Metronome (from a series of articles on the use of technical means when learning to play a musical instrument)
The idea of a “musical chronometer” has been in the air since the beginning of the 19th century. Previously, composers indicated the nature of the work verbally, for example, “fun”, “lively”, “broadly”, “energetically”, and the approximate tempo depended on the duration of the beat, as well as on the acoustics of the room and personal preferences of the performer.
The German mechanic, pianist and teacher Johann Nepomuk Melzel patented the metronome in 1815. Many composers happily promoted the new invention.Beethoven even dedicated the canon “Ta-ta-ta” to Meltzel and imitated the sound of the metronome in the second part of the Eighth Symphony.
Thanks to the metronome, it became possible to record the author’s will regarding the pace of the work.
Character indications were supplemented by numbers indicating the number of beats of the metronome per minute. For example, Largo • = 40. Despite this, the recordings of the same compositions by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Schumann, Mendelssohn and other composers made in different years show completely different numbers – the pace changed constantly under the influence of fashion, new acoustic possibilities of concert halls and other reasons.
Also, the metronome began to be used for educational purposes. The main problem of novice musicians is a fast-paced obsession to the detriment of music, sound and expressiveness. Often, the pace acceleration occurs involuntarily, because the student is initially unable to control his hands. Until a certain moment for him, there is only movement of the fingers. Students still do not know how to listen to themselves and the beauty of sound. And many of them naively believe that finger fluency is the main sign of mastery. The game, therefore, turns into a race, into a sport. But you need to remember that speed must be controllable, must be a means of transmitting a certain emotion, the nature of the work. Indeed, at the initial stage of training, basic skills are fixed – setting hands, proper sound extraction, relaxation, the ability to listen to oneself, combine sounds, build a phrase, and a sense of rhythm develops.
Music is strictly organized in time, riddled with pulsation. Not every student knows how to feel this ripple. Often the plays are played inaccurately, irregularly, the pace accelerates, slows down arbitrarily and uncontrollably. However, the ability to adhere to a given pace can be developed using the game under the metronome. He is impartial, and gradually learns to make sound exactly when necessary. Rhythm control is very important. If the hands do not listen, play on their own, then the musicality of the work suffers to a large extent, the rhythmic pattern is distorted, and the listener’s attention switches to flaws.
Some replace the game under the metronome with foot stamping to the beat or count out loud. But this is self-deception. Leg obeys irregularly playing hands. Hands will slow down – the foot will slow down, hands will run – the leg will follow, because our body is a single whole. A game under the metronome forms the control of the hands.
It is believed that playing under the metronome makes music mechanistic, soulless. But the metronome is a means to develop certain qualities. In order to correctly, logically, naturally vary the pace, you must first learn how to play perfectly accurately, reference. And only then, feeling this reference pulsation as a connecting rod, vary the pace. And then it will be beautiful, and the performance of the work will be meaningful.