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.”


Mindbendingly Simple Punk Rock Drumming Program

Mike Shockley is an intuitive, energetic drummer who turned me on to punk rock music including Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and in particular my favorite punk band, The Minutemen. Below in four short videos he shares the simple program he developed for himself to build the stamina for punk rock drumming.

I used to cut down punk rock and only listened to all the [funk, rock and jazz] drummers… I finally realized I couldn’t play the fast punk shit, I discovered this album [Just Can’t Stop It by The English Beat] and developed an exercise to go with it… this album is one of the greatest albums ever made and the drummer is so impeccable he’s basically a metronome.. I still do this exercise and it never gets boring because this album is so great… so this album is the key to it all…And I made this exercise really simple… So simple you could watch TV while doing it… you basically sit at the drum set and play 16th notes around the drums to this album… At first it’s very hard… So you do eighth notes for a measure sixteenths for a measure till you can build up to doing sixteenths the whole time… I think the album is about 48 minutes long… literally within two weeks of doing this my drumming improved 100%… And after a lifetime of doing this it’s my secret to staying ahead of the game…. keep in mind this exercise is about stamina… It’s about working 10 times harder than you would experience on stage… So at any point on stage you can’t be taxed

Mike Shockley, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware November 2019

Mike Shockley introduces his punk rock drumming program.
Mike Shockley demonstrates the exercises in his punk rock drumming program

Amazing Drummers

Turning a student onto some wonderful drummers, I reached out to some drummer friends and got quite a list back of well-known and some lesser known drumming legends.

George Hurley on Drums
Micky Hart
More Christian Vander
Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello)
Cheshire Augusta
Black Sabbath
(John Parr, Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant)
Thomas Lang (Robert FrippPeter Gabriel)
Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones