Joe Hubbard and the Great Metronome Debate

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Commreman, Jun 9, 2017.

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  1. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    I just watched this a little while ago. I think that Joe Hubbard gets this exactly right.

     
  2. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Denmark
    Sounds sensible in the context and from where he is coming from.

    And no doubt he is right about what he says, basically, and more simply formulated, that you got to learn how to crawl before you can walk.

    Forcing someone on their legs before they are ready will be counter productive and will only lead to failure, frustration and unnecessary stress slowing down the learning process rather than speed it up.

    However I couldn't count properly if my life depended on it, still I am able to execute pretty complicated odd meters and rhythms.

    I basically learned by doing, and is very much an advocate of using mainly your intuition and training that.

    However I recognize that if you strive to be able to read and write music using standard notation it is quite essential to actually know, not only by intuition, but also quite concrete and mathematically accurate what it actually is you are doing in order to correctly interpret what you read or formulate and communicate it in a way that would be understandable to the reader in case you write music.

    In that aspect and from that view point and angle what he says also does make a lot of sense.

    I won't refuse or deny the possibility either that if I had learned proper musical theory from the bottom I might have developed my playing abilities faster, though it is also perfectly possible that I am just not wired that way.

    To each his own, we all have our own path and ways of doing and learning things.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
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  3. 5544

    5544

    Dec 1, 2015
    This is what works for me when it comes to a metronome:

    1) With a new piece of music - get the finger movements under the hands without a metronome.
    2) Play with a metronome at the fastest speed the hardest part can be played.
    3) Slowly (2 to 3 bpm) move the metronome up to continue playing piece perfect until up to speed.
     
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  4. Jloch86

    Jloch86

    Aug 1, 2016
    I agree with this guy 100%. Get the material under your fingers before you introduce a time keeping device.
     
  5. GastonD

    GastonD

    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Yeah, I've been following Joe's work for a while, and in my mind he's one of the best music educators out there.
     
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  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i learned to play music (piano, later sax) in precisely his suggested way (re: use of metronome). but now (almost 60 years!) i'm a little more casual in my use of time keeping devices/methods. i use a modified version of what https://www.talkbass.com/members/5544.286515/ is doing.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sure, you don't try to learn fingering, shifting, string crossing and rhythmic definition for a specific piece of music with the additional pressure of time constraint. Put to say that using a tool that defines a rhythmic constant to learn to hear a steady time stream doesn't work is like saying using a tool that defines a specific pitch (and set of pitches) to learn to hear pitch relationships doesn't work. You can do the latter with a piano, you can do the former with a metronome.

    The metronome is a great tool to use (in a non-performance situation as Joe defines 'performance and non-performance' above) to help expose and define shortfalls in technical approach. Playing two octave open position triad arpeggios "out of time" is fine when you are trying to first learn all you need to have to play them - WHAT the notes are, WHERE the notes are, WHERE to shift positions, WHEN to cross strings, WHAT fingering is the best solution. And that sounds like the CRAWL phase.
    But some of the solutions one comes up with (particularly on double bass) when time stream is not a factor may not, in fact, be the best solutions. So how do you determine whether those are in fact good choices? The metronome introduces the pressure of time. What works and is easily executed at qnote=60 bpm may start falling apart at 72bpm. Is it because you haven't learned the material at the CRAWL phase? I don't think so. My experience has been that choices made without a time constraint may not be the best solution and having that pointed out in the WALK phase should be what that's all about. Having it fall apart under a time constraint gives you the opportunity to start tearing apart what's not working. Are you stumbling over a string crossing because you always try to start on the same pizz finger? Is it when you shift positions? Should you shift someplace else? Should you try to finger in one position or in three positions with shifts? If you don't start playing with a metronome until the RUN phase, I don't see how you can say you've built a good foundation for moving forward.

    But using a metronome as a practice tool in that way is NOT about developing time feel. Using the methodology as described in the video, this would fall under the aegis of PERFORMANCE. But for me, and my teacher and his teacher, improvisation is something that needs to be practiced, just like any other technique. And using the metronome, as a rhythmic constant to practice developing a steady timefeel, is more akin to ear training; you are not trying to memorize some specific tempo, you're working to develop visceral feeling about what it's like to improvise in a steady time stream, to feel where you push and pull against it, how to relax and drop the notes you are hearing in the exact place you want to hear them in that time stream.
     
  8. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    I don't want to engage in some lame argument with an excellent teacher and true PRO bass player and musician, but...
    Among other things, I'm trying to understand the logic behind Joe's idea of "counting".
    In the video Joe Hubbard demonstrates how to count - one, two, three, four - and play a bass-line.
    My question/s.
    Is it the same if somebody else is counting - one, two, three, four -loudly and I'm playing the bass-line?
    Is it the same if some computer software is counting - one, two, three, four -loudly and I'm playing the bass-line?
    Is it the same if the metronome is counting - one, two, three, four -loudly and I'm playing the bass-line?

    There are other issues with Joe's ideas but different schools - different ideas.
     
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  9. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Honestly I would avoid NOT to practice new music without a click, metronome or drum machine because at some point you need to challenge yourself to put all your skills at work and practicing with a click or some kind of beat something you don't know is very important in the process of improving. So even if your are a beginner or intermediate, one should be able to challenge himself or herself once in a while with the metronome because if you jam with your friends, you sight-read or soloing or creating something new, you should be able to perform well even if you don't know where the music is taking you ;-)

    So I would say that a mix of both approaches is wise.
     
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  10. inanimate_carb

    inanimate_carb

    Aug 11, 2016
    Metromome work is important - there needs to be a standard to measure progress with. I'm well aware of the Berlin school and other proponents of the idea that people are already born with an innate sense of time that doesn't need refinement or improvement. I've played with (and heard) far too many musicians with glaring time issues that strongly suggest that natural, innate time isn't a universal birthright. A number of them are actually revered heroes here on TB.

    I also remember about a dozen people who came in to the music store I used to work at, trying to return metronomes that were "broken" due to the fact that the buyer was convinced that the devices didn't keep proper time. In all instances the metronomes were fine, but some people can't accept that their novice concept of what time is doesn't line up with what it really is.

    As always, some moderation is key and the metronome should be your friend, but not your god. There will be ebb and flow in an ensemble, even amongst ones made of of very fine musicians, unless a click in the inear monitors is used.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Denmark
    I'd rather not start an argument about nothing, but seems like you are doing just that.

    No one in this thread has claimed that using a metronome is a useless tool, neither does Joe in his video, so don't quite understand what it is you are trying to say there?

    Joe's point is that you shouldn't apply unnecessary pressure to the process of learning something by introducing a new aspect and level to the stuff you are learning that has really nothing to do with the stuff you are in fact practicing right there.

    I mean, sure timing and rhythm is a part of by far most music, but it doesn't make much sense to have the stress factor it is to apply another level to be aware of, when trying to focus on totally different aspects in the leaning process than actual performing the music.

    If what you wrote is a comment to what I posted, I think you misunderstood my point as well, which basically just was that I don't believe music in it's essence is simple math, actually it is quite complicated math, and it would be impossible for me to consciously calculate and keep track of every single little detail in my movements and play, and even if it weren't impossible, doing so would definitely take my focus away from what was going on around me, so I'd rather put that part on auto pilot, so I can focus on what is important.

    You know trust my intuition will guide me in the right direction based on my previous experiences and whatever subconscious calculation processeses my brain might have going on, so I can concentrate on what I am actually doing right now in the moment instead.

    Also I never claimed that metronomes are useless, I just honestly admitted that I suck at counting while playing, and that it honestly takes my focus away from actually playing properly.

    You might feel differently, and that is fine, just saying that approach doesn't work for me or everyone.

    I have no problems with keeping up to a beat on bass however, as long as I am not forced to play drums and play bass at the same time, if you get what I mean.

    I trust my drummer is better at playing drums than I am, hence why he got the assignment.

    Don't get me wrong I agree with you that timing is crucial for being able to play music well, and that being able to follow a beat in by far most cases are as well, I just don't get who it is you are arguing with in your post?

    So please don't take this post as an attack or insult on what you wrote, I am just slightly confused and curious, as to why you feel it is important to point out that saying a metronome is a useless tool is a pretty nonsensical thing to say, when you in fact are the only one mentioning that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
  12. GastonD

    GastonD

    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    To me, metronomes are excellent diagnostic tools and can be used as training tools as well, but certainly one's musical education should not revolve around them. It probably comes from the modern Western world's obsession with quantifying everything and thus making it somehow "scientific".
     
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  13. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Let's say, a beginner bass player is learning a simple bass pattern - Root/5th "the country style".
    And that bass player cannot play it at 104BPM.
    Can that bassist play it at 50BPM (or it's too much "pressure")?

    Joe tells us to "subdivide" - Yes, yes, and yes but...
    How can you subdivide if you do not(!) have the constantly ticking PULSE?
    Let's say you are counting (slowly), One and Two, and Three, and - and right here you decide to stop (for any reason- looking for a fret/note), and your "rest" is three times longer that all three Beats before that, but it was supposed to last only 1/2 of the beat???...
    Subdivision is as good as long as it teaches you that "subdivision"!!!

    What's more.
    Phrasing (articulation) is directly related to tempo!!!
    What sounds good at 70BPM could become a "mess" at 130BPM.

    I understand that some teachers could provide their students with clearly marked and "use the following fingering" exercises, bass-lines, which means that those students do not need to even think about "should I use this or that fingering, position, etc.," but...
    Playing at a slow (very slow) tempo with the metronome would only help you to identify your weak spots.
    In short.
    If someone is a beginner(!!!), you start with the simplest quarter notes of just one pitch at 40BPM.
    Now.
    Can you incorporate that "subdivision" of some eighth notes at the same tempo and start learning the rhythmic difference of the quarter and eighth notes?

    I truly believe that we mean the same the idea (just not Jeff Berlin) but some "language" and wording barriers lead us to "samo-samo" emotional and lame arguments about the use of metronomes.

    N.B. Joe's counting is equal to the METRONOME!!!

    Now, what if somebody has serious "issues" with reading the notes?
    Slowly but steadily you figure out just one Measure/Bar and, then(!!!) try to internalize it at a slow tempo.
    You could count it by saying - one, two, etc..., or your teacher could count it, or you can use some software, or some metronome.
    When you are ready, let's move to the next bar/measure. Slowly but steadily figure out the second Measure/Bar - notes, articulation, positions, frets, etc... and, then(!!!) try to internalize it at a slow tempo.
    Now.
    Let's join those two bars/measures together at a slow (very slow) tempo.
    You could count it by saying - one, two, etc..., or your teacher could count it, or you can use some software, or some metronome.

    P.S. I still remember my childhood days when during the solfeggio lessons we needed to use our hand to conduct the rhythm pattern.
    ConductingRhythmPatterns.PNG

    P.S.2. About "pressure".
    It's only my personal opinion but even the weakest "hint" of "performance pressure" helps you to internalize this or that exercise, bass-line, etc...
     
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  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    . At about 4:06 into the vid Joe makes an analogy that, like the metronome, the bass is an, and I quote, "inanimate object" and that using "an inanimate object" to develop time feel (in his scenario) is like believing a salesperson when they tell you that buying a more expensive bass will help you play better. Sorry if I didn't take everyone by the hand and lead them down my thought process, but basically it's this. Yes, both basses and metronomes are fairly inanimate objects. Like bowls and tables and socks and hammers. But certain inanimate objects are suited quite well for certain tasks. If you need to drive a nail, saying that there is an equivalence between a sock and a hammer is kind of missing the point.

    So, no, Joe did not say the words "tool" or "useless", but that was the implication.
     
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  15. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    I'd like to continue with all those fallacies about that "The Great Metronome Debate".

    To summarize my thoughts.

    If you count(!!!) - you are already using some kind of metronome(!!!).
    If you tap your foot - you are already using some kind of metronome(!!!).
    When your teacher is slowly(!) counting all those - One and Two, and Three, etc... - you are already using some kind of metronome(!!!).

    Should I repeat my main point of this discourse?

    If you count - you are already using some kind of metronome. It could be a good or a bad one , with some glitches, but a "metronome"!!!
    Next point.
    If your exercise is not, more or less, challenging - you are not learning, you are not getting better, you are not improving.

    While I totally understand Joe's bass-practicing analogy to one of the most dangerous physical contact sports - Football, I'd like to make my point.
    Just imagine about injuries if the football team decides to conduct full-contact ("performance-pressure) practice.
     
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  16. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    In my experience the answer is no. Generating a steady count while playing is a much different and more difficult activity than playing along with a person or device that is providing the pulse for you. Of course, the tempo and complexity of what one is playing will determine how much difference/difficulty there is between the two.
     
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  17. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    This is fine assuming that the musician understands the concept of subdivision. I frequently work on verbally subdividing while working out tricky syncopated lines. I'm just training myself to coordinate the notes with the correct syllables of the subdivision and sometimes I need to stop and think for a split second. Repeat until I can do it without hesitation. Then I'll start the metronome work to see how accurate I really am.
     
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  18. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Joe's idea of phases makes sense to me though I tend to see them not as steps but as an incline where one phase gradually become the next. It seems to me that adding a click towards the end of the walking phase shouldn't introduce performance pressure if it is set at the tempo that one can play the line anyways. At this point instead of speeding up the metronome I start to play games with it. Click on 2 and 4. Click on the ands of every beat. Click on 2nd and 4th 16th of every beat and so on. This introduces a distraction that shows me if I really have the line solidified or not. The side benefit is that I've become more comfortable with drummers who like to be "clever" with fills or trading fours.
     
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  19. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Thank you for your comment, and it sounds that you agree with my main point in this discussion,
    "If you count - you are already using some kind of metronome. It could be a good or a bad one , with some glitches, but a "metronome"!!!
    And yes, I agree that it's "more difficult(!!!) than playing along with a person or device that is providing the pulse for you."

    That's is absolutely my point.

    As I've mentioned in my previous posting,
    "I truly believe that we mean the same the idea but some "language" and wording barriers lead us to "samo-samo" emotional and lame arguments about the use of metronomes."

    Just making sure that I've read it correctly, "for a split(!) second(!)"
    I does not sound like Joe's "One hour from twenty hours of practicing".
    But...
    Here is the same point I'm trying to get across.
    If you or anybody is having some "issues", questions, etc... about some "tricky syncopated notes", then,
    you are slowing down (or adjusting) your "internal" counting metronome tempo with all those "one, e, and, a, two, e, and, a, three, e, and, a, four, e, etc..." or,
    "one, trip, let, two, trip, let, three, trip, let, four, trip, let, etc..."
    just to internalize/understand that "tricky" spot, but your counting= the metronome is going on.
    "...With eighth notes, you count two notes for every click of a metronome(!!!). For sixteenth notes, you double that number to four, and so on...."
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
  20. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    As I've mentioned several times in this thread,
    If you count - you are already using some kind of metronome.
    Yes, it's more difficult to count than to listen to the metronome, but you are already using some kind of metronome!
    When you are trying to slowly (very slowly) count some "tricky syncopated measure/s", you are already using some kind of metronome = your internal counting, and that "internal but metronome" is used to internalize some "tricky" notation.

    In short.
    As soon as any musician start counting(!!!) that musician is already using some kind of metronome. And that metronome could be a good one, a bad one, a faulty one, or with some kind of defect/s, etc...
    Counting = some kind of Metronome.