Dr. Betotte Metronome Is Still My Go-To App

Dr. Betotte is still the metronome that I use the most. The newest additions to this app are a native iPad version and syncing of all settings using iCloud.

The features that are most helpful to me in practicing are:
• Adjustable volume sliders on: quarter, 8th, 16th, triplet and downbeat sounds.
• Tap tempo
• Savable tempo settings.
• Coaching functions to gradually move the tempo up and down.
• Syncing

Features included that I don’t use that often are:
• Halftime feel
• Adjustable swing feel functions
• Multi beat mode (Change where the strong beat occurs.)
• Playlist modes (Practice with multiple time signatures.)
• Quiet count (Drop metronome beats.)
• Creating your own metronome sounds
• Visual metronome choices (Count, Pendulum, or flash the screen.)
• Pitch generator
• Timer

The adjustable volume sliders act just like those on the well known, Dr. Beat metronomes.

Dr. Betotte iPad in Landscape

Dr. Betotte iPad in Landscape

There is no way that this can get as loud as that big old warhorse device, Dr. Beat, no matter what sound you choose to use. However, you can easily use a dock or a wireless speaker setup to get as loud as you’d like.

The savable tempo settings were there from the first edition but now you can use iCloud to sync the settings. (Might want to back up before you turn this on, just in case.) The other thing to note here is that all of the settings are synced. Change the iPhone to a lurid orange which looks fun and you’ll get blinded by it when you turn on the metronome on your iPad.

Volume controls on iPhone

Volume controls on iPhone

An eyeful of orange on the iPad!

An eyeful of orange on the iPad!

I love to be able to quickly get the metronome going and jump right in to some of my standard practice routines. There are a few oddities to the playlists however. First, it acts a bit weird because it feels like you are going out of that setting when you hit the playlist button. You aren’t. You are going back to the choices for that playlist.

Awkward but you get used to it.

Awkward but you get used to it.

Playlist detail on iPhone

Playlist detail on iPhone.
Tapping back brings you back to the Playlist screen.

Second, even though it always seems to change the rhythms correctly, it doesn’t always switch to the tempo. Often, whatever tempo you had going is going to stay the tempo. Even with that, it still allows you to stay in the zone because the tempo will then be the only thing that you need to change.

By far, one of my favorite things to use is the coach functions. There are three. Gradual up/down and the Step up/down (essentially the same thing) and Quiet Count. I don’t tend to use the quiet count that often but it’s a great way to test yourself if you are having any trouble keeping a steady tempo. I love having the Gradual and Step settings. Even though the concept is the same, it’s nice to have two of them so that you don’t have to reset them as often when practicing passages that have different lengths and tempi. Using this, you can set an upper and lower tempo limit. Great to use this when trying to raise the speed of a difficult passage. Or conversely, to work towards a slow tempo. Start at the tempo where you can breathe the phrase that you want to hear and work your way down to the tempo that you want the piece to be at. (Tchaikovsky VI opening for example.) I’ll forever be grateful to the low horn player that shared that practice tip with me.

Coach section on iPad

Coach section on iPad

Halftime is another fun way to practice a difficult passage. I’ll often do something that I call doubles. I will play a passage very slowly, say at 40 bpm and then directly after that play it at 80 bpm and then down to 42, up to 84 etc. Halftime helps me do this with a little less metronome fiddling. (Admittedly, I most often practice doubles using the Cycles metronome app.) Sadly no longer available in the app store.

One of the things that I really like about the iPhone version of this metronome is that when you turn it landscape, you get a nice big face and still have access to various settings. This is great when you only have one hand free. Easy to reach over and use the slider to change the tempo. In this screen, you have access to everything that you need including the various note sliders.

Landscape on iPhone

The metronome view on the iPad always shows playlists. Not a big deal in landscape. A bit awkward in portrait. There are preferences to hide certain looks depending on the orientation but not for the playlist section. I tend to always use landscape if I’m using the iPad version so that doesn’t really bother me.

The playlist doesn't go away.

The playlist doesn’t go away.

Dr. Betotte is now a plus app on version is 3.5.
It’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and requires iOS 5.1 or later.
It costs $9.99 from the iTunes store.
Keep in mind that developers need to eat and you can’t buy a Dr. Beat for $10. It’s worth the money for me. I highly recommend this metronome.

If you want to try before buying, there is a free version to try that is an iPhone native. It does not have all the bells and whistles.
Get it here.
There is also a version for your Mac that you can get directly from the developer, Seishu Murakami’s website: S’s Works Software. This version includes a sequencer but you have to practice with your computer.

I first wrote about this app in July of 2012: Dr. Betotte version 3.2.

Cycles: Metronome

Cycles: Metronome is the one that I’ve been looking for…it has some of the same elements as the Rhythm Programmer that I used to use. But it’s even better. Multiple time signatures, very simple to create different rhythms. Plus a very cool arrangement feature. Easily double, triple or even quadruple the tempo. Yes, please!

As I’ve written about before, I practice the Oubradous scales in various rhythm patterns. It’s great to be able to have a metronome playing those patterns with you. Cycles can do that. It absolutely reminds me of the Rhythm Programmer metronome that I used to have and loved. However, because of the additional possibilities, I don’t miss that metronome anymore.

1 beat of dotted eighth-sixteenth-eighth rhythm.

As written

Cycles can have up to 30 beats and 30 subdivisions. I also love the way that it’s set up. For those students who are more visual, this can help them see the rhythm in a different way than just static notes on a page.

30 beats and 30 subdivisions…You can’t see those because they are so small but they are there.

One of the most helpful features of the Cycles: Metronome is the ability to make “arrangements”. I used to have to put a metronome on eighth notes and try to eliminate the downbeats to have a metronome going with an odd meter piece. Not anymore. It’s also a very different feel in practicing to have the rhythm that you’ll be playing against in performance. I think that it makes a huge difference.

Here’s a big one for us bassoonists.
Bolero in 3 with just sixteenths on the metronome just doesn’t feel as good and helpful as that Bolero rhythm that is a constant in the piece.

First measure of the Bolero rhythm being played from an arrangement.

The second measure of the Bolero rhythm in the arrangement section.

Arrangement Screen first window.

You make the arrangements and then add the segments together. Turn on the arrange mode and you are done.

So helpful! Try it and see what I mean.

It will not, however, help with having to come in after the clarinet. (Visualization will help with that! I once had to play Bolero after waiting about a half hour for two rival Mexican TV stations to duke out who got to film the concert. Uncomfortable much?)

Just for grins, here is the first 8 minutes of the piece. Lovely view of the percussionist starting. The bassoonist is playing a French Bassoon, not the German Bassoon that most of us in the U.S. play.

As you can tell, I like this metronome very much. In the upper left corner, there is a number, 1 means play it at tempo but you can change this up to a 4 to quadruple the tempo. I use this quite a bit. I have a practice technique that I call doubling. I’ll play something very slowly, say at 40 BPM and then I’ll crank up the metronome and play it at 80 BPM, back down to 41 and then up to 82, etc. I used to have to play with the metronome to speed up and slow down the tempo but with the Cycles: Metronome, one click and the horn is back up and you are working again. Love it.

I do have a couple of things that I like to see changed a bit. Even for me, with my small fingers, some of the buttons up at the top are a bit close together. I’d also love to have it sound a bit louder. You can adjust the beats some on the Settings Page but for me, that’s not quite enough. Eventually, I’m going to invest in AirPlay speakers but for now, I can use a stereo dock if I need it.

Settings Screen from the Cycles: Metronome App.

One last thing that you see on this settings screen is pretty interesting though I haven’t played with it much. If you play with the Subtraction sliders, the metronome will randomly drop beats out so you can see if you can stay in tempo with a changing beat. I occasionally find that the regular setting drops a beat (Though the tempo stays steady.) So maybe that comes from this option.

Cycles: Metronome is from Zero Brainz. They have quite a few tutorial videos on the site to help you get started using the app.
It is native for iPhone/iPod Touch, works on the 3GS and up and iOS 4.1 and later.
It’s $1.99. on the iTunes App Store.

I highly recommend it!