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Burying the Click, any Tempo

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Trevor_800, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Trevor_800


    Jan 9, 2013
    This is a goal of mine... I'm gonna give it all I've got, and I can do it "so-so" now, but plenty room for improvement.

    Just wondering what's the best exercise you know for building Time Awareness to the point that you can play for two or three minutes - or ten minutes!?? - and never hear the metronome's click?

    I'm not even sure how long it's humanly possible to keep a click buried... any thoughts on this would be cool, too.

    Thanks much,

  2. robertinventor


    Aug 17, 2010
    Isle of Mull
    Software Developer: Robert Inventor (Bounce Metronome & Tune Smithy)
    Hi, thanks for linking to my page about burying the click. Found this discussion in the referral list for the website.

    Just to say I've updated it with some new material, and added in a new youtube video I did a couple of months ago.

    The page was a bit out of date as it is a while since I did any work on it.

    Any questions or whatever do say, and hope it helps :).

    Also - yes you can bury the click pretty much indefinitely. The trick is to first play ahead and behind. Then hit the pocket. To be very relaxed at all stages in the exercise. Then to listen to what it sounds like when you are slightly away from the click - first at an echo distance away and then closer, at a reverb distance away. In the process of doing that then you also get a really clear feeling of where the click is.

    Then you listen out for the merge sound, how you and the metronome sound like a single instrument. All the while keeping completely relalxed, tension and effort don't help with this. To get an idea of how relaxed it can be then try playing alternate clicks with the metronome - not trying to "bisect" the beat, but just roughly alternate with it. Playing in the pocket with the metronome on every click can be as easy and relaxed as that exercise.

    Another relaxing exercise (at a later stage perhaps) is to play polyrhythmically with the metronome, let your tap gradually drift from one click to another.

    The rest is up to how keen your ears are. If you can hear timings of just a millisecond or so then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to play in the pocket with the click to the same level of precision indefinitely with practise. Of course your sensitivity to time is likely to increase as well by doing the exercise.

    Then you can also do exercises like setting the metronome to go silent for a number of measures and then come back again - and see if you are still in the pocket then as well. That way it is not just an exercise in learning to follow a click track or metronome, it's also an exercise to give you more confidence and strengthen your inner sense of timing and tempo.

    The link explains more.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I can bury the click pretty easily...in my backyard.

    Click tracks have ruined music IMHO. I've been forced into it a few times, and I hate it. I do fine with it, but to me that's not music. Some folks actually like the music swaying a little bit as it goes on, maybe speeding up a little bit in a fill, maybe dropping the tempo ever so slightly in a slow part, things like that. Metronomic time is boring unless it's the band themselves doing it, not a click.

    One of the best things I ever recorded was this song I co-wrote and recorded in the 90's (wish I still had a tape of it). We were doing a 1-take demo of it in a really nice studio, and the song gradually sped up as it went along, but it sped up in a really good way. A month later we do it "for reals" and the drummer insisted on a click against everyone else's wishes, and it came out like crap. Boring, lifeless, and just plain not good.

    Yes, it's the standard these days, but it's ruining music as far as I'm concerned. Whatever happened to the musicians being responsible for the time? Why leave it up to a box?
  4. robertinventor


    Aug 17, 2010
    Isle of Mull
    Software Developer: Robert Inventor (Bounce Metronome & Tune Smithy)
    Yes, totally agree, if you mean playing actual music along with a click track.

    The idea that a metronome is the ideal of rhythm is plain silly I think. Human rhythms are far more variable like that. After all - when did you last come into a room with a metronome clicking away and say "what a wonderful sense of rhythm that metronome has" :). Just doesn't happen, metronomes don't sound especially rhythmical in any wonderful way to us.

    See for instance the tempo plots here:

    You can almost always tell if the music is played to a click track from the tempo plot. I mean - if you want to play to a click track, fine, if that's the sort of music you want to make. But the idea that it is the ideal form of music, that that's what everyone should aim for, that's what is just plain silly I think :).

    But - burying the click as a metronome exercise is something else altogether. It depends how you use it.

    Again most players just play their music along with the metronome. But if you follow the methods taught by Mac Santiago and Andrew Lewis and explained in their books, you do very little actual playing of the your music with a metronome.

    Most of the time you are just working with the metronome in a separate exercise. You may set it to go silent for longer and longer time periods as well. The aim of the exercises is to strengthen your own inner pulse and sense of rhythm, and bring more precision to your timing and help with sensitivity to musical time. The aim isn't to play like a metronome.

    See the Metronome Technique section of the wikipedia article on the metronome for more about this.

    If you can bury the click, then that's like an artist who can draw a perfect straight line or circle. It doesn't mean you have to only draw straight lines or circles.

    So - I think it's the same in music.

    You could never play your music with a metronome or click track at all, and still use these exercises. Or only play sections of your music with a metronome, or only do it occasionally.

    It's well worth revisiting metronome technique if you have tried playing your music to a click track or metronome and decided it wasn't for you. It's a very different way of working with a metronome and you may well find it helpful.

    Of course some musicians have such a natural and wonderful sense of time and rhythm that they never need to work with a metronome at all, or have other ways of working with timing and tempo issues that work just fine for them so they don't need the help of the metronome.

    But for many musicians it can be a helpful thing to do, and if you ever have timing and tempo glitches, or just a tempo that's rather unsteady (that's not the same thing as a naturally changing and fluid tempo) or issues of rushing and dragging, or anything like that - and if you find them hard to fix and are not sure what to do about them, it can help with that.

    Can also help with sensitivity to nuances of timing and tempo in your playing as well.
  5. robertinventor


    Aug 17, 2010
    Isle of Mull
    Software Developer: Robert Inventor (Bounce Metronome & Tune Smithy)
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