Drum Machines

We have talked about the importance of using a metronome when practicing to improve your timing and I’m going to assume if you’re reading this then you know what rhythm is about.

Timing is one of the most important things in music, I am telling you this as a drummer.

The advantage for pianists is that they can play unaccompanied and therefore can keep their own timing, keep their own tempo and do whatever they like with a musical piece… but, have you had a jam with a drummer?

Piano and drums are two very different instruments, but in some ways they are very similar – the piano can be very percussive. A piano and drums combo can be a very interesting source of music composition.

You might have a friend who has a drumkit or who is keen to get into playing drums, if you don’t, you can buy a friend who is a drum kit itself, that’s right, just buy a drum machine! Who needs friends anyway? Just kidding…

Or, if you own a keyboard or a workstation, it should definitely come with some drum beats or even better, a drum machine to create your own.

What about a metronome?

A metronome gives you rhythm and timing but it can be a little monotonous. To spice things up a bit pianists can replace a metronome with a drum machine.

A drum machine of course has perfect timing but it will also give you a clearer notion of rhythm. You will find that playing with a drumbeat or drum machine will make you discover the magic of the beat itself – silences, notes, gaps, spaces; play behind the beat, ahead, on the beat, etc.

If you are interested… what beat machine to buy?

There are as many options in the beat machine world as there are in the piano and keyboard world. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get one of those cheap, plastic keyboards from a department store which have a built-in drum machine, yes, those keyboards that look more like toys – they will have a crappy drum machine sound but they will do the trick.

If you do have some money to spend, well, let me tell you that a good drum machine can really be a good investment. BOSS and Alesis have some really good options at affordable prices, Kawai is another brand that has some affordable options too.

Having a good drum machine will also help you to get into creating beats and understanding them, in other words, music composition. This is an ideal thing to have as a pianist and it can open your playing up to more a percussive style.

I hope you get the idea of what I mean… If you are keen on a drum machine and have some questions about a particular model or brand, comment it out and we will try to help.

Cheers to all!

Luis Tovar

Posted by Luis Tovar

Metronome Plus

If you’re a busy musician who owns an iPhone or iPad, I can guarantee you already have a metronome app… If you don’t, I have one for you! Metronome Plus, now available for iPhone and iPad.

I own an iPhone (lucky me) and let me tell you that is super helpful to have a few or a lot of music applications installed. Picture this, you are in a bar or music club, you hear a song you like and you want to know the tempo of the song… done, take your iPhone out of your pocket, open your Metronome Plus app and use its tap option to find it out, easy, simple and fast! oh, and helpful too!

There are heaps of Metronome options available on the iTune store, some of them are free, some of them cost a couple of dollars. I have tried around 5 different apps and so far, Metronome Plus is the one that has done the job for me!

Metronome Plus has a modern and elegant interface. It also comes with big buttons, which is really good when using it on an iPhone. Most metronomes I tried before had very little buttons, making it hard to manipulate.

What I also like about Metronome Plus is that it can be very loud if you want without distorting which says to me that the Metronome Plus sounds were professionally created and optimised for different ambient conditions, whether through headphones or speakers.

What I also like about this app is its customized accents, meters, subdivisions and sounds.

Features at a glance…

Retina display graphics
Sleek and simple design with ergonomic touch interface
Beautiful digital pendulum animation
Four distinctive sound sets
Sounds are among the loudest possible on iOS
Realistic Tempo Scroll Wheel
Tempo range from 30-300
Screen lock
Incredibly accurate metronome engine
Drop down menu where you can change all settings with a single touch
Meter- 8 most common meters
Subdivisions- quarters, eighths, sixteenths and triplets
Accents- program accents to occur on any beat

Cost: $2.59 usd. from the iTunes store.

Luis Tovar

Posted by Luis Tovar