A few basic practice questions
I'm a guitar player converting to bass, which means I actually have to pay attention to staying in time now (lol). Just to stay sharp, is metronome better than, say, practicing over EZdrummer beats? If so, then why? And do I really need to practice the counting?
I believe a metronome is better than a drum machine for practicing because less of the "stuff" is filled in for you. In other words, you have to do more of the timekeeping yourself.
In fact, rather than having the metronome click on every beat, try having it click on every other beat. So, if the song is 120 beats per minute, try setting the metronome at 60. Now count four beats, so that the metronome clicks on 2 and 4. Now groove along with that. The metronome becomes your snare drum, and when you lock up with it, it feels great. But drift, and you're in trouble!
Practice the counting until the rhythm feels natural. Then stop counting and just play.
Knowing how to count out a rhythm is a valuable skill, IME, so don't neglect it.
Ok, thanks for the advice.
And excellent advice it was from Bassist4Eris. But don't stop there. If you can set the metronome even more slowly, then do so. Try using it on 1 only, 2 only, 3 only, 4 only, etc.
If you really need to set it on 1, 2, 3, and 4 to start, then do so. But avoid that crutch as soon as possible. If you are playing a fast tune (such as 1/4 = 300 bpm), try setting it on 1, 2, 3, or 4 of every other measure. For the most part, the metronome isn't there to feed you the beat; it's there to show you when you miss the beat. Using it as an aw crap mechanism is the most effective use.
The metronome is the best and also the hardest way to improve your tempo and groove skills.
Drum loop and software are helpful to let you improve easily your groove sense but if you try to work from the begin on the metronome, you can't imagine how big will be your improvement.
study with me
Go for the metronome. Search YouTube for Victor Wooten's tutorial on how to use the metronome. He has a great exercise which will help with your internal "clock".
One sort of excercise you do is play a scale, and play it in different tuplets. So play two notes every beat, then 3, then 4, 5, 6, 7, etc.
Then you can start playing (I think this is a polyrhythm?) things like 7 over 4 rhtyhms, so 7 notes in the space of 4 metronome beats, and then 7 notes in the space of two.
Doing things like this will give you a better sense of time, which you can use to great effect as part of the rhythm section (Progressive bass players often use things like this in fills)
You could probably use this sort of excercise with any riff, going through the circle of 5ths to play it in different keys too
Have fun :D
Some thoughts on metronomes:
fwiw, I agree with Jeff Berlin and his approach to learning bass. I have natural meter, but I have difficulty learning songs "in time". I get the notes under my fingers first, then I apply time to it. I prefer to play along with recorded music (cd's in my case) or a drum machine.
But, to each their own.
I would suggest try different things and see what works best for you. Everyone learns differently.
I agree with ProgRocker and Jeff Berlin. The metronome is of little value as long as there is a issue with technique. Learn your song or scale or arpeggio or whatever and then get into the time stuff with metronome or drum machine. Ultimately you'll need to act and react to musicians so as soon as you can get with other players, the better for you. Metronomes and drums machines are very exact... art is not.
Long but worth the read. It applies to practicing.
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