Flat Pyramid-style Metronome App using HTML5 Web Audio API.
Using our free Metronome is easy: select a BPM and press ⏎.
You can change the number of beats per measure (from 2 to 12), and/or accent any beat by highlighting its dot at the bottom of the metronome. Pressing shift and + or - at the same time will increase/decrease BPM by 10.
Using a metronome to sharpen up your performance
There are some tools that are a triumph of style over substance, some that are nice to have and just a few that no singer or musician can manage without. A metronome certainly falls into the latter category.
Stunning in its simplicity, yet indispensable if you want to improve both your timing and your technique, a metronome is the must have practice tool. GetSongBPM's online metronome (or Android App Metronomio) can be with you wherever you are, and will sharpen your performance and help you as you first learn to play a new piece and then get literally up to speed.
Most beginners find that when they start playing a piece of music, they confidently play the “easy bits” quickly and then slow down as they move through the more complex parts, or those with the more awkward chords. Guitar players will immediately be picturing those Fs or Bs. The trouble is, even as you become more accomplished, bad habits like those can become easily ingrained.
Now from a music theory perspective, practicing long sections of music is not the most effective form of practice anyway, but setting that aside for a moment, whatever you are playing, you need to keep a steady tempo throughout. That does not necessarily mean the right tempo – that can come later. The key at these early stages is consistency, and for that, the metronome has to become your best friend.
Did you know that many sports players use metronomes to improve technique? Footballers, tennis players and golfers all say a metronome is an important practice tool. For the latter, in particular, the logic is plain to see. Even non-golfers know that the key to success in the sport is all about the swing. And a good swing demands good rhythm.
If rhythm is important to sports players, it is absolutely fundamental to musicians. Clearly, if a metronome can improve technique in a motor skill such as golf, which is not rhythm based per se, then it will be even more valuable in another motor skill where rhythm is everything.
Breaking it down into sections
There's a difference between practicing your skills and rehearsing a piece of music, but nevertheless, many people consider practicing to mean playing through everything they can think of. When you work with a metronome, there is little point in playing long pieces of music. The idea is to break it into distinct sections.
One of guitar legend Frank Zappa's most famous pieces is called The Black Page. It is so called because in musical notation, the piece is so tightly packed with notes that there is barely any white paper visible. It has a reputation for being one of the most complex and difficult guitar solos ever. Watch video footage of Zappa playing The Black Page and his fingers are a blur. It is enough to make any guitarist feel a little nauseous and want to take up the tambourine instead.
So how would you go about learning to play a piece like that? Of course, there is only one answer – very slowly. The Black Page appears on Zappa's 1976 album Live in New York at a tempo of 114 BPM. So if you want to try to prove yourself as a guitarist who fears nothing, the first thing you might want to do is set your metronome to 57 BPM and start from there. This allows you to acquaint yourself with the nuances of the piece. In this example, there are extensive tuplets, including some instances of tuplets within tuplets, along with crochet triplets and minim triplets.
With a piece like The Black Page, you might spend weeks, months or years trying to find your way through what Zappa called the “statistical density” of the piece. But the principle applies to any new arrangement you are learning.
Building muscle memory
Starting slowly and then gradually increasing the BPM on your metronome doesn't just help you find your way around a piece from a technical perspective. It also allows you to build what is known as muscle memory. This has nothing to do with memory as such, but is associated with the nerves that surround the muscles that you are putting to use – in the example of a guitar, your fingers.
When you keep repeating the same action, your brain starts to react differently to the familiar movements, anticipating what is going to come and making you move faster and with more confidence and accuracy.
Improving muscle memory to make you a faster and more accomplished musician is one of the reasons it is so important to include short and familiar sections and patterns in your routine. Muscle memory relies on repetition, not experimentation.
Hitting the speed wall
By starting slow and gradually increasing the tempo on your metronome, you will surprise yourself as your playing becomes faster and more accomplished. However, sometimes you will find that you reach a point and can go no further. A little like the experience felt by long distance runners, this is known as hitting the wall.
If you can't get through the speed wall, there is probably a physical reason, and it comes right back down to technique. One of the downsides to starting slow is that you can introduce all sorts of inefficiencies. To use a simple example, a pianist might start lifting his fingers high off the keyboard in between notes. At a slow tempo, that's no problem, but as you speed up, there comes a point when either you have to stop lifting your fingers like that, or you just won't be able to play any quicker.
In that case, the solution is obvious, but usually, it will be something far more nuanced. The good news is that it will still be there, whatever the tempo, so you can slow back down work with a tutor on new techniques.
It's all a matter of timing
We have discussed a range of practice techniques, and all of them are things that can be worked on in the comfort of your own home, as long as you have that simple but all important tool. Enjoy your music, and enjoy using the GetSongBPM online metronome.