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Beyond the Metronome: A Look at Metronomics and Time Guru for iOS

I was planning on writing this article on Metronomics, an app developed by John Nastos offering quite a few new features that go beyond your basic metronome app. However, I was recently tried out “Time Guru” by Avi Bortnick (John Scofield’s sample guru and rhythm guitarist) which does many of the same things – and also a few different things.

So I’ve decided to cover both in this new app review, as both apps contain features which are similar but also contain features that will only be found in one app or the other.

Metronomics

Metronomics App screen exampleLet’s start with Metronomics, which offers a ton of features. The primary page offers the ability to choose tempo (of course), number of beats per bar and add up to 10 subdivisions of your choosing.

Each subdivision has a slider which allows you to choose the frequency of randomness. This means the subdivision will occasionally drop out so you have an ever shifting rhythmic guide, which is great for testing your time and offers a unique way in which to interact with your metronome.

In addition, you can turn the “random” feature off by pressing an arrow underneath the slider, which allows you access to a sequence grid with which you can program the timing of the hits. This has been a terrific option for programming complex hits for a tune I’m working on, so I can practice playing a line against the hits or practice soloing over them. This is the only metronome app I’ve found allowing you to program hits in this way, aside from drum programming apps.

In addition, you can also choose when you hear the downbeat (every X bars), how many times you want each bar to repeat (repeating the random pattern developed in the previous bar) and whether you want bars to drop out all together (and how often).

Another great set of features include an ability to save, store and share your various metronome patterns and settings.

A very cool and useful app, to be sure.

Time Guru

Time Guru App screen exampleI love the aesthetic and layout of Time Guru. It’s very simple and elegant, whereas Metronomics may take a minute to get used to. Time Guru also offers ability to set randomness of your subdivisions (great for testing your internal clock).

What you can’t do in Time Guru is set pattern sequences in grid form. While you can store patterns and settings in both apps, Time Guru does not allow you to share them (although that may be a future feature).

There is one thing that Time Guru does that I absolutely love, and for which, this app will always live on my iPhone – at the top of the screen, you will see a series of numbers (1-7). When you press a number, it is set first in a sequence and you can choose a subdivision that will then repeat that number of times (or set it to rest that number of times). Sound confusing? It isn’t, because the layout is so simple. Every time you press a new number, it is set next in the sequence and you choose your continue to choose your subdivisions.

This allows you to move beyond compound meters and choose different and unusual rhythmic groupings! For example, you can have:

  • 5 – 1/8th note triplets followed by
  • 7 – 16th notes followed by
  • 3 – quarter notes followed by
  • 4 – 1/8th notes

This gives you a very interesting rhythmic pattern to play against and try to internalize.

My only wish is for the inclusion of more subdivisions.

As of now, Time Guru only allows you to choose between quarter, eighth, eighth triplets and sixteenth note subdivisions (beats or rests) while Metronomics allows you to choose between quarter, eighth, sixteenth, quarter triplet, eighth triplet, half, whole, dotted quarter, dotted eighth and dotted half notes (which allows for more variety).

All in all, I love both of these apps as they are both so unique, functional and offer exclusive capabilities. I keep both of these wonderful apps on both my iPhone and iPad. Either or both should prove to open some new rhythmic arenas for any player.

Metronomics is available from the App Store for $2.99.

Time Guru is available on the App Store for $2.99.

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Share your thoughts

John Nastos

Thanks for the write-up Damian — quick addition:

Not only does Metronomics allow the subdivisions listed, it also allows you to add any custom subdivision you want. Meaning, you can practice with a 5/7 subdivision, 9/4, etc — great for metric modulation, etc.

Avi Bortnick

Glad you like!
Time Guru is now also available for Android phones.
Also, I’m not sure if it’s clear in your review, but you can easily create clave-type patterns to practice to, and if you like, apply random muting to the clave.
Also, Time Guru can count meters with a human voice (in English or Chinese) rather than just have ticks.
But the main purpose of TG is to develop your internal time – either via random muting or pattern muting, no matter the time signature or sequence of time signature.
Thanks again for the review!

    Jean-Louis Metzger

    Jean-Louis Metzger

    Dear Sir,

    I paid £1.27 foret any instructions as to how to use your app and managed to install it on my Android phone. Where can one get any instructions as to how to use the device ? I managed to get a 4/4 beat with quavers going, but never managed anything else. I can erase anything or replace it by something. Absolutely frustrated, I have UNINSTALLED the app.

    Not very pleased, JLM