Mechanical or electronic device or digital program for acoustically and / or optically displaying accented and unstressed beats in a given tempo represented as a uniform sequence of beats in a unit of time (generally beats per minute, abbreviated bpm, or MM = Mälzel's Metronome after the inventor of the metronome). The metronome thus reproduces the measure of a bar.

The metronome is mainly used to practice a steady and consistent style of play. This is especially helpful when several musicians are playing together. However, in the performance practice of experienced musicians, speed and rhythm within the same piece will deviate from this „mechanical“ uniformity and depend on „feeling“.


The correct setting of a metronome depends on the time signature of the piece that is to be practiced. The clock is divided in fractions: The upper number (divisor) indicates how many beats are to be played per measure, and the lower (denominator) which note value each beat should have. For the most common time signatures this means:

SignatureBeatsNote value
2/2 2 2
2/4 2 4
3/4 3 4
4/4 4 4

In the case of measures whose counter is greater than three and a multiple of three, dotted note values are to be played. Dividing the counter by 3 gives the actual number of beats per bar. The note value is then half of what is given in the denominator.

SignatureBeatsNote value
6/4 2 2
6/8 2 4
9/8 3 4
12/8 4 4

Exercising with Ukulele and metronome

Guido Heistek recommends:

  • Practice regularly with the metronome, especially if you want to play in a group.
  • Frugal movements while practicing: counting in the head instead of movements or with the voice, because otherwise you shut yourself off from the environment and anyway always a tad too late.
  • Stay open about what's happening in the area – especially when playing in the group.
  • Simplify difficult phrases if you constantly get out of rhythm because of them. Better practice with simpler pieces.
  • If you get out of tune: stop and pause, listen to the rhythm and start again – do not chase after the others!
  • Keep the dependence on the metronome as low as possible: Gradually reduce the number of strokes and simulate the intermediate strikes between the basic strokes in your head.
  • practice variants: E.g., let the metronome sound on the unstressed notes.
Guido Heistek: How to Use a Metronome

Example of an electronic metronome

Snark Touch Metronome (2014)
1st line on the left: Graphical representation of the rhythm
2nd line left: beat number in measure
3rd line: Graph of the tempo (in beats per minute = bpm) with the possibility to decrease (-) or increase (+)
4th line left: Selected sound Middle: Start / Stop / Pause right: volume

Online metronomes