Odd Meter Metronomes

A discussion on the Eastern European Folklife Center email list:

The app Odd Metronome is great. Very easy to use and does any rhythm you like.


Metronomics has about 30 built-in percussion “instruments” although none of them are directly Balkan.  The sequencer also allows you to add a controlled amount of random variability, although I have never used that feature.  You can also share beat tracks with other Metronomics users.  It does sound like Tempo has some useful extra features for programming changes in rhythm that Metronomics does not have.

Another approach is to find some audio with the proper rhythm, snip out a section, and run it through another smartphone app, The Amazing Slowdowner.  Not only can you loop a specific section of the audio, but you can change its tempo from about 0.25 to 2.0 with acceptable sound.  This app can also change the pitch of anything by several semitones with surprising fidelity.

Players of Balkan folk music don’t seem to use The Amazing Slowdowner nearly as much as players of American folk music.  Never underestimate the value of just taking a voice memo or other simple audio recording and using the Slowdowner or something similar to loop over a segment of it. With the Slowdowner you can independently change both tempo and pitch. The pitch control is great for playing Macedonian tambura music on Bulgarian tamburas, for example.  The tempo control makes a fixed audio loop act more like a metronome.  If you’ve never tried it or something like it, you should. For what it does, it is amazingly inexpensive.
–Stu Schaffner


I highly recommend Tempo.  It runs on both iOS and Android devices.

You can do all sorts of Balkan rhythms.  You can set the click for accented, normal, or silent on any beat or sub-beat.  You can set it to play back 7 measures of click and 1 measure silent – I find this a very useful practice aid – or any combination of numbers of measures of sound and silent.  You can combine different meters to do mixed-meter pieces, e.g. Sandansko or Smeceno.  You can make setlists for gigs.  AND you can share everything with other users via email, whatever platform they’re using.

–Jerry / Dzheri / Τζέρυ

“Downbeats are boring.  All the interesting stuff happens in between them.”