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Metronomes: 10 of the best

Published: Tue February 10, 2009  News Feed

Allegro

A metronome is any device that produces a regulated aural, visual or tactile pulse to establish a steady tempo in the performance of music. It is a useful practice tool for musicians that dates back to the early 19th century.

The word metronome first appeared in English c.1815 and is Greek in origin:

metron = measure, nomos = regulating

Ludwig van Beethoven was the first notable composer to indicate specific metronome markings in his music, in 1817.

Mechanical metronomes


One common type of metronome is the mechanical metronome which uses an adjustable weight on the end of a pendulum (also known as a double-weighted pendulum) rod to control the tempo: The weight is slid up the pendulum rod to decrease tempo, or down to increase tempo. The pendulum swings back and forth in tempo, while a mechanism inside the metronome produce a clicking sound with each oscillation.

Electronic metronomes

Electronic metronome, Wittner model

Most modern metronomes are electronic and use a quartz crystal to maintain accuracy, comparable to those used in wristwatches. The simplest electronic metronomes have a dial or buttons to control the tempo; some also produce tuning notes, usually around the range of A440 (440 hertz). Sophisticated metronomes can produce two or more distinct sounds. Tones can differ in pitch, volume, and/or timbre to demarcate downbeats from other beats, as well as compound and complex time signatures.

Many electronic musical keyboards have built-in metronome functions.

Software metronomes

Metronomes now exist in software form, either as stand alone applications or often in music sequencing and audio multitrack software packages. In recording studio applications, such as film scoring, a software metronome is often used to generate a click track to synchronize musicians.

10 of the best:

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