It’s all about the rhythm

For quite some time now I’ve been contemplating the purchase of a nice metronome.  It just seems like an interesting thing to me as a player.  For one, it objectifies the beat.  I’m talking an old-school wooden box with a swinging arm on it, not one of those digital blip-boxes.  I want a device made of wood and metal that emits a sound born of movement and contact.  I want to be able to see and feel the regularity of the beat.  And I just generally like gear.  Especially cool gear made of wood and metal.

Seriously, though, it’s often one of my weakest areas, rhythm.  I play my best stuff when playing with a good drummer.  I generally have a good sense of rhythm but I have a hard time keeping it regular when the beat exists only in my head.  I can hear and produce complex polyrhythms of all types, but when playing alone, I have a tendency to wander from the beat, resulting in everything from awkwardness to a train wreck.

I’m sure you know the feeling… jamming, everything feels right.  You finally found that lick you’ve been hunting for days and you’re going to ride it for all it’s worth.  But then a slip… maybe just a sixteenth note missing in a scale or a moments-too-long rest.  You try to hold on… you know you can get it back under control!  Oh, but another slip!  And it all…




I hate it when that happens.  I’ve actually had to stop abruptly just before the climax of a minutes-long solo jam and stare blankly at the mic before muttering an apology and ending my set.  I would play myself into such a complex rhythm that I reach a certain point and neither have a way forward or a way back.  The beat was simply gone.

But it wouldn’t be like that with a metronome.  It would be like having a tiny drummer in a box that played only on the up beats or down beats.  Any speed you want.  Unerringly.  And imagine playing along with it.  Get into a righteous jam and then float a big gap of silence, just after a climax, to be filled with that unerring “tick-tick-tick-tick”.  It feels like it could be a beautiful thing.

But there are a couple of harmonicas in line first before I get to a metronome.  Just thought I’d share a daydream I’ve been having for a few days.

About Parker

I'm a woodworker by day and a musician by night, a blogger on the weekends and an artist when I can find the time.

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