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Playing songs with metronome

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kubek    0

Hello could someone explain me step by step how do you play songs by metronome? i have been practicing dividing beats with metronome but i don't know how to take on songs.

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Rockerbob    47

It really is as simple as setting the tempo and playing in time with the clicks.  If you have an electronic metronome you can probably set an accented click on the downbeat of each measure.  If this is the case, you can set the time signature to something other than 4/4 for songs in 3/4 and other time signatures.

 

Play a bit without the metronome and count beats as you play.  With that in mind, set the metronome to click at the same rate as your counting and you should be good to go.

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kubek    0

I play mainly fingerstyle and it's pretty tough and i don't know if i should keep track of melody notes only or time notes between them too

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Rockerbob    47

Keep track of everything.  The spaces between the notes are as important as the notes.  An old musician saying: Space is grace. 

 

Learning fingerstyle before you have the basics of tempo and time signature is going to be a hard and unsatisfying.  Most people find success with starting at the beginning and spending some years working on it before trying fingerstyle arrangements.  Time does not have to be rigid.  The tempo can shift to rubato but there is still attention to time.  Rubato definition:

ru·ba·to

ro͞oˈbädō/

Music

noun

noun: rubato; plural noun: rubati; plural noun: rubatos; noun: tempo rubato; plural noun: tempo rubatos

1.

the temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace.

, but there is still timing happening.

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JanVigne    27

Playing to a metronome means you are using the tempo of the metronome to set the speed and consistency of your playing.  It is an objective time keeper and cannot be cheated or argued with.  

 

Get the gist of the song in your head before you assign your playing to the metronome.  That means run through the song several times to note the chord changes and the flow of the song.  Three or four times should be sufficient.

 

Set the metronome to its slowest tempo, usually about 40-45 beats per minute (bpm).  Play the song with the metronome as your time keeper for tempo.  Be aware of slowing down or speeding up as you play.  This is a common error for many players as they speed up when they are comfortable with a section of the song and slow down when they are finding the going rough.  

 

Once you can play through the song at the slowest tempo four times straight without an error, you can say you have that tempo down.  Speed up the tempo by 5-10 bpm's and start again until you can play through at the faster tempo four times straight without an error.  

 

Continue to up the tempo each time you manage four play throughs.  Once you have played through at 120-140 bpm's you can say you have the song in your head and in your fingers and move on to the next song.  Obviously, if the song's tempo is much faster, say 220 bpm's, then you should work to up your playing ability.  If the song is very slow, say 60 bpm's, go ahead and play it a bit faster and then you will be set for the slower tempo too.     

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JanVigne    27

"I play mainly fingerstyle and it's pretty tough and i don't know if i should keep track of melody notes only or time notes between them too"

 

"Learning fingerstyle before you have the basics of tempo and time signature is going to be a hard and unsatisfying.  Most people find success with starting at the beginning and spending some years working on it before trying fingerstyle arrangements."

 

 

I have to disagree with rockerbob regarding when to begin playing fingerstyle guitar.   No classical guitar student waits to use their fingers.  If you wish to play Travis style, you use your fingers.  You will learn music no matter.  Many, many jazz players begin using only their fingers.  Music is music and, if you want to learn how to play with your teeth or your toes, it doesn't really matter.

 

Music begins and exists inside your head.

 

I assume by the above sentence you are asking whether you should count melody notes played with your fingers and beat notes played with your thumb.  Often, in pop/rock/blues/country/roots/Gospel music, your thumb is your time keeper. So definitely count all of the notes as you strike the string with your thumb.  

 

Know that songs sound different when you emphasize the 1 and the 3 beat or the 2 and 4 beat.  Here's an example of playing the 2-4 (though I wouldn't say this is only a "jazz" beat);  

 

 

Back in "the day" a new song would be played on "American Bandstand" and the audience was asked whether they thought the song would be a hit.  Often, the answer was, "It has a good beat and I can dance to it".  That's your key, remember most "popular music" played since the 1800's was intended to get the listener up and dancing.  You, as a musician, accomplish that by having a strong and consistent beat to each song.  Listen to one of the best of the time keepers and try to determine what beats he's emphasizing;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ROwVrF0Ceg

 

Ragtime music has more easily noticed beats; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHtwF-gpluc

 

Travis Style; 

 

 

 

Learn to play "waltz time", which is 3/4 time not 4/4 (common) time.  "Waltz music is in 3/4 time and the 1st beat of a measure is strongly accented."https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltz_(International_Standard)  Therefore, playing waltz time means you are playing with a strong emphasis on the "1"; 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 ...  On the 1, the dancer makes a strong movement and follows through with less emphatic/dramatic steps on the 2 and the 3.  That's how you waltz!  

 

Most music in 4/4 time will not have the very strong emphasis of the 1 in waltz time but how much emphasis you give is up to you and the stronger your beat notes, the more the audience will react to your playing.

 

So ...

 

Start your practice playing and counting only your thumb notes and up the tempo until you can play a steady and consistent tempo with the emphasis on a pair of beats.  This is called an "independent thumb" and it is the mainstay of most fingerstyle playing in any genre of music; https://www.homespun.com/shop/product/mastering-thumbpicking-with-richard-smith/

 

Begin to listen to music with an ear toward picking out the beat of any song.  Once you begin to listen this way, you will quickly hear which songs have the strong "danceable" beats.  Get that in your head and you'll probably notice your fingers are tapping and so are your toes.   

 

Once you can consistently achieve the drive of the beat at a given tempo, begin adding melody notes.   You must count each note and each rest.  Oth rwi e, you w ll ge son s t at sou d l ke t is. Tough to make sense of, right?

 

Any lesson plan that does not introduce the idea of notes having distinct timing values is not a very good plan IMO.  If you have difficulty counting the beats, start with just the metronome and your hand tapping on your leg for each beat of a song.  Count out how the notes should be played by one tap on your leg for each note.  Hold for half and whole notes/rests, strike on quarter and eighth notes and so forth.  Don't pick up your guitar until you have the flow of the song down without the guitar.  

 

If any of your fingers or your thumb moves, you must count it.  If your fingers and your thumb don't move, you must count that too.  

 

Make sense?

 

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JanVigne    27

"Time does not have to be rigid."

 

 

Possibly, rockerbob will have further input on this idea but here's how I interpret that sentence; 

 

 

Adding "funk" or "swing" (listen to the great swing bands of the 1940's) or simply "momentum" to your playing is done by mastering timing.  To play off the beat, you must first absolutely be capable of playing exactly on the beat.  

 

Therefore, you are working toward an idea where "the beat" and correct time are not entirely copacetic.  There are certainly times when you would want to play exactly ON the beat and other times where you would play ahead of or behind the beat.  Listen to Ringo play (mostly) behind the beat as his trademark style; 

 

 

You can hear how not being exactly on the beat gives the music that "I can dance to it" sound.  Notice also the timing Ringo keeps is absolutely consistent and does not waver or wander during a song.  He's not making this up as he goes along.  He is keeping very strict timing but just not playing exactly on what a theory person would call "the downbeat".  Relate that to Justin's video on the 2-4 beat.  Put them together and you'll begin to get the idea of how important counting and keeping time is to your most effective playing style. 

 

Here's another example of "creative time keeping"; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb2w2m1JmCY

 

 

Get the idea?

 

To play with that sort of momentum in your technique involves plenty of time learning how to count time and how to play strict time.  This is definitely one of those "you have to know how to play by the rules in order to break the rules" techniques.  Counting every tiny incremental bit of the music is the start for that style of playing.  If you don't know where you are at every instant of a song, you can't play like that and you certainly can't play like that with others.  

 

You should be able to stop playing at any point in a song and know exactly where in the counting of the measure you are at.  Count out difficult sections of a song with your hand tapping your leg long before you begin to practice playing them.

 

That technique will get your audience tuned into what you are saying with your playing.

 

That's another idea to tuck away in the back of your memory for now, say something with your playing.  

 

Think of your playing as you would your speech.   In speaking to another person you will at times lift the end of a sentence to form a question or drop the ending downward to make a statement.  You add emphasis and pauses along with changes in the speed with which you talk.  

 

Do the same with your music, make it your statement and make it speak to the audience.  

 

First, become a master of timing.  Play the song as it is notated on the page.  

 

When the music theorists began to analyze blues and then jazz in the first part of the 20th century, they were at a loss for how to discuss the timing of the genres.  There is a life that exists between the notes which could not be placed on a page.  As you can hear with the Ellington ensemble, great jazz/blues players hear and listen between the notes.  It's what drives the theory guys nuts.   

 

I'm not aware of anyone who plays like Ellington or Starr who can't count time in their sleep.  Drill hard with that metronome until you can't stand it any more and then start over again.  Truly master timing.  

 

As you develop your style, look into buying a drum machine to replace your metronome.  They can be had for cheap $$$'s (lots of second hand stuff) and some on line resources serve the purpose at first.  They have infinitely more variety to their tempos and timing cues which can lead you into playing to another external beat.  

 

Then settle into the idea that your thumb is the drummer/time keeper for a fingerstyle player.  Just as a drummer keeps time (it is the instrument others in a band will get with to find the groove of a song) for a group, your thumb is what sets the timing for your playing with fingerstyle techniques.  

 

This is all a long way off if you are just now beginning but this is your goal.  Set your goal and keep it as your end result.  Just remember, getting creative with timing before you can play correct time is just being lazy and sloppy.  Get "the beat" correct first and then you can break a few rules.  But not before.  

 

      

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CollinR    0
 

Hello could someone explain me step by step how do you play songs by metronome? i have been practicing dividing beats with metronome but i don't know how to take on songs.

This reminds me so much of my beginnings. In the beginning you try and try and it just doesn't work. And all the advice given above is amazing but also have in mind that you need time. As beginners we wish to learn right away and play like our fav rockstars but pls take into consideration the time they needed to get there. Just keep at it, digest all the advice that you can and one day it will work by default.

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