Tempo Advance Metronome

I decided to try Tempo Advance because it looks a lot like the Cycles metronome. I love the Cycles metronome but it hasn’t been updated in a while and some graphic issues introduced in the last update haven’t been fixed. I find it hard to blame any developer for quitting or finding other stuff to work on when people who will routinely pay $5 for watery coffee get offended by an app that costs more than 99¢. But I also love having the ability to practice against rhythms and not just straight 8th’s or 16th’s and wanted to have something else in place just in case Cycles disappears or stops working.

There is a lot to love about Tempo Advance. Like Cycles, you can view the beats in a ring. But you can also have a more linear view if you turn your device to landscape. They refer to this as rotary and linear on their website.

iPhone 32nd, dotted-16th rhythm in portrait.

iPhone 32nd, dotted-16th rhythm in portrait.

iPhone 32nd, dotted-16th rhythm in landscape.

iPhone 32nd, dotted-16th rhythm in landscape.

Due to the setlist options, I can program in all of the rhythms that I use to practice and just pick those by name without having to program the device every time.

iPad setlist

iPad setlist

When you save for a setlist, it takes everything you’ve set included the metronome sounds that you’ve chosen. There are quite a few to choose from too. You can change them as a set or choose to set each of the three possible accent/unaccented sounds individually. This can be especially helpful when it comes to polyrhythms. If you need to practice polyrhythms, I can’t think of a better app that I’ve seen yet. If you have headphones on, it is preset to have each rhythm in a different ear. Like almost everything about this app, you can tweak these settings to what works best for you. It’s very easy to select the polyrhythms that you want to work with. When you bring up the polyrhythm selector, you have two columns of 20 numbers. Want to work out your 11 against 20? Knock yourself out.

Choosing your rhythm or polyrhythm on the iPad

Choosing your rhythm or polyrhythm on the iPad

When you make a setlist, it is very easy to map out a metronome for a multi-meter piece or if you want to have a rhythm change under you, as in Bolero. You can save  a rhythm as a preset as well but since you can’t name those yourself and it doesn’t save all the settings and won’t automatically move to the next rhythm, I find that less helpful than the setlist.

In terms of other helpful ways to practice with this metronome, you can either automatically increase or decrease the BPM by up to 100 every so many bars. You can set this to turn off by either number of bars or by time.

Speed up or slow down by bars or times.

Speed up or slow down by bars or times.

I do wish that you could set this to increase and then automatically decrease back down to your starting point like Dr. Bettotte will but if I want that right now, I’ll use Dr. Bettotte instead. Another technique that I haven’t tried it yet but I can see myself using is a setlist to practice something in all of the Oubradous rhythms one after another. If you want to do this, you need to set a tracker time or measure amount before you save to the setlist. You can overwrite it if you forget though.

There is no iCloud syncing of the settings like there is for some of the other metronome apps that I use. However, sharing setlists is ridiculously easy through e-mail. I don’t usually play concerts that have this type of setlist but if you do, it would be very easy to share with your group. If they have Tempo Advance, they can just open the setlist in app and everything is ready to go. You can also share the setlist as text as well. If your students have the app, you could use it to assign them a rhythm to use to practice

There are also some cool little touches that tell me that Frozen Ape is paying attention. If you have the metronome in portrait view and turn on the proximity sensor, you don’t even have to touch it to get it started. You can set this to toggle playback, go to the previous song or preset or the next song or preset. I’m trying this out right now though I did turn it off while checking some of my facts for this post. Also, you can choose from multiple themes or even make your own. I can see that my 13 year old self would have really loved this and maybe spent more time on it than I should have so let your young students know about this at your peril. Just like the setlists, you can share the themes between devices. Frozen Ape has a lot of video tutorials on their site and if you are a drummer, Mike Mangini, drummer for prog rock group Dream Theater has tutorials as well. There is also a way to sync this app to receive triggers from multiple pedals using airturn. I don’t have one of those yet so I was unable to try that.

I love this metronome. I could replace Cycles with Tempo Advance completely except for one thing. One of the main types of practice that I do which I call doubling, is perfectly setup on Cycles, I can automatically increase the tempo by up to four times with a few taps on that app. For instance, I might practice something at the horribly annoying tempo of 20 BPM. Then, I’ll increase the speed to 40, practice it there, then 60, then at 80 BPM. Then I’ll drop back down and do the same thing starting at 21. Cycles is the only metronome that I’ve found so far that will automatically do this for me. If Tempo Advance did this, I might drop Cycles altogether if it doesn’t get that update.

Tempo Advance is from Frozen Ape.

It is a plus app for $3.99 from the iTunes store and requires iOS 6.0 or later.

I highly recommend this one.

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PolyRhythm a metronome for cross rhythms

PolyRhythm is just about the most straight forward app you can get. It is a metronome to help you get comfortable with cross-rhythms. That’s it. One screen. One sound. Multiple polyrhythms. Done!

It is one of those things that you might not necessarily need much but if you do need it this is a good tool. I have had solos before in cross-rhythm against the basic beat. A conductor is not going to change his pattern for just one person if the rest of the orchestra is using a different time signature so you have to know where your notes fit in.

This is the screen for PolyRhythm:

IMG_1205

A definition from Wikipedia so that we are on the same page rhythmically speaking,

Cross-rhythm refers to systemic polyrhythm. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music states that cross-rhythm is: “A rhythm in which the regular pattern of accents of the prevailing meter is contradicted by a conflicting pattern and not merely a momentary displacement that leaves the prevailing meter fundamentally unchallenged”

And one from Alex Ross The Rest Is Noise:

polyrhythmpolyrhythmic: Music is said to be polyrhythmic if two or more rhythms or meters are superimposed in a single passage, one pulling against the other(s). Masters of polyrhythm in the twentieth century include Stravinsky, Bartók, Conlon Nancarrow, György Ligeti, and Elliott Carter. In the “Procession of the Sage” from Stravinsky’s Rite, tubas play a sixteen-beat figure three times, horns play an eight-beat phrase six times, a guiro plays eight pulses to the bar, the timpani play twelve pulses to the bar, and so on:

(This is also the name of his book on 20th Century Music which I haven’t gotten to yet but it’s on my reading list.)

Here are some musical examples of cross-rhythm:

The Alex Ross definition refers to this part of the Rite of Spring:

 

Two against three from the opening of the Philip Glass piece Glassworks:

 

Although you can use PolyRhythm as a regular metronome, I wouldn’t use it for this purpose. The speeds are only available by 10’s and how slow and fast the metronome can go depends on the polyrhythm that you choose. Makes sense. Because not even the fastest drummer will be able to get up to 400 BPM with a polyrhythm of 11 against 4. (Before you tell me some inhuman percussionist who can do that, your ear couldn’t physically hear that clearly anyway so…doesn’t really matter.)

The polyrhythms go from 1 against 1, a regular metronome to 13 against 4.

13 against 4

I have been using this metronome just to hear the rhythms and then try to play them using my hands on my legs. There are drummers who can play multiple cross-rhythms at once. That just blows my mind. You can see a video of the developer of this app doing just that on his website.

PolyRhythm is available for 99¢ from the iTunes store for iPhone though it will work on iPad.

The developer is Wolfram Winkel at Five Over Three.

I have enjoyed exploring rhythmic possibilities with this app though it will probably not be in my everyday toolkit. It’s definitely worth giving it a listen and trying the rhythms out for yourself. I’m sure that I’ll be trying to use more of them in some compositions just to see what it can add to the piece.

And how about one more video that does a great job of showing you cross-rhythms:

 

 

 

Drum Dictionary

This app is very similar to one that I’ve already covered, Drum School. If you only have room on your device for one of these apps, that’s the one that I’d choose. It seems to be updated more often and has videos and many more rhythm genres to choose from. However, Drum Dictionary is also quite good, is less cluttered and has some tweaks to it that I like.

Drum Dictionary seems to have more odd-meter patterns.

Rock in 5 iPhone

Rock in 5 iPhone

Rock in 5 iPhone in Landscape

Rock in 5 iPhone in Landscape

It also has some very succinct notes on what you need to pay attention to in a particular beat. These are placed where you can easily see them while you are practicing that rhythm.

Samba practice tips on the iPhone

Samba practice tips on the iPhone

I love that you can search for a beat by looking at a list that has the musical notation.

iPad - Beat list in Notation and another odd-meter rhythm

iPad – Beat list in Notation and another odd-meter rhythm

Pick by notation on iPhone

Pick by notation on iPhone

There is also a handy way to track when the last time you practiced one of the rhythms. Oddly, the metronome is just a metronome. Meaning that if you turn it on, you don’t get to hear the rhythm that you are working on. It does save you having to switch to a different metronome app if you want to hear only yourself playing the rhythm though. You can adjust the tempo of the beat itself but you do that in percentages. A bit bizarre but I guess it makes sense if a beat is traditionally played in a particular tempo range.

Tempo and time practiced on the bottom in the iPad version of Drum Dictionary

Tempo and time practiced on the bottom in the iPad version of Drum Dictionary

One of the fun things to do when using this app when you aren’t a drummer, is the ability to turn on a rhythm and improvise to it. Especially fun with those odd meters that are included. A fun way to generate ideas or just have a free practice /experimentation session.

Drum Dictionary is a plus app available for $1.99 from the iTunes store. If you want to try it before you buy it, there is a free version with less beats and no tempo adjustments or practice lists.

Drum Dictionary is from Gig Bag Apps.

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!