Metronomics HD is a complex app and the best way to learn everything that it has to offer is through experimentation. This manual will be periodically updated with helpful information to clarify and explore all of the features and how to use them.
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.
Eventually, it was time for the next step, and I introduced Metronomics HD. Not only does Metronomics HD come with a completely redesigned interface, it also comes with a new suite of features in Inspector Mode that allow the user to record and analyze their playing along with the metronome, making the app a tool even more powerful, useful, and revolutionary than before.
Metronomics is built to be the most powerful metronome available, with features designed to help you practice and develop an internalized sense of time. Most of these features are available in the taskbar and subdivision settings.
To get started with Metronomics, begin by starting the metronome using the green button in the center of the screen. Then, try experimenting with adding a subdivision using the blue button in the center. Play with the subdivision settings. Open the mixer drawer using the tab on the left side of the screen and adjust the volume and probability of the subdivisions from there.
Next, experiment with the different controls available in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen -- everything from basic settings like the tempo and time signature to more complex operations like audibility are available here.
Once you're comfortable with these basic operations, open the saved drawer using the tab on the right side of the screen and explore the saved metronomes, presets, and samples.
Finally, use the Mode switch in the taskbar and explore the Inspector mode.
Metronomics has nearly limitless rhythmic possibilities to practice with. As you become familiar with the app, these possibilities will become quick and easy to set up, making Metronomics one of the most effective and efficient practice tools in your arsenal.
Starting the metronome is as simple as tapping the green play button in the center of the main screen. To stop the metronome, tap the button again. Please note that on iOS, 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.
To add a subdivision, click the blue + button at the top of the center circle. A basic quarter note subdivision will be added immediately that you can then adjust to fit your needs using the subdivision settings screen that will automatically open.
The taskbar sits at the bottom of the main screen and contains many of the controls that you will use with Metronomics. Experimenting with these controls and the subdivision settings will make you familiar with most of the functions you will use on a regular basis with Metronomics.
This control shows the current tempo of the metronome. By holding the +/- buttons, the tempo is adjusted in increments of 10 instead of 1.
You enter a precise tempo by clicking/tapping on the tempo itself. A dialog box will open asking you to type in a tempo.
Metronomics also supports tapping a tempo in. To activate the tap tempo feature, click the "*" button in the top right corner of the tempo control. Then, tap the control indicator (now labeled "(((Tap)))") at the tempo that you wish to set the metronome. To turn off the tap tempo feature, click the "*" button again.
This control shows the current number of beats per measure. Besides the +/- buttons, the time signature can also be adjusted by tapping/clicking the time signature itself. A dialog box will open asking you to enter a time signature.
By clicking/tapping the "*" button in the top right corner of the control, a dialog opens allowing mixed meters to be entered (e.g. 4 + 5 + 3). In that dialog, segments may be added, removed, and re-ordered. The "Combine segments" button will switch the metronome back to a single, non-mixed meter.
By default, a sound is played on the downbeat of each measure (or segment if using mixed meters). Use +/- buttons 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 control determines how many segments are played between downbeats.
When a subdivision is set to random, the control 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.
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.
Metronomics has its own volume control -- this is independent of the device volume, allowing you to mix Metronomics output with audio from other apps. If Metronomics is inaudible, make sure to check both the volume on this control and the device volume.
The right side of the taskbar has three buttons:
Access the mixer drawer by tapping/clicking the tab on the left side of the screen. The mixer drawer will slide into view. The mixer allows quick access to the probability and volume of each subdivision, as well as access to the subdivision settings.
Adjust the volume of the subdivision.
Access the saved drawer by tapping/clicking the tab on the right side of the screen. The saved drawer will slide into view.
A list of saved metronomes. Tap or click a metronome to display the available actions.
A list of saved presets. Tap or click a preset to display the available actions.
A list of saved samples. Tap or click a sample to display the available actions.
Subdivision settings can be accessed by clicking/tapping a subdivision circle or from the gear icon in the mixer drawer.
There are two main options for a subdivision's duration: one of the basic durations, such as quarter note, or half note, or a custom duration. Custom durations give Metronomics almost limitless rhythmic possibilities. Custom durations are built with a formula: number of subdivisions per number of beats. For example, 8th notes could be described as two subdivisions per every one beat. Quarter note triplets could be described as three subdivisions per every two beats. More complex subdivisions can be described with the custom duration controls.
"Probability" is one of the defining features of Metronomics. At 100% probability, the subdivision will play all the time. At 0%, it will not play. At 50%, the subdivision will play roughly half 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.
To set a subdivision to play at specific times, use the sequencer.
Hint: setting the percentages lower and lower forces you do develop more rhythmic security over time.
Note: When a subdivision is sequenced, the probability of the subdivision controls how much of the sequenced pattern will be played.
Choose the volume at which the sample sounds are played for the given subdivision.
Turning on the "Volume Variation" switch presents two additional volume controls. Using volume variation allows a maximum and minimum volume for the subdivision to be set, as well as a probability that the volume will be varied. For example, with the maximum volume set at 100%, the minimum at 25%, and the % variation set at 50%, half of the time the subdivision is played, its volume will be randomly chosen between 25 and 100%. The other half of the time, the volume will be played at its maximum level.
When the sequencer 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. Bars, beats, and subdivisions are represented by boxes in three rows. In the top row, bars are represented by orange boxes. In middle are beats, represented by green 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. When working with a preset, subdivisions after the initial iteration of the preset are shown as translucent. Activating or deactivating a subdivision gets mirrored in the repeated iterations.
In the bottom row, subdivisions are represented by the blue boxes. If the subdivision were 16th notes, you would see 4 blue boxes taking up the horizontal space of 1 green beat. And, 20 subdivision boxes would take up the space of 1 orange bar in back (in 5 — 4 subdivisions per beat times 5 beats per bar).
When subdivisions are pure blue in color, they are not played by the metronome. Tapping the subdivision will give it a green border and "activate" it, and it will be played by the sequencer.
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.
When on, the slider allows you to choose the amount of swing the subdivision has. At 100%, the subdivision is weighted with the first half given 2/3 of the length and then second given 1/3. For example, with 8th notes swinging at 100%, it will sound like two 8th note triplets tied together, followed by one 8th note triplet. At 0%, they would sound like regular even 8th notes.
"Offset" moves the subdivision so that it starts somewhere besides the downbeat. When the offset is set to a number other than 0, another option is displayed, allowing you to choose the "Offset type." The offset type (which uses the same fraction scheme that the custom durations have) lets you choose what type of subdivision you would like to offset the main subdivision by. For example, if your main subdivision is quarter notes, but you want them to start in the middle of the second beat, you would choose 2/1 for the Offset type (8th notes) and choose 3 for the Offset. This starts the subdivision 3 8th notes later than beat 1. Another example would be setting the Offset to 2 and the Offset type to 3/2, which would move the subdivision over by 2 quarter note triplets. Hint: Sequencing a rhythm and then changing the offset of it can be a great way to practice rhythmic figures in unfamiliar or unusual places in the measure.
Metronomics HD can use iCloud to sync metronomes, presets, and samples across the iOS and OSX versions of the app. When using this feature, it may be useful to periodically use the iCloud refresh button at the bottom of the saved drawer if changes aren't automatically synced.
Settings related to saving metronomes.
Turning off animations can improve Metronomics performance and response on slower and older devices.
General settings for Metronomics.
Exporting audio allows you to take your favorite Metronomics practice patterns outside the app, in audio form. The export feature allows you to choose a number of measures (including optionally a count off) and create an audio file from it (WAV format on OSX and mp4 on iOS). This can be an extremely useful feature when, for example, trying to share your Metronomics practice tracks with people who may not have the app.
MIDI export takes a Metronomics pattern and converts it to a MIDI file.
Performance export creates an audio file containing both the Metronomics audio and, assuming that Inspector Mode is set to microphone input, the recorded audio from the user practicing with the metronome. This is a great way to save your practice sessions for review later.
Inspector Mode is one of the most important features in Metronomics HD. It allows the user to not only play along with the metronome, but also get visual feedback on their progress. When in Microphone mode, the waveform of the recorded input is displayed on the inspector graph (the main part of the window, between the two taskbars), and in MIDI mode, MIDI note-on messages are displayed. By either mousing over (OSX) or tapping (iOS) on the audio peaks (drawn with a dashed red line) or MIDI events, the user can compare the timing of the event to the nearest beats.
For example, when trying to play 8th notes, the user should strive to place their notes 50% after the beat (and thus 50% before the next beat). When trying to play the 4th 16th note of a beat, the user should strive for placement 75% after the beat (25% before the next one). Using this system, the user can get precise feedback on how accurate their rhythmic placements are.
The best way to become familiar with Inspector Mode is to experiment with it. It is one of the most powerful features of Metronomics HD, but it takes some getting used to (and perhaps tweaking of the settings) in order to get the most out of it.
The Inspector Mode taskbar sits at the top of the Inspector screen. It includes a settings button, a mode switch, a play/pause button, and an indicator for the "last peak."
The mode switch is used to transition between record and playback mode.
In record mode, the play button not only starts the metronome, but also records either microphone or MIDI input.
Playback mode can only be entered once there is recorded information to replay. When in playback mode, pressing the play button does not start a new metronome session, but rather plays back the information recorded in the last session. This mode can be useful to review your practice session, both aurally through the recorded audio, and visually through the inspector graph that will scroll below the taskbar.