Soundbrenner Pulse Metronome

September 28, 2017, 9:55 AM · In a previous post, Yixi mentioned the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome. Could those of you who use this accessory share their experience? What works, what doesn't? I am considering it, but without a smart phone (yes, I don't have a smart phone, or a cellular for that matter! Bet you never taught that was possible ;-), wondering what I can do with it, and if it is worth it.

Replies (17)

October 25, 2017, 1:02 PM · So, no one is using this metronome?
October 25, 2017, 1:07 PM · What is a metronome?
October 25, 2017, 2:26 PM · Who doesn't know.
October 26, 2017, 9:30 AM · Roger, I have been using it on and off. What's cool about it is the silence effect and it does feel like one's own pulse, especially initially. The problem for me is that the pulses are weak and my brain tends to ignore the sensation after a while. So now I went back to the loud metronome.
October 26, 2017, 10:26 AM · I tried a pulse metronome on loan from my teacher. It had a small capsule on a belt clip that creates a short pulse of vibration to the intended tempo. I found it functionally similar to a conventional metronome, but I liked that it eliminated the superimposed acoustic beat on the music I was playing. My take on it was it was novel, and "maybe useful", but not a game changer for my current methods of practice. It might be a useful step toward developing one's internal time base without the traditional tick-tick of the metro in the ear.
October 26, 2017, 4:13 PM · What I am wondering most is if it is useful in developing a subconscious sense of pulse. As Yixi said, does one's brain ignores it after a while, or does it still assists (even though one might not feel it anymore) in enabling that subconscious sense of pulse? My sense of pulse sucks!
October 26, 2017, 4:19 PM · I tune my heart beat between 60 to 140 beats per minute and use that as my "metronome".
October 26, 2017, 4:55 PM · Roger, I'm skeptical about the pulse assistance of such device. For what I know, we all have natural pulse (heartbeat, walking, etc.). When people tells you that you don't have pulse, I don't think they can prove that you just don't have it. What has been pointed out to you is that you haven't paid enough attention to it because there are too many other stuff we have to pay attention to when we are learning something.
Edited: October 26, 2017, 6:08 PM · John, my cardiac arrythmia probably doesn't help my sense of pulse! Even after 27 years in the military, I couldn't march to a steady 120 paces per min to the beat of a drum! Anecdotally, that was a bit of a challenge for me when I once was in command of a 100 men guard of honour for the opening of the Canadian BC legislature! Yixi, I wouldn't bet on your theory about natural pulse :-), but tx for the feedback, this device is relatively expensive, hence my hesitations.
October 26, 2017, 8:21 PM · Roger- I have been working on this issue as well, since my counting is not as good as it could be. One technique that has helped me is to synchronize my breathing to the musical pulse, with a very subtle series of pauses within each breath, essentially a “portato” of say four stops in an inhale, then the same in exhale, etc. nobody should see it - just feel it. The piece in which this particularly helped for me was Bach’s Air on the G string (played in D) with a tempo of about 65. The opening F is 9 counts long, so it must be counted to keep track, and many of the rhythms in the piece easily fall apart without an accurate time base. This might not work for everyone, or be useful at a fast tempo, but I thought I’d share it.
Edited: October 26, 2017, 9:45 PM · Tx Charles this is a good tip, I ought to keep that in mind. My counting isn't bad... when I solely focus on that, the minute I start playing it seems that my counting begins to follow my fingers rather than the other way around. Actually counting while playing really screw things up in general so I tend to avoid mentally spelling out numbers, my brain can't keep up (what's not helping is that I'm counting in English... which isn't my first language, I really shouldn't do that don't ask why). Tried marking time with my foot/toes instead, but the same thing happen. I really ought to develop a "guts" rhythm that is unconscious rather; some are lucky and seem that have an innate sense of rhythm.

Funny the little things that get in the way. For instance my left eye is dominant, hence giving me an entirely different perspective on my bow position than most others as I am looking at the finger board from an angle. My teacher tried once to see what it's like when I tried to explain why I can't tell if my bow is perpendicular to the strings, but for some reason he couldn't close only one eye! In the orchestra, my stand partner sits on the right, so I have to read the music on the right with my left eye, the furthest away (we could switch side, but then the instrument blocks my left view!). I wear bifocal lenses and need the stand low to be in focus, he on the contrary needs it high! Etc. As if playing wasn't hard enough!

Edited: October 26, 2017, 11:09 PM · Roger, it wasn't my theory about natural pulse. I read somewhere that many great musicians (Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms, just to name a few) are deadly against using metronome because of its rigidity. Jazz musicians also tell us to that we should tap to our own pulse to make music and play in time. Here is the questions they often ask: Can you walk in steady pace? Can you chop food in steady pace? If you can, then you have a sense of pulse.

I was petting my cat rhythmically when I was reading your post and thought to myself, I simply can't avoid having a natural pulse. It would be quite hard to pet my cat in irregular tempi. But this doesn't mean I always play perfectly in time.

So here is my theory: when we are not able to play in time, the issue is not whether one lacks natural pulse, but it's the technical difficulty of music that we are working on. If all we need to do is playing open strings or simple scales, playing evenly at our one most comfort pace shouldn't be any problem, right? If the technical (and probably also musical issues) are well under our control, why would the timing become an issue?

To put it another way, how can we tell our timing issue is not simply a technical issue?

October 27, 2017, 4:04 AM · I understand what you mean about dissociating the internal “metro” from the music. As Yixi suggested, try some really straightforward pieces to count, maybe some Baroque passages in 4/4.

At the risk of drifting off topic - I am an ophthalmologist and could not resist comment about the vision issues. There’s nothing that can be done to alter ocular dominance - and it is sometimes a major problem in unrelated endeavors. Glasses can be improved however to solve the bifocal problem. Ask your eye care practitioner for “single vision” near focus glasses for music. Measure the intended distance from your eyes to the music stand. The reciprocal of the distance in meters is the dioptric “add” to ask for.

October 27, 2017, 9:03 AM · I'm just kidding about tuning my heart's beating. That would actually be quite some talent to have.

October 27, 2017, 11:50 AM · My mom used to just leave a metronome on for hours at a time while I did homework. So my internal pulse is pretty good.
Edited: October 27, 2017, 12:29 PM · Kidding aside, I sometimes wonder if our heart beat affects one's overall sense of rhythm. I tried a computer-based drum practice application, and I don't think I've ever been able to maintain more than 3 beats in a row at the exact same tempo!

I think Yixi is right though, the more complex the tasks, the less I maintain rhythm. That said, good Jazz and Traditional music players have such an incredible innate sense of rhythm that I don't think they can even comprehend how one may lack such a sense.

On the vision side, single focal glasses seems at priori a good idea, but the conductor would then be just a blur, not sure about that, it's hard enough as it is to pay attention to him ;-).

October 27, 2017, 1:26 PM · Erik, I grew up with old fashioned clocks with loud ticking 24/7. That must explains my internal pulse is clock-like and why my walking rhythm is around 120bpm. My food chopping speed is at 180 to 240, depending on who is watching. LOL.

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