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!