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SpondonBassed

Who Uses a Metronome on Stage?

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I was interested to read elsewhere in this parish of drummers who use metronomes in practice and on stage.  These are of course gigging musicians.  I hesitate to use the term professional since its meaning has been severely diluted in recent years and it does not serve well for this topic.

To me it makes sense for the drummer to use it as opposed to the bassist but since both roles are crucial for the rhythmic drive of a band, others may have an alternative view.

I am referring mainly to the use of metronomes (as opposed to the click) when performing.  I assume that no bassists do this on stage.  Correct me if I am wrong please.

*****

At home, I am very weak willed when it comes to practice with a metronome.  I have a few of them.  Most of them are bundled with tuners in pocket sized devices powered by battery.  To access either the tuner or the metronome functions I have to press and hold a button for a few seconds.  Further, I have to cycle the time signature options and if I miss the one I am looking for, I have to go around again.  This is so off-putting that I seldom bother unless I have a specific reason.  The result is that I don't spend enough of my practice time with a metronome.

It's shameful of me to be so neglectful.

This morning I have taken my grandfather's (latterly my father's) clockwork metronome off the shelf and I will put it in my practice area for easy access.  Standing alone and with no other responsibilities than to keep time, I am optimistic that I will use it more than the others.  My tuner need only work as a tuner and its nested functions can rest in peace forever.  There are no wires or batteries, just a winder for the mainspring in the mechanism.  I have removed the excuses that bundled devices allow me to get out of jail with, so to speak.

I am optimistic that I will get more use from this metronome than the others.  It's also a lovely bit of kit if all I ever do is look at it.

Metronome.png.2a4e80501783522ea22932da2796f258.png

Wish me luck.

 

PS:  I'd love to see one like mine being used by a drummer even if it is out of sight of the audience.  Then again I would like to see a world united by peace and the pursuit of a Winter home in a new solar system.  Silly me.

Edited by SpondonBassed
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When I saw Bjork about a decade ago, there were 2 big digital metronomes each side of the stage.  Considering inly a couple of her songs were in 4/4, I was impressed.

Most (if not all) pro bands and church bands use a click track through the IEM.  

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Our drummer *is* a metronome.

 

His tempo is so consistent I was recently able to mix and match bits of the multitrack from three different takes of the same song. Was impressed. 

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Band i was in last year a Blues / Funk based rock band the drummer used a digital metronome at rehearsals. Can't say i noticed it at gigs tho.

In a 40 yr playing span that's the only one i've known.

Dave

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44 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

I am referring mainly to the use of metronomes (as opposed to the click) when performing.  I assume that no bassists do this on stage.  Correct me if I am wrong please.

What in your opinion makes the use of a metronome different to the use of a click track?

One of my current bands uses a click track. Only the drummer gets the click (in his headphones) and the rest of the band play to to the drummer. We use it to keep in sync with the pre-recorded keyboards, sound effects and backing vocals.

As part of The Terrortones preparation for going into the studio to record we would practice all the tracks with and without a click. Those that required a constant steady tempo would be recorded to a click track, those that sounded wrong when regimented in this way and relied on  tempo fluctuations to maintain the correct feel would be done without.

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Nothing to add, other than I have that exact same metronome! :)

And it's still surprisingly accurate, as far as I can tell. Don't ever use it when recording bass (perhaps I should?), but find it useful when practicing piano. Badly.

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1 hour ago, Dankology said:

Our drummer *is* a metronome.

 

His tempo is so consistent I was recently able to mix and match bits of the multitrack from three different takes of the same song. Was impressed. 

Has anyone checked to see if he can state what BPM he is playing to accurately?

I don't doubt his consistency, you understand, instead I am wondering if a competent human can play to a within a beat (or two for leniency) of any given target tempo in BPM on demand.

If so, how commonplace are drummers like that?

 

1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

What in your opinion makes the use of a metronome different to the use of a click track?

The visual element.

I think I might get on better with the mechanical baton waggle better than a flashing LED.  I am certain that the mechanical tick-tock will sound better than the bip.  I can't say if I'd like the click any better than the bip as I have never had IEMs to try with but it goes against the grain in my current thinking.

I can't be arsed with click tracks or MIDI.  I have no use for them just yet.  Maybe down the line one day but not now.  It's just more electrickery.

 

1 hour ago, Skol303 said:

Nothing to add, other than I have that exact same metronome! :)

And it's still surprisingly accurate, as far as I can tell. Don't ever use it when recording bass (perhaps I should?), but find it useful when practicing piano. Badly.

Good man!

I must find out more about mine.  Have you any idea what age yours is?

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Our drummer should. At the last rehearsal he actually slowed down on the 4 stick beat count in.  It would be funny if it wasn't true!

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2 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

I must find out more about mine.  Have you any idea what age yours is?

I think it's from the 1930s... but can't remember where I got that date from!

I'll inspect it next chance I get.

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Never have done. Never had any backing tracks and things to sync to.

 

I like a band to shift tempo as they feel the music. I'm pretty sure Anthrax don't even record with a click!

 

Although I did once do a gig with a drummer who was soooo nervous or 40 minute set was finished about 8 minutes early. That was hard work!

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21 minutes ago, Skol303 said:

I think it's from the 1930s... but can't remember where I got that date from!

I'll inspect it next chance I get.

PMd.

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Every song has its perfect tempo at which everything just works properly. Don't use a metronome in my current band, though the drummer is great and has a creditable stab at tempi off the top of his head. No great need to change that under the circumstances.

When I was in a pro touring band the drummer had a digital metronome connected to an earpiece and had the set's tempi programmed into it. A few seconds listening before each number, a quick count-in and we were away. Works really well. At a gig it's difficult to spontaneously play everything at the pace it should be.

Edited by discreet
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3 hours ago, xgsjx said:

When I saw Bjork about a decade ago, there were 2 big digital metronomes each side of the stage.  Considering inly a couple of her songs were in 4/4, I was impressed.

I can see that being quite effective as a stage prop! (Which album would she have been touring then?)

3 hours ago, xgsjx said:

Most (if not all) pro bands and church bands use a click track through the IEM.  

I can see that working for certain styles of music, but I can only imagine it would have a horrible effect on more "old-school" rock or blues groups...that said, I've definitely worked with a few drummers in those genres who would have benefitted from a bit more practice with a click! (Or from paying more attention to their bass player...)

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2 minutes ago, EliasMooseblaster said:

I've definitely worked with a few drummers in those genres who would have benefited from a bit more practice with a click! (Or from paying more attention to their bass player...)

Not paying attention to the bass player is the most prevalent amateur band crime in the UK, currently. ;) 

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44 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

The visual element.

I think I might get on better with the mechanical baton waggle better than a flashing LED.  I am certain that the mechanical tick-tock will sound better than the bip.  I can't say if I'd like the click any better than the bip as I have never had IEMs to try with but it goes against the grain in my current thinking.

I can't be arsed with click tracks or MIDI.  I have no use for them just yet.  Maybe down the line one day but not now.  It's just more electrickery.

The great thing with using an electronically generated click is that you can have any sound you want. While we mostly use a standard click sound with an accent on the ONE, there are occasional other audio cues on the click track for things like time signature changes which use different sounds.

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10 minutes ago, discreet said:

Every song has its perfect tempo at which everything just works properly. Don't use a metronome in my current band, though the drummer is great and has a creditable stab at tempi off the top of his head. No great need to change that under the circumstances.

When I was in a pro touring band the drummer had a digital metronome connected to an earpiece and had the set's tempi programmed into it. A few seconds listening before each number, a quick count-in and we were away. Works really well. At a gig it's difficult to spontaneously play everything at the pace it should be.

At my level Mark, you are lucky to find any sort of a drummer to practice with.

I liked your description of how it works on stage where it's  applied.

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3 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

The great thing with using an electronically generated click is that you can have any sound you want. While we mostly use a standard click sound with an accent on the ONE, there are occasional other audio cues on the click track for things like time signature changes which use different sounds.

I accept your viewpoint.

If I was more than a hobby-bassist it might be relevant to me.

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49 minutes ago, pbasspecial said:

Our drummer should. At the last rehearsal he actually slowed down on the 4 stick beat count in.  It would be funny if it wasn't true!

Our drummer can count a song in one tempo and then start playing it at a completely different one. Add to that an ability to slow down to a virtual standstill at various points - you get the picture. Drives me effing nuts at times and it's incredibly difficult to keep going at the right tempo, especially since he doesn't seem to notice. When we listen to recordings he'll often say 'We slowed down a bit there'. 'I've told him over and over it's not 'We'. Rant over.

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1 hour ago, pbasspecial said:

Our drummer should. At the last rehearsal he actually slowed down on the 4 stick beat count in.  It would be funny if it wasn't true!

Cue a very old muso joke:

How do you know when it's a drummer knocking on your door?

...........the knocking speeds up.     ^_^

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13 minutes ago, Japhet said:

Our drummer can count a song in one tempo and then start playing it at a completely different one. Add to that an ability to slow down to a virtual standstill at various points - you get the picture. Drives me effing nuts at times and it's incredibly difficult to keep going at the right tempo, especially since he doesn't seem to notice. When we listen to recordings he'll often say 'We slowed down a bit there'. 'I've told him over and over it's not 'We'. Rant over.

I think this is actually the most annoying thing in the world (first world, that is). Nothing worse than having to push and pull your playing to try and keep a crap drummer somewhere near the beat. Makes the whole business of playing bass a terrible chore, instead of the great pleasure that it should be. :( 

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7 minutes ago, musicbassman said:

Cue a very old muso joke:

How do you know when it's a drummer knocking on your door?

...........the knocking speeds up.  

 

And they don't know when to come in!   ^_^

 

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10 minutes ago, Japhet said:

Our drummer can count a song in one tempo and then start playing it at a completely different one. Add to that an ability to slow down to a virtual standstill at various points - you get the picture. Drives me effing nuts at times and it's incredibly difficult to keep going at the right tempo, especially since he doesn't seem to notice. When we listen to recordings he'll often say 'We slowed down a bit there'. 'I've told him over and over it's not 'We'. Rant over.

(Passes Japhet a moist flannel to place upon the weary brow)

See that's the thing I suffer from.  I don't trust my laptop's ability to play recordings at their proper tempo either.  Most of the PCs I use have that time-slice thing that interupts media playback regularly.  On Win 3.1 it was a fiftieth of a second.  It's still apparent on current PC based digital playback but less perceptible.

My latest lappy (second-hand) sometimes changes pitch during playback.  I am not sure if the tempo changes with it but I kid you not, I was sure I was listening to a cassette player just starting to run down its battery before it righted itself!  The problem occurs infrequently so I haven't been able to trouble shoot the problem.

It's only a low level annoyance just now.  If it gets worse I think I will use my lappy like a frisbee and give it flying lessons.

Sometimes I.T. is just a quicker and more expensive way of reproducing what was annoying in the analogue years.

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We don't play with backing tracks.

We do play with a click when required. When is it required? When we have the synth player playing synth patches with arpeggios or samples being triggered that are beat dependent. It's not cheating - as unlike backing tracks, we can go round verses, choruses, bridges until the cows come home. We are not limited by the playback of a backing track. At one point, I was syncing MIDI across the stage for patch changes and being able to trigger different tempos (so we are still not bound by a song structure) - but ultimately, it was overkill, extra complication and another thing to go wrong.

It also depends on the drummer... a great drummer can groove to a click and push and pull the tempo around that click. Hell, I use three drummers regularly and they all share a common pad with all the notation (they are all theatre show drummers) - makes learning new songs really easy for them... they just turn up and read.

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