Soundbrenner Pulse Review

A few weeks ago I bought a wearable metronome and now it is time for a short Soundbrenner Pulse review. The reason I decided to get this device is that even though I consider the metronome an essential piece of gear listening to the click can be distracting. A silent device seemed like a good idea to me. In this review I give my thoughts on what this device offers to harmonica players.

Box content

First off let’s take a look at what you get. In the box the device comes in, which is quite nice in itslef, you get five items. You get the actual Soundbrenner Pulse device, a charging station, a USB chord for the charging station and two straps of different sizes. You also get some quick start papers but I am not really counting them. The packaging and items themselves feel like good quality gave me a nice impression right away.

Soundbrenner Pulse review box content

Box, charging station with USB-chord, Soundbrenner Pulse device and straps.

Wearing the device

Before you can start using the device you have to charge it which is quick and mount it in one of the straps. Since the straps seem quite durable getting the device in place on the strap took a bit of force but nothing major. The two straps give you a lot of options on how to wear the Soundbrenner Pulse. For most people the two straps will allow you to choose wrist, lower arm, upper arm, ankle or calf depending on what you prefer. You need to experiment with the optimal placement for you. If you like to wear it around your chest you need to buy a bigger strap which Soundbrenner of course offer.

Basic operation

The device is operated by two fingers that are placed on the top surface of the Soundbrenner Pulse and by turning the dial of the device. This allows for simple turning on/off, starting and stopping the beat and defining the beat. Initially I had some problem where I defined a very fast beat when I in fact just wanted to start the metronome at the already defined tempo. After using it a couple of times this problem went away so it seems to be a minor issue.

To take full advantage of the device the Soundbrenner Metronome App should be downloaded. After connecting your device to your mobile device you get a lot of options on how to customize the strength of vibrations, time signature, beat sub divison and accents. There is also an option to sync up to five Soundbrenner Pulses which is very useful if the whole or part of the band are all wearing a device. There is also a library where you can store complete songs if it calls you changes in the beat throughout.

Soundbrenner Pulse review mtronome app

Sounebrenner Pulse Metronome App.

The device in use

The device require some getting use to and Soundbrenner is very clear about this. Feeling the beat is very different from hearing it. In the beginning you need to focus on feeling the vibrations and maybe customizing them in the app before it works well for you. However when you do get use to it, which doesn’t take all that long, your ears will be liberated. When you don’t have to listen for a beep or a click you can focus on litening to the music instead and this is where I feel the big advantage is for harmonica players.

When I was compiling this Soundbrenner Pulse review I was thinking a lot about the sound level of the device. Initially I was expecting it to be almost completely silent but truth be told it does make a sound. This mean that I cannot wear it on my wrist as it puts it too close to my ears. What I have done is wear it on my ankle and also turn down the power of the vibrations. I am probably more picky than most about this. When I aked support about this I got a quick and professional answer.

When you get use to feeling the beat the vibrations almost disapear when you play in time. For me this is great. It means that I only get a correction when I drift out of time. I think this is what you need more than anything.

Soundbrenner Pulse review summary

All in all I would like to summarize this review like this:

  • High quality device
  • Easy operation
  • Highly customizable
  • Makes practice more efficient
  • Takes a little getting used to
  • Wearing it on the wrist not the best option for harmonica players

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Strategy for Learning Harmonica Songs Faster

Some time ago my first harmonica mentor, Dick Sjöberg, reminded me of a strategy we discussed in one of his workshops. The strategy originally comes from Carlos del Junco and is a way of learning harmonica songs efficiently. Without even thinking about it, I have been using this strategy and it is working great. This article will give you a short introduction to it and how to apply it when you practice.

The short version

The short version of this startegy is, start at the back. Saying it like that doesn’t make it sound all that impressive but bare with me for a minute. If you think about it for a while and consider always learning a song or a phrase from the beginning it is quite obvious that you always get to the part you don’t know at the end. By starting at the back, you always start with the part you know the least.

The slightly expanded version

When using this strategy for learning harmonica songs I have modified or expanded it a little bit. Here is usually how I use it for a song with for example 6 choruses of harmonica tabs.

  1. Is there a hook or very defining riff that is used a lot? If so study that first.
  2. Compare the first and the last chorus. It is quite likely that the first chorus, often referred to as the head, is repeated at the end of the song. The only difference then would be the the end riff. In up-tempo songs chorus 1, 2 and the last two may very well be head variations. If this is the case, the head is what you study first. Whenyou know it, you will have a big part of the songs memorized.
  3. Analyze your chosen chorus. Is there a part that seems especially tricky? If so, practice that in isloation first.
  4. Practice bar 12 in isolation until you have a good grasp on it. Practice bar 11 in isolation until you have a good grasp on it. Put bars 11 and 12 together and practice. Practice bar 10, put together with 11 and 12. Continue bar by bar backwards until you can play the whole chorus with confidence.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the next chorus. Keep going until you know all choruses.
bar 12 of harmonica songs as starting point for learning

Bar 12 is a good starting point when learning a new chorus.

It may seems like a lot of work but a lot of the small steps you are taking are actually very quick. A nice side benefit of this strategy is that for a song with a head that repeats at the end you can  chose to perform it already when you have learned the first and last chorus and then improvise for the other choruses.

Why it makes you learn harmonica songs faster

In my opinion the power in this strategy comes from the fact that you concentrate the mostat the beginning. You will constantly be repeating the part you know the least and move into parts that are more familiar. This also means that if you stumble and start over you instantly repeat the part that gave you troubles. You also avoid the trap of first playing what you know, then realixe that the unfamiliar part is coming up, panicing and having to start over.

Try this out for your next couple of harmonica songs and let me know how it works out for you. If you enjoyed the read please like and share. If you haven’t already sign up for the newsletter below!

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