• Clockwork Precision: Building the Clock Within (Plus Free Metronome Opportunity)

    in Piano,Timing and Rhythm


    This post hopes to show you the real value of rhythm in music and how to tap into it with a metronome.

    A metronome is a multi-dimensional instrument that, if put to work, will prove extremely helpful in various ways, like:

    • Keeping time while practicing,
    • Fostering a great sense of rhythm (tempo, meter, etc.),
    • Decreasing temptation to speed up,
    • Development of your inner clock.

    Before taking you any further, let me take you back to taxonomy.

    Musical Taxonomy

    If we get into the classification of things (taxonomy) in music, everything can be classified into two broad categories – pitch and rhythm.

    Everything related to scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions, etc. can be found under pitch because it requires the combination of pitches (in a certain manner) to yield scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions. You can also add riffs, licks, runs, arpeggios, etc. (but permit me to stop because the list is endless).

    While pitch focuses on melody and harmony, rhythm organizes the flow of music.

    Beats and bars, meter, tempo, syncopation, accent, etc. determine the flow of music. It’s no longer a surprise for me to see musicians (sometimes even drummers) who know very little (or nothing) about rhythm. This is unfortunately because there’s so much emphasis on pitch (scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions, etc).

    If you’ve purchased (or viewed video clips of) our paid courses, you’ll agree with me that Hearandplay.com has gone beyond teaching musicians chords and progressions to showing them how to organize those chords to fit into the flow (if you’ve watched the Church Bebop segment of Gospel Keys Ministry Musician, you’ll know exactly what I mean.)

    Beginning as a Hearandplay student (Jermaine’s favorite), I witnessed several of our instructors ranging from Mike Bereal in Gospelkeys Masterclass to Jason White in Ministry musician, from James Wrubel in Jazz 101 and 201 to Jermaine Griggs (our founder) in GospelKeys 300 place emphasis on rhythm while breaking down ideas. This is important and half the battle, if not significantly more.

    Inner Clock vs Outer Clock

    Rhythm is the essence of music that exists even in silence. Did I just say that? Yes, that’s the truth.

    1 2 3| 1 2 3 |
    – – A| ma- zing |

    Before the first melody note of Amazing Grace, did you notice the first two counts? That’s how essential rhythm is – even in silence (2 counts before the first melody note), it was there.

    Even though rhythm cannot be perceived by ear, you and I can feel it. When we’re tapping our toes, stomping our feet, clapping our hands, snapping our fingers, etc, we are doing it because we can feel it with what I call an inner clock or the clock within.

    It is with this inner clock, that we can tell when music is slower, soothing, or faster. You don’t need a degree in music to nod your head to a piece of music – your inner clock feels the pulse and responds to the pulse.

    Animals don’t have this inner clock and this explains why it’s difficult and almost impossible for them to tap simultaneously with a metronome. Even the very best of rhesus monkeys, after 12 months of intensive training, can come as close as tapping a few hundred milliseconds after each metronome click.

    We all have this inner clock but when issues like precision arise, the inner clock becomes all but reliable.

    Do you think it’s possible for a crowd to do a round of applause over a 5-10 seconds’ period at the same tempo?

    This is virtually impossible and that’s because even though there’s an inner clock, it’s naturally bound to fluctuate – either by a slight increase in tempo or decrease. You may not notice this but it happens.

    Have you also noticed that while playing alone, it’s hard to stick to the tempo?

    Story of my life! I’ve been there, so I know exactly how it feels starting out slow, but unable to explain why, in a matter of seconds, I find myself struggling to play the same thing at an uptempo speed.

    Owing to the unreliability of the inner clock, there is dire need for a precise and reliable outer clock that will give you a good sense of timing. This outer clock (metronome) has been invented, re-invented and innovated.

    The Clockwork Precision of the Metronome

    The metronome is built to regulate timing by a constant click. The tempo is determined by the number of times it beats in a minute. The regular clock (time piece) ticks 60 times in a minute. Therefore the tempo of the clock (which is invariably the rhythm of life) is 60 bpm (beats per minute).

    The regular clock does not have the capacity to beat 59 or 61 times per minute because it’s wired to beat at the rhythm of life – 60bpm (no more, no less). However, the metronome can be adjusted to beat as many times as possible in a minute. The metronome is an outer clock that keeps time just like the regular clock or watch. It’s precision surpasses that of the inner clock you and I have within. We can only improve on the precision of our inner clock if we work on it with an outer clock.

    In the classical music terrain, professional conductors regulate the flow (and keep the music organized) using gestures and eye contact and that is because, by virtue of training, most conductors have developed a higher degree of accuracy when it comes to sticking to tempo.

    Getting Organized

    When it comes to time-keeping in music, a vast majority of musicians still have a lot of work to do. Time-keeping is important in music because beyond what you’re playing, what matters is how organized it is.

    If you have all the jazz chords in the world but have no knowledge of syncopation and articulation, you’ll end up playing just pitches that lack the drive (or groove) of the underlying rhythm (swing). Books on chords and progressions will show you what to play but when it comes to how to play it, that’s when a good sense of rhythm becomes of paramount importance.

    We all enjoy salsa, samba, bossa-nova and other Latin styles. However, these styles have less to do with pitches (mainly triads) and more to do with rhythm. In most of these styles, syncopation (displacements of accent on beats) is an integral feature. Therefore, one must have a high sense of rhythm and timing to cope with the syncopation. No matter how many inversions of a triad you know, until you begin to break that triad up rhythmically the way Mr. Goodkind did in our Salsa piano course, it will not sound like a montuno.

    Truth is, if you develop a great sense of rhythm today, it will enhance the melodic and harmonic ideas you have already. Music is built on tonal and rhythmic principles. Few people who have ventured into rhythm will tell you that the strength of a melodic idea depends so much on rhythm.

    Metronome Revival

    M50-black-frontToday, we are reviving the use of metronome because it’s high time musicians picked up the metronome from where they left it. If you don’t have one, not to worry – you will have one today for FREE.

    In the spirit of the metronome revival, we want to put a metronome in the hands of all hearandplay.com students.

    I’m talking about a multi-functional, yet easy-to-operate metronome. It has the tap tempo function that can let you determine the exact speed of any rhythm.

    Imagine how it will feel to tap your metronome and say to your worship leader “Hey! That song was recorded at 78 beats per minute and we’re currently at 72 beats per minute, can we make it a little bit faster?” That’s what the tap tempo function will do for you from today forward.

    I’m talking about a metronome with dual channel for earphone output. One of these days, you can share your metronome experience with your friends and most importantly be able to practice at the same time, at the same tempo with the same metronome.

    It is anticipated that this revival will most importantly reawaken the spirit of practice among musicians and this revival starts with you. Get your metronome today for FREE.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Peter LaFosse

    Received the free metronome yesterday, Thank you


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