Throw away your metronome!

yZe

Senior Member
Messages
3,235
Common Statement:

But Wes Montgomery Didn't Practice with a metronome

Common Answer:

But you're not Wes Montgomery
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
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21,146
and wes was playing 5 nights a week with fabulous players. Who's doing that when they're just coming up?
 

ivers

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,597
Wow, I'm all for practicing without metronome too, like for working on a strong, personal rhythm feel so that I can play solo pieces, samba and bossa convincingly without backing, but I've found metronome, or even programming the actual lines I'm practicing in a tab program (and syncing with them) to be invaluable in terms of discipline, and getting just that extra bit of rhythmic control and technical sharpness.

No either or for me.
 

yZe

Senior Member
Messages
3,235
and wes was playing 5 nights a week with fabulous players. Who's doing that when they're just coming up?

Definitely the crux question, fer sher

kinda helps when your brothers are a team rhythm section, to boot :D

Not that I would ever dream of playing that well if I was under the same circumstances, but excellent brain food as always, Prof. Z. !

I m a metronome freak, and it unfortunately shows in my playing at times, but I'd be alot worse off w/o it !!

How are you going to develop clean articulation and phrasing at varying tempos if you have no benchmarks or standards to weigh them against (i.e. bpms) ?
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
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5,860
I only look at RMMJG every couple weeks or so, and I hadn't seen the metronome thread until Jack pointed it out. I'm a little surprised to see Jimmy Bruno advising against ever practicing with a metronome, but I do understand what he's saying about internalizing time and feel.

I worked with a bass player who practiced for hours a day with a metronome, but whose feel was always stiff and "ahead of the beat" nonetheless. Because the metronome didn't listen to him, he could play at the front edge of the beat for hours at a time without rushing. Real humans were a different story, and playing gigs with this guy could be extremely uncomfortable. One of the best drummers I ever worked with intentionally would move tempos around very sligthly during some tunes. Once you learned to go with him, the resulting feel was excellent, and there was never an overall rush or drag, just a "breathing "effect.

It's worth noting that Jimmy is not recommending against practicing with any time reference, he's instead suggesting an alternative to a metronome (practicing with CDs). I've done that and also used BIAB for practice purposes for a few years now, and I tend to agree that practicing with a "rhythm section" that has good time (although BIAB doesn't have the best swing feel in the world) is preferable to metronome.
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
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21,146
I tend to agree that practicing with a "rhythm section" that has good time (although BIAB doesn't have the best swing feel in the world) is preferable to metronome.

Practicing with a bad rhythm section just makes you practice badly. Many of the aebersold cds have horrible time. I don't know what it is but they get these great players together and without a soloist or melody, the time wanders all over the place on most of them. BIAB is awful and I would never advocate practicing with it for developing time. A metronome is the perfect time-keeper IMO and folks like Metheny, Bollenback and zillions of others will attest to its usefulness. Stiffness comes from the player. A metronome can't cause you to be stiff.
 

yZe

Senior Member
Messages
3,235
Practicing with a bad rhythm section just makes you practice badly. Many of the aebersold cds have horrible time.

Another thing that sucks is that every last one of the piano players gets "happy fingers" and starts imposing their will on what harmonies you "should" be plying over

If it were up to me, and I was freakin' PAYING these cats to play tracks, I'd state that they play guide tones only for their voicings and hav set comping patterns

Then I would dock them for every note breach

The thing about the met, is that it has forced me to learn to play w/o accompaniment and to hear the changes from within rather than from without

The stiffness is my fault, but I have allowed drawbacks in that I think every measure should be filled up due to no accompaniment in order to "keep track" of the changes, even though it's my fault for not hearing them more in my head and leaving space
 

TonyV

Member
Messages
618
Isn't Jeff Berlin a bg advocate of NOT using a metronome.

Not I have anything close tot the skill of him but I just do not agree.

And I really wonder how many of these guys came up with not using a metronome actually used one in their formative palying years.

Cool feature on my digital recorder, it has a built in metronome that is like a track you can mute it. Sometimes I have recorded with the metronome running but silent, then I enable the audio in the playback. Sometimes I am impressed with my time other times, not so much.
 

dorfmeister

Member
Messages
3,713
I play electric guitar but I have been taking lessons from a classical guitarist with a PHD in music and he doesn't encourage the use of the metronome much. He says to use it part of the time but practice as much without it.

He is focused on feel and musicality and "letting the music breathe" and not letting it get too mechanical. He really emphasizes counting.

Do you find that classical players are not so focused on the metronome?
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
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5,860
A metronome is the perfect time-keeper IMO and folks like Metheny, Bollenback and zillions of others will attest to its usefulness.
Maybe I'm being misunderstood. I'm not recommending against using a metronome, I am just acknowledging that Jimmy has a point. It's worth noting that, for every name player who says one thing, you can find any number of other name players who say he's full of it. That says nothing except that there are multiple approaches to learning music that can all yield good results.

Jimmy didn't recommend playing to Aebersold backing tracks in the RMMJG thread. He was talking about playing along with recordings of jazz tunes, not backing tracks. I don't own any Aebersold CDs myself, so I can't speak to their quality.

Stiffness comes from the player. A metronome can't cause you to be stiff.
Nor can it impart a good feel. A metronome is one tool. It is neutral wrt feel, and its time, obviously, is perfect. Like all the other tools available to musicians, when used well, it has substantial value. However, the ability to play with a metronome is, by itself, no guarantee that a player can play well in an ensemble setting. Eventually, you really do need to play with other humans in order to complete the skill set. And, eventually, you have to learn to create a steady pulse with a good feel while playing by yourself, with neither other players nor mechanical or electronic time-keeping aids to help you. One of my regular practice routines is to record myself comping multiple choruses of a jazz tune with nothing else, and listening to the recording to evaluate my time and feel. It is brutally revealing, but, if you can generate a good feel and good time playing solo, it's a lot easier to do so playing ensemble with other humans.
 

IIIBOOMERIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,753
The metronome question is a bigger issue for drummers.
However, playing to a metronome could NEVER hurt your
playing ability, it could only help. Because when you go
into a studio, tape don't lie. I do find it easier to play to
a drum machine, not as sterile as a metronome. Playing
to a metronome is not as easy as some people think, really
shows your timing flaws.

When I worked in a studio I could see the look of terror
on the drummers face when I told him I was going to put
him on a click track. Sometimes there is no way around it,
especially in the age of MIDI and digital studios.

Do yourself a favor, do not be afraid of a metronome or better
yet, get a little drum machine.
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,146
Jay,

We'll have to agree to disagree. I have found that when a player can't play along with a metronome, they can't play along with a group. In 35 years of Playing, I've never played with someone who has good metronomic time but can't play with an ensemble whereas i've played with literally thousands of players who sounded great by themselves but can't play with a group. Playing by yourself and listening to it is useless unless you're time is good enough to know when you're slowing down or speeding up. It's like someone who can't play jazz listening to a solo and trying to evaluate whether it's good or whether it's making the changes. How could they possibly know?!?
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,146
With so many "perfectly in time" backing tracks available now days, why use a metronome?...afterall, the drums in the backing track are a metronome.

We're in the year 2008, not the 40's and 50's.

Because the point of the metronome is not to be a backing track. It's a calibration tool. You set the metronome for the fewest beats per measure(s) that you can play comfortably with. Then, you develop your time to fit the framework. Backing tracks are cool but don't fit the bill for this purpose.
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,049
That is assuming someone has a metronome to throw away. I'm assuming most people don't even own one, and I'll bet my assumption is more accurate than the first. ;)
 

reentune

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,622
I did a degree in classical guitar.
A metronome is a must.
Just because you consistently practice with it doesn't mean you can't let the piece breathe in performance.
Do yourself a favor and spend time with one.
 

DrSax

Member
Messages
7,113
This reminds me of a discussion I had with some folk who believed using seat belts in cars is actually more dangerous than not wearing them, citing a few instances where people were actually thrown out of harms way during a crash (where if they had the seat belt on they would have been crushed).

IMHO, for the vast majority of people, seat belts and metronomes are a good thing.
 

Gene

Member
Messages
1,623
I play electric guitar but I have been taking lessons from a classical guitarist with a PHD in music and he doesn't encourage the use of the metronome much. He says to use it part of the time but practice as much without it.

He is focused on feel and musicality and "letting the music breathe" and not letting it get too mechanical. He really emphasizes counting.

Do you find that classical players are not so focused on the metronome?
__________________

It depends on what aspect of the piece you are working on. I would not use the metronome if you are practicing and working on the interpretation of the piece. Actually, you can't. Classical pieces change tempo depending on interpretation and tempo changes are inidicated by the composer often.

But to practice technique and execution of certain passages where the time is steady, the metronome is great. And how else will you learn all the tempo terminology like "prestissimo" without a reference?
 

Mike T

Member
Messages
898
Just kidding but that's what folks are saying on the jazz guitar newsgroup. Pretty unbelievable...

http://groups.google.com/group/rec....2cc0d979b3a/1532411dcd43e77f#1532411dcd43e77f


Who is this clown calling Metheny a "hippy twerp" in that thread....if he's serious he sounds like a real enlightened character whose advice is without a doubt priceless. Anyway, a metronome alone, no backing tracks, no drum machines, just a metronome is the only thing I feel comfortable with when practicing anything to do with time or repetetive harmonic/rhythmic patterns or formulas/structures. The only problem with having good time is that if a drummer messes with the tempo at all it drives me nuts. You gotta be careful too...they are very sensitive about that. And good drummers do vary sometimes, so I end up biting my tongue a lot cause I got a steady gig with a great drummer...one of the best around (who speeds up a bit at times...shhhhh). But a metronome is a critical tool, and I'm sure has helped me develop a good sense of time and meter. I'd rather have it than not.

By the way Jack, your book is taylor made for a metronome!
 




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