As someone being in the world of music, we know how a musician’s life can be hectic and eventful. As messed up as our nomadic artist lives can be, we often have to contend with a not infinite budget.
Here are 5 tools that every musician should always have with him. Let’s find out what they are in this article!
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From a simple music stand to the most advanced microphones, the point is always the same: I need one, but which one to choose?
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The metronome is definitely a musician’s best friend. The one that cannot be missing among the musical accessories. From beginner to student, from professionals to recording artists, this is a must-have!
The “click” given by the metronome is an essential point of reference, whether playing scales in perfect cadence or looking for an articulated off-beat phrasing.
Therefore, the metronome can help you follow a preset tempo or study and discover, through the tap function, the metric of a song you are listening to.
This piece of gear is also essential in the creative phase, allowing you to define the fundamental points of support and accents while making a progression, for example, in a passage with variations.
Thus, we understand that the metronome is the artist’s best friend. But be careful not to get addicted!
In fact, like any tool, even the metronome must be used in the song’s service and not vice versa. Rather than trying to make it all atavistically “squared” so that everything fits like a glove on the click grid, once you are familiar with the rhythm pattern, find the nuances, often small and minimal, that can elevate the performance giving it a natural and organic touch.
Our choice goes for the Korg MA-2 Compact Metronome. We know, various free Metronome Apps exist. Having the metronome inside your smartphone is undoubtedly a great convenience. However, this convenience can come with a downside: calls and notifications are something you don’t want to receive right in the middle of a performance.
Sure there is airplane mode, but you can bet that sooner or later, you’ll forget to turn it on, and a spam email notification will ring right in the middle of some phrasing that was coming out so well!
Although it does not have the immediate practicality of a digital metronome, the mechanical metronome is a tool that always gives a certain feeling of concreteness. Another advantage in favor of the digital version is that it often includes a tuning function.
So, the free Metronome App on mobile is OK, and we all have it. But when the time comes to study, play, and record for real, that’s the moment to bring out the digital or mechanical metronome.
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Reading music without an adequate lecture is a tremendously uncomfortable experience. Let’s face it: we have all read scores on instrument cases, on the dashboard of the car, wedging them between the monitor and the keyboard, or resting badly on the piano keys.
Right after the click of the metronome, the next point of reference that we believe is essential for a musician is the music stand.
Even if you can’t read notes on the pentagram, you will have found yourself having to follow the lyrics of your song while rehearsing in your home studio. And a good music stand can be useful not only for printed sheets but also for a tablet.
So this tool will save you effort and nervousness. No more catching prevents the sheet from falling to the ground off the bench or the desk.
Whether it’s a rhythmic pattern, a chord progression, or the accents’ metrics, the music stand will be our reference point where we can let our gaze run whenever we need it.
Different music stands depend on the needs: from the foldable to the desktop version, it can be made of wood or, more commonly, metal.
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The tuner is another tool that absolutely cannot be missing in the perfect musician’s kit, mostly if you play an instrument that does not have a fixed tuning … including your voice!
Both in the studio and outside, fine-tuning is one of the most delicate aspects of the performance. The afternoon rehearsals are not enough because temperature and humidity can significantly change things and make a difference.
It is understood that intonation depends on our internal perception (no, it’s not just a matter of ear). Therefore, the tuner is essential to monitor our perception and have an absolute reference as a parameter measured in Hertz.
“You are out of pitch! But I hear no difference!” How many times have we seen this kind of bickering? The absolute and indisputable answer can be given by a tuner, which with blunt truth will reveal whether the crime is there or not, through its measurement in Hertz.
The tuner is essential not only if you perform as soloists but especially when playing in a band or in a larger ensemble up to an orchestra.
Today it may be worth going directly for a chromatic tuner, a tool that will reveal any note’s pitch and any variation in frequency concerning the expected tuning.
As we have already mentioned when talking about the metronome, we can find on the market multi-tools with both metronome and tuner functions.
Having a clear and objective view of our performance during the execution itself is almost impossible. For this reason, it is handy to register and listen to yourself to analyze and realize what works and what doesn’t work in our execution.
The cell phone recorder is also very useful in this. However, intensive use of this method will cause the memory to fill up very quickly. Similarly, having the recordings of your performances mixed amid the vocal messages received from friends via Whatsapp or MP3 of your favorite songs is certainly not the best. Not to mention the quality of the recording.
Use the main setup – jack in the good microphone, turn on sound card, speaker, plug the headphones, then turn on the PC, launch your fav DAW, arm the track to record … definitively a too long spiel for a quick recording. Not to mention when we are in our studio.
The solution is to have a quality portable recorder, to be decided for this purpose.
Three products that we recommend most of all: the Zoom H2n, the Tascam DR 05X, or the more expensive alternative, the TR-40X also from Tascam, which among other things, offers interesting functions such as the 4-channel mode that can be used for dual and nondestructive overdub recording.
Excellent for recording not only in the studio, they can be a perfect tool for recording concerts, masterclasses, etc. In fact, these devices offer the possibility to set the shooting technology, including MS stereo (mid-side) and 90 ° X/Y stereo.
Wake up at 07, breakfast, theory lesson, rehearsal, studio session… The day for us musicians is full of often very tight commitments, and also finding time to listen to music is really difficult.
While you try to do magic in the optimization of times before becoming a master of time travel, it is worth accepting that music can also be listened to between one engagement and another.
For example, while running, dragging your instrument, and gasping to get to class on time. In these circumstances, having a bulky pair of headphones on your head is the last thing you need.
A pair of earphones is better. But please, forget about the ones you found in your smartphone box. Those are most likely only good for throwing in the trash.
No super-tech analysis here, so no frequency response graphs or high fidelity tests. Only the advice of a friend who has tried a product, has found it well, and therefore recommends the purchase if you need it.
Two choices to be on the safe side: Sony WF-XB700 Wireless Earbuds (Bluetooth) and KZ ZST Pro Dynamic Hybrid Dual Driver in-Ear Headphones (wired).
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