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Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
#3001614 07/11/20 07:54 PM
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Full article: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful — Where’s the Groove?

This is what I learned when I searched for something better than my regular metronome. I never really had an interest in synthesizers or sequencers such as the volcas or the pocket operators until now.

Here’s a basic demo video to give you a taste of where I’m going with this:



And here’s some polyrhythm fun:



See the article for much more — it gets somewhat techy by the end with the Organelle.

Any and all feedback appreciated, likes/dislikes, follows/unfollows, subscribes/unsubscribes, improvement tips, etc. Tell me something I missed or got wrong, as I'd like to improve.

In case there’s any doubt — exactly zero monetization is involved here — if anything, this is a net negative endeavor for me, investing my time in creating content that not many are likely to ever view. 🙃

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001627 07/11/20 08:41 PM
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A very welcome article indeed. Reposting it at VI Control. Thanks.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001672 07/12/20 01:49 AM
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I bought a Korg Volca Drum as an experiment. It's nice to be able to set up grooves with variable swing, and accented beats where you want them, instead of on the first beat of every measure.

There are two trade-offs:

a) There's a lot to learn -- every knob (except Tempo and Swing, I think) does more than one thing, and there are several "modes", so it can get confusing;

b) There's something to be said for sample-based drum machines. It's frustrating to want a snare drum sound, and then have to figure out how to make it happen with the (fairly flexible) built-in percussion synth.

Also, sixteen pattern memories is not _nearly_ enough!

Having said that, I'll listen to the videos . . . if you want a group of compulsive people, you've found them.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001678 07/12/20 02:20 AM
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How about putting some AI in there? Let the machine look at the score and figure out the rhythm for itself.

A few years ago that would have been science fiction. Today ... it's a chip.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001686 07/12/20 03:02 AM
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A suggestion:

For 3-against-2 (or any other with a short repeat group),
. . . put an accent on the first beat of at least one part.

In the case of 3-against-2, it's _much_ easier to get the feeling, if you accent both parts at the "even" beats (in 4/4) -- 1, 2, 3, 4.

A nice introduction to what's possible with drum machines -- thank you!

There are Android apps that let you do a lot of sequencing, very cheaply (or free). "G-Stomper Rhythm" is one of the free ones. It gives access to a lot of classic drum-machine sampled sounds, a mixer, a 16-step sequencer, and other goodies. It runs nicely on my Android tablet.

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 07/12/20 03:05 AM.

. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
Charles Cohen #3001705 07/12/20 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Fleer
A very welcome article indeed. Reposting it at VI Control. Thanks.

That's awesome, thank you! Good discussion and also good feedback on the title there. For whatever reason, I gravitated towards a clickbait-y one -- I've tweaked it a bit.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
How about putting some AI in there? Let the machine look at the score and figure out the rhythm for itself.

A few years ago that would have been science fiction. Today ... it's a chip.

I'm actually jealous I didn't think of this idea first. That's a startup idea right there.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
A suggestion:

For 3-against-2 (or any other with a short repeat group),
. . . put an accent on the first beat of at least one part.

In the case of 3-against-2, it's _much_ easier to get the feeling, if you accent both parts at the "even" beats (in 4/4) -- 1, 2, 3, 4.

A nice introduction to what's possible with drum machines -- thank you!

There are Android apps that let you do a lot of sequencing, very cheaply (or free). "G-Stomper Rhythm" is one of the free ones. It gives access to a lot of classic drum-machine sampled sounds, a mixer, a 16-step sequencer, and other goodies. It runs nicely on my Android tablet.

Thanks Charles! I came across polyrhythms only while researching metronomes, so this is useful guidance. Everything you suggested is possible on the volca.

Regarding the 16 step limitation, that is a severe one -- fortunately on the volca sample you can chain several sequences into songs to work around that. However, that is definitely the primary limitation that I encountered.

I've not encountered anything like G-Stomper Rhythm. That is one amazing looking app. The step sequence at the bottom actually kinda looks like a volca in software. Honestly, I gave up on using any smart device pretty quickly, even though there are some good apps. It just seems like more of a hassle than a dedicated device, although it may be worth it to get a dedicated Android device just for G-Stomper.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001706 07/12/20 05:11 AM
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Regarding the title, a groove or swing only exists if there is a rock steady sense of time behind it. That's exactly what a metronome is for, to provide a reference to train yur internal clock.

I see nothing in the article warranting the title either.

There is not a single word on "groove" or "swing". Yes it's in a section header but it's babbling about "wide variety of useful metronomic tasks". Basically it seems just more bells and whistles. If they have something to train a groove, they forgot to write up on it. I can count already and if I could not I would start with that. I already have enough pedals.

>6 AA batteries — in practice, mine has lasted for exactly 5 weeks. "6 hour battery life on 4 AA"

Whoa. I can't even imagine the pile of used batteries I would have if my 20yo metronome would have used batteries. And the additional costs and damage to the environment.

Their top of the line “enables musicians, visual artists, performers, researchers, and developers to create software graphically without writing lines of code. Pd can be used to process and generate sound, video, 2D/3D graphics, and interface sensors, input devices, and MIDI". I would call it a computer, not a metronome. And why would I use that instead of the computer I already have, with a good screen etc.


[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001712 07/12/20 05:41 AM
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Quote
Where's the Groove?

In the heart?


Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001716 07/12/20 05:54 AM
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Swings and polyrhythms are also covered here:


Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001727 07/12/20 07:48 AM
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So, if you want real, elastic, compound time, check out African drumming. I was lucky and studied it at Oakland University with Doc Holladay. African time moves! Just like two pitches dancing near each other, flat and sharp....

The closest thing I've found is the computer app "Bounce" metronome. "Weird" metronome, while static, allows odd times / placements / instruments. Bounce allows everything, and the time can move with it.

That said, you MUST internalize your time. It should HURT when you're off! There's a whole article on why metronome = bad (Jazz article, I forget the source).


"Music Is Inherently Evanescent. Once You Play It, It's Gone In The Air" ~ Eric Dolphy

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone (1973), Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone (1956), Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Saxophone (1987), Yamaha WX5 Wind Synth (2013), Kawai 11, Casio PX5S, Roland VR-09, Hammond E-112 (1969).
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
wouter79 #3001740 07/12/20 08:36 AM
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It seems that you're quite underwhelmed by this. Well ... me too. My metronome is staying put.
Originally Posted by wouter79
Regarding the title, a groove or swing only exists if there is a rock steady sense of time behind it. That's exactly what a metronome is for, to provide a reference to train yur internal clock. I see nothing in the article warranting the title either.

There is not a single word on "groove" or "swing". Yes it's in a section header but it's babbling about "wide variety of useful metronomic tasks". Basically it seems just more bells and whistles. If they have something to train a groove, they forgot to write up on it. I can count already and if I could not I would start with that. I already have enough pedals.

>6 AA batteries — in practice, mine has lasted for exactly 5 weeks. "6 hour battery life on 4 AA"

yo metronome would have used batteries. And the additional costs and damage to the environment.

Their top of the line “enables musicians, visual artists, performers, researchers, and developers to create software graphically without writing lines of code. Pd can be used to process and generate sound, video, 2D/3D graphics, and interface sensors, input devices, and MIDI". I would call it a computer, not a metronome. And why would I use that instead of the computer I already have, with a good screen etc.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3001863 07/12/20 02:18 PM
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For me, "groove" has always been an informal word used in popular language, so there is a bit of a culture gap or misappropriation of the word on my end. I've tweaked the original article to minimize this point of contention.

It's true, this will not move more experienced folks who have long ago solved rhythm issues, have been using metronomes for 20 years or more, and love it. I'm just working on my beginner skills after all! So I should have probably started in the beginners forum, but you can see my first examples are straight from the Alfred book. 😅

The modern devices are very flexible, even programmable, and require some involvement. Involvement is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to learning music or developing a skill like rhythm. They aren't just metronomes, they are musical devices in their own right, but may not compete against the single-minded click-clack of the traditional metronome, which I find terribly finicky and imprecise myself.

However, to be fair, I did attempt to provide the facts (including making battery life explicit -- if you want, use rechargeables or plug in) and I also pointed to the Piano Buyer recommendation very early on, which I think is quite good and a very reasonable option.

Providing the facts may lead folks to have different conclusions from mine, but given that the intention was to inform of the options, this is by design.

Thanks for the feedback, I've got a lot to learn yet!

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
clothearednincompo #3001890 07/12/20 04:29 PM
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Finally, about 4:10, the saxophone player comes in, walking the imaginary bar, to add some melodic interest.....

As far as the title, yeah, groove, time, whatever you want to call it IS NOT STATIC OR METRONOMIC. Like your heartbeat, it moves. That's called "life..." That's why all dem robots can't make any real music.


"Music Is Inherently Evanescent. Once You Play It, It's Gone In The Air" ~ Eric Dolphy

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone (1973), Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone (1956), Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Saxophone (1987), Yamaha WX5 Wind Synth (2013), Kawai 11, Casio PX5S, Roland VR-09, Hammond E-112 (1969).
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
Skyscrapersax #3001937 07/12/20 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Skyscrapersax
Finally, about 4:10, the saxophone player comes in, walking the imaginary bar, to add some melodic interest.....

As far as the title, yeah, groove, time, whatever you want to call it IS NOT STATIC OR METRONOMIC. Like your heartbeat, it moves. That's called "life..." That's why all dem robots can't make any real music.

Agreed.

I've always felt that before taking liberties with the rhythm, one should be able to keep proper time first... otherwise the music gets sloppy and that's nothing special.

Rhythm devices are just a tool in that learning process, but might as well have fun with them and use them creatively.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3002063 07/13/20 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by navindra
Originally Posted by Skyscrapersax
Finally, about 4:10, the saxophone player comes in, walking the imaginary bar, to add some melodic interest.....

As far as the title, yeah, groove, time, whatever you want to call it IS NOT STATIC OR METRONOMIC. Like your heartbeat, it moves. That's called "life..." That's why all dem robots can't make any real music.

Agreed.

I've always felt that before taking liberties with the rhythm, one should be able to keep proper time first... otherwise the music gets sloppy and that's nothing special.

Rhythm devices are just a tool in that learning process, but might as well have fun with them and use them creatively.

Of course, the robot drummers dominate pop and rap.

That said, I use "Drum Genius" on iPad, which is pretty cool...


"Music Is Inherently Evanescent. Once You Play It, It's Gone In The Air" ~ Eric Dolphy

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone (1973), Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone (1956), Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Saxophone (1987), Yamaha WX5 Wind Synth (2013), Kawai 11, Casio PX5S, Roland VR-09, Hammond E-112 (1969).
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3002120 07/13/20 10:54 AM
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Here’s an old school perspective.

1. To be a full musician you must develop your internal clock. There is no ‘work around’.
2. The great drum teachers never let their students practice with a metronome.
3. What we call groove (in the old school sense) is far more musically sophisticated than most musicians know. You have to create it before you can successfully ride on it.
4. Keyboard players tend to be the worst at timing because we don’t have to exclusively play in ensembles to make music.
5. Drum Genius is absolutely cool. But it’s value is not in providing a canned groove. It’s value is providing sophisticated drum loops that teach us how to recognize drum patterns as integral parts of modern music played by keyboards.

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3002401 07/14/20 06:24 AM
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I like how Simon always seems to return to the precise base rhytm after all the crazy fills. You could probably put a click track on that and he'd keep in sync.

Maybe he had a metronome hidden somewhere. 😉



Well, he's a professional. 🧐

Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
PianoMan51 #3002402 07/14/20 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
Here’s an old school perspective.

1. To be a full musician you must develop your internal clock. There is no ‘work around’.
2. The great drum teachers never let their students practice with a metronome.
3. What we call groove (in the old school sense) is far more musically sophisticated than most musicians know. You have to create it before you can successfully ride on it.
4. Keyboard players tend to be the worst at timing because we don’t have to exclusively play in ensembles to make music.
5. Drum Genius is absolutely cool. But it’s value is not in providing a canned groove. It’s value is providing sophisticated drum loops that teach us how to recognize drum patterns as integral parts of modern music played by keyboards.

I agree with all of that. I've been watching Chick's class and he said the same thing - no metronome. I do use Drum Genius, for the same reason.


"Music Is Inherently Evanescent. Once You Play It, It's Gone In The Air" ~ Eric Dolphy

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone (1973), Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone (1956), Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Saxophone (1987), Yamaha WX5 Wind Synth (2013), Kawai 11, Casio PX5S, Roland VR-09, Hammond E-112 (1969).
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
navindra #3002403 07/14/20 06:38 AM
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Here 'ya go... Why drum machines have no soul (and many musicians):

https://www.adamrafferty.com/2008/02/27/dont-use-a-metronome/


"Music Is Inherently Evanescent. Once You Play It, It's Gone In The Air" ~ Eric Dolphy

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone (1973), Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone (1956), Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Saxophone (1987), Yamaha WX5 Wind Synth (2013), Kawai 11, Casio PX5S, Roland VR-09, Hammond E-112 (1969).
Re: Metronomes Are Soul-Crushingly Dreadful, Where's the Groove?
Skyscrapersax #3002478 07/14/20 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Skyscrapersax
Here 'ya go... Why drum machines have no soul (and many musicians):

https://www.adamrafferty.com/2008/02/27/dont-use-a-metronome/

This is interesting for sure, thank you.

A couple of things on the tech side:

1. Some of these devices, including the volca sample, do have a swing knob that can do both positive and negative swing.
2. I also see musicians who use these devices intentionally introduce variations or "mistakes" in the beat.
3. These devices also have probability functions that introduce variations in the beat.

So obviously there is agreement that a perfect rhythm is not a good thing.

Finally, tech aside, there are professional musicians who actually do recommend a metronome.




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