Thursday, October 30, 2008

it's a bird-it's a plane-no! it's supermetronome!

When I went home to Houston in September, I had a lesson with Bob Atherholt at Rice. One of the things we talked about was keeping a steady pulse in the Mozart exposition, and he had this super-cool device to help with that: it was a metronome that could go all the way down to 1 beat per minute. This allows you to set a pulse for each measure, rather than each beat (for example, if you play the Mozart exposition at quarter note = 116-120 bpm, then you are playing approximately one measure = 28 bpm). This was very revealing, because while it's relatively easy to stick to a normal metronome, a measure metronome forces you to keep your own very strict pulse within each measure. Mr. Atherholt had gotten his metronome from a friend of his who'd made it. So I was trying to figure out ways to provide myself with my own "supermetronome." Most conventional metronomes stop at 40 bpms, as does the one in GarageBand. Does anyone have a suggestion for obtaining such a device?


Brendon said...

This is a brilliant idea. I'm actually currently struggling with this issue, and I really like the "one pulse per bar" metronome idea.

I think the solution would be to use Garageband, but NOT THE METRONOME. Create a new virtual instrument track, choose one of the drum kits (or whatever... I just prefer a non-pitched tone, obviously), and (assuming you don't have a real keyboard attached via MIDI or USB) use the "keyboard" or "musical typing" options from the window menu to enter one or two bars with JUST a pulse on a beat one. If when you do this it's not PRECISELY where you want it, double click the block in the arrange window and it will open a "piano roll" style editor where you can drag it right where you want it on the meter grid. (The alternative would be to create an audio or "real instrument" track, and record your own finger snap, clap, spoons, or what have you in the same manner.

Then, just grab the yellow bar at the top of the window, and make it the length of your 1 or 2 bar snippet, and choose the "loop" icon in your transport window (where it says record/play/etc.)

Save this file and boom- instant supermetronome! Set/change the tempo as you practice (choose control->show tempo in LCD for easy access), and your rhythm track will automatically adjust as you alter the tempo!

After reading this, I've just made such a file for myself, so if you have trouble, post another comment and I'll send you my file. ;)

This actually reminds me of a Victor Wooten masterclass (jazz bassist for Bela Fleck) I once saw; he advocated whether practicing written music OR improvising, scales, etc. that you should set a metronome or drum machine to different intervals (anywhere from 1 bar to 16 or 20!!) and see if you can just keep on playing and land right on pulse when said device gets to the next click. Seems like a GREAT way to really build your internal rhythm.

Anyway- that is all.

Magi Samuweli Dagilas said...

If you have a Dr. Beat or a Tama Rhythm Watch you can set the number of beats per measure and then eliminate all but the downbeat. This is exceptionally helpful in practice.

Another great trick is to practice with the metronome on the up beats. The result is a lighter feeling. Start the metronome on quarter notes and begin counting in eights (1&2&3&4&123) and on the next note you will hear the metronome as playing all of the "ands" of the measure.

Gabrielle said...

thanks to both! i don't have a dr.beat, but the garage band thing works great!