I just discovered a useful app for measuring tempo: BeatMirror
A recent thread dealing with tempo and bpm got me to wondering if there is an app that would give me a real-time readout of my playing tempo (as opposed to enforcing a given tempo, which is what a metronome does).
Lo and behold, such an app does exist (for iPhone at least) and it’s called BeatMirror, from a little company in Toronto oriented to tools for music education. Costs as much as a pint of Guinness.
Basically you set up a target tempo, hit ‘play’, and after the app counts you in, you take off on your own. At this point the app starts using the microphone to determine your actual tempo and produces a real-time readout. At the same time it tracks your tempo over time on a line graph centered on the target tempo.
I’ve played with it a bit with my own jigs and reels, as well as recordings and a metronome as a control, and I have to say it’s really quite good at picking up the tempo just from the notes being played. (I thought at first I’d have to include some foot tapping to give it the beat, but it’s much cleverer than that.)
And, to my inevitable dismay, my tempos are all over the place! John Carty, on the other hand, dials in 122 on ‘The Bunch of Keys’ in live performance and only varies a bit above and below through the set. Using a metronome as input gives a boring line at 120 or wherever I set it…
I thought this was worth passing along. I’m hoping to use BeatMirror to improve my playing consistency without having to resort to following a metronome. We’ll see if it actually helps….