The ability to stay on beat may be one of the less sexy elements of being a professional musician, but it’s certainly one of the most important. Rhythm comes more naturally to some people than others, but no one is perfect all the time — which is why the metronome was existed. Now that modern technology allows us to carry a metronome with us at all time via smartphone apps, there’s no reason for bands not to take advantage of this helpful tool, especially if they’re struggling to keep their sound on the rails.
What are the best metronome apps?
There are hundreds of online metronome apps available on the App Store and Google Play. Finding the best one can be a daunting task. Though most, if not free, cost only a dollar or two, it can still add up if you want to try out a bunch of apps before you settle on the right one. Here’s our breakdown of some of the best metronome apps for iPhone and Android.
Best metronome free apps:
- Pro Metronome, packed with extensive customization options and boasting a simple and intuitive visual design, consistently ranks at the top of the list for free metronome apps. Although the paid version brings more complex rhythms to the table, the free version has all the functionality most musicians require.
- Steinway Metronome offers an interface that you can personalize (a fun, if not terribly useful feature) and time signature customization. Designed by the famed piano makers, this app receives rave reviews from users.
Best metronome paid apps:
- Metronomics ($2.99, iPhone and Android) allows you to save your rhythm settings and share them with other users of the app, making it easy to keep your whole band on beat. It also offers a cool “Independence” feature which automatically mutes the click track for a set number of beats so that you can test how well you do on your own.
- Dr. Betotte ($9.99) is a high-end metronome app that packs a large number of features to earn its relatively high price. If you frequently experiment with funky and unusual rhythms, you may want to shell out for this app.
When to use a metronome
If you find your band routinely getting off track during rehearsals or performances, involving a metronome in your practices is a great way to address the problem. While it can feel reflexive to blame the drummer, anyone in the band can be guilty of getting everyone else off tempo. Acknowledging the problem and adding a metronome is a great way to work toward a solution without casting blame on an individual bandmate.
Most bands find it beneficial to begin practicing with a metronome regularly before a recording session to ensure that everyone’s timing is on point. Some musicians also like to record their rehearsals and then play the songs back along with a metronome to pinpoint the exact spot that the timing started to slip.
To use a metronome with the band, you can either feed the click track through the monitors for everyone to hear it, or use it for the drummer alone. Drummers can play the metronome through earpieces or can use an app like the paid version of Pro Metronome which, in addition to sound, allows the drummer to follow along to vibrations or visual cues.
There are many ways to make use of a metronome app in your band, and most musicians can benefit from it. However, be sure that you don’t become reliant on it — use of a metronome should never take place of the instrumentalists actually being able to keep their own time!