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learn to play with a metronome

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by herpes, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. herpes


    Jan 20, 2006
    Austria (tyrol)

    i just started playing bass in september. now i have a problem. i have to learn playing with a metronome.

    whats the fastest way to get it? (if there is one)
    or do i have to try try and try...
    - i just want to get a good bass player :D

  2. I don't think there is an easy way to do it... Only practise can help you. First try to play one note for every beat, then two notes, then 3 and then 4. It's not easy, you have to spend a LOT of hours to reach this point so I hope you 're stubborn:smug: Then try replacing some notes with pauses in various positions. Hope I helped
  3. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Whenever you practice, use a metronome. Every scale, arpeggio, funk lick, whatever. Find the right tempo and go. Play behind the beat, ahead of it, on it, swing it, sixteenths, quarters, triplets whatever - but have that metronome on. It's your indispensible source of objective time.
  4. puff father

    puff father

    Jan 20, 2006
    Endicott, NY
    My problem with playing with metronomes is: metronomes seem steady til I start playing..., then they're all over the place! :)
  5. EmmSee


    May 23, 2004
    Boston, MA
    You'll get it... take your time and just do quarter notes on the beat and try to make the beat disappear. You're really in time when you can't hear the metronome!

    Keep practicing!
  6. Start really really slow. Set the metronome on 40 or even lower.

    Play quarter notes at this speed until you get it locked in, then move to eighths.

    Once you can do this, then think of the metronome as ticking on the 2 and 4. Count this out loud first, as it is a bit hard to get the count right the first time. Then start playing quarter notes with the metronome clicking on 2 and 4 - a little bit of that will really lock your time in.

    This is the only way I use the metronome now, and I use it all the time - gets really interesting when you are doing odd triplet or 16th stuff.
  7. I have a problem with metronomes - I seem to have trouble locking in with them. BUT, I have absolutely NO problems locking with another instrument, doesn't matter what instrument.

    I found out about this because I play around with GarageBand and have a hard time playing a bass line or guitar riff with just the click running and no other instruments. But as soon as I play something else, or if I add a drum loop, I am able to lock into that right away, first take, no problems.

    What the hell is going on?
  8. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    I think it's much easier for some people (for me among them) to play on time with drum machine or anything else that can give you a more accurate rhythm like 1/16 beats.

    When you play together with a regular metronome you'll mostly play while the metronome gives you 1/4 beats.
    That's harder because your mind have to complete the 1/16 beats in between while drumloops already do it for your mind.
  9. Sometimes I get frustrated trying to lock in with the metronome, so I quickly add a very simply drum loop (kick on the 1, snare on the 3) and that works for me. No hihats or anything else.
  10. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    Again...as soon as you add the snare you have 1/8 and it's easier for your mind because it got less to complete.

    On the other hand maybe it's just that annoying tick sound that the metronome makes. :D
  11. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I used to use a clock as a metronome. 60 bpm to start, and then I just started doubling up what I was playing.

    You just have to get used to internal timing and matching it to the metronome.
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    There is a disclaimer that needs to be attached to this. Yes, you want to use a metronome to build your sense of objective time. But, practicing only with a metronome can be damaging to your sense of time. Timing in music is fluid, when you're playing with real musicians, imperceptible fluctuations in time can and do occur, and time is approached in far more malleable way than a metronome is capable of representing.

    Metronomes are very important and it is important to use them, but it is also important to keep in mind 'the big picture', as it were.

    There are a billion things you can practice with a metronome though, you can practice playing straight quarters on the pulse. You can play every other pulse, every 3rd pulse(try this one), every 4th pulse...etc. whatever. You can only play OFF the pulse. You can try playing a polyrhythm against the pulse. If you metronome allows you, you can set the click to only click on the one, or only on the two, or the three, or two AND four. Or one AND four, or three and four. Any variation possible will give you some more insight into how to feel time.

    Generally speaking, metronome study is not about "how high can you set the 'nome to click", instead, it's about observing and feeling tempo and pulse, and figuring out what to do with it.

    So, one thing about tempos is this idea of time octaves. You're playing a click in 100 BPM, well, that's also 50 BPM double-timed and that's also 200 BPM half timed. Dig? So, be conscious of that while you're playing and you might learn a thing or two.

    If possible, get a 'nome that has the ability to set up clicks on vary spots on the bar in different time signatures.

    You might think that you have good time when you can click on every beat at 40-60 BPM, but what happens when the click is only on the 2 and 4? what happens when it is only on the 1? what if it is on an anticipation of 4? will you still be able to feel it?

    It really goes as deep as you want it to, and there is infinite possibilities.

    I rarely practice bass with my metronome these days. Instead I practice with my metronome off the bass and away from music. Just me and the 'nome. There is a lot to dig into solely on the metronome itself, and since I know I don't have any playing bottlenecks when I play bass, having an abstract concept of time proves to be beneficial when I sit down and play.

    Lastly, another goal you can strive for, learn to feel the difference between 56 bpm and 57 bpm. Or 128 bpm and 127 bpm. Think about the difference, not only as far as 1 bpm, but as far as a lower bpm vs a higher bpm...etc.

    Shrug. I've just rambled off a bunch of stuff, let me know if it's completely bull**** :p
  13. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    this is where I say something that is kinda contradictory to my last post, but it's all knowledge/wisdom, and its all good.

    Basically, your time isn't as good as you think it is. A metronome or click will really expose where your flaws are, something that, when you have a full band backing you(virtual or otherwise), even though you feel like you are locked in. Really, it's likely you're not quite as locked in as you think, but all the other rhythms going on and all the other noise, versus the fact that you are more or less in sync, basically tricks your brain into thinking your time is better than it is.

    Of course, this might not be the case entirely, but try this.

    In garageband, setup some instrument loops. Record yourself grooving along with them, then go back and replace all the instrument loops with a single click track. How does your time sound now? If it still sounds good, then try taking off the 1 and 3 of the click. How does it sound now? ...etc.

    Reduce the elements to find where weak spots in your timing are, and then work to strengthen them.

    I'm not sayin that your time isn't good just because you think it is. But, know that you can ALWAYS work on your time. It is a constant exercise that always benefits from thinking about.
  14. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    That's an interesting opinion. Bad time can be damaging to your good time.

    What learning a good internal clock by practiciing with your metronome will do is expose bad time from undiciplined musicians who can't sit back on the beat. Time can be fluid and flow with the mood of the tune or the solo but you better know where it is. If you have any wish to do anything at all in the studio, you better have your time groove together.

    Yes practice with a metronome, practice with a drum machine, practice with a drummer. Good time feel is the key to bass playing. You don't need chops, you don't need to solo your ass off You have to play with a good time feel. If you are playing with a great drummer and you are rushing section changes or turnarounds, you will make the entire band sound like amature hour.

    Here's a tip for practicing swing feels, have the metronome click on two and four. Makes getting the swinging eights a lot easier to feel. Start slow.... very slow. your are practicing for accuracy not speed. Advance the tempo only when you can play what you are practicing flawlessly at the slow tempo.
  15. herpes


    Jan 20, 2006
    Austria (tyrol)

    same at me too. i think it is just much easier to play with a band, you don't have to think so much.

    i've got the problem that, when someone shows me a bassline i have no problems to play it with a good time. but when i just have the notes i need very much time to get the beat.

    i think the most difficult thing is to play with the metronome and count the 1/8
  16. I think you 'll get used to it. I 've always hated the metronome but if use spend some hours with it you 'll start to be able to somehow feel the 1/8s too. I could always play steaily 1/8s without the metronome, but then the teacher told me: "Ok, so what happens if the drummer plays the song a little slower, what are you going to do?"

    You see, if the drummer is good, he can always lock with you but what happens if he can't and it's you the one who has to change his speed??
  17. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    TICK? I WISH!!

    One reason I bought the Tascam Bass Trainer is for the metronome feature, but it 'clicks' on a NOTE PITCH! ...Like "beep, beep". I don't know WHAT they were thinking.

    Drives me nuts. Now I have to get a seperate metronome; it really irks me to hear this off-key, out-of-progression pitch reference.

  18. I played hell in the studio when I first had to work with a click track. Then I asked the engineer if just once he could make the click sound like a kick drum instead of a pair of bamboo sticks being banged together. He did, and I had no problem responding to it.

    Another bit of simplictic advice for working with a metronome or a click track: Listen for the spaces between the clicks. Once you can hear those, you'll be fine.