Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Towards a better metronome

Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber points to a new invention, by David Seah, a probablistic alarm clock, which is just the thing for those of us who like tend to be late, then set our clocks fast, and then second guess the clock, ending up late anyways. The new clock is fast, by as much as fifteen minutes, but you never know precisely how fast, therefore keeping the clock owner from trying to run out the extra time locked into a fixed error.

It strikes me as obvious that there is some repertoire -- Viennese, for example -- in which an unpredictable arrival at the down beat is an essential part of the style. This is something rather more subtle that the rubato found in the "human plackback" routines packaged into some notation or sequencing software. (That rubato is essentially a reapportionment of the lengths of the beats within a measure). Most metronomes are built to give you pulses delivered with the accuracy of a Jaki Liebezeit (10 points to the first American reader who get that reference), but I suspect that there'd be a market out there for a metronome with an added degree of uncertainty.


Caleb Deupree said...

Drummer from Can. Come on, Daniel, everybody knows Jaki Liebezeit ;-)

Caleb from Arizona.

Hucbald said...

You do realize that setting clocks fast so as not to be late is a species of insanity, don't you?

I'll take my metronomes straight/no chaser, thank you very much (I cherish two Seiko DM-20's from the late 80's that are about the size of credit cards and half the thickness of a pack of gum: They go everywhere with me).