Removing the Metronome Scaffolding | Hub Guitar

Removing the Metronome Scaffolding

When we began our study of time, feel and groove, we started by playing along to a metronome that clicked a constant “one, two, three, four” beat. Hearing these beats allowed us to align to them, hear them as a grouped pattern, and make our first step towards the externalization of rhythm. A guitar player’s rhythm is external when a guitar player aligns himself to a rhythm from some source other than himself, such as a metronome or a drummer.

Now that we can play along with an external source of rhythm, we can push ourselves to the next level of rhythm: the internalization of rhythm. When rhythm is internalized, the body itself follows a consistent, internal process to keep the beat steady.

One sign of internalized rhythm is tapping your feet. This outward expression is a result of inwardly keeping track of the pulse. This pulse can show itself in different ways: tapping the feet, tapping the toes, moving side to side, breathing, rocking back and forth, counting in one’s head, and even tapping the tongue to the roof of the mouth (a trick used by orchestra musicians who of course don’t tap their feet during performances.)

We can improve the accuracy of our internal rhythm with a set of exercises that reduce the reliance on the metronome.

What You’ll Need

Example of the Exercise

A metronome is set to click sixteenth notes at 25 BPM, but, these sixteenth notes are treated as four measures of quarter notes in 100 BPM. After each round, some beats are removed. The player continues to play the same groove, but will hear fewer pulses and must keep track of them internally. After enough pulses are removed, only one click will sound—on the first beat of the first measure. Now the player is playing four measures to every one click, and must come down on the “one” at the exact same time as the metronome. This is much harder than it sounds. (Even if it sounds hard.)

Exercise Description

In the first round, the metronome clicks sixteenth notes so that there are four clicks per measure. In the next round, the metronome clicks eighth notes, or beats 1 & 3 of the groove. Then, quarter notes—one beat per measure. Then, beats 2 & 4 are removed so that there is only one beat for every two measures. Finally, beat 3 is removed and the player is maintaining even time for four measures with only one click.

In the example below, the chords above the staff are played consistently and evenly throughout. The notes on the staff represent the metronome clicks. Each line can be repeated an unlimited amount of times before moving onto the next line.

The “Metronome Timewarp”

Metronome Track

This track comes in two flavors.

  1. The above noted exercise, with repeated once. After finishing the metronome exercise, it begins at the beginning.
  2. The above noted exercise, with the last four measures forming the repeat. This is more challenging as the metronome file remains on "one click per four measures" for another 20 measures.

Practice along with these metronome tracks. You can also download a copy of version 1 or of version 2.

Key Result

  • Be able to perform the exercise with highly rhythmic guitar parts. At the end, there is nearly a full four bars without any click reference. You should keep playing. When you come back around to the downbeat of the first measure, you should land exactly on the beat. If not, you’ve got some work to do!
As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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