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Metronome Quetions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Usul, Aug 20, 2000.

  1. Hello all,

    Still pretty much a beginner(and how!).Took the advice of other,more expearienced players on this list and picked up a metronome.It is a Seiko digital model(yes,gmstudio99 it DOES look like a communicator! lol)Not sure at all how to determine what tempo/beat to set it at.You see as of now I play only tabs....want to learn to read music...

    Not sure what a good "middle of the road" time/beat is for most rock/alt.rock tunes is.i have been running a 4/4 or 4/6 time with a 120 or so beat. Thanks in advance for any info!

  2. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    My advice as a player for over 20 years is that you shoulod ALWAYS practice with the metronome. Timing is the single most important thing to completely master, for any and every style. Stomp your foot to the metronome always. That metronome should be going and your foot stomping during every practice session. This may seem like a big pain the buttox sometimes but will pay off HUGE! good luck.
  3. Hmm...some modification may be necessary here. While I am certainly a proponent of practicing with a metronome, there are times when doing so isn't necessarily the best idea, and may even be counter-productive. When you're learning a new tune/technique/scale/etcetera, it's best to work "out of time" until you have things under your fingers. Once the fingerings and notes are under control so to speak, THEN start working on playing them in time, with your metronome.

    Usul, to answer your original questions (well, as best I can at least :) ):

    120 beats per minute (abbreviated as BPM usually) is a typical "dance" club tune tempo. Think of the Butabi brothers in "A Night At The Roxbury" and you'll get the idea ("Baby don't hurt me, baby don't hurt me....no more" :D)

    As for 4/4 and 4/6 time signatures, well...there certainly is a 4/4, but 4/6 is a new one on me ;). Maybe you meant 6/4? Here's a "primer" on time signatures:

    In the fraction used to give the time, the upper number is the number of beats or counts per measure, and the lower number is the subdivision that gets the count. The subdivisions are based upon a measure of 4/4 time, which is also called "common time". Most (~75% at a guess) western music (i.e. "white man's music ;) ) is in 4/4 time, therefore we call it common time. If you ever see a piece of music with a "c" in place of the time signature, that means common time. Anyway, I digress, as usual. The subdivisions used are all based on "powers" of 2 (and you thought you had managed to finally get out of math :D): 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32...(half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirtysecond). Those Brits have different names for the same things (quavers, semi-quavers, demi-quavers...something like that ;) ). There is also the whole note, but as it fills an entire measure of 4/4 (one note played for 4 counts), it's not a subdivision (1/1 = 1, right?). So, in 4/4 time you would count four quarter notes per measure, in 6/4, you'd count six quarter notes. This will cover all "simple" meters (which are the ones where you count the upper number), there are also "compound" meters, which we'll save for another post, as this one is getting REEEEEEAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLYYYYYYY long now :D.

    Finally (and hopefully breifly), here's a great practicing idea I got from a teacher years ago: Instead of practicing with your metronome clicking away on each beat (4 clicks for a measure of 4/4), have it click half notes (every other beat). Count the clicks as 2 and 4, it may help to think of it this way: one TWO three FOUR, with the uppercase numbers being where the clicks are. What this does is make YOU supply a solid one or downbeat on each measure, which I think we'd all agree is somewhat important (lock in with that bass drum, and all else is forgiven :D)
  4. Ed-

    Great advice, I should have mentioned similar things myself. Also, on my metronome clicking on 2 and 4 thing - if your working on something at 120 bpm, you'd set the metronome to 60, in other words, cut the desired tempo in half and you're there.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Not necessarily. If you are playing Caribbean music then the main feature is that you DON'T play on the first beat of the bar; e.g. in Reggae or Afro-Cuban styles generally grouped as Salsa. The most common bass line in the latter is the "Tumbao", which locks in with the piano "Montuno" and not the drums, avoiding the first beat of each bar and anticipating chord changes on the 4th beat of the previous bar.

    Some African styles of music also use the off-beats rather than the down beats as a starting point.
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    anywhere from 100 b.p.m to 120 b.p.m. is a good range for most popular "modern rock" tunes. however, as bass player one of your main functions is to maintain, with the drummer, a solid, consistent beat, or pulse. to do so, you must have control over your notes, the kind of control and consistency that comes with practicing slowly at first, like Kung Fuqua says, and then building.

    this can be boring, but the rewards are great. what i used to tell my students, when i had students, was to dedicate the beginning 1/2 hour or so of their practice time to working on mechanics, which would be this kind of thing, practicing scales to the metronome, practicing finger stretches and exercises (also to the metronome), that kind of thing. then, i would have them "reward" themselves with working with some songs that they liked, usually i would have them transcribe the bass line and figure out the tempo, key and time sig, maybe 1-3 songs per week.

    the gist of what i am trying to say is :

    1. learn how to read notation as soon as you can - you don't have to sight read pagannini, just know where the notes are on the clef, and know what the difference between an 1/8th note and a 1/4 note is. the great thing about reading is that once you get the basics down, the very basics, the more you do it the better you get at it.

    2. practice everything slowly first and speed up as you gain and maintain consistency. learn songs at 1/2 speed and speed up as you gain consistency. anybody can play fast and sloppy but it takes a lot more skill to play slow and clean.

    a sloppy player can't play clean, but a clean player can play sloppy if he should desire to. something else to remember.

    3. practice with a metronome. do scales with a metronome. do finger exercises with a metronome. brush your teeth to the metronome. :)D just kididng on that last one) don't believe the hype that metronomic time is somehow "bad" or "stagnant" - there is no way that practiciing with a 'nome is going to hurt you. none.

    tempo is something that you can learn to recognize - just like key information - by ear. this is learned by exposure to it during practice sessions. i can listen to a song on the radio and get the tempo down to within 5 bpm. i can hear the difference when a song speeds up or slows down, intentionally or (more often than not) un-intentionally. this skill helps me as a player, just like being able to recognize the key sig or time sig of a song.
  7. Before You even put on the Bass stand before the metronome an clap your hands to the beat, when you can no longer hear the beat you are exactly on the beat. Do this every day and it will help your ability to play with the metronome and other musicians

  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Gard, that was a great mini lesson. You speak in a manner that even I can understand. I have a much better handle on time sigs now. Thanks
  9. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Gard, that was very well put. its hard to put that kind of stuff into writing. good job. my explanation was much more simplistic but the stomp your foot to the metronome method worked well for me when I started. i cant imagine that using a metronome would ever be "counterproductive" though.
  10. Bruce-

    Yes, but knowing where the one is, and having a solid command of that fact helps even if you're not going to actually play a note then. As I was taught by one of my first teachers, you actually play rests just like you do notes. If you don't KNOW where one is, you can't really nail the and of one, can you? Having spent 2+ years playing in a VERY strongly latin influenced rock band (full percussion section, killer piano player that really knew how to drive a montuno) I found knowing where one was at all times was very useful in keeping those tumbaos solid. I'm not disagreeing with you at all, just making the point that the one doesn't ever (or shouldn't ever) move, whether you play on that beat or not.

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