The innovative gravity bounce shows balls bouncing under gravity in time with the rhythms. In this snap shot, the red ball bounces four times, and the blue ball bounces twelve times to beat the subdivisions of 12/8.
This helps with your timing, it helps you to hit the beat very precisely. You play the note when the ball hits the bottom of the window. This is easy and instinctive to do. The motion of the bouncing balls is rather similar to the motion of a conductor's hand marking out beats. It's also similar to the motion of your hands when drumming.
The balls can bounce in opposite directions as in that picture, which can be particularly helpful with polyrhythms, or they can bounce together, like this:
There are many ways you can configure the display for instance you can show bouncing beat numbers counting 1 2 3 etc, or as the words "one", "two", "three", or lyrics (comes with some lullabies and nursery rhymes as examples), or tumbling stars or polygons, etc.
To learn about some of its unique capabilities and listen to more audio clips, read on.
This software is useful for rhythm practice and exploration. It will work on any Windows computer (from Windows 95 onwards) with a soundcard.
As you may have heard from the examples, this rhythm player can also play polyrhythms. These have several rhythms played together, for instance if you clap three beats to a bar, and your friend claps four beats in the same bar, then together you will play a polyrhythm. Polyrhythms are common in African and Indian music, also used by many modern composers.
Play simple (3/4, 4/4, 2/4 etc) and compound rhythms (6/8, 9/8 etc), with extra instruments to emphasize the bar and its sub-divisions.
Play meters such as 5/4 and 7/4
Play polyrhythms consisting of several contrasting rhythms played at once, such as three and four beats in the same bar.
Play long bars (hypermeasures) - repeating sequences of different metrical units - (including polyrhythmic long bars).
Play long bars mixing "irrational" meters like 4/3 and 4/5
Play truly irrational meters like PI / 4 (even simultaneously with other irrational meters).
Adjust beat times and volumes individually within a bar, for instance to play syncopated rhythms.
Get the timing of the rhythm from a recording e.g. of a drum loop.
Tap out a new rhythm for the metronome yourself using the mouse or keyboard or midi keyboard.
Set the rhythm to slowly increase or decrease in tempo, over a number of minutes or seconds - for instance to practice slow and gradual variations in tempi.
Set the rhythm, instruments and other settings to change at any time in the rhythm, e.g. after so many bars etc.
You can play the metronome using any of your soundcard's melodic or non melodic instruments, panned to different stereo locations, or you can use instruments on other midi synths, soft synths or samplers.
Tune Smithy's metronome can play the rhythms exactly in time as in those examples - or it can play them with more of a swing, and can vary the tempo as you play.
It has options to vary the tempo within the bar, also to vary the tempo of the bar itself, e.g. slowly increase or decrease the tempo over many bars. This is useful to practice steady and gradual changes in tempo.
You can also get the beat timings from a recording, for instance from loops. It is also easy to change the volumes and timings of individual beats within a bar with a click and drag on the individual beats.
If you use these features in this metronome, it may help with the tendency for players who rely too much on a metronome in their practice to play "metronomically" - the rhythm of a normal metronome is too exact and doesn't "flow" or swing. For more about this, with quotes from notable composers, see the wikipedia entry on metronome usage.
Read on to listen to more sound clips illustrating some of these capabilities in detail. To get it right away, skip to What to do next
As you see from the screen shot, this one was made with the rhythm set to 7 5 1. This means that you have both seven, and five beats to a bar playing in the same bar, with an extra beat to mark the start of each bar. You enter all the numbers of beats per bar you want to play in the Rhythms field. You can also select from a drop list of example preset rhythms.
To make a rhythm with four and three beats played together, as is common in some African music, you would enter 4 3 1 here (though it's already in the drop list). See the Polyrhythm Metronome help page (on-line copy) to find out more about how it works and how you use it.
You can choose any instruments you like for the beats from the instruments on your sound card or synth - you set them in the Parts window.
Polyrhythms are common in African and Indian music. The Pygmies are particularly advanced in their use of polyrhythms - you can listen to some in the Baka and beyond (opens in new window) album. They are also found in compositions by modern composers such as Ligetti - and earlier, Debussy also made a lot of use of polyrhythms.
There's an easy to work with script you can use to make a preset rhythm that speeds up gradually over a period of time or slows down, or changes instrument after a certain number of bars - or varies from one rhythm to another after a certain number of bars etc.
If interested in the names, the inspiration for the Navigating the Pacific name is a map made by the early Polynesian voyagers showing the sea patterns - they had a kind of geography of the sea showing the wave patterns you get at various points between the islands.
Of course it isn't made of paper, but of wood and natural materials. Looks rather like a kind of cats cradle, with beads threaded on it.
As they didn't have the compass, they navigated using the stars, the patterns of the waves, the direction of the wind, and other natural signs.
As for the African style complex polyrhythm fractal tune, it is inspired by recordings I've heard of African polyrhythms, but probably not in the least African sounding if you are immersed in the traditions; but never mind...
The Make Web Page button makes a web page of polyrhythm metronomes for all the polythythms listed.