If you have ever set foot in a music classroom, chances are you may have seen a metronome!
How much do you know about this little device? Here are some fun facts about the metronome:
Metronomes help musicians work on their tempo and maintain a regular pulse
However, there are several famous composers (Mendelssohn and Brahms amongst them!) who refused to use a metronome to avoid their music from sounding “too mechanical”.
The studies that led to the invention of the metronome had nothing to do with music
Although he was not directly involved in the history of music, Galileo Galilei’s studies on the pendulum movement is crucial in the invention of the metronome.
Chronometre – the early ancestor of the metronome
Created by Etienne Loulie, unlike our modern metronomes it does not tick, or make any sounds at all!
Musicians who used a chronometer had to watch the pendulum swing just like they would a conductor’s baton.
What does M. M. actually stand for?
While it was actually Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel who really invented the metronome in 1812, his idea was copied by a man named Johann Maelzel, who went on to be the first person to patent the metronome under his own name. We interpret “M.M.” as ‘Metronome Mark’, but it actually stands for “Maelzel’s Metronome”.
Who did it first?
Ludwig van Beethoven was seen as the first prominent composer to provide specific metronome markings in his music. He did this as early as 1816!
Power of technology
Apart from the traditional mechanical metronome, musicians now also get to pick from digital metronomes.
If you have a smart phone, you could even download a free metronome app!
If you type ‘metronome’ into Google’s search bar, a metronome will pop up on top of the results page, ready for you to use!