound like anything they are used to for backup rhythm (some is annoying). What I found helps (per article suggestion) when using a metronome; try mentally have the click as if part of rhythmic backup; mentally imagine as if downbeat boom, or as Brian pointed out, the offbeat chuck (or kick/snare). Of course can also help, these days it's many midi metronomes allow you to use general midi drumkit to assign say kick, snare, or other drum/percussion; as well simple drum machine apps. Can also use these to turn it up loud; feel the rhythm/beat.

Sep 8, 2023 - 2:10:49 PM
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boxbow

USA

2782 posts since 2/3/2011

I've posted this before, but it's worth repeating. Back in the late 80's I got a cheap electric keyboard that's not really worth playing, but it has a drum machine feature. Some of the rhythms were pretty exotic. I used it early on to iron out my waltz time. One of the options, I forget which one it was, gave me a different sound for the 1 beat and the 2 beat in 4/4. (Is that properly called the downbeat and back beat?) Anyway, I filled in the "and" without thought. Solved some problems.

Sep 9, 2023 - 7:51:45 AM

1398 posts since 3/1/2020

Growing up I used an old metronome that my father bought when he left for music school in the 1960s. It makes a click that just seems to project better than anything else I’ve used. It’s such a simple little mechanism, but it works extremely well. I came across the fancier version several years ago and snapped it up immediately. That one has a flashing light on the top that you can turn on if you want it, although I don’t use it. The brand is Franz.

My father bought an electric keyboard to use in our lessons to play accompaniment, and it had a metronome feature that allowed one to play with various drum beats. It was useful, although I never really liked it very much when compared to the Franz metronome.

There are all kinds of metronomes available. Almost all of them will work decently. The most important things are to have one that you can hear and that keeps accurate time (e.g. 120 bpm is really 120).

Sep 9, 2023 - 8:31:43 AM

2432 posts since 4/6/2014

 That's another thing about a nice metronome..It has a consistent volume so you can gauge your dynamics against it.enlightened
I am using it mostly as Alaska states above. Sometimes to contour a whole phrase or parts of a phrase, to practice ornaments and bowings.Other times i use it to try to understand, or get a feeling for complicated rhythms or "grooves" so to speak. They are a useful tool.

Sep 9, 2023 - 12:57:42 PM

2434 posts since 12/11/2008

I have an ancient plug-in Franz atop my even-more-ancient Mason-Hamlin upright piano, and a very easy-to-cart-around battery-powered Seiko for my other instruments. The Seiko has a 440 A, too. I find both absolutely indispensable. They keep me honest. They allow me to precisely, incrementally speed up or slow down my playing, They've made me a far better player, a player capable of playing in sync with practically any bunch of musicians I might find myself a part of.

Sep 9, 2023 - 2:08:49 PM

3314 posts since 10/22/2007
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You'd think the orchestra types would all be behind the visual metronome, as this is what a conductor is. This is also why those old clicker nomes swayed back and forth to mimic a baton.

Sep 9, 2023 - 4:44:46 PM
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1398 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

You'd think the orchestra types would all be behind the visual metronome, as this is what a conductor is. This is also why those old clicker nomes swayed back and forth to mimic a baton.


A conductor is doing a lot more than keeping time. Watch any good conductor and you'll see that keeping time is mostly up to the musicians and the conductor directs in broad strokes and focuses on the interplay of the orchestral parts, the overall tempo, and the dynamics. Conductors do have to be able to keep time, but there is an expectation that the players can do so on their own and that they will be watching the conductors for cues, not where each beat falls. 
 

In the 18th century, ballet conductors kept time, not by using a baton of the sort you see today, but by using a large pole and banging it on the ground or platform. A famous composer made the mistake of aiming poorly, striking a foot with the pole and causint significant injury. He ended up getting gangrene and dying.

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/periods-genres/baroque/jean-baptiste-lully-died-gangrene-conducting-staff/

Since musicians really need to have a good sense of hearing for playing in groups, it makes sense that the aural metronome would be of more use than the visual.

I don't think the design of old metronomes was based on the appearance of a conductor, more on the use of a pendulum to maintain a regular motion. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 09/09/2023 16:49:50

Sep 9, 2023 - 9:11:28 PM
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DougD

USA

11787 posts since 12/2/2007
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I have the c.1900 Maelzel style metronome that sat atop the piano in my granparents house for years. The mahogany case produces a very pleasing "tock," although I'm not sure how accurate the tempo markings are now. I also have an app on my tablet that mimics the look and sound of those old ones, and it also works well. I only use them to determine the tempo of a recording, or set the tempo of a tune. I've never practiced or performed with one, except in the last theatre show I did, "Man of La Mancha," which used samples of some instruments, triggered from a keyboard, so we used a click track. I don't remember if it was throughout the numbers, or just for the count in, but it didn't bother me (we had little personal headphone mixers, so you could set your own volume). I did feel a little like I was working in an auto plant where some co-workers were real people, snd others were robots.
Opinions on the use of metronomes has apparently changed over time: guarnerihall.org/a-brief-histo...etronome/

Sep 10, 2023 - 6:40:59 AM
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1398 posts since 3/1/2020

I wouldn’t advocate for playing with a metronome in performance unless there was a specific need for it, like it being written into the score. Doug’s story is interesting, and I haven’t heard of an example like that before where the musicians for a show used metronomes in performance. Was there no conductor? In most stage productions there’s a leader for the music, whether that’s a conductor or pianist or a choral director. In those cases, it’s up to the leader to keep things moving in sync with the actors.

I played in a pit orchestra in high school where we were seated behind the curtain on stage as there was no floor pit at the venue of a particular show. We had a monitor set up so we could watch the actors and check for visual cues (we didn’t need headsets as the actors were right on the other side of the curtain, but there was a conductor to keep everything in order and help everyone come in at the right time. A metronome wouldn’t have helped in that situation because the tempi of the songs were dictated more by the singers (if they got nervous and sped up, we just had to follow).

I think of the metronome as a practice tool. It provides a reference to get precise indications of tempo markings and allows one to iron out tempo fluctuations that occur as the result of technical issues, not artistic expression. In genres like old time there isn’t really any room for things like rubato, as the music must keep moving consistently for the sake of the dancers. Jazz and bluegrass, as well as many traditional folk styles, are extremely dependent on a regular, predictable beat for the performers or the dancers. You might say that these genres are therefore more metronomically dependent. This is where “classical” music departs; the use of rubato and variation in rhythm within a piece are integral, so playing to a metronome would be rather unmusical. However, a firm understanding of rhythm is essential because music loses meaning without a framework. Some passages are meant to be free and unmetered, others are intended to follow a clear pulse.

Sep 10, 2023 - 10:38:52 AM
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2432 posts since 4/6/2014

Pit orchestra's used to play for silent movies or plays etc, with their backs to the stage. Sight read scores, and take cues from a conductor who was watching the action.

i have told this story before , but a long gone friend of mine, and an excellent violinist played in one of these pit orchestras. And told me that sometimes they never received the scores until the day of the showing, and used to break into laughter imagining what was going on on the screen or stage, while playing the score and watching the conductor.

Sep 11, 2023 - 5:19:57 PM

3564 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by DougD


Opinions on the use of metronomes has apparently changed over time: guarnerihall.org/a-brief-histo...etronome/


Opinions still vary on use of metronomes. Interesting Beethoven quote in that article

“No metronome at all! Those who have a right feeling do not need it, and those who have not, will not be helped by it.

laugh

This discussion reminds me of there is kind of modern obsession or worry that all music has to be quantized, precisely center lock aligned to click, or grid (esp in modern musicians, and recording); which can't vary at all start to finish... or the music will be bad, chaotic or fall apart; or speed up like runaway train?? But is it necessary to lock to click? If think about most of the rhythmic music heard live, danced to... are musicians without using metronomes; many never much used one even to practice. Most recordings on tape; before ProTools; were also often without click. GHP mentioned;

...I think that's because naturally, people do alter their speeds somewhat while playing...you get to parts where you might wanna slow things down temporarily...like for emphasis or something...but mainly you tend to speed up as you play through a tune.

Not sure what describing, or agree with those assumptions. I have noticed sometimes singers from Ballad/Air background (esp acapella) might tend to do those tendencies a bit more; as such notice they might struggle with click; or even notice when playing with others/band. 

But for most with background and experience of rhythmic (and dance) focused music, haven't found to be the case; overall naturally tend toward consistent, steady pulse, as it's needed for a groove, flow. That said, within that context, not all precise center locked to grid; there sometimes might have bit of very slight subtle variation for effect; to help give push/pull of energy; from front/back of beat; to slight tempo push/pull different sections, or  climax. These are not mentioned rushing/dragging, rubato, nor losing beat, nor runaway speed...  just very "slight" subtle variation, and pretty seamless; mostly organic feel, not noticeable as change in tempo for listeners, or dancers perception of steady rhythm; so IMO not really a problem to worry about.

---------

Related, mention of recording; question to use a click or not, is it necessary?  This is where many of us first confronted playing with a metronome/click.; esp in modern DAW (old tape days, not so much). Again, might comes down to how using click/metronome. For some in modern music production, they assume it necessary to quantize everything, dead centered to the grid. Granted, idea of overall keeping to the grid, can make some workflow and tasks easier; visual and snap to for later editing; and lot's of folks in modern recording use tools, loops, samples, MIDI. For many others, all those editing aspects/tools are not used, so not much concern. Still click can come in handy in multi-tracking, if laying down initial part; have to imagine other parts that symbiotically contribute to the rhythmic feel; some can be set with metric accent; so click is one useful way might help some folks to keep focus of underlying steady beat and/or measures. OTOH, others might find click can also distract, get in the way, shift focus (add to all the other distractions of recording); if not set to sweet spot; can be hard to lock in. Results in playing too quantized center, too stiff, robotic; or blah, uninspiring; doesn't breathe, lacking organic push/pull. In many those cases, players if "just play" focus on what feels right; will just do fine, if not overall feel organically better without that click.

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