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I've had a mahogany Wittner metronome since I was about 10 years old, my mother bought it for my violin practice to try and get me to play in time! This is a traditional metronome, which has the pendulum mechanism, inside a pyramid shaped wooden box.
About the Metronome
As I said it's in a mohogany pyramid shaped box with an opening at the front. The front opens by a latch at the top of the hatch and when in use is lifted entirely from the rest of the box. It is easy to take off and replace this hatch section. On opening you are presented with a simple looking device, basically all you can see is a flat metal rod with notches across it with a weight on. This is the pendulum, which is secured in place by pushing it under a catch when the metronome is not in use.
A metronome has only one use; to help a musician keep time. To use it you need to take off the hatch section of wood from the front of the devise and less the pendulum from the catch. The weight on the pendulum can be slid up and down and you can feel it clicking across the notches as you do so which helps you place the sight against the tempo (speed) which is printed on the background behind the pendulum. The principle is simple: if the weight is at the top of the pendulum you get long slow ticks, at the bottom you get short fast ones.
All the tempo markings you could possibly need are printed onto the metronome, actually the background behind the pendulum is printed on metal so it doesn't look at all cheap. The slowest tempo is 40 beats per minutes, the fastest 208 beats per minute. You need to occasionally wind the metronome up by a winder on the side.
This metronome makes a tick tock noise which is quite loud and, if you use it on top of a piano or a wooden table it sounds even louder as it resonates through where it is sitting. Metronomes can be very annoying! The constant tick tock can drive you crazy especially if you are having to practice one bit over and over again.
I've had mine over twenty years and it was bought by my mother, so I have no idea how much she paid for it. A quick look online reveals they are not cheap, and a mahogany wooden one will set up back around £100. It depends what you want from a metronome, but this one does look very nice and is as much an ornament as a working device. I noticed that Wittner also do a cheaper mahogany effect version, which I guess is made from plastic for about £55 and I have also seen this metronome in different woods and colours.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, to anyone that wants a traditional looking metronome to sit in a music room or study this is the perfect buy. It looks great and works well, keeping good time with a large range of tempo settings. If you want a metronome you can carry around though, don't get this one, get one of the new electronic type ones as they are far more practical. I'm going to give it 4/5 loosing a star for the cost, as I think is very expensive.
I suggested this product to Dooyoo though there was no clear category to put it into. I have written to Dooyoo to ask them to list a 'musical accessories' category, and a saxophone category, and a sheet music category, they wrote back saying what a good idea, not happened yet. So it has been listed in piano as that is where a metronome is traditionally used.
I bought this however to help me with my saxophone playing. I only took up sax' 18 months ago and the hardest part of playing that I find is timing/counting. My teacher tells me that this is not unusual for people that take up learning an instrument 'later in life' (thanks!). When you think about it, you have to move your fingers, breathe properly, read the music, feel the music and count all at the same time.
What is a metronome?
It is a device that simply 'marks out' a beat to certain timing. It does this by making a sound usually, though some new devices use lights too. So supposing you wanted to play a piece of music at 70 beats per minute (70bpm) you would programme your device to make the noise it makes, in this case a nice hefty clicking noise, at the desired intervals, and play each note to that beat, or two half notes (quavers) etc. to that beat. Old style metronomes, like this one, also have a swinging arm that rocks back and forth with the timing which acts as a visual aid.
Quite simply, learning music without ever using a metronome, in my opinion is folly; not only does it aid in learning new pieces, it helps one 'internalise' timing.
Maker and model:
Wittner have been making metronomes since 1895, one of the best makes I was told by my music teacher. Subsequently they are not cheap. Some metronomes can cost as little as £5, I paid £48 for this; it can be bought cheaper on line, but I like to patronise my local music shop.
This model, the 855-111 is plastic, or 'fake mahogany', though to be honest, to look at it you would think initially it is wood. The wooden ones cot £100 +. It is in a traditional metronome shape (pyramid). It is not small, nor is it light: It stands nearly eight and a half inches tall from base to top (22 cm) and probably weighs a pond or so. To me this is an advantage, it is sturdy. It also comes in black or walnut.
It has a detachable front cover which has a securing lock, great for traveling to protect it.
Behind the cover is the mechanism. The swinging arm is metal and can be 'held' by a small clip at the top.
The swinging arm has a slider which moves down along its length to match the desired bpm which is clearly marked on a back plate, a nice steel back plate on a plain black board.. The bpm range is from 40 bpm to 208 bpm. To be fair, I have never played anything as slow as 40 bpm, and the fastest music I have played is about 180 bpm, so it suits for most pieces.
Simple timing on a 4/4 beat as standard to most metronomes. However, as most people will know, music is not played simply in 4/4 time. This metronome allows the user, via a small side switch to change from 4/4 to 2/4, 3/4, and 6/4 (though to be honest, whilst I have come across 6/8 I have not yet come across 6/4 timing).
In addition there is an internal bell which can be set to ring on the first note of a bar, in every time setting, so for 4/4 the metronome would go;
Ding, click, click, click, ding, click, click, click, and so on.
Ding, click, click, ding, click, click, and so on.
I rarely use this function but it is useful when trying out a new piece that has a long intro', especially if the timing is quite fast, for I find I often 'lose track'.
I specifically did not want a battery operated metronome, preferring an old style wind up function, which this has.
This is an attractive, sturdy metronome which looks good in any setting. This metronome comes with a one year warranty. I had tried different metronomes before including an electronic 'beep' and online metronome and a small metronome. None come close, this works for me and I am likely to have it for many years, a great investment.
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