Monday, December 21, 2009

Metronome love, pt. 1

In kumidaiko, group drumming, there is a concept that some call "group time". The ensemble determines the tempo, even if there's a position/instrument responsible for it. We don't have a conductor; we're not going to be steady/even through the song.

However, as individuals, we can work on our own sense of "exact time" through use of a metronome. The electronic ones are cheap, as low as $30 for the basics (on, off, tempo). All you really need is a few minutes a day/week and something to play on. I recommend using a pair of western drumsticks and a drum pad, since you're not working on "taiko" technique as much as musical technique.

There are a crapload of drills I can talk about using the metronome; I'll just introduce two here and then sprinkle more in future posts.


Drill 1: Start at 100bpm (beats per minute) and hit once per "note" of the metronome for four notes, alternating hands. Switch to two hits per note for four notes (doubletime). Then switch to four hits per note for four notes (doubletime again). Repeat.

This is the most basic of drills, but if you find it too easy, increase the tempo in increments of 3bpm until you find your limit. Also, make sure you're not accenting any of the hits - everything should be even. Finally, try starting with your left hand; us right-handers neglect the left too often.

Drill 2: Start at 80bpm and do the same drill above, but with only one hand at a time. Switch back and forth between the hands when you repeat. The same comments above also apply here - increments of 3bpm, and keep your hits even!


Without knowing your personal habits when it comes to tempo, you can often be the one dragging/pushing the group, and you don't want that! Taking a little time with the metronome improves your skills but also helps the group out significantly.

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