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Learning songs to a metronome

Jolwa9

Active Member
Messages
61
Hello, I was wondering how you people learn songs and get the rhythm and timing down. Ive heard its good to use a metronome and start with a slow tempo and build it up, but I feel like its hard to get the rhythm and nuances of the song. Ive also tried slowing the tempo down in audacity and playing along to the track at a slow tempo, but ive heard that can kinda cover up mistakes and sloppy playing. Also, If you learn a song by ear do you just play along to the track after you figured out? Thanks for any advice!
 

Neer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,733
If the track is tough for you to play a long with, pick a tempo that you can actually play it in and work from there. Record and listen to yourself without the track or metronome--do you have a solid time feel, even at a slower tempo? If not, break out the metronome and begin at the tempo where you are just barely comfortable and work up from there.

I don't really play other people's stuff anymore, but as a kid I would play with the track until I could nail it and then I'd play without it so I could own it.
 

Semitone

Member
Messages
899
I think it is essential if you are practicing by yourself to use a metronome or a drum track. If not your timing can drift all over the place without you being aware of it. I also think it is beneficial to record yourself and play it back. Things sound different when you are not playing but observing.

Not sure why slowing something down would cover up sloppy playing or mistakes. Most people think speed is something you build up to. I.e. Play it slow flawlessly before you play it faster.

That's my two cents.
 

Jolwa9

Active Member
Messages
61
So, I guess you could say there is benefit in playing along to the song with a slower tempo and also just playing strictly with the metronome as well! Thanks.
 

METAL

Member
Messages
338
Hello, I was wondering how you people learn songs and get the rhythm and timing down. Ive heard its good to use a metronome and start with a slow tempo and build it up, but I feel like its hard to get the rhythm and nuances of the song. Ive also tried slowing the tempo down in audacity and playing along to the track at a slow tempo, but ive heard that can kinda cover up mistakes and sloppy playing. Also, If you learn a song by ear do you just play along to the track after you figured out? Thanks for any advice!
I would recommend learning songs that you know well. If you're learning a song you just heard, it will be more difficult to learn. If you already know the song well, it's just about practice. Keep listening to the part you're having trouble with the rhythm and keep trying to play it on your guitar.

Playing to a metronome will improve your timing and in my opinion, they are an essential tool for practicing. If you're having trouble playing a fast part in the song, try playing it to a slow speed on your metronome and slowly build up the speed as you get comfortable.
 

mark norwine

Member
Messages
17,202
I would also suggest that you buy a metronome that has a "unique 1".

4/4 = "BEEP-click-click-click", "BEEP-click-click-click"
3/4 = "BEEP-click-click", "BEEP-click-click"
6/8 = "BEEP-click-click--click-click-click", "BEEP-click-click--click-click-click"

etc.

I once thought I had great time. I had a metronome that went click-click-click-click-click-click etc., and I "stayed on the click".

But then I got a modern electronic metronome, and wow! Often was the time that I thought I was "still on the click", but "my 1" was the "metronome's 4". It took a while to get my act together!
 

Jolwa9

Active Member
Messages
61
haha what? I had a teacher tell me to always use a metronome, that should include songs, right? Isnt there an advantage of playing through a complete song to just the tick? I do find it challenging to get the rhythm correct to just the metronome and no track though.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,542
I agree - the metronome tick is all you need... and often more than you need.;)
Jam tracks, drum machines, playing along with originals, etc, is all great fun (and should be part of what you do), but to train your sense of time you need minimal information - all those other things give you too much, it's too easy.

Metronomes force you to concentrate more - especially if you set them slow.
Start easy by all means, at comfortable tempos, just playing something easy (that you already know well). If you can slot right in with the click with no effort - never getting ahead or behind - great. But that means you need to make it more difficult. Keep to the same playing tempo, but halve the metronome, so you only hear beats 1 and 3 - or only 2 and 4. Now try keeping time with that.
Great lesson on metronome use here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X1fhVLVF_4

This is not actually about learning new songs, it's about training your internal clock - so you can develop a good sense of musical time. (Our natural sense of time is flexible, not clockwork - it fluctuates according to our mood and situation, in ways we're not aware of. We tend to play faster when we're nervous or when we're improvising, and we often don't realise it's happening.)

But also when learning new songs, a metronome will keep you in time - it will make you notice how you tend to slow down in the harder parts or speed up on the easier parts. So you know which parts you need to practice most. (Tip: not the easier parts :D.)
 

GtrWiz

Member
Messages
3,996
I agree - the metronome tick is all you need... and often more than you need.;)
Jam tracks, drum machines, playing along with originals, etc, is all great fun (and should be part of what you do), but to train your sense of time you need minimal information - all those other things give you too much, it's too easy.

Metronomes force you to concentrate more - especially if you set them slow.
Start easy by all means, at comfortable tempos, just playing something easy (that you already know well). If you can slot right in with the click with no effort - never getting ahead or behind - great. But that means you need to make it more difficult. Keep to the same playing tempo, but halve the metronome, so you only hear beats 1 and 3 - or only 2 and 4. Now try keeping time with that.
Great lesson on metronome use here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X1fhVLVF_4

This is not actually about learning new songs, it's about training your internal clock - so you can develop a good sense of musical time. (Our natural sense of time is flexible, not clockwork - it fluctuates according to our mood and situation, in ways we're not aware of. We tend to play faster when we're nervous or when we're improvising, and we often don't realise it's happening.)

But also when learning new songs, a metronome will keep you in time - it will make you notice how you tend to slow down in the harder parts or speed up on the easier parts. So you know which parts you need to practice most. (Tip: not the easier parts :D.)

All this is right on. It's also helpful to work on subdivisions as well. Most modern metronomes have 8th, triplet, and 16th note subdivisions. Be sure to spend a old amount of time getting comfortable with all of those at various tempos.

Get Louis Bellson's Modern Reading in 4/4 and work through those rhythms with chords and single notes. :JAM
 

Mayo5

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,410
I would also suggest that you buy a metronome that has a "unique 1".

4/4 = "BEEP-click-click-click", "BEEP-click-click-click"
3/4 = "BEEP-click-click", "BEEP-click-click"
6/8 = "BEEP-click-click--click-click-click", "BEEP-click-click--click-click-click"

etc.

I once thought I had great time. I had a metronome that went click-click-click-click-click-click etc., and I "stayed on the click".

But then I got a modern electronic metronome, and wow! Often was the time that I thought I was "still on the click", but "my 1" was the "metronome's 4". It took a while to get my act together!
This is a great subtle suggestion, and something I only recently discovered. I've been working on gypsy jazz and their arpeggio style runs which require great rhythmic timing. I found myself on the 4 instead of the 1, vice versa several times because I lost count or got into "robot" mode.

Using a metronome with a distinct noise on the 1, has helped my timing out alot. Now, if I can only get my foot to work in syncopation with the metronome it would be golden.
 
Messages
15,738
Best lesson on how to use a metronome that I've seen. Yeah, he's playing a bass, but you can apply the concepts to anything you're trying to play on the guitar.

Note that he says: "My goal is to wean myself off the metronome so that the good time is coming from me".

 

LagunaMan

Member
Messages
672
I would definitely start learning songs to a metronome, but also keep in mind that oftentimes it's ok to be little off timing to create a better feel for the song. Pick slow songs and in 4/4 time then later change to a 6/8 time for a different experience.
 

Jolwa9

Active Member
Messages
61
I should also play along to the song too, right? So, I can figure out the rhythm and notes without transcribing it. I mean most songs these days are recorded to a metronome. I figured there is benefit in playing along to the song and learning with a metronome as well.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
44,979
I watched Pat Metheny do this at NGW a few years ago and it seemed like he played this tune for 15 minutes without repeating a chord or lick. This is much shorter. Gives you an idea of what can be done with a simple click.

 

guitarjazz

Member
Messages
23,131
I watched Pat Metheny do this at NGW a few years ago and it seemed like he played this tune for 15 minutes without repeating a chord or lick. This is much shorter. Gives you an idea of what can be done with a simple click.

His metronome is broken. It only works on beats '2' and '4'. I'd take it back for a full refund.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,542
His metronome is broken. It only works on beats '2' and '4'. I'd take it back for a full refund.
No, it's a special jazz metronome he had custom made. Had beats 1 and 3 removed. Expensive job, but well worth it...
 






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