Metronomics Manual

  1. About Metronomics
  2. Starting the metronome
  3. Metronome controls
  4. Subdivisions and sliders
  5. Saved metronomes
  6. Settings
  7. Learn more
About Metronomics

I created Metronomics out of necessity. The metronome I was using was functional, but it let me be complacent about time — I became reliant on it to tell me where the time was instead of helping me build my own sense of rhythm. The features in Metronomics are all built with the goal of helping musicians develop a good sense of time and rhythmic security, without leaning on a constantly-clicking metronome as a crutch.

- John Nastos
Saxophonist, creator and programmer of Metronomics

Starting the metronome

Starting the metronome is as simple as tapping the "Start" button on the main screen. To stop the metronome, tap the button again. Please note that if you have "Play in background" turned on in the app settings, the metronome will continue to play while the app is in the background.

The metronome can also be started and stopped from the remote control on the lock screen and in the app switching dock.

Metronome controls

The metronome controls are near the top of the screen. Swipe right and left to see more controls.

Tempo

Metronomics provides a number of ways to change the tempo:

Time Signature

Use the up and down arrows under "Beats per measure (hold):" to control the time signature. Metronomics has no upper limit on the number of beats that can be in a measure.

Mixed Meters

To enter a mixed meter (such as 4 + 3), tap and hold the time signature indicator. A new screen will come up with a list of the "segments" in the mixed meter. When playing a mixed meter, the beginning of each segment will be emphasized by the downbeat sound. For example, enter 4 + 3 + 4 to play an eleven beat bar with emphasis on the first, fifth, and eighth beats.

When using mixed meters, the up and down arrows by the time signature indicator disappear. To change the segments, simply tap the time signature indicator (which will now display something like "4 + 3 + 5"). The rearrange the segments, tap and hold the handle of the right side the row. Then, drag it to the desired position. To return to a non-mixed meter, delete all the segments until you only have one left or use the "Combine segments" button to add all the segments together (for example, 4 + 3 + 5 would become on segment 12 beats long).

Downbeat

By default, a sound is played on the downbeat of each measure (or segment if using mixed meters). Use the up and down arrows under "Downbeat every __ bars:" to control how often the downbeat is played. Setting this to 0 means the downbeat sound will never be played.

Note: when using mixed meters, a downbeat is played at the beginning of each segment by default. The "Downbeat every..." control determines how many segments are played between downbeats.

Repeating patterns

When a subdivision is set to random, the section labeled "Play bar __ times:" can be used to determine how many times that random pattern is repeated before moving on to a new random pattern. For example, with quarter notes set to random at 50% probability at 4 beats per measure, the metronome may play a quarter note on beats on and four, while being silent on beats 2 and 3. If "Play bar __ times" is set to 3, only beats one and four will be played for 3 consecutive bars before moving on and generating a new pattern.

Hint: this control can be useful when looking for new grooves or trying to settle into a pattern for more than a bar at a time.

Audibility

There are two controls for Audibility (also called "Independence" mode): "Audible for __ bars:" and "Inaudible for __ bars." If the metronome is set to be audible for 3 bars and inaudible for 1, 3 measures will be played out loud, followed by one silent bar. During the silent bar, the time continues as normal, but no sound is made. Like the "Downbeat every..." control, when using mixed meters, these controls affect segments. So, when playing in 3 + 3 + 2, with 2 audible bars and 1 inaudible bar, the segments of 3 would get played, leaving the segment of 2 silent.

Hint: this can be a particularly useful tool when trying to learn not to rush or drag — during the silent bars, the player is responsible for keeping the time for him- or herself.

Note that if the inaudible bars control is set to 0, by default, all the other bars have to be audible. Changing the inaudible bars to 1 or greater then allows control over the audible bars up and down buttons.

Subdivisions and sliders
Sliders

The sliders on the main screen provide the core functionality of Metronomics. Each slider determines how likely the particular subdivision is to be played. When set to 100% (slider moved all the way to the top), the subdivision behaves like a regular metronome and is played all the time. When set to 0%, it is never played. When it is set to 50%, it is played only 50% of the time. For example, with 4 beats per measure and quarter notes set to 50%, Metronomics may only play beats 1 and 4 in the first bar, 2 and 4 in the second bar, 1 and 2 in the third, etc. Some bars may end up with no quarter notes played -- others will all of them played. The 50% is the average over time -- not per bar.

Note: When a subdivision is sequenced and the probability set to less than 100%, pieces of the sequenced pattern will be played randomly at that probability level. Sequenced subdivisions have gray sliders.

Hint: setting the percentages lower and lower forces you do develop more rhythmic security over time.

Subdivision detail

Tapping the detail button underneath a subdivision slider gives you access to more controls for the particular subdivision.

Adding subdivisions

The "Add subdivision" button allows you to add additional subdivisions to the metronome. On newer devices, up to 10 subdivisions are allowed. Due to performance limitations, only 5 are allowed on older devices.

On the "Add Subdivision" screen, you are given a choice between "Common" subdivision types (quarter, eighth, etc.) and "Custom" types. On the "Custom" screen, you can define your own subdivision with a numerator and denominator. The numerator dictates how many subdivisions occur per number of beats in the denominator. For example, 8th notes would be represented by a numerator of 2 and a denominator of 1, because there are 2 8th notes per 1 beat. Quarter note triplets would be 3/2 — 3 quarter note triplets occur every 2 beats. More complex subdivisions can be created as well — numerators and denominators can both have values up to 100.

Sequencer

When the sequencer switch is turned on for a subdivision, a visual representation of the subdivision is displayed allowing you to choose when a subdivision is played. Because Metronomics allows unusual subdivisions, the Metronomics sequencer is a bit unconventional looking. In its 3-dimensional display, bars, beats, and subdivisions are represented by boxes at varying distances from the viewer. In the far back, bars are represented by light gray boxes. In front of the bars are beats, represented by medium gray boxes. If the metronome is set to 5 beats per measure, you will see that five of the boxes representing beats fit into the same horizontal space represented by 1 bar. Note: when playing with mixed meters, the beginning of each "segment" is purple instead of gray.

In the front, subdivisions are represented by the small dark gray or red boxes. If the subdivision were 16th notes, you would see 4 small dark gray boxes taking up the horizontal space of 1 medium gray beat. And, 20 subdivision boxes would take up the space of 1 light gray bar in back (in 5 — 4 subdivisions per beat times 5 beats per bar).

When subdivisions are dark gray in color, they are not played by the metronome. Tapping the subdivision will turn it red and "activate" it, and it will be played by the sequencer. For example, in the following picture, quarter notes on beats 1 and 3 will be played in every bar.

With subdivisions that don't divide evenly into beats or bars, the sequencer becomes more complex. For example, 8th notes always evenly line up with beats (and thus bars), making the visual representation simple. Quarter note triplets in a time signature of 3 beats per bar, though, become more complex. One "set" of quarter note triplets takes 2 beats to complete. So, in one bar of 3, only 1 and a half "sets" of the quarter notes have completed. Metronomics figures out how many bars it takes for the beginning of the "set" and the beginning of a bar to line up and displays that amount of time to be sequenced. In the case of the quarter note triplets in 3 beats per bar, it will display two bars to be sequenced (the 2 beat quarter note triplet set repeated three times, totaling 6 beats, or 2 bars of 3 beats).

Note: Remember that if the probability of the subdivision is set to less than 100% and the sequencer is turned on, Metronomics will randomly play parts of the sequence. To hear the sequence exactly as notated, set the subdivision probability to 100%.

Hint: the sequencer can be used in many useful practice situations. For example, quarter notes can be sequenced on just beats 2 and 4 (in a 4-beat-per-measure metronome), which is a typical way to practice jazz. Another example may be programming the rhythm of a bass or drum pattern in order to give the feel of a particular song.

Saved metronomes

Metronomics allows you to save an unlimited number of metronomes, making it easy to quickly return to settings you've used in the past. The app comes pre-populated with a number of metronomes to practice with or use as building blocks for your own exercises.

Opening a metronome

To load a saved metronome, tap its name in the list.

Saving a metronome

To save a metronome, tap the "+" button in the top right corner of the screensaved metronomes popup. By default, the name of the metronome will be set to the name of the last metronome loaded (except for the "Default Metronome"). Saving with the same name will overwrite the existing metronome (you will be warned before it is overwritten). Saving with a new name creates a new metronome.

Hint: when creating a new metronome to work with, it's often easiest to load the Default Metronome first and use it as a template.

Editing/removing a metronome

Tapping the "Edit" button in the top left corner of the screen allows you to reorder the metronomes in the list or delete metronomes you no longer wish to have saved.

Sharing a metronome

You can share metronome settings with friends who have Metronomics installed by tapping the detail button next to a metronome name, and then tapping the "Email this metronome" button at the bottom of the screen. If the recipient has Metronomics, he or she can open the email on the device where Metronomics is installed and load the emailed settings into the saved metronome library.

Hint: this can be useful when working on a song or exercise with others.

Settings
Usage Tracker

The usage tracker records the time that Metronomics is in use. Only the time with the metronome "on" (clicking) is recorded — having the app open but not clicking will not register as usage. Stats are updated when the metronome stops.

On/Off settings

Downbeat Settings

The downbeat settings allow you to control the sample sound and volume for the downbeat.

Exporting/Importing

Choosing "Export" on the settings page allows you to email all of your saved metronomes in bulk, rather than sharing them one by one. This can also be used as a backup feature.

Note: Metronomics will display a warning if the metronome being imported was saved with an later version of the program. Opening metronomes from later versions of the program may cause them to function in unexpected ways (opening from earlier versions should not cause problems). Staying updated to the latest version from the App Store should avoid this issue.

Learn more... More information about Metronomics as well as tips for practicing with the app can be found at http://metronomicsapp.com/