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Metronome/singing practice - some questions

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by JCartwright, May 10, 2010.

  1. JCartwright


    Jun 11, 2008
    Hi Justin,
    I have a bunch of questions about the practice you mentioned in previous posts, apologies if you've already answered them, I did have a search around before so I'm fairly sure they aren't there.

    1) What do you mean by making the beats "disappear"?
    2) Would you ever do the metronome exercises whilst doing something else? and if the aim is to internalize your sense of time would it hurt to do them whilst doing something else?
    (I was hoping that i'd be able to put a tuner on headphones at work and tap along with my foot, that way i could get some serious hours in without driving co-workers crazy.)
    3) Does it matter to practice singing against a piano in particular, or if you only have access to a bass could you just sing along to that with the same exercises?

    Also, out of curiosity, do you prefer P or J bass necks, generally speaking?

    Cheers for your time, and for the inspiration.
  2. kevbass5


    Jan 18, 2008
    i'm happy to jump in and give these ?'s a shot. feel free to disregard my answers, i know you didn't ask me.

    1. making a beat disappear means that your clapping, (or snapping or clicking drumsticks together, or what have you) is so accurate that it totally covers up the metronome. if you do it just right, it will be like your metronome is turned off.

    2. i feel like doing this with headphones likely would not work, because you can't really drown out the click when it is right in your ear. also, for me at least, this exercise takes too much concentration to do while multi-tasking.

    to work on your rhythm at work, i'd suggest listening to your favorite drummers, and really listen deeply: pick out the bass drum pattern, and pat your foot along to it. listen to the way the high-hat relates to the snare. feel what it's like to push the beat, to lay back, etc.

    3. it may be easier to use a piano because of its wider range, but i think it's fine to use the bass too. maybe consider getting a pitch pipe or tuning fork, because i think part of the point of these exercises is to have some sort of musical personality or identity that is not defined by the bass.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    it is fine to use the bass, but a little piano knowledge never hurts. i think every musician ought to know at least what's known as "arranger's piano," knowing the notes, being able to pick out basic melodies, etc. in justin's case, knowing how to play a little keyboards certainly had to be a selling point for nin.
  4. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Thanks for the very good questions.
    1) As Kevbass says, making your claps "cover up" the metronome. It can be a wonderfully boring, yet oddly exhilarating (and kind of Zen) exercise, especially when you start to do it with no thought or physical effort.
    2) I'm not sure. I think it requires a great deal of "alone time". Not really sure about that one.
    3) Sure you can do that stuff with a bass. I do. But a piano is great for matching the register of your voice, plus it tends to have a harmonic structure that's more akin to the human voice. So I think it's kind of a better match for pitch. Crappy sampled piano (such as Garage Band in a Mac via a MIDI controller) works juuuustt fine.

    I prefer P-bass necks.

    You're most welcome!
  5. JCartwright


    Jun 11, 2008
    Thanks guys,
    That should give me plenty to work on for a while.

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