This could be a weird question but I want to clarify something.
When I'm learning rhythms and have a slow tempo my metronome will sound like this:

BPM = 60 (--- represent silence)

BPM = 100 

As silence duration decreases, does the click sound also decrease? i.e. will I hear a different click sound which will last a shorter time at 100 BPM than in 60 BPM?

    BPM = 100

And also, are e & a beats always silent?

BPM = 100
  • 1
    I have no idea what your last sentence means, but you shouldn't ask two questions in one. Keep them separate.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 10:26
  • I've raised this code markdown rendering issue on meta - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/376728/code-markdown-bug - I've seen it happen on this stack before, but not on other stacks. I've set it in <pre> code for now.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:16
  • Actually, so people investigating from meta can see it, I've fixed the first with pre & copy/pasted the 'broken' one below. This is so the entire question will appear even with the bug. The blank grey area, if you see it as such, is not necessary to the understanding of the question. It's just to show the bug for meta.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:34
  • 1
    This is impossible to answer without knowing the model of your metronome. Many electronic ones can make sounds on subdivisions of the beat, sounding on “e and a,” or dividing the beat into triplets. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 12:01
  • @AndyBonner even those that don't can be set (within limits) to a multiple of the desired tempo. For example, if your tempo is quarter note = 72 you can also set the metronome to 144 and use that as your eighth note.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


On clockwork metronomes, the click duration is exactly the same - it's only the silence between clicks that can be varied. Due to the mechanical mechanism (!). Same goes for the bell that is integral on some machines, signifying beat one.

On all of my electronic ones, while the sounds are produced electronically, their duration remains the same, no matter what tempo is dialled.

  • up beat i.e e,&, a in 16 notes is always on Silent ? i.e silent part is divided into 3 parts ?
    – Som Pathak
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:36
  • Sorry, can't understand.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 12:04
  • 1
    @SomPathak the metronome makes a certain number of clicks per minute. If you want to have clicks on the subdivisions, set the BPM twice as high (or four times, or even three times, as needed). But this should be separate question.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 12:06
  • 1
    @SomPathak The metronome is a tool to help shape how you think and act. You can think of the silent part in any way you like. You can imagine the "e & a" inside each beat, or you can imagine triplets (only "& a," no "e"). As phoog mentions, you can make these subdivisions real by setting the metronome to a multiple (e.g., for a beat of 60, setting it to 240 gives you "1 e & a," or some metronome models can do this themselves as a setting. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 13:26
  • We use the 'clicks' on metronomes for various purposes - not just having 'ring, click, click, click' for 4/4. we might even use a slow click, and call that the & of 3, if we need a bit of a challenge.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 14:06

There's no reason the click would be shorter. It's very short anyway.

On an old mechanical metronome it wouldn't even be possible. On a modern digital one there is no need to introduce such complexity to the output algorithm.

You can easily test this empirically. Test extremes of tempo & listen to the playback.


Without knowing the internal design of your exact model of metronome it's impossible to say. All metronomes I've come in contact with do not display this behavior.

I will say, depending on how many corners were cut in order to produce the metronome as cheaply as possible, it's plausible that your metronome does do this. However, whoever designed the metronome likely did not intentionally give it that feature. A Duty Cycle is a waveform that many undergraduate engineers will encounter at least once. Simple and cheap to create. If you consider a metronome to be just an Impulse happening at a certain frequency, then a duty cycle with a very short period models that relatively well. Of course it has the side effect of shortening the duration period as frequency increases, which would cause your little metronome phenomenon.

Above is a gross simplification of a potential metronome design. Do I think that is how your metronome works? No. I think it's just some aural trick making your ears think the click is shorter, and that your metronome is just like all the others that we use.

As for e,&,a. Some metronomes have an option to include them in the beats. Most simple ones do not. It's good practice to just subdivide the beat yourself, in your head.

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