Can I change the beat pattern of the metronome

Working in a new song with my virtual shanty men which is in 6/8 time at around 150bpm. The metronome beats every beat so you just get a stream of clicks. I would just like to have a click on beats 1 & 4 so I get two beeps per bar. Only just started using Ardour and I can’t find anything in the manual and the forums that is relevant.

Any thoughts? - Bob

The metronome should use the “accent” on the first beat of every bar, so every 6 beats with 6/8.

There’s currently no way to do alter this, but longer term I’d like to be able to define the tempo map using a different model (which would reduce in the simple case down to the same as now). You could say for example [ 3 + 3 ] / 8 which would then do what you want. But there’s no work going on to permit this and I can’t offer any estimate for when it might happen.

To be pedantic (and from a music theory point of view) 6/8 is generally understood as 2 dotted quarter-note beats per measure (not 6). Therefore, accents on beats 1 and 2 would be quite natural (and preferable).

The equivalent to having a click on each of the 6 divisions in 6/8 would be like having 8th-note clicks for a project in 4/4 which I hope would seem quite odd.

There;s been discussion of this elsewhere on the forums, perhaps even with you.

Ardour cannot use “customary knowledge” … it has a time signature (“6/8”) which is interpreted to mean “6 beats of 1/8th note duration per bar/measure”.

There’s no way to identify that “most of the time, musicians from western traditions interpret this as 2 dotted quarter notes per bar/measure” without making very other possible time signature ambiguous.

This is why I’d like to adopt a notation based on Balkan and other eastern european practice, of actually writing down the beat groupings when they matter. One could thus identify 19/8 as [ 7 + 7 + 5 ] or more commonly 8 as [ 3 + 2 + 3 ]

This still will not allow the time signature itself to denote “dotted quarters”, which is a separate but related problem.

Given that 6/8 is closely related to 2/4 perhaps using the latter as the metronome would do the trick for the OP in the meantime? I don’t know what the knock-on effects of any quantization would be as I almost always never use it but I assume triplet quantizing isn’t possible…

A workaround would be to add a MIDI track with a drum machine and program a suitable sound on the 1st and 4th eighth notes. That way the OP would have the correct time signature and the metronome he wants.


There’s a free Metronome VST linked from here - I haven’t used it but worth a look.

I don’t use MIDI much and rarely do anything with click tracks, but I’m surprised there isn’t anything else out there. Where I teach we have Scottish trad musicians who play plenty of music in compound time…

This may not be what you want but if anyone is looking for something more programmable then there’s also this - you could set up the click with tempo & meter changes and export as audio

Thanks everyone fopr your help and information. At least I now know I can’t do this within the Ardour Metronome at present. ~The nice thing about the ardour metronome is that the frequency is very precise and so I can use a notch filter to remove it when my shanty men send me a recording. I use Harmony assistant to produce singing tracks but their metronome uses bells and blocks so its harder to remove. I lnow I can get them to rerecord but it’s stressfull enough getting one recording - We only do it for fun after all.

I did try the MIDI but got very confused about how to create a MIDI track. Looks like I will need to get to grips with that. The free metronome VST looks really good though so will try ity out and report back.

I tried a number of times to get the free Metronome VST to work but Ardour would not load it no matter what I tried. I found some other VST metronomes but they didn’t really do what I wanted either. In the end, I went for a work around and this is my technique.

I wanted 6/8 time at 150bpm but only clicks on beat one and 4 i.e. every third beat so:

  • I divided my desired 150bpm by 3 and then set the ardour tempo to 50bpm

  • I only wanted two beats so I set the beats per bar to two

  • Then you have to set the note type to quaver effectively making 2/8 time

As if by magic, the beats appeared in the right place.

It would be great if we could have a more flexible metronome that allows you to select the beats you want played but I appreciate that it’s not the highest priority or sexiest feature.

Thanks everyone for you help. - Bob

That’s great that you found a workaround! The 1-and-4 clicks for 6/8 also works for things like most Irish jigs, which are in 6/8 (except for slip jigs, which are 9/8, where the emphasis is on 1, 4, and 7). I’ve never been able to play well with a click track unless the accents are in the “right” places for traditional music; the ideal click track for me is a separate bodhrán track in fact!

We do a lot of folk dancing using jigs and reels but I was never really
aware of the slip jigs weird time signature. That’s something I will
listen out for. I will have a think and see if I can do something. I
suspect the same technique will work but the last stage may cause a
headache trying to set 3/8 time.

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