What Does Jeff Berlin Have Against Metronomes?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jasper383, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. This is the way I took it, but my conversations with him have been more recent, and I wasn't here until well after he was gone, so can't speak to how he was in the past.
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I never use a metronome to learn new music or new techniques. And 'getting good time' from a metronome is a fool errand to be sure.

    But... after a piece of music is learned or a new technique is under your fingers, a metronome is great for keeping you moving through the music or technique. And a fine tool to keep you from speeding up or keep you from adding in little rests to get your fingers in order.
  3. zzZOOOOOoooom......!
  4. I use an app called iRealBook on my Mac and iOS instead if a metronome typically.
    It serves as a a means to practice both over a solid drum and harmonic rhythm. Honestly I don't use a standard metronome that much I'm not really sure why I need to. I don't feel I get much out of it I don't already get playing over iRealBook. But that's just me.
  5. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Have you never seen or heard someone who has no sense of time, no natural rhythm? It's easy to see in their movements and if they're playing music, they'll drift all over the place. A metronome is for people who need to learn to hear the proper cadence, not for those who already can or when the tempo must be learned. If someone hands a player sheet music with MM=80, will they know how to play it perfectly in time? Most, won't. If it has sections that change to MM=60, MM=120 or something else, how will they know how to play the right number of beats/minute? Those who can't read, know nothing about this, other than always having to struggle to change to the correct speed at the right time without errors.

    A composer doesn't give a rat's butt if someone is a "feel player". They want their music played a certain way and using a metronome is a good way to do this. If the music is open to interpretation, all bets are off and everyone needs to listen to each other for it to work.

    If someone doesn't use a metronome and they can develop as a player, great. Some are better off with one, and that's fine, too. Rhythm often needs to be learned and if someone needs to learn complex time signatures, comp over melody or just learn to stay in time, it can help but at some point, it's time to stop using it and just learn to play well with others.

    If a metronome is totally unnecessary, what's the reason for a conductor using a baton in a specific pattern to guide the orchestra?
  6. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    I'm not sure if that's the best example - a conductor doesn't merely keep tempo, but also indicates changing tempos (something a lot more common in classical music than rock), gives cues to sections that have to come in after long rests, indicates dynamics, etc. In groups where you don't have these sorts of things (or at least, not as much of it), such as rock bands, jazz combos, big bands, you don't usually have a conductor at all, and any sort of band leader might give some cues, but certainly won't spend each song beating time.
  7. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I have. But it's due to not knowing the music and not having a command of their instrument.

    When I think of having a good sense of time, I am not talking about having a metronomic sense of time. A metronome can be a good reference tool for specific tempos.
  8. 64jazzbass


    Sep 5, 2002
    Chicago, Il
    ??Jeff Berlin just another player? Wow.....I wasn't aware there were so many other players out there that are as talented. I have to get out more :)
  9. funkbrother13


    Jul 30, 2010
    Gilbert, AZ
    What I think Jeff is getting at in regards metronomes, is that learning a piece of music(reading!) takes time, and if you're not a great sight reader then having a click going doesn't help in getting the music under your fingers. I find that once I can actually read something I can perfect it with the click.

  10. DeathFromBelow

    DeathFromBelow Never Forget. Inactive

    Dec 23, 2010
    Horten, Norway
    I've heard a metronome once touched Jeff in his no-no place.
    Les Fret likes this.
  11. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    When I was learning the bass guitar, my imaginable ideal Bass Family was:
    Grandpa– the Great Charles Mingus;
    Uncle – the Great Ron Carter;
    Papa – the Great Stanley Clark;
    Three sons:
    The Great (wunderkind) Jaco Pastorius;
    The Great (rebellious) Bootsy Collins;
    The Great (energetic) Verdine White, who introduced me to the greatest “grooving” band, “Earth, Wind, and Fire”;
    Plus, cousin – the Great Bernard Edwards, who left an indelible impression on me.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Those who can't read won't be on a gig where they hand you sheet music unless they're the world's best bluffer ;) And after a while, some of us develop a pretty innate sense of time and can guesstimate pretty closely what the tempo should be in those situations. And sure, some musicians are all over the place with tempo, but most just need to settle down and concentrate less on the dancer with the falling tube top and more on their jobs ;)

    I've certainly wanted feel in the music I've written when someone else played on it.

    Is the conductor a metronome? ;)
  13. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    for those less blessed with naturally good timing, I suppose the metronome could be considered training wheels of sorts. In the studio I've worked with drummers that needed a click and some that didnt.
  14. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I don't think it has anything to do with natural rythm or not. I'm classically trained and well, they way we learn to learn a music piece is to learn the actual notes and then learn the rythm.

    So you don't have to struggle with both at the same time. I think that speed up the learning process because when you are ready to put rythm ( with the click ) you already know every note you may need a little visual cue from your music sheet. So applying rythm should be easy.
  15. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    It's so strange that a simple advice from Jeff Berlin sparked so many comments.
    I fully agree with him:
    Don't use the metronome until you learn the notes and are comfortable (know positions, fingering, articulation, etc...) playing it.

    What's more, if you are a soloist, a person playing music alone, you can be very flexible with the tempo, and the metronome can only stifle your expressions.
    In classical music, metronome provides the intended by its composer tempo for the composition.
    "Tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece.
    Tempo is a crucial element of most musical compositions, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece."

    My simplified understanding about it:

    "In classical music, the role of those Grand Classical Musicians under the supervision of the Grand Maestro Conductor is to transform the notes on the sheets into something "divine", to lift it above the ground at the tempo, "Andante grazioso" , and place it somewhere in between the Earth and the Sky.
    Which means, to get that divine music high up on the/in the cloud.
    And that ability to be on the cloud, allows classical musicians to regard the rhythm in loose, "cloudy" and "nebulous" terms.

    On the other hand, we, the representatives of that "easy", "noisy" pop/rock/r&b music, are left behind on the ground to count "the grains of sand" in each and every bar.

    And in this case, I agree that the metronome
    "only provides a fixed, rigid, relentless pulse; therefore any metronome markings on sheet music cannot accurately communicate the pulse, swing, or groove of music.
    Some argue that a metronomic performance stands in conflict with an expressive culturally-aware performance of music, so that a metronome is in this respect a very limited tool. Even such highly rhythmical musical forms as Samba, if performed in correct cultural style, cannot be captured with the beats of a metronome."

    I'd rather use just a HH sound on the drum machine than a metronome. It serves me and my groove (if any) better.
  16. 64jazzbass


    Sep 5, 2002
    Chicago, Il
    Nice argument and I agree 100%
  17. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Well, eruptions can be unpredictable. This particular one was seven years after the previous post in the thread.. :D
  18. jmattbassplaya


    Jan 13, 2008
    Some people have become successful and much more famous than Jeff while not knowing a lick of theory, by using a metronome, and by pretty much doing everything the opposite of him.

    That's a bad argument to make for why one shouldn't listen to him, but it is a good argument to help people realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat ;) Do what works for you.
  19. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
  20. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I've been lucky enough to have several great teachers. There were some differences in their teaching philosophies, but it didn't make one right and the other wrong. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to teaching and learning, although in my opinion you should always start with a methodology which has worked for a large number of students rather than trying to create your own from scratch.

    If you respect Jeff as a teacher, I don't see the harm in trying his method. If it doesn't work for you, don't use it.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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