Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by glocke1, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002
    Who and who has not used them?

    If you have not used one, or refuse to use one what is your rationale?

    Probably one of the biggest things that helped me to establish a decent sense of rhythm and timing was the use of a metronome. At one point in my practice routine I would spend hours with one, doing everything from noodling on my bass to working with sheet music and jazz standards...

    These days I do not have the luxury of having that much free time to practice with one consistently, but I am confident in saying that without using a metronome in the past, I would not be that good of a player today.
  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I practiced with a metronome for about a year, now I have one in my head.
  3. Egbert89


    Aug 30, 2012
    Never used one to be honest, and I'm not gonna say that my timing is perfect, but I've hardly got any complaints. I gotta say that I play blues and bluesrock most of the time. My thought on it is that if you lock with the drummer and the pulse and groove is tight then you can get away with a bit of floating. Music is 100% feeling for me, not a job :)
  4. I use a metronome or some kind of drum machine for the striking majority of my practice time (which I differentiate from my playing/noodling/transcribing time) .

    The exception is when I am focused on the notes and the positions or when getting the basic idea (rhythmic or melodic) of whatever I am studying before practicing it with strict timing.

    The metronome, for me, is possibly the most important tool for bettering time and rhythm and I don't believe it will take away one's Groove or lead one to sounding soulless and just metronomic while playing with others.
  5. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    I've recently started using one, and I love it. I have been playing songs that I've played for a long time and notice now, using the metronome, the small lags and speed-ups I've been doing, while all along SWEARING that I have a great sense of time.

  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I believe metronomes are superior to drum machines / loops and certainly superior to no metronome. I don't think everything should always be practiced with a metronome -a point that Jeff Berlin so charmingly makes - but for forcing you to take responsibility for your tempo accuracy, nothing is better.

    "Time" is one of those slippery music terms (like "groove" and "feel") that are ill defined and mean different things to different people, causing useless debate. People who say "metronomes can't teach you good time" are not speaking about "time" as accurate tempo. They're speaking about "time" as a rhythmic sensibility. It's probably true that metronome alone can't teach you to have a strong musical feel for different rhythmic approaches - that comes form practice and experience - but you must have a sense of accurate tempo before that comes.
  7. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I agree with Jeff Berlin that metronomes will NOT teach you music or really do a whole lot to improve your time. That said, the metronome will help you improve your technique. Forcing yourself to do scales or whatever you're working on at a slower than comfortable tempo will help you control your muscle responses. Gradually increasing the tempo will help your gain speed and control.
    Personally when I work scales, if I don't really pay attention to tempo, I'll tend to speed up to the point where I have trouble dealing with the technique. The metronome keeps that in check and I can concentrate on hand position or whatever is the task at the moment.
    In the end, good time, groove, feel, technique, soul... whatever you want to call it all comes from having the control to make your hands and your instrument say what is in your mind. Musicianship and technique are two different things that are both a part of performance. Listening to B.B. King and Billie Holiday won't make your fingers go faster, and listening to click, click, click won't make you able to express the pain or joy of life. Put them together and you just might have something.
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The only reason I keep posting is because working with a metronome DID do a whole lot to improve my time. If you got there without it, more power to you. But just because somebody else can sing 4 part chords with two tensions in all inversions and open and closed positions without working on it doesn't mean that me sitting at a piano working on it is NOT going to improve my ear. You want to call it "rhythmic ear training", fine. It is still developing a visceral feel for changes in the time stream so that you can refine your ability to lay that down.
  9. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I use a metronome all the time, especially while rehearsing slow and very slow songs because the beat helps me resist speeding up. Burns in the feel well enough so at the gig, I am the one who helps the band resist speeding up.
  10. Milestones


    May 28, 2012
    The way to get good time is by listening to people who play with good time. Not many people have better time than a metronome. But the key is that you must listen to it, not just turn it on and ignore it while you "practice." I know for certain that the metronome has helped me. Once you know you have good time, you don't need the metronome as much. The way you know you have good time is that you no longer ask the question "Do I have good time?"

    I know Jeff Berlin doesn't like them, but I'm sure he developed his time by listening to and playing with other people who have great time. For every Jeff Berlin, there are scores of bass players who do practice with a metronome and they play just as well as he does. It's worth noting that Jeff is not a first call studio bassist. Justin Meldal-Johnson, on the other hand, is a top studio bassist and producer and he advocates practicing with a metronome.

    If you don't practice with a metronome then you should be listening to drummers who play with solid time - ie not Tony Williams - or listening to and playing along with music recorded to a click track. If you do practice with a metronome, then DO NOT tap your foot. That will negate all the positive effects.
  11. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Why do you think it bad to tap foot while playing to the metronome? Is it only foot tapping or any physical expression of tempo (like head nodding)?
  12. Milestones


    May 28, 2012
    When you tap your foot you'll end up playing to the tempo you're tapping or tapping to the tempo you're playing, either of which will be different from the metronome's tempo. Practice with a metronome requires actively listening to it, the same way you listen to your favorite songs. Most people overestimate their ability to focus. Practice plus listening to a metronome is already straining your concentration. Foot tapping in addition to that will throw you off completely.

    Head nodding is usually okay because it doesn't have the hard impact that the foot does - it doesn't clearly define a new tempo. But it's still best to try not to do it. Ask Anthony Wellington for more reasons to not tap your foot with the metronome, I learned it from him.

    Other motions besides foot tapping can be a great way to internalize the feeling of time, as long as you're NOT trying to play the bass at the same time. Most dancers, for example, have an excellent sense of tempo because they must move their entire bodies at the right tempo. Mick Goodrick in "The Advancing Guitarist" suggests an exercise of moving your arms in circles in time with a metronome. Start with one revolution per beat, then one revolution every two beats, then every four beats, and so on. Check out his book for more - it book contains enough practice material to last a decade or two.
  13. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Good idea to not tap the foot while using the metronome. I warm up by playing modes up and down the neck with a variety of rhythms. One trick is to set the metronome in a slower range (40-60bpm). I'll play a mode up and down in one position at that tempo, and then repeat but in double time to the same click. Then move to a new position and repeat with a different respective mode. Can be quite an eye opener, but is a valuable training tool for burning in an intuitive sense of time.
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    In the clip i play "in tempo/time" with 32 metronomes, yet do not adhere to them, i play around the tempo/beat they set, not be dictated by it.
    I allow myself to be "sympathetc" to the click.

    It comes from the original experiment premise that, if you allow a number of metronomes to play in tempo, but out of time, if the conditions are correct they will alter and play not only in tempo...but on beat in time.
    If all the metronomes were isolated on a hard immovable surface they could not interact, they would hold there click no matter how much time passed......they would not interact because they cannot interact.
    The point of using a metronome/click is to allow yourself to interact with it under the correct conditions.

    What that condition has to be, is allow the metronones to interact, not be isolated from each other. It is the movable surface they all sit on that causes the interaction to allow them to become "sympathetic" to each other and fall in line.

    For a player it is the same idea, become sympathetic to the metronome's timing, allow your playing to move within it and learn to use what you are hearing.
    If you allow yourself to be dictated by the metronome then nothing will change, you will be isolated by the very discipline of click.....but learn to interact with it and you can create not only different sub-divisions of beat, but also of tempo.

    A metronome cannot give you good time, fact....but equally it cannot ruin good time....fact.
    But it will better than any other device on the market show you good time and allow you to calibrate your playing, because it will calibrate your thinking of what time is you hear, then feel what is going on.
    You in fact learn in an old fashioned time trusted way of learning by trial and error. It is an aural skill to play what you hear and keep playing it till you get it right, then learn to feel what you play.
    After a while you do not need a metronome, but learn to trust what you feel and go with it.
    Remember in a band everyone should be sympathetic to those around them and in doing so the band will play the beat with a natural feel within the tempo being used.....a bit like 32 metronomes did. :)

    Here is the original experiment footage of the metronomes alone.
  15. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002
    Sorry, but I disagree completely...I remember long ago when I was starting out the one thing I had the most trouble with was soloing over changes in jazz charts...It wasn't the theory I got hung up on, and as long as someone (piano player) was comping I did fairly ok...It was my timing and sense of rhythm that was off...

    It wasn't until I spent gobs of time practicing soloing while using a metronome set to 2 and 4 until things "clicked" in terms of soloing for me.

    That said, a metronome is no substitute for a solid drummer that has impeccable time...
  16. I am old school and was trained and taught with the metronome from a young age as a classical guitarist and drummer before I started playing bass.

    In saying this I also appreciate there is the world of anti metronome people and I don't argue against that, people can do what they want

    For sake of context I just play for private interest and am 55

    I might be wrong but it seems to me that most of the successful pro players learn by ear and transcribing

    My ears aren't too bad but laziness in the transcribing department for me is fuelled by the habit of learning to play off reading music...

    learning from written music is more like using visual and tactile senses as compared learning through transcribing and listening

    But in terms of the metronome it is a listening and tactile technique and for that I don't question or condemn it
  17. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I think you aee missing the point i am making, the metronome helped you by accurately representing time, that gave you the relationship to learn good time, which you did.
    So the metronome did give you good time, but look at it this way, a watch set wrong does not tell you the correct time, it tells you a time...and of course a watch that has stopped will be correct twice a day. :)
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Glad you got that straight :rollno:
  19. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I really wish people would stop insisting that metronomes can't /wont give you "good time". It's misleading, and potentially damaging to earnest beginners. If you don't have a decent sense of tempo, all other musical concepts that people mean by "good time" will be elusive. If you have tempo accuracy issues, get metronome and use it to isolate, diagnose correct and improve. That is the most effective approach.
  20. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Let's say, I wanted to rehearse the bassline from Paul Simon's "She moves On".

    Do you think that the metronome, "better than any other device on the market", would be able to help me properly understand/articulate that "close-to-intangible" groove and calibrate my playing?