I have been working on a new chapter on the uses and abuses of the metronome for Volume 3 of my ebook series, due to be published after Easter. For those who may love practising with a metronome, it feels important to offer some alternatives so you’re not left high and dry. Before I get to these, I need to discuss beat quality. Beat Quality All the metronome can really do is parcel up the music into equal capsules of time, one identical to the other, but music doesn’t work like this. It is easy to hear when someone has been practising with the metronome, listening to them play is the equivalent of viewing a movie frame by frame. The bigger gestures, such as phrase direction, natural ebb and flow and any subtleties of expressive timing go by the board and are obliterated. A point that is often missed here is that each beat of the bar has a different quality according to its metric placement in the bar. Eighteenth century theorists speak of “good and bad notes” but in Dalcrozian speak, the first beat of the bar (the downbeat, otherwise known as the crusis) is felt as a release of energy. The last beat (anacrusis) is a preparation of energy for the release, and is not really a weak beat as traditional teaching misleadingly describes it. The metacrusis is anything occuring between the crusis and anacrusis (the second beat in 3/4, the second and third beats in 4/4), the reaction to the crusis or the ripple effect. Getting back to the anacrusis, if I am lifting something up against gravity to prepare to put it down, this can hardly be described as “weak”. Depending on the […]