Strictly Technique

Hearing The Click On The “E”

Shifting the Metronome to Improve Time

by Powell Randolph

In this lesson, we’ll work on shifting our perception of a metronome so that we’re hearing each quarter-note pulse as the second 16th note, or “e,” of each beat. Benny Greb has talked about using this concept to help improve timing and subdivisions. I found it difficult to hear the second 16th note as the pulse, so I developed these exercises to help myself. Start at a slow tempo, say, around 75 bpm.Here’s a standard click on each quarter note.

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Now try hearing the click on the “e” of each beat.

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At first, try playing Exercise 3 along with a metronome using a quarter-note pulse.

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Next we’ll shift our perception of the metronome to the “e” of each beat. While playing the previous pattern, focus on the bass drum and try hearing it as its own downbeat. The hi-hat and metronome should now sound like they’re starting on the “e” of each beat, as notated in Exercise 4.

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The second measure in each of the following exercises is a test to see if you can switch to an 8th-note groove while continuing to hear the click on the “e” of each beat.

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Here are some linear grooves with accents on the “e” of each beat.

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In Exercise 11, a cowbell lands on the second 16th note of each beat. Be sure to catch the floor tom on the “a” of beat 1.

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Here are a few fills that accent the “e.”

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Try this hi-hat pattern with different bass drum variations. Here are several ideas.

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Lock in the accents with the click in this next example.

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In this last example the click falls with the rests on the second 16th note of each beat, so you’ll be playing the notes around the metronome.

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Good luck with these exercises. With patience, you can start to hear the metronome on different parts of each beat, such as the “&” or “a,” or on the second or third partial of a triplet. There are many other options as well. For example, perceiving the click as half notes on beats 2 and 4 could help you lock in with a standard jazz hi-hat foot pattern. To develop this concept further, try hearing the metronome as more complicated rhythms, such as three-over-two (quarter-note triplet) or four-over-three (dotted-8th note) polyrhythms.

Have fun!

Powell Randolph is a drum teacher at Alpha Music in Virginia Beach and plays rock shows with orchestras around North America for Windborne Music Productions. Randolph, a tongue cancer survivor, can be reached through