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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mxbassman, Oct 25, 2005.
What are some simple ways I can use a metronome to improve my timing?
Turn it on.
Seriously, you use it to practice getting your timing down. Just turning it on and playing and trying to be accurate with the click helps tremendously, like maybe play scales one note per click, then maybe two notes per click. Start at slower tempos and get them down at the slower tempo, then gradually build up speed. And also, you can go slower as well. people think it's easy to play slow songs because there's not a lot of notes. That's what makes them harder.
There's a whole world of ways a metronome can help your playing, but that's a pretty common usage to get you started.
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I let the metronome click on as few beats as possible.
Start by practicing(sp?) scales, 2 notes per click.
Some might suggest the opposite, but then, we wouldn't want to open up a can of worms..... or would we?
Without knowing more about you, here's something that should work regardless of what level you are at and what you play.
Pick something you like to play and are comfortable with. Set the metronome to hit on every beat at the tempo you are used to playing it. Get used to locking in with the 'nome here. Now comes the fun part.
Change the speed. Usually faster is easier. Set the 'nome slower. The slower the better.
Repeat same exercise, but this time, have the 'nome only beating on 2 & 4 instead of every quarternote. Again start at a tempo you are comfortable with and then swap it.
Try again, this time only beating on the first beat of each measure.
You get the idea.
I think you'll be shocked at how your timing isn't as good as you thought at first, especially when you aren't having the click every beat, and especially if you record yourself and listen back.
Phew... I could post forever on this topic and it probably wouldn't help all that much. So some concepts might help.
Try and internalize timefeel, work with the metronome outside of your instrument, outside of the metronome even. Try and have a good idea of where 112 BPM or where 67 bpm is. Focus on feeling the difference between 68 BPM and 69 BPM or 124 BPM and 126 BPM. Really listen and feel the pulses and how they work, feel the space inbetween them, and the attacks.
One program I do is called "Metro Sweeps" it was developed by Mitch Haupers and Mick Goodrick at berklee. The idea is to chart out 4 tempos a day for 7 days a week 28 days in a row. Basically, every day of every month you specifically practice 4 different pre-determined tempos. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the 'nome. Any pieces of music you're working on, try them at whatever tempos your present Metro Sweep calendar says. Also though, pay attention to 'time octaves', which would be: 100 BPM = 25 BPM 50 BPM, 100 BPM, 200 BPM, 400 BPM...etc.
So you can half time anything, or double time anything, recognizing that it's all derivative of something else. Even if you can't physically play in some of the more extreme speeds, keep it in your mind and try and conceptualize it.
Those are some concepts.
More practical things to do. If you have a good metronome(Matrix 550 is a good one for cheap) Set the click at different intervals from 1-2-3-4. Try 1-_-3-_ or _-2-_-4. If your metronome can, tell it to only click on the 1, then practice playing to a tempo with only a click on the 1, or even more tricky, try 1 every 4 bars and try and stay on tempo so that you don't lose the 1. You might need a drum machine or sequencer to do that though, if you're interested further I can elaborate.
Along those lines, get a friend or a sequencer to help you out with this. Have a metronome click going on 1-2-3-4 or 2 and 4 or 1 and 3, something you're comfortable with. Then have your friend(or sequencer) drop a bar or 2 bars or 3 bars or a beat. So that the metronome cuts out but keeps clicking. This will force you to internalize the timefeel, then when the metronome comes back in you will be able to gauge where you were in relation to the click.
Another thing to consider trying is having the metronome on 1-2-3-4 and playing in 6, or playing a tempo against the metronome. Or have the metronome set to 7/8 or something an you try and play where the 4 pulse would be. That's a little bit advanced, but the idea is to intellectualize and feel the separate pulses in your head.
There is a book I have called "factorial rhythm" It's basically a book full of rhythms for any instrument to play through. The rhythms are derived from permutations and seed rhythms based on how many attacks you can fit in a bar. GET THIS BOOK. IT's an invaluable practice aid for getting a bunch of rhythmic ideas, also it covers the "metro sweep" concept in depth.
Personally, I have 4 metronomes, one in my car, one on my desk, one in my gig bag and one that I currently misplaced. I regularly quiz myself throughout the day to try and have a sense of different BPMs, and often practice feeling different meters against a click and stuff.
Time is probably the trickiest thing to learn of all the things a bass player has to know. You can have great timefeel, but there is still a world of knowledge and wisdom to be discovered from exploring and experimenting and thinking about time.
Sorry if the post was long and/or nonsensical, I can elaborate or break things down if you'd like.
Play solos against the metronome. Play grooves against the metronome. Play funky syncopated grooves against the metronome.
When you can play against a metronome AND sound good, not mechanical, you have snatched the pebbles from your hand.
Start with 1 click per beat. Try with the click on 2 and 4, so the click is the backbeat. Try with 1 click per measure for a real challenge.
The monster challenge is playing slow ballads, slow tempos leave lots of space between clicks, lots of opportunities to drift off. Also do slow grooves with less clicks than beats, like 2 and 4, and the 1 per measure stuff.
If you can't play good time with a metronome, you can't do it with a drummer either, you'll be constantly tugging on the beat sliding it around.