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Overview of Tune Smithy
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Time Signature Metronome for Rhythms and Polyrhythms
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Time Signature Metronome
with the innovative Gravity Bounce

One of the many features that come as part of Fractal Tune Smithy

intro - Gravity Bounce - Display options - Some examples of its capabilities - polyrhythm example - vary timing - 4/4, 6/8, 5/4 etc - polyrhythmic compound time - syncopated rhythms and polyrhythms - long bars - pitched metronome - script - polyrhythmic fractal tunes - See also - What to do next


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You can get the Time Signature Metronome software with its innovative Gravity Bounce to play any time signatures including simple and compound time, polyrhythms, irrational meters, and long bars.

Just select the rhythm from a drop list, or make your own using the Time Signature window, and click Play.

(This is just a screen shot, it doesn't play notes - you need to download and install the program to play it)

Here is what it sounds like: 12/8. That's just a simple example to get a first idea of what you can do.

You get a 30 day test drive to find out if it is suitable for your needs.

If you are ready to download it right away, go to What to do next.

To skip on to find out about the many types of rhythm this tool can play, see Some examples of its capabilities. Or read on to find out about its innovative Gravity Bounce.


The Gravity Bounce

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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.


Gravity bounce display options

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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.


Some examples of what this tool can play

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Here are some examples:

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.

For more polyrhythm examples, see the Polyrhythm Metronomes page

You can:

  • 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


Polyrhythm example

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(screen shot, doesn't play notes - to try it out you need to download tune smithy)

Polyrhythm of 7 with 5 beats in the same bar
For more clips see: Polyrhythm Metronomes.

* Title shows number of beats per bar in each rhythm

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.


Vary timing

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If you go to More, you get advanced options to vary the timing of the beat and the volumes to make a more lively rhythm for your metronome:

Polyrhythm_7 & 5 varying

Then the new Beats window gives you options to vary the beats individually within the bar, with click and drag.

(screen shots and audio clips to be added here)


4/4, 6/8, 5/4 etc

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You can play any normal simple or compound time rhythms, any number of beats to a bar. Here for instance is a six eight rhythm with the centre beat emphasized.

6_2_1.mid [mp3]

You can play 5/4, 7/4 etc with the division where you like, using additive rhythms. Here for instance is a 5/4 rhythm as 3 + 2

3_1_plus_2_1.mid [mp3]


Polyrhythmic compound time:

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This one is a polyrhythm playing 6/8 simultaneously with 4/4

6_4_2_1.mid [mp3]

And this one plays 9/8, 6/8 and 4/4 simultaneously

9o8_6o8_4o4_polyrhythmic_compound_time.mid [mp3]


Syncopated rhythms

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You can also play syncopated rhythms. For instance:

Syncopated 4/4:

syncopated_4_1.mid [mp3]

A more elaborate syncopated 4/4 with eighth note subdivisions

syncopated_8_4_2_1.mid [mp3]

You can also play syncopated polyrhythms, such as are used in African music. For instance:

syncopated_7_5_1.mid [mp3]


Long bars

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You can also play long bars (hypermeasures)

Here is an example with the bar pattern: 3/4 + 2/4 + 3/4 + 4/4

3o4_2o4_3o4_4o4.mid [mp3]

You can also play polyrhythmic long bars

Here is an example mixing ordinary measures with polyrhythmic measures:

example_long_bar_with_polyrh_and_normal_rhythms.mid [mp3]


Pitched metronome

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You can also play the metronome beats on melodic instruments. This example uses pitches of the harmonic series to bring out the structure of the rhythm:

harmonics_for_example_long_bar_with_polyrh_and_normal_rhythms.mid [mp3]



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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.

Here is an example:

script_example_speeds_up_for_2_mins_slows_down_for_1.mid [mp3]

Tempo changes from 40 to 120 (at 2 minutes) then back to 40 (at three minutes). Then the pattern repeats.

Example scripts included with the program, including that one (go to Script | Open Script in the Script window (Ctrl + 171) ).

This is the script:

Time = 0
Repeat starts = A
Tempo = 40

Morph = Tempo
! Changes it gradually to the next scripted value for this id. You can morph any id in this way

Time = 2:0 ! Minutes : Secs
Tempo = 120
Morph = Tempo

Time = 3:0 ! Minutes : Secs
Tempo = 40
Repeat from = A

You can easily edit the script - for instance to change gradually to 100 instead of 120, just edit the tempo field to

Tempo = 120

and to increase the speed over 5 minutes instead of 2, then back again over another five minutes change the time fields to:

Time = 5:0 ! Minutes : Secs


Time = 10:0 ! Minutes : Secs


Polyrhythmic Fractal tunes

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You can also use your polyrhythm to make fractal tunes if you switch to the Player, or Composer views in FTS.

Navigating the pacific by stars, wind and waves [mp3] uses a 7 5 3 polyrhythm.

Or for a much more complex rhythm, the African style complex polyrhythm [mp3] , which uses a 2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19 23 polyrhythm

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.


See Also

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To find out about the fractal tunes go to Play & Create Tunes that play endlessly

To go on to the next page to continue reading about Tune Smithy, see Chord Progression Player


What to do next

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Freeware / Shareware status: This feature is shareware. It is one of the many tasks that come as part of the Tune Smithy program.

You are recommended to try out the program first. If you decide to purchase, you need to buy the Play level.

See the Purchase page for details of the pricing etc.

To find this feature after you download Tune Smithy:
Look in the Tune Smithy Tasks window for:Metronme & Polyrhythms

To download the program and take it for a Test drive (start the test drive at any time):

Download Tune Smithy


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To find this feature:
look in the
Tune Smithy Tasks window for:
Metronme & Polyrhythms

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