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What Are Tempo & Metronome in Drumming?

Learn about drum tempo and metronome from drum teacher Jason Gianni in this Howcast drum video.


Two terms you may have heard before even starting to play the drums, maybe tempo and metronome, and they kind of run hand in hand with each other, as the tempo is basically the speed of time that you're playing something, and the metronome is linked to measuring your tempo and how fast you're playing.

An easy place to start even if you don't have a metronome is to look at a clock, and to look at the second hand. As the second hand is moving, it's actually moving in 60 BPM or beats per minute, and if you were to double that, that would be 120, 60 BPM, 120 BPM. And typically a lot of music is played in that range of about 120 or so, so if you're thinking one, one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, that's about where 60 is on the metronome. If you double it, that's 120, that's the tempo of 120 BPM.

And if you're counting, one, two, three, four, one, two, take a, that's about a standard groove, the tempo that you want to be around when you're playing rock drums, or the beginning of playing drums. When it comes to other styles, things change a little bit, but as long as you know where to begin with, with the category of time, you can kind of get an idea where you sit right from the beginning. Now there are various kinds of metronomes on the market.

There are ones that are in a $20 range, and they range up to about $200, and of course if you needed metronomes on a drum machine or computer programs are now apps on a phone, and they register in any tempo and time that you want to just by the click of a button, and they also include subdivisions of time with the note values, of not just the quarter note, but anything from eighth notes to triplets to sixteenth notes.

So the best thing to do is just to go out, try out some metronomes, see what works for you, feels good and looks good, and what works into your budget, and just try something, and eventually just get used to playing along with the metronome, setting a time for yourself, and get used to grooving with that metronome.

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