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Thread: Metronome Settings?

  1. #1
    Registered User jeffyork's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    Howdy,

    I'm practicing some fiddle tunes and getting up to speed (Salt Creek, Billy in the Lowground, Redhaired Boy, etc.

    The music I'm learning from is written in 2/4 (about 8 notes per measure). What would be the metronome setting for a typical tempo for jams?

    Thanks!

    Jeff

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    Jeff,

    This just came up last night at my lesson. My instructor told me to work up to at least 160.

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    Registered User jeffyork's Avatar
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    Thanks Alan.

    Would that be playing in 2/4 or 4/4 time? and does it even make a difference?

    I can't seem to work it out in my head, but I would think 160 in 4/4 would be 80 in 2/4?

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Normal playing tempos in 2/4 time on those tunes are from 100 to as high as 150.
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    Gilchrist (pick) Owner! jasona's Avatar
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    I think, when talking about metronone speeds, its best to establish what a tick represents. I practice scales, playing 1/8 notes, with my metronome set 1 tick = 1/2 note, so I play four notes per tick. So when I get my metronome up to 90-100 ticks per minute, its 180-200 ticks per minute at 1 tick = 1/4 note. Since my metronome only goes to 210 ticks per minute, its the only way I can practice at up-tempo speeds.

    Does this make sense to you folks?
    "...while a great mandolin is a wonderful treat, I would venture to say that there is always more each of us can do with the tools we have available at hand. The biggest limiting factors belong to us not the instruments." Paul Glasse

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    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
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    Just to make it easier, one tap of your foot (which is usually four beats to the bar, but that is not important) is one beat on the metronome. That being said, if you metronome then reads at 80 you are playing a slow reel.
    Irish reels for dancers are in the 113-120 range and are considered a little slow for American fiddle tunes and BG although if you listen to a lot of the original recordings of these reels, you will notice they are in the 120-140 range, slower than in a jam.
    We have a tendency to go to Warp three and then step up a lot in group situations.
    I think it is better to think of speeds as "moderate" or "fast" with moderate being somewhat swingy and ornamented and fast being well... demented. Or at least causing sweat. Billy in the Low Ground is best at moderate speed as is Red-haired Boy in my opinion. Salt Creek sounds good at any speed but moderate is better.
    On the other hand, Scrugs tunes such as Foggy Mountain Breakdown sound best at about 300 in order to get them over with as fast as possible.
    Try the tunes at all the speeds you feel comfortable with and you will find that fast is not always best, in fact it rarely is good. Most people play as fast as possible for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with the beauty of the tune and mor eto do with ego, ignorance, or the fact that they can do it.
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    This type of fiddle tune was developed as accompaniment for dances--quadrilles, contra dances and set dances. If danceability is your criterion, the proper tempo according to the old books is from 108 to 120 beats per minute.
    The Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra uses about 114. At my own dances I tend a little slower for square dances, largely because of the wide range of dancer experience. For set dances such as the Bridge of Athlone or the Virginia Reel, I may go as high as 126. In general I request the band play a jig in 3/8 time for anything as fast as this. It is extremely difficult to play a fiddle tune note for note on mandolin in 2/4 time at MM120 or greater, in my experience.
    If danceability doesn't matter, practice as fast as you can, but jam at a more comfortable tempo.
    Alan
    Alan W. Ede

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    When we use a metronome, which is usually only when we are breaking in a new tune in practice, my band always uses 120 as a baseline for fiddle tunes. Then from that baseline, we may say, "Let's do this one a little slower (or a little faster)." We haven't really measured how many BPM "slower" or "faster" represents. Each tune seems to have its own "right" speed for the musicians who are playing it. Too slow and it drags, too fast and it feels rushed. That's a creative judgement, with no right or wrong.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Try setting the metronome at 160 and play along. I'm pretty sure you wont have to worry about getting going at 320 - ha.

    f-d
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    Registered User jeffyork's Avatar
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    Good point Fatt Dad. I don't think I'll have that problem. Seems like I bottom out around 90 on good days.

    Hope you and the family have merry x-mas. Gimme a shout if you want to hook up sometime - I'm off work until 1/2. I'll probably go to Cary St. Sunday (assuming I'm not the only one there.)

    Jeff

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