ARTIST FEATURE: From jazz to contemporary classical, from the stage to running a successful new music label called New Focus Recordings, meet Dan Lippel, guitarist extraordinaire! We are happy that he joined us this week to answer a few questions:

1) Why is rhythm important?

Rhythm is both the most visceral and most abstract parameter in music — visceral because it is grounded in pulse, the most elemental propulsion that in its manifestation in our beating hearts literally keeps our lives moving forward. It is abstract in the sense that it is the syntactical glue that binds ideas together, melodic contours, timbral gestures, harmonic motion, all these musical components are presented in a temporal context that is framed in one form or another by rhythm, even when it is free. So rhythm is crucial to both the moment to moment connection music makes with our bodies as well as the element which allows an hour long piece to bind together as one experience composed of thousands of smaller events glued together in rhythmic relationships to each other.

2) How often do you practice with a metronome?

Every day, it’s a crucial component to my practice. It’s not a one size fits all tool, and of course there are contexts where you want to liberate yourself from the strictness of pulse that a metronome dictates, but even when practicing rubato, a metronome set to a slow tempo to reflect larger beats can be really helpful to make sure you’re “giving back” what you “stole” so to speak.

A metronome provides objective feedback in practice.

3) Why is it important to practice with a metronome?

A metronome provides objective feedback in practice and it’s an invaluable tool for preparing music, especially for ensemble contexts, since the collaborative experience is based on a shared vocabulary of musical parameters including tempo.

4) Can you name one thing that you like about the metronome on

Well, for one thing, it’s online which means as long as you have an internet connection it is accessible, which is really convenient. But I also like that it is set up like the metronomes I used when I was younger, with the incremental tempi as opposed to digital metronomes that adjust one click at a time. I think having those discrete numbers allows a player to develop a strong association with a specific tempo, say 96, that might not happen as easily if you’re also practicing at 95 and 97 — 92, 96, 100 can actually get into your body in a tangible way as different feelings.

VIDEO: Check out Dan Lippel and Mak Grgic tackle a cool etude by György Ligeti called Fem!: