Evil Metronome

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plangentmusic

Guest
There's a heap of musicians, including percussionists, around the world with great time throughout history who have never used metronomes. That's all about ears and feel that people develop easily in strong rhythmic cultures eg. Africa and South America.

Maybe metronomes are especially helpful when you come from a less intuitive culture without great rhythmic traditions? Just throwing it out there ...


Funny you should bring that up. I recently recorded an African drummer who had to play along with a click yet never worked with a click, drum machine or metronome. I thought, 'oh uh' this might be a mess'. Turns out -- He was spot on.

The thing is, a metronome doesn't build or ruin time and playing without one doesn't make you more "natural" or have bad time. It's just a tool. The "skill" comes from the devotion to improving that ability. Obviously this guy was very concerned with timing, whereas I see some bands who are sloppy as hell and they excuse it as 'We're just feeling the music man!"
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
There's a difference between being able to clap your hands to the pulse of a song (as per the cameraman in Jeff's clip), it's another story on an instrument, coordinations, independance and adrelanine can easily get in the way of the tempo.
Yes, but he had something going on that 90% of punters don't. I've been to numerous gigs where half the crowd are way off clapping basic quarter notes. It makes me ashamed to be a westerner lol


Funny you should bring that up. I recently recorded an African drummer who had to play along with a click yet never worked with a click, drum machine or metronome. I thought, 'oh uh' this might be a mess'. Turns out -- He was spot on.
Awesome. He probably had great listening skills and played with the click rather than to it.

... I see some bands who are sloppy as hell and they excuse it as 'We're just feeling the music man!"
Some people find all sloppiness jarring. Personally, I think of it as "good sloppy" and "bad sloppy". If there's heart, style and vibe a bit of slop is fine to me. In "bad sloppy" it just sounds off.

Again I think it comes back to listening. "Bad sloppy" players who dis metronomes don't "feel the music man" (although some may have theories as to what they're feeling). To "feel the music, man" you need to play at the right volumes, choose suitable tones, maintain grooves, augment or at least avoid stepping on others' parts, catch cues, give clear cues ...
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
some good points and some ridiculous points in that piece

I definitely believe in the elasticity of music

I cannot imagine some of my favorite rhythm sections of all time.... without elasticity

Carter, Hancock, Williams
Garison, Tyner, Jones
Jones, Bonham
Entwistle, Moon
Porter, Modeliste

but practicing with a metronome has never harmed anyone ......and helps players of all instruments everyday
 

AZslim

Senior Member
I don't use a metronome when I'm working something out. I do use it onceI have so I can learn what it sounds like in good time. I think I agree him. Not sure.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
some good points and some ridiculous points in that piece

I definitely believe in the elasticity of music

I cannot imagine some of my favorite rhythm sections of all time.... without elasticity

Carter, Hancock, Williams
Garison, Tyner, Jones
Jones, Bonham
Entwistle, Moon
Porter, Modeliste

but practicing with a metronome has never harmed anyone ......and helps players of all instruments everyday
This sums it up for me.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Personally, I think of it as "good sloppy" and "bad sloppy". If there's heart, style and vibe a bit of slop is fine to me. In "bad sloppy" it just sounds off.
...
From a swinging jazz perspective, I think permitting a certain amount of slop into one's playing is almost critical. Think Art Blakey for a moment.... His "slop" made him one of the most baddest, swinging people ever to walk the planet.


some good points and some ridiculous points in that piece

I definitely believe in the elasticity of music

I cannot imagine some of my favorite rhythm sections of all time.... without elasticity

Carter, Hancock, Williams
Garison, Tyner, Jones
Jones, Bonham
Entwistle, Moon
Porter, Modeliste

but practicing with a metronome has never harmed anyone ......and helps players of all instruments everyday
Elasticity is what makes it great… Perfection doesn’t groove. Leave that to a drum machine.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I like Gva's term, elastic time.

I think all the 'feel good' exclaimations, like pocket, groovin', swinging, phatt ....etc... are when the cats are pulling or pushing the time. It everything sat there like clap- tic- tic- tic, it wouldnt cut it.

The tool aspect of the metronome is a no brainer and of course it helps in understanding the spaces between the notes which are as important as the notes themselves.

I get a kick out of Jeff Berlin because hes got this yin/yang thing going on... he's a phenominal musician - with some whacko theories about music, but here I think what he's trying to say ( poorly expressed perhaps ) is that there is this slavish approach to learning music with the metronome without adequately exploring the learning process without it.

I too think he's wrong there because it important to know and feel and understand where the lampost is on the sidewalk, so that you can walk around it.

...
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
...

I like Gva's term, elastic time.

I think all the 'feel good' exclaimations, like pocket, groovin', swinging, phatt ....etc... are when the cats are pulling or pushing the time. It everything sat there like clap- tic- tic- tic, it wouldnt cut it.

The tool aspect of the metronome is a no brainer and of course it helps in understanding the spaces between the notes which are as important as the notes themselves.

I get a kick out of Jeff Berlin because hes got this yin/yang thing going on... he's a phenominal musician - with some whacko theories about music, but here I think what he's trying to say ( poorly expressed perhaps ) is that there is this slavish approach to learning music with the metronome without adequately exploring the learning process without it.

I too think he's wrong there because it important to know and feel and understand where the lampost is on the sidewalk, so that you can walk around it.

...
truth

I also believe it is important for drummers ......and all musicians for that matter ....to be able to have elasticity while playing WITH a met as well

there is a lot of room around each click of a met

...like if the met is the nucleus ....we need to be able to be the cytoplasm and cell membrane and move around it freely without loosing the tempo

sometimes I think people take the click of a met too literally
 
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spleeeeen

Platinum Member
I cannot imagine some of my favorite rhythm sections of all time.... without elasticity

Carter, Hancock, Williams
Garison, Tyner, Jones
Jones, Bonham
Entwistle, Moon
Porter, Modeliste
Yep and if you play their recordings (or even play along with their recordings) against a tempometer you'll get graphs that give you a picture of this elasticity (e.g., the one in the article Dale has linked).
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Pretty much in the same vibe as "In Search of the Click Track" website: http://labs.echonest.com/click/

At the end of the day, it's what makes a song sounds good, metronome or no metronome, "organic" and "human feel" will remain as long as it's played by humans with inspiring taste and grooves, it's whatever approach suits best for musicians, there's no absolute rules, only music making.
 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
I too think he's wrong there because it important to know and feel and understand where the lampost is on the sidewalk, so that you can walk around it.

...
And I suppose we might all step around/over the post in our own way, eh? ;-)

Some might find this interesting, a Modern Drummer article where contributors share their thoughts on using a metronome for practice: http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2012/05/practicing-with-metronome/

Our own Bill Bachman contributed something that resonates with my experience:

When we’re playing on our own without an electronic guide, we’re playing our best perception of time from a first-person perspective. If you record yourself playing without a metronome and then listen back from a third-person perspective, it’s likely that you’ll hear problems in your time and feel that you weren’t aware of when we were playing. This is why recording and listening back to yourself is one of the most important things you can do with your practice time.

A metronome helps train your first-person perception of rhythm as you learn to correct your flawed tendencies. When I sit down and play without a metronome, I half jokingly call it “flying blind” or “making myself worse.” I can only trust my own perception so far, but the guiding light of the metronome will always steer me into accurate rhythm and timing habits, which in turn makes me a lot more enjoyable for other musicians to play with and for audiences to listen to.
Using Bill's metaphor, I feel as if part of my ongoing work involves trying to spend more and more time in the "third person" perspective while I am actually playing and not only when listening back to recordings. Anyone else thinking about it this way?
 
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dale w miller

Silver Member
I found people have posted a few songs of my band Palomar in there. The interesting thing is, on the newest record Sense & Antisense, there were only 2 tracks I used one in. Here is how you can find out particular songs: http://labs.echonest.com/click/

Wouldn't Release You - No click

Never Grieve - No click

Hooray for Tuesday - Click but I don't come in with the drums until halfway through the song

EDIT: Funny thing is this song was a drum machine I programmed instead of playing on it. Top Banana
 
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Anon La Ply

Renegade
Earlier on I said that a musician of Jeff Berlin's stature is not someone I'm going to argue with. Then other pros say the opposite. Who to believe? If no one compromises then we need King Solomon ...
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Hey Guys,

I just wrote an article on the topic of metronomically precise vs. more organic time feels, and I wanted to run this question by you all since you are already thinking about it. Check out this article and then let me know what you think about this question:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/07/food-for-thought-rushing.html

The question is, do you think that people can play on top of the beat without getting faster AT ALL. If you do think this, how do you distinguish between playing on top of the beat and getting a little bit faster throughout the course of a song and playing on top of the beat and not getting faster. Do you call them different thing? Do you think there is a meaningful distinction between those two? Should we all try to play on top of the beat (in a jazz context) without getting faster at all, or not worry about it?

A friend of mine posed this question to me and I wanted to get a sense of what the larger community thought about it.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Hey Guys,

I just wrote an article on the topic of metronomically precise vs. more organic time feels, and I wanted to run this question by you all since you are already thinking about it. Check out this article and then let me know what you think about this question:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/07/food-for-thought-rushing.html

The question is, do you think that people can play on top of the beat without getting faster AT ALL. If you do think this, how do you distinguish between playing on top of the beat and getting a little bit faster throughout the course of a song and playing on top of the beat and not getting faster. Do you call them different thing? Do you think there is a meaningful distinction between those two? Should we all try to play on top of the beat (in a jazz context) without getting faster at all, or not worry about it?

A friend of mine posed this question to me and I wanted to get a sense of what the larger community thought about it.
Hey, Andrew. I enjoyed the blog piece and your playing is tasty as ever. I envy all the work you get, man! Playing good music with good musicians, it doesn't get much better than that.

I do think there is a difference between the two concepts that needs to be preserved. So while I emphatically agree with your final point #1, I would still call rushing by its own name.

The concept of playing on top of/behind the beat is one that seems to be misunderstood by many and poorly articulated, even by educators. There have been discussions about this elsewhere on this forum, but when I hear a drummer playing on top of the beat, I hear a drummer who is stating the pulse slightly ahead of the rest of the band. This, of course - and here's a critical point - is only possible if the other musicians allow this to take place. If the other musicians make an adjustment,then it is no longer possible.

But more importantly, this can be accomplished with a perfectly steady tempo. In fact, I think practicing this skill along with a metronome is one of the best ways to develop it.

So for me, and perhaps others will disagree here, rushing and playing on top of the beat are two different things.

Curious to hear the thoughts of others.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
When I get excited about something, music included, my heart beats faster, my body feels forward momentum and pressure... On the flip side, when I'm laid back groovy, just laying down beats or hanging out being super cool, my heart rate is more relaxed, my body isn't as tense, and things seem to move slower.

I really think real music is an organic thing. In my mind, it's almost a requirement for my music to take cue from my body and what the music/song makes me feel in the moment. When a metronome is the literal foundation for a song that all players line up to, it loses a hell of a lot in my opinion. It's not a human organic thing any more, it's something else entirely. Energy and feel is restrained by an outside influence that will never waver, never feel the music or the mood, never have a soul.

I know this is the reason I almost always love live music more than studio... Today's studio work is too "perfect". Perfect time, perfect mix with total separation, endless takes until each track is perfect...

As I said earlier... Metronomes are a great tool for practicing, working on sub-divisions, etc. However, if I had my way, musical works would never be set to a machine. Hell, I think even some of the best "rap" that I grew up with was mostly done via sampling real music and looping for a mix of organic and real "feel" with extremely predictable time separation.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Hey, Andrew. I enjoyed the blog piece and your playing is tasty as ever. I envy all the work you get, man! Playing good music with good musicians, it doesn't get much better than that.

I do think there is a difference between the two concepts that needs to be preserved. So while I emphatically agree with your final point #1, I would still call rushing by its own name.

The concept of playing on top of/behind the beat is one that seems to be misunderstood by many and poorly articulated, even by educators. There have been discussions about this elsewhere on this forum, but when I hear a drummer playing on top of the beat, I hear a drummer who is stating the pulse slightly ahead of the rest of the band. This, of course - and here's a critical point - is only possible if the other musicians allow this to take place. If the other musicians make an adjustment,then it is no longer possible.

But more importantly, this can be accomplished with a perfectly steady tempo. In fact, I think practicing this skill along with a metronome is one of the best ways to develop it.

So for me, and perhaps others will disagree here, rushing and playing on top of the beat are two different things.

Curious to hear the thoughts of others.
Yeah,

I think that you are right that it is certainly possible to play on top of the beat without the tempo actually increasing. The point I was trying to get at was that from a practical perspective very often playing on top of the beat leads to the tempo getting faster, at least to some degree. Also, the a gradual increase in tempo over the course of an entire song can feel really good, and is not something we should necessarily think of as bad or wrong. That is why I was trying to equate this phenomenon with playing on top of the beat.

I could easily be wrong about this though!
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
Hey Guys,

I just wrote an article on the topic of metronomically precise vs. more organic time feels, and I wanted to run this question by you all since you are already thinking about it. Check out this article and then let me know what you think about this question:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/07/food-for-thought-rushing.html

The question is, do you think that people can play on top of the beat without getting faster AT ALL. If you do think this, how do you distinguish between playing on top of the beat and getting a little bit faster throughout the course of a song and playing on top of the beat and not getting faster. Do you call them different thing? Do you think there is a meaningful distinction between those two? Should we all try to play on top of the beat (in a jazz context) without getting faster at all, or not worry about it?

A friend of mine posed this question to me and I wanted to get a sense of what the larger community thought about it.
I can give you a visual. The best analogy I can state is when you are playing on top of the beat and not rushing, it feels like a freight train at a consistent MPH. When you are on top and rushing it feels like you are on a tractor trailer going out of control. When you are not rushing and laying back on the beat, it is like driving a Corvette with just a finger.
 
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