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Conducting Patterns

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Perhaps you have already tried out bounce metronome or watched the videos and want to know more about the conducting patterns used and the motions of the baton? If so this page is for you.

Here is one of the patterns:

To watch more videos of conducting patterns like this see Video Resources from Bounce Metronome Pro]

As you see, Bounce Metronome follows the pattern of beats used by some conductors - but the movements aren't exactly the same. Compare the wikipedia article on conducting.


Where is this feature in Bounce Metronome?

First, if you haven't found it yet, to find this feature in Bounce Metronome Pro after you buy or download it, select Bounce - Conducting Patterns from the drop list at top right of the bouncing balls display. To find the 3D animations shown here use the 3D Bounce button in the main window.

Why are the patterns different from human conducting?

Bounce Metronome Pro is just a visual metronome to show the rhythms for you as crisply and clearly as possible for your practice sessions. So it uses features of human conducting but doesn't attempt to copy it exactly.

There are two main reasons why it might seem different. First it might just be that you are used to a different version of the conducting patterns. But the other thing is that the detailed movements used in Bounce Metronome are different from anything a human conductor will do.

The conducting patterns used

The patterns are shown from the performer's point of view. You can show the patterns from the conductor's point of view in Bounce >> Conducting Patterns where you can also configure the patterns in various ways.

There are different styles of conducting. I chose the bounce patterns from: "Conducting Techniques", Brock McElheran, OUP 1989.

The main reason is because his patterns are easy to program with a carefully worked out system for any time signature. Also, with the bounces all on the same "horizontal plane" it is particularly easy to see the exact moment of the bounce, which can help with metronome practice.

However, I can add in other styles of conducting easily, for instance alternative bounce patterns - or bounces at other places above the main horizontal plane. I will probably do this at some point in the future.

If you are keen to see more conducting styles added to the software, do contact me.

The motion of the baton

I have made no attempt at all to duplicate exactly how a human conductor conducts. The aim is just to show the moment of the beat as precisely as possible to help with metronome practice.

Some things are easier to do in software and some things are easier for a human to do. So for instance the bounces are like bounces of a ball on a hard surface without the loops at the bottom you get with a human conductor. If you do it that way, it still indicates the beat moment crisply, and is much easier to program in software.

However I have used several features from human conducting.

Ictus and baton raised higher before up beat and significant beats

You may notice the ictus (flick after the beat) to help you see the rhythm crisply to help you keep in time. Also the baton is raised much higher for the up-beat - to help show the start of the bar clearly.

The baton may be raised a little higher before other significant beats as well. Here is an example for 4/4 with 2 subdivisions:

These are both features of human conducting.

So, I've borrowed any features of human conducting that help to make the visuals as crisp, precise, and as easy to follow as I possibly can make them. It is inspired by some features of conducting. But it's not designed to duplicate the motions of a human conductor's baton.

That's just for ease of programming and simplicity - and because the main aim is just to make a visual movement that is easy for the performer to follow. With a bit more work you could program more human-like conducting patterns.

Various ways to add more human like patterns or live recordings of a conductor's baton

The baton could be programmed to move more like the way a human does it.

Some possibilities include:

  • add loops at the bottom of each bounce. Or more generally, let the user draw the conducting pattern in 2D and then follow the line as drawn.
  • add an option to let a human conductor record conducting patterns into the software - conduct with the mouse, or maybe a 3D virtual reality glove - and let the software reproduce those patterns.
  • extract the pattern from a video in some way.

I plan to do all this at some point in the future. If you are especially interested in these features let me know as I will move them higher in my "to do" list if you do, so probably program them more quickly.

It's not meant to be any kind of substitute for a human conductor

No matter how good the patterns get, there is no way of course that it is ever going to substitute for a human conductor. I wouldn't dream of attempting that. There's a lot more to conducting than just reproducing the patterns!

Just using features of human conducting to indicate rhythms crisply as a visual metronome. Aim is to help with practice sessions, make them more enjoyable and make it easier to follow the rhythms visually.

Please don't hesitate tocontact me with any feedback or suggestions to improve this or any other feature of Bounce Metronome Pro. I really enjoy hearing from users of the software, and often program new things or improve the way the software works in response to your many comments, suggestions, or reports of things you find confusing, or buggy.

You play at the moment the drum stick, baton or ball bounces off the "ground"

"The motion is like bouncing a golf ball on pavement. Your performers must be trained to play exactly at the bottom of the beat."
P 19, Brock McElheran, "Conducting Technique for beginners and professionals", revised edition (1989).

So when you play, try to play at the exact moment the baton, drum stick or ball hits the "ground". That's the easiest way to make sure you play exactly on the beat when using it as a metronome and to make sure you keep exactly in time with the beat for the conducted rhythms with swing, irregular timings, polyrhythms and so on..

Playing after the visuals as with orchestral playing

Some players may want to practice deliberately playing a while after the visuals. Conductors in practice may beat a long way ahead of the orchestra or players. But the players still come in together.

When this happens, the players still take that moment of the bounce as their cue, and are synchronised with it - it is just that the moment they actually play the notes is continually delayed by a certain amount after the conductor moves his hand or baton. This makes it possible for the conductor to convey things about how they want the beat played just before it happens.

There are many other ways to animate the rhythm in the software

The program has many other types of animation to help you to play exactly on the beat of the metronome. So for instance they can bounce back and forth, or inside or outside an oval and you can have bouncing balls, number words, even bouncing lyrics. See Watch the Gravity Bounce Animations.

They all work in the same way though, you play in time with the bounce, and play at the moment the visuals bounce off the ground (or off an oval in the case of the bounce within ovals feature).

Conducting Patterns - future possibilities

Loop type movements

Since the animation is done in software it was easiest to do a true bounce where the ball, drumstick or baton almost instantaneously changes direction at the bottom of the bounce.

A conductor can only do that by bouncing the baton off a physical surface such as the top of a music stand. Otherwise the baton (or conductor's hand) has to move in a fast circular loop at the bottom of the bounce as a way to quickly change direction - so the conductor's patterns are normally shown with loops at the bottom rather than cusps with vertical changes of direction.

I could have done loops here too at the bottom but it is programmatically harder to do it that way. As it adds nothing to the precision of the bounce moment, then one may as well use the programmatically simpler ordinary bounces.

So that's one thing I can do, to add loop type movements at the bottom so that it looks more like the patterns a human conductor uses. One way, very flexible if it worked, would be to devise some way to read in graphics and then trace the line, so you can just draw the pattern you want followed, with the position on the line for each beat, and subdivision etc. marked in some way.

Other Bounce Sequences

There are also differences in the bounce sequence. For instance 4/4 can be conducted as 3, 4, 1, 2 or 3, 1, 4, 2 - the numbers there show the positions of the bounces on the invisible plane as seen from the orchestra's point of view - so for instance with 3, 4, 1, 2 then the first beat is in the middle, towards the conductor's left (orchestra's right).

This is already available.

Other styles of conducting

Some conductors conduct some of the beats to left or right rather than all as downward strokes. Brock McElheran warns against this approach because members of the orchestra in the direction of the strokes to left or right will find it hard to judge the point of change of direction precisely. But it is a commonly used style so must have its advantages too.

In Bounce Metronome Pro, there's the option to bounce inside an oval - which is similar to this style of conducting except that it doesn't follow conducting patterns particularly, the bounces are just consecutive around the perimeter of the oval. It would be possible to program conducting patterns following a similar non vertical style of conducting.

Some conductors also use more complicated patterns for the bounce positions, e.g. 6/8 as two 3/4 rhythms one higher and smaller than the other. Or for 12/4 you may get the first three bounces horizontal, next three a bit higher, next three a bit higher again and last three on a slope leading towards the top of the up-beat.

It would probably be a bit over the top to try to do all those variations as program options, though I may add some.

Record motions of baton by a human conductor using VR gloves etc

Instead, for the ultimate in flexibility, I have plans for an option to let a human conductor conduct a "template" pattern for the rhythm. The idea is a conductor would use, say, the mouse, or perhaps you could even use a device that can be moved in 3D such as perhaps a VR glove, and record the movements. Then you could play them back in Bounce Metronome Pro for your practice - at any tempo. So you just record the pattern once at a slow tempo - then it can be played back at any tempo. You will need to record a pattern for each time signature you need.

One could also record both hands simultaneously if there was any need for that - and play them back as two drum sticks moving at once.

Or extract the pattern from a video of a conductor

Another idea is to extract a pattern from a video. Here the idea is you conduct it with a baton tipped with a coloured dot with a distinctive colour (such as magenta). Then software could auto extract the pattern from the video by following the location of the coloured dot frame by frame through the video. Or use some other motion capture technique. Another idea there is to extract the pattern from an already existing video e.g. of some historical famous conductor - there you would go through the video by hand and mark a coloured dot - just one pixel would do - at the tip of the baton in every frame. Then as before auto extract the baton tip movement from the video.

Contact me if interested

Be sure to say if you are interested in any of these features as that will encourage me to program them sooner. There are always many priorities to juggle amongst the many things I'd like to program, and so many possibilities too, and different ways of doing things too as you see with this list of possibilities here. So I am more likely to program something or program it in a particular way, if there is an indication of a high level of interest.

Take a look at the wish list here:Bounce Metronome Pro Forum

Animation glitches

Animation glitches in these web pages

You may see pauses and stutters in the animations on this page. This can be caused by streaming issues depending on the bandwidth of your connection, or by the CPU load on your computer.

The program itself doesn't have these issues in the same way. Each frame is created by working out the position for the visuals, at the moment it's created, so that's a different situation from a playback of a previously recorded video.

Animation glitches in the program itself

In the program itself then on some computers, you may find you get a low frame rate with the 3D graphics, especially if you have an older machine since 3D graphics are CPU intensive. Here we are talking about computers that are several years old - say five or ten years old. A modern computer should have no problems with the 3D graphics for BM Pro.

So, with the 3D graphics on older machines, it can sometimes work the other way around that the videos may be better than the animations in the program just because the frame rate is faster so smoother.

If you watch 3D animations on a slow computer, it may be better to watch them as videos. With the program itself you will be able to make these animations for any time signature at any desired tempo. To do that you can use the EXPORT ANIMATIONS window (Ctrl 234 in the program).

Exported videos like that may also be useful on other devices that can play videos such as mobile phones - you may need to convert the video format depending on what videos your device can play.

Bounce Metronome Pro Settings used for the videos on this page

I might add this "look" as a preset to Bounce Metronome Pro in a future upload.

Meanwhile here is how to set it up to show the animations just as in these videos:

Notice how you can hear the beats stereo pan to left and to right to follow the motion of the batons. You can switch that feature on in the Stereo Pan (Ctrl 50) window - switch on Auto Pan and then in the How to Auto Pan drop list, select Follow the Bouncing Balls.

If you want the appearance of a white conductor's baton as in these videos, then switch on Cone only (hide bouncing balls) in Bouncing Balls - 3D Visuals (Ctrl 226) and set it to PURE WHITE.

Then still in Bouncing Balls - 3D Visuals (Ctrl 226), if you want to hide the tempo dial as in these videos, select Image instead of Image and Tempo Dial from the Tempo Dial and Sky drop list.

Then to hide the blocks etc for a simpler look, switch off Blocks, parts strips etc in the same window.


To make the movements of the baton larger as for this page, vary the "Compress hits towards focal point in Bounce Patterns (Ctrl 227) according to preference.

Also adjust the horizontal and vertical scale in Bouncing Balls - 3D Visuals (Ctrl 226). Then to adjust the position within the window (or exported video) you can use Alt right click to drag on the 3D Bounce window.

Oh and I also unselected the Blue with Distance option in the More version of Bouncing Balls - 3D Visuals (Ctrl 226) - just because for some reason the Blue with Distance feature makes the sky less contrasty when you export it to a saved video (I think because for some reason the export to video uses a slightly earlier version number of OpenGL).

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