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Old 01-12-2014, 07:49 PM   #1
c3powil
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Upto So using a metronome is bad?



Let's get heated! I just saw this vid and was stunned that someone would think this. But it makes sense if I try and see things his way. I just don't know that what he says about metronomes ruining your learning is true. I probably wouldn't be as open minded about it if it wasn't for his awesome skill and knowledge. And he's also the head of his music school...

What do we think, here in the bass forum?
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:59 PM   #2
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Jeff Berlin is a fantastic bassist, but he is also well known as the official curmudgeon of the bass world. I believe that he enjoys saying things that he knows will inflame passions in other people. If he did not, then he wouldn't be a curmudgeon, right? Berlin takes a very "intrinsic" approach to learning music. He believes that it is essential to develop an innate sense of timing; whereas the use of a metronome develops a sense of timing that is somehow artificial. Evidently, his gripe with the metronome applies only to using it to develop a sense of timing. I doubt that even he would argue that a metronome is an excellent tool for developing speed. The thing is; as far as I know, he has never acknowledged that some people simply do not have the ability to develop a sense of timing the way he has done for himself. He is a remarkably opinionated man and he appears (in public, at least) to be absolutely inflexible regarding his views. There is no doubt that what he has done has produced spectacular results for him - he is one of the finest bassists in the game - but he seems to promote a "one size fits all" approach to learning music. If his approach works for you, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, you will need to find your own way - and that might very well include the use of a metronome.
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:06 PM   #3
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I knew ever before I opened up the thread that Jeff Berlin was involved. As stated above he is a virulent hater of metronomes. I will add one thing, it does teach you to lock with an external beat, which is a highly useful skill as a bass player who plays with a drummer. It also can even out your groove and from there your timing can flow out from within.

We had a board member a while back who felt the same way as Berlin and I couldn't ever find the logic of being so anti-metronome.
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:15 PM   #4
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It is ironic when you think about it: for a guy who hates machines, Jeff Berlin sure loves pushing (people's) buttons!
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:45 PM   #5
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I'm sure he's a great bassist, but his idea here is stupid. We've all heard players that have never practiced with a metronome. We've all heard our own first attempts to play along side other people, and we've all heard the first time we try to record a track to another instrument and see how wrong we are. Sure, developing good enough rhythm to sound like you're in time by yourself, like he's doing in this clip, should come naturally once you get used to what ever piece you're getting through, but practicing it like that isn't going to help you play it along side others.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:23 PM   #6
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Professional jazz bassist here, I can say that you shouldn't learn to rely on a metronome but metronome training is crucial to proper development of time awareness. You should learn to play perfectly to a metronome without a metronome.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatalGear41
Jeff Berlin is a fantastic bassist, but he is also well known as the official curmudgeon of the bass world. I believe that he enjoys saying things that he knows will inflame passions in other people. If he did not, then he wouldn't be a curmudgeon, right? Berlin takes a very "intrinsic" approach to learning music. He believes that it is essential to develop an innate sense of timing; whereas the use of a metronome develops a sense of timing that is somehow artificial. Evidently, his gripe with the metronome applies only to using it to develop a sense of timing. I doubt that even he would argue that a metronome is an excellent tool for developing speed. The thing is; as far as I know, he has never acknowledged that some people simply do not have the ability to develop a sense of timing the way he has done for himself. He is a remarkably opinionated man and he appears (in public, at least) to be absolutely inflexible regarding his views. There is no doubt that what he has done has produced spectacular results for him - he is one of the finest bassists in the game - but he seems to promote a "one size fits all" approach to learning music. If his approach works for you, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, you will need to find your own way - and that might very well include the use of a metronome.


This is such a great answer that I had to quote it. And second it. However Jeff makes sense in that the subdivision of the beat is more important than staying perfectly in time at the point of LEARNING an exercise or section of a song. Memory and mechanics THEN evenly at a slow tempo THEN gradually increase to full speed

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Old 01-13-2014, 02:34 AM   #8
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Woaahhhhh... Jeff keeps on pushing those buttons!

Tabs are bad for learning music? Agree or disagree?
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by c3powil


Woaahhhhh... Jeff keeps on pushing those buttons!

Tabs are bad for learning music? Agree or disagree?


I disagree. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with the first point I'm about to make, which is that sheet music is incredibly inefficient for guitar/bass. Tablature is honestly a far superior notation system for these instruments. Two people looking at the same sheet music will end up with a way different sound without being told what strings to play things on, or when to use open notes, and without being able read really far ahead of where you're playing, you often won't even put your fretting hand in a good spot to get from one riff/melody/chord to another. Tablature solves that problem, and then, at least in tab books and in Guitar Pro files, are still able to use the same rhythm notation, or dynamic markers, and so on.

As for the argument that is made that everyone should be able to learn by ear... well, yes, we should, but that's not necessarily a great idea until you've learned a decent amount. I still recall when I was a new player, I found a tab for The Beautiful people, where the main riff (D-0-6-0-6-0--0-6-0-6-0--0-3-0) was tabbed as (D-5-6-5-6-5--5-6-5-6-5--4-5-4), and my underdeveloped ear could not figure out that something was terribly wrong there. My point here is that your ear needs to be developed in other ways before you start just trying to learn music that way, and you need to be able to read SOMETHING to do that.

The one minor flaw I see in relying on tab and neglecting standard notation is that you will be unable to read music that is not intended for guitar (well, unless you tediously copy that standard notation into Guitar Pro where it will turn it into tab), and in that circumstance I would say... use your ear.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:29 PM   #10
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So, according to Jeff, learning tabs isn't learning music. He alsos ays that tabs originated from the lute. Ergo, lutists aren't musicians. Plebs maybe (I'm looking at YOU, Sting), but really Jeff?

Never been a fan of Jeff. He's a jerk. I don't like his tone or style either.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:12 PM   #11
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thats harsh, man
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:22 PM   #12
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The positive responses he'd had to his virtuosic playing over the years have burdened him with the unfortunate side-effect of the illusion of intellectual authority; an authority which he doesn't enjoy having challenged.

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Old 01-13-2014, 08:02 PM   #13
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One thing to remember, he runs a music school in Florida, and part of his business process is that he is going to push his "agenda" and methods.

I actually met him at a Bx3 tour date--he's approachable but really, really opinionated. His passion is there but sometimes I think he does play devils advocate just to be a devil's advocate. There's a lot of the arrogant professor as well.
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Macabre_Turtle
I disagree. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with the first point I'm about to make, which is that sheet music is incredibly inefficient for guitar/bass. Tablature is honestly a far superior notation system for these instruments. Two people looking at the same sheet music will end up with a way different sound without being told what strings to play things on, or when to use open notes, and without being able read really far ahead of where you're playing, you often won't even put your fretting hand in a good spot to get from one riff/melody/chord to another. Tablature solves that problem, and then, at least in tab books and in Guitar Pro files, are still able to use the same rhythm notation, or dynamic markers, and so on.

Standard notation will show more about a piece and how to play it than a tab with to a good reader. Such as key, rhythm, tempo, time signature etc.

The notes and positions are also clearly notated such a the ledger line below the staff would be open E, the first space is open A, the middle line is open D and the top space is open G. Everything else is in between and higher or lower note would be marked by a 8va or 8vb for example. Or how a specific passage is to be played showing articulation marks to show staccato or note accents.

To me notation will by far be a go to method of playing through a song live/sight reading or in the woodshed. It is a valuable skill for bassist to learn regardless of genre for you never know when its needed.

Jeff Berlin can play good but he is a huge button pusher and say things just for a reaction I feel so I've needed cared for him much. To each their own and some people learn very differently so I do respect his approach to teaching but its not for everybody.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:11 PM   #15
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Standard notation came about when there were no means of recording a piece. It had to show everything that the musician needed to know to regurgitate the piece of music as the composer had intended. Tablature need only show what is necessary, under the assumption that the musician already be familiar with the piece of music, rendering it more "efficient" for want of a better word.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:33 PM   #16
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Very true with a tab if you know the song it can be quite easy to play by just looking at the tab and doing a play through.
I sometimes get asked to do studio work for a female jazz/bossa nova and get handed sheet music play through once and hit record. If it wasn't for the fine details on the sheet music I would be lost trying to do something like that with a tab. Notation is more my thing but whatever works for me doesn't work for everyone and I'm fine with that.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by fudger
Standard notation will show more about a piece and how to play it than a tab with to a good reader. Such as key, rhythm, tempo, time signature etc.

The notes and positions are also clearly notated such a the ledger line below the staff would be open E, the first space is open A, the middle line is open D and the top space is open G. Everything else is in between and higher or lower note would be marked by a 8va or 8vb for example. Or how a specific passage is to be played showing articulation marks to show staccato or note accents.

To me notation will by far be a go to method of playing through a song live/sight reading or in the woodshed. It is a valuable skill for bassist to learn regardless of genre for you never know when its needed.

Jeff Berlin can play good but he is a huge button pusher and say things just for a reaction I feel so I've needed cared for him much. To each their own and some people learn very differently so I do respect his approach to teaching but its not for everybody.


Any good tab gives you the rhythm, tempo, and time signature as well. The key signature is unnecessary in tablature, of course. They also have staccato, and articulation. There is seriously nothing that standard notation can do for accurately representing guitar music that tablature can't. And the notes themselves are of course clearly notated either way, but standard notation does not in any way illustrate the position. The 24th fret of the low E string looks the same as the open high E string in standard notation, despite creating vastly different sounds. That is where sheet music fails.

Not that standard notation doesn't have it's benefits. I understand standard notation (I can't read it fluently, but I can work my way through). I can see a handful of uses, like, as I mentioned, if you want to learn a piece that wasn't written for guitar and thus potentially has no tablature. Or maybe you work in a music setting where you are writing music for people that play other types of music (in which case your motivation to understand sheet music is not even being influenced by the fact that you play guitar). But unless you are one of very very few people that are in one of those situations, I honestly find it useless.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:53 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by fudger
Very true with a tab if you know the song it can be quite easy to play by just looking at the tab and doing a play through.
I sometimes get asked to do studio work for a female jazz/bossa nova and get handed sheet music play through once and hit record. If it wasn't for the fine details on the sheet music I would be lost trying to do something like that with a tab. Notation is more my thing but whatever works for me doesn't work for everyone and I'm fine with that.


See. As a studio musician, it is useful because you are being handed music by people that don't play your music and thus don't write in tablature. But how many people that pick up a guitar/bass will ever end up in that situation? I admire it's usefulness in certain professions that will require it, but the number of guitar/bass players that will ever actually need that skill for anything is close to none. Also, you mention "the fine details." What are these fine details that standard notation can illustrate that tab can't? If I was to open any of my tab books or Guitar Pro files, I would see dynamics, staccato, legato, time signatures, rhythms, vibrato, and whatever else may need to be there.

Disclaimer: I'm not talking anybody out of learning standard notation. I've learned it, and I have uses for it. I'm only arguing that the cases where using it instead of tablature is actually beneficial to you are far and few between.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:02 AM   #19
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I'd do agree about tabs being more accessible to the average user. As the musical theory needed to play off a tab is minimal at best. I don't really learn other peoples songs so I don't ever care to look at it. Most I do if I had to learn a song would be figure out the progressions, improv and hash it out by ear. Outside of guitar, bass and other liked string instruments tabs are unusable. If I tried googling cello or piano tabs Google would laugh at me

I'm not bashing tabs at all as they are a good start for the average user. Though ear training and musical theory would provide a better foundation musically as the honeymoon period is over.
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:45 AM   #20
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Having come late to the game with tabs--since I've been reading standard notation for years, they are a good shorthand on how to play a line but I don't find them horribly useful in bass. Many times they don't work for me due to either my smaller hands or the tonal choice of playing a note on one string vs another. I also sight read well, so having a standard notation version in front of me is always going to work better than a tab notation. I also find standard notation tends to be a bit more accurate in reflecting rhythm and I know what key I'm playing in from the get go.

If you get serious about studio work or go into a genre such as jazz, then tab will be completely useless since its not used and even frowned upon.

IMHO, learning both makes you a better musician and far more versatile. Being dismissive of either is an unfortunate path.
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