Can a metronome be something to get excited about?
That’s the question raised by this reader review of Metronomics HD – a ‘ridiculously flexible rhythm monster’, created by John Nastos for Mac, iOS, and Android.
Metronics HD Review
In Metronomics, the basic element is a subdivision. Each subdivision plays a single sound, at any rhythmic value (or optional sequence pattern). You can set any number of subdivisions per any number of beats.
For example you can have 3 subdivisions per beat, or 5 subdivisions for every 7 beats. You can also shift (offset) your subdivision by any value (which can be a completely different subdivision value). The optional sequence editor lets you turn on/off individual hits for the entire length of the pattern. You can add as many different subdivisions as you want, each with it’s own sound and settings.
You can also control the probability of notes and their volumes to add elements of unpredictability. You can add swing to even-numbered subdivisions.
On the main screen you can adjust tempo and beats per measure. Metronomics lets you set any number of audible measures followed by any number inaudible measures thus allowing you to practice keeping time during those silences.
In March of 2013, the developer released a new HD version for Mac and iOS that features a new GUI, imports click sounds, and includes an “inspector” mode where you record your playing via mic or MIDI and analyze your timing against the metronome’s patterns.
The HD version displays time as a rotation around a dial. Subdivisions are shown as flashing dots on the matrix. The colors of the interface are much more pleasant. The Inspector is nicely laid out and works well. The mixer and the saved metronome/preset list are vertical drawers which is a nice improvement.
There are a few improvements I’d like to see. In the HD version, it would be nice to be able to freely position the icons in some meaningful way. It would be helpful to have some options for clicking on the subdivision icons. For example, click to mute the subdivision, option-click to solo, control-click to pop up a volume slider, and double-click to edit. I could also imagine being able to drag an icon onto a different saved metronome to add it.
For either Metronomics or Metronomics HD, in the subdivision’s sequence editor, it would be fantastic to have at least three levels of dynamic. Click once on a field for a normal volume, click twice for an accent, click thrice for a quieter “ghost” note, and click a fourth time to go back to off (and start over).
I wish that adjusting tempo was a little easier somehow. This might require larger controls that are more centrally located on the screen. Some folks might appreciate an ability to ramp tempos slowly over a period of time.
I can imagine Metronomics being a part of every college musician’s tool set. Beyond that, any professional musician who wants to expand their rhythmic vocabulary should go buy this very affordable app.
If you’ve used Metronomics, let us know what you think of it!
Reviewed by Jon Stubbs
Educator, Performer, Composer