Metronome Secrets for Guitar 3/4

Welcome to part 3 of this 4-part series on Metronome Secrets for Guitar. Over the course of these articles I’ll be covering lots of different and interesting ways to use the metronome to improve your time-keeping, groove and technique. This will be a nice intro for those new to this tool, and a nice refresher with some creative new ideas for those who are already metroprone.

Drop Out
A great technique to strengthen your feeling of the pulse is to drop Play or clap to the click – when you’re settled in mute it and keep clapping. After a while, fade the click back up again. Are you still in time with the click, did you stray from the pulse? Did you speed up or slow down?

If you’re going to try this, make sure you just silence the click, don’t stop it completely – it’s important that it keeps pulsing away silently so when you turn it up again it’s still in the same time as it was when you started!

It might be tough to simultaneously play and mute/unmute the click track, here are a couple of solutions:

    • do the exercise with a friend, each of you taking turns to operate the click.
    • program a computerised click track with pauses.
    • tap your leg with one hand, operate the click with the other
    • play a part that has some gaps!
    • you can just stop playing your part for a few seconds to mute the click. If you keep feeling the pulse, you should be able to drop right back into the groove.

In this session’s video, I play a rhythm guitar part in the classic rock style. Listen closely and you’ll hear I’ve programmed the click to drop out at several points – it then fades back in again so I can make sure I’m still locked in. I heard of one drummer who used to leave minutes between clicks to test his internal pulse – that’s some hardcore dedication!

 


Metronome Secrets for Guitar 2/4

Welcome to part 2 of this 4-part series on Metronome Secrets for Guitar. Over the course of these articles I’ll be covering lots of different and interesting ways to use the metronome to improve your time-keeping, groove and technique. This will be a nice intro for those new to this tool, and a nice refresher with some creative new ideas for those who are already metroprone.

Subdivisions
In this article, we’ll discuss changing the subdivisions that your click falls on.

In the video below, I’ve taken a simple rhythm guitar part and played it with the click on quarter notes at 120 bpm. Then I slow it down to half notes at 60bpm. Then again to whole notes at 30bpm. Throughout, I still play the same notes at the same speed but each time I half the metronome I’m taking away external reinforcement of the time. I’m forced to rely more heavily on my own sense of the pulse.

You’ll notice I also start feeling the click on different beats in the bar (all explained in the video) – this can be quite tricky, so stick with it!

I’ve hidden some modern RnB and gospel licks in the vid, so keep an ear out if you’re into that kind of thing 😉

Aside from being a great workout for your time, the ability to change where you feel the pulse is useful when dealing with unusually fast or slow songs.

I remember sitting with Giorgio and trying to play Donna Lee at full bebop tempo while tapping my foot on every quarter note – it produced a rather frantic performance! He had me tap my feet on the second and fourth beats and suddenly everything seemed much more spacious. The tempo hasn’t changed, but by feeling the pulse differently I was able to totally change how I interpreted the music! I’ve subsequently used this little ‘trick’ to help me in all sorts of situations, from pacey musical theatre numbers to fast funk tracks.

Experiment with this idea when you feel like a song is riding too fast for you.

Enjoy!

Steve

For more Metronome Secrets for Guitar, check out part 3/4 soon!


Metronome Secrets for Guitar – 1/4

Welcome to part one of this 4-part series on metronome secrets for guitar. Over the course of these articles I’ll be covering lots of different and interesting ways to use the metronome to improve your time-keeping, groove and technique. This will be a nice intro for those new to this tool, and a nice refresher with some creative new ideas for those who are already metroprone.

First off…

…go and buy one! It doesn’t matter if it’s an old wooden one or a fancy new electronic one, they all do the same job. You can download free metronome apps for most smart phones, or download free metronome programs for your computer. There is literally no excuse for not owning a metronome!

I am constantly losing and re-finding my metronomes, so I’ve ended up accumulating  ton of different ones. Here are my favourites:

  • For general use, the Korg MA -30.

No Guitar? No problem!

Clap in time with the metronome. When you lock just right, your hand-claps will drown out the click and the metronome will sound like it’s disappeared. If you deviate from the pulse, you’ll hear the click ‘poke out’ either side of your hand clap.

While you do this (and while you do any metronome exercise) make sure to tap your foot in time with the click. You can tap on every beat, just on the 2 &4, or even just on the 1…but make sure you keep that foot going. It’ll develop into a constant, physical connection with the pulse – your own built in metronome – something that comes in handy in a lot of situations you might not expect (any kind of playing, sight-reading, transcription etc…).

Speed King

The metronome is a fantastic tool for improving your speed and technical facility on the guitar. I like to take a lick, start it really slow and gradually increase the metronome speed until it’s stretching the limits of my technique. Over time, I’ll be able to play it faster and faster…It’s important to start slow to develop relaxed control and good muscle memory.

In this video I take a blues lick and gradually bump up the tempo. In personal practice, I’ll increase the metronome 4-8bpm each time. To save time on the demo, I bump it up in larger increments (10-20bpm) from starting down at 70bpm and stretching up to 200.
Make sure to check out  2:20, where I base a whole solo around the lick and its variations.

Slow Downer

Another great trick is to slow the part down. Sure, that funk part sounds great at 120bpm, but can you play it at 80bpm…or 50bpm? Not only does playing slowly give you more space to focus on your sound, technique and note choice, it’s also a serious workout for your time. Making a quick part feel funky at a slow tempo is really tough and will help you develop a really professional, mature groove.
One of my absolute favourite guys for this is Robbie Mcintosh – this guy is a wonderful player! Check out his solo at 2:48, it’s a masterclass in restraint and taste.

For more Robbie Mcintosh, check out http://www.robbiemcintosh.com/.

For more metronome secrets for guitar, check out PART 2/4 coming soon!

AWESOME REPORT: Black Dub Coming To London! (w/video)

Daniel Lanois, producer extraordinaire, is bringing his Black Dub project to London for two dates at the Jazz Cafe. The lineup alone makes this worth checking out: Trixie Whitley on vocals, Daniel Lanois on guitar and piano, Daryl Johnson on bass, and Brian Blade on drums. Talk about a supergroup!

I’ll be there on 1st August, you can buy your ticket HERE.

When their album arrives (Amazon snail mail) I’ll post further thoughts and impressions but for now check out this video clip. I love the space, restraint, and taste these guys have – not to mention the insane musicianship from Blade and Johnson. The middle 8 vocals from 2:57 are huge. Here it is: