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Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
#3002306 07/13/20 08:10 PM
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Using a metronome really challenges me and helps me gauge how well I know a piece, so I developed an interest in playing my various pieces against a metronome. I started with a traditional metronome but quickly decided that it wasn't for me -- the sound is harsh and the metronome is overall very finicky.

Maybe my experience was a 1-off, but it started me on this journey of finding a better metronome and I wrote up a whole article to share:

Modern Alternatives to the Metronome

Here's what I ended up with, you can see some basic examples from my Alfred book:



And here's some polyrhythm fun!:



Yes, I ended up with a groovebox -- I didn't know anything about these when I started out. The groovebox ended up being the same price as higher end metronomes, but is an independent instrument that is so much more than a metronome. It is much more fun than any old regular metronome -- my kids love making beats on it and are creatively inspired. So why not?

Thought I'd share my experience and learn from the experience of others willing to share... going down the rabbit hole can be fun!

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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3002335 07/13/20 09:48 PM
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Based solely on the example of the first video above, it seems to me that you are looking for - and have found - a metronome that's going to do all the work for a student without that student having to think or figure anything out for him/herself. In simple 3/4 time, does one have to have a metronome that counts the half-beats when they come up in the music, and skip them when they don't? Can't a student count from one to three, and add a half beat when necessary when one occurs without the help of this device?

With such a device, where's the student's thinking, active involvement and actual learning in the process if this device is going to do all the "thinking"? How will a student ever learn even basic rhythms if everything has to be subservient to a metronome that virtually tells him/her what to do and when to do it? When the student misplaces the metronome or when the battery runs out before a new one is bought, will the student be rhythmically helpless?

I'm afraid that I see such a device - and the use of it that is demonstrated in the first video - as a crutch that severely limits a student's learning.

A simple mechanical or digital metronome that just beats out the tempo that one chooses is all the metronome that one needs.

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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3002339 07/13/20 10:18 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, BruceD!

What I was intending to demo was a metronome that could play any arbitrary drum sound, vocalization, or sample, you might want, accenting anything you might want in creative ways. In this case I used counting as an example, which is something other metronomes support as well in more limited fashion, but it's in no way limited that way... your creativity and vision is the limit.

When I play for my teacher, I don't use this metronome at all but I certainly do count everything all by myself -- in fact, counting has become very easy for me now. The metronome is purely a tool and supports a few dimensions of practice. There are many other dimensions to be practiced in different ways that do not involve the metronome at all.

In this case, the metronome can be a tool to help internalize and understand the beat... used judiciously.

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3002357 07/14/20 12:36 AM
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People have been using a traditional metronome with a swinging pendulum since the time of Beethoven 200+ years ago. Today you can still find these but it is increasingly being replaced by metronome apps that can be downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet. The alternative is a portable battery-operated pocket-size metronome.

An app has more options available than an old fashioned swinging pendulum such as changing Time Signature, the sound of the ticks and tuning notes for people who have to tune their portable instruments.

Going 1 step further I'd find at least 1 online recording of the piece I'm working on and play along. At the student level there are half-dozen learning pieces that are already posted by teachers & students like the "Minuet in G" & "Musette in D" from the Notebook for Anna M. Bach. I play violin with a music group so playing with soundtracks instead of a metronome works just as well. We usually have a conductor waving a baton.

The Korg sample above is like a notation program with the songs in memory and the device counting along. When practicing music I'd simplify counting by doing every song in 1s so I don't have to keep track of which song has 2 and which has 4 for each measure. Our music group played a few Johann Strauss waltzes like "Blue Danube" & "Emperor". The conductor would use a 1 beat (triplet) substitute for the 3 beats to a measure. It's less tiring for him than waving a stick quickly to show 3 beats per measure for 7 minutes.

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
thepianoplayer416 #3002369 07/14/20 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Going 1 step further I'd find at least 1 online recording of the piece I'm working on and play along. At the student level there are half-dozen learning pieces that are already posted by teachers & students like the "Minuet in G" & "Musette in D" from the Notebook for Anna M. Bach. I play violin with a music group so playing with soundtracks instead of a metronome works just as well. We usually have a conductor waving a baton.
Oh, good point and thanks for pointing to that practice strategy. It's not something I've tried before.

After all, that's partly why books like Alfred come with a CD and why the children method books come with accompanying music for kids to play along and clap along to.

So it's not such an alien idea to play along to a metronome count either. The volca has full flexibility in terms of muting parts and level adjustment... my teacher often asks me to play while counting different ways, so that works here.

Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The Korg sample above is like a notation program with the songs in memory and the device counting along.

Yes, you are right, you'd ultimately want to generate a drum track straight from the score. The KORG device is not this powerful and more limited but some other metronomes accept MIDI and can probably do something like this.

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3003491 07/16/20 08:40 PM
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Anything that clicks will work, it more about learning ways to use the metronome. Like hearing it as only 2 and 4, or only as 1. Because you need to work on building your own internal metronome. There are some good metronome apps that you can set to randomly stop audible click for a few measures then audible click returns. This way you can see how well you keep time without the constant click.

Real cool metronome trick turn on, and hear the click as the 1 of 5/4 and get the feel for the beat timing. Now come in with click as 1 of 4/4. What this does is move the click over one beat every measure. First click is on 1, next time it clicks its on 2, and so on. Take some getting used to, to do but really cool trick to develop your internal sense of time.

Oh just a reminder if you hear the click you're out of time. if you're in time your clapping or playing will make the click disappear.

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004184 07/19/20 03:31 AM
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So I know there's been a lot of skepticism here, but I can at least provide one datapoint -- as someone with beginner skills working my way through the Alfred book with a teacher.

My teacher does not even know about this device I've been using to practice. In fact, we haven't even gotten to the point where metronomes have been introduced as a practice tool.

Lately, she's been passing me on my Alfred pieces and explicitly calling out that I've "definitely gotten the rhythm" on these pieces.

The standout factor here is that I've been using the volca quite a bit while practicing. A tool is just a tool and needs to be used judiciously... not advocating anything more than that, and I've been counting out loud quite easily as well.

Just sharing what I've learned, and what seems to be working for me as an adult beginner. I'm going to be working on more pieces with swing/syncopation, so it will be interesting to see if things start to fall apart for me now!

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004406 07/19/20 04:22 PM
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Navindra,
I think this is cool and I would like to know more on how you set it up.
I believe you have to essentially enter step by step each song correct ?
You should do a video on how to get and import the samples and the program it.
Definitely down the rabbit hole! My main interest is in having the vocal and the ‘&’ counts....
Thanks for sharing!

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004409 07/19/20 04:35 PM
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I can understand everyone's skepticism -- learning how to count is one of the most important skills for a beginner, and you need to be able to do that on your own.

But I think this is a great learning tool, especially for the polyrhythms! I think it's cool to be able to change which (the duplets or the triplets) gets the count and which gets the beat etc., and have it focus on different aspects (turning the volume down on one or the other). I can imagine all kinds of ways this could be used for a learning tool and also as something to play along with.


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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004482 07/19/20 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by navindra


And here's some polyrhythm fun!:


An "Acid House" metronome. I like it!

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
ShiroKuro #3004546 07/20/20 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I can understand everyone's skepticism -- learning how to count is one of the most important skills for a beginner, and you need to be able to do that on your own.
.
The importance of counting comes second, while the pronunciation of the rhythm comes first. The experience of Hindus in 4.5 thousand years says something ...
And for counting, you can use a talking metronome.

Last edited by Nahum; 07/20/20 01:11 AM.
Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004607 07/20/20 07:13 AM
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What do you mean by the “pronunciation of the rhythm”? I’ve never heard that term.


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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
ShiroKuro #3004691 07/20/20 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
What do you mean by the “pronunciation of the rhythm”? I’ve never heard that term.
Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken.

https://naanfunctionalharmony.com/2013/11/02/rhythmic-building-blocks/

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUPLAYER_alionello&time_continue=16&v=BBY4PZaYplc[/video]

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004698 07/20/20 11:24 AM
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Ahh, thanks for those links.

That's super interesting! And it reminds me of how Japanese taiko drumming is taught (and written), with symbols like that.

As with the comment I made above, I feel like this rhythm pronunciation could be esp. good with polyrhythms.


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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
ShiroKuro #3004704 07/20/20 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
That's super interesting! And it reminds me of how Japanese taiko drumming is taught (and written), with symbols like that.
Oh! I've never heard about ; you are the first in my life to mention this! Is this such a big secret? I would like to know more.

OK,I see - Kuchi shōga

Last edited by Nahum; 07/20/20 11:41 AM.
Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004717 07/20/20 11:54 AM
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I meant syllables, not symbols. (Autocorrect)


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Re: About rhythm counting in (West) Africa
navindra #3004720 07/20/20 12:04 PM
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From 4:00

No metronomes!

Last edited by Nahum; 07/20/20 12:06 PM.
Re: About rhythm counting in (West) Africa
Nahum #3004751 07/20/20 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
What do you mean by the “pronunciation of the rhythm”? I’ve never heard that term.
Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken.

https://naanfunctionalharmony.com/2013/11/02/rhythmic-building-blocks/

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUPLAYER_alionello&time_continue=16&v=BBY4PZaYplc[/video]

That's all very interesting, yes, interesting indeed. However, most of us here are playing western classical music where the most complex polyrhythms we encounter are two/three, three/four, and occasionally two/five.

Learning a new vocabulary of rhythm pronunciation seems to be more than most of us would ever need. Moreover, since almost all the music that we play is contained within measures of repeated, regular beats, I don't see the need for "pronouncing" every sixteenth-note or every thirty-second note within a measure.

Surely, if I were playing something like this:

[Linked Image]

I don't need to pronounce every sixteenth note when there is no polyrhythm nor any complexity to the rhythmic pattern. If the unit of measure is the quarter note, can't just about everyone play four even sixteenths to the quarter without having to count every sixteenth?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004775 07/20/20 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
That's all very interesting, yes, interesting indeed. However, most of us here are playing western classical music where the most complex polyrhythms we encounter are two/three, three/four, and occasionally two/five.

You, like the vast majority of academic teachers, are mistaken. This is the result of a Eurocentric approach to teaching the development of rhythmic hearing, which is a small share in the world's musical culture. The most striking proof of this is the huge number of questions in an differents forums: how to develop a rhythmic feeling, how to read a rhythm and how to perform it. On this forum alone, I have counted (yes, yes, if necessary, I count!) 75 threads on rhythm problems, some of which contain 150 posts.
That is: there is a problem, and it has not disappeared from the period of the piano teachers of the 18th century. This is all the same rake
on which stumbles again and again every new generation of students; who are taught to scratch the left ear with the right hand , and from behind.
I suggest reading the rhythm of Adagio from Bach's 1st Violin Sonata using counting .

http://www.sergeblanc.com/files/bach-sonatas-partitas-en.pdf

By the way, the indigenous people of Africa do not ask in forums how to develop a sense of rhythm ...

Re: Modern Alternatives to the Metronome
navindra #3004791 07/20/20 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
[
[Linked Image]

I don't need to pronounce every sixteenth note when there is no polyrhythm nor any complexity to the rhythmic pattern. If the unit of measure is the quarter note, can't just about everyone play four even sixteenths to the quarter without having to count every sixteenth?

Regards,
Here you are absolutely right, but for the reason that only two repeating simple rhythmic patterns appear; which makes reading rhythm easier: taatiki, takatiki .In more complex cases, it is required to isolate each different pattern (in a logically written music, the number of patterns is limited), provide it with syllables for pronouncing, and learn it like a dictionary; and only then go to the tool. In India, the tradition is that students study Konnakol for 2 years while, before picking up the instrument.

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