How do you keep time?

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ryla
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How do you keep time?

Post by ryla » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:31 am

Do you count internally, do you count the measures, do you let the drummer count, do you just groove, do you use a metronome -enough questions!, me? - the only time i conciously count is if its unfamiliar or feels difficult to me, eg - in "money" i only count conciously during the sax solo because i hear him (or think i hear him) climax one bar too soon (as if he's soloing over 4/4 not 7/4) and any other time of uncertainty (remember everyone looks to the bassplayer for an anchor if the ship starts to wobble).I let the drummer count mainly, but on the very odd occasion he gets excited and starts to gallop away, i usually (without much luck) try to lay it back), i should practice with a metronome more often than i do how about you, whats you time secret?

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Dan
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Dan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 2:20 pm

The only way to have truly good time is to have spent muchos time with a metronome, and from there it becomes instinct and you can groove your pants off.

Mmmmm pants groove.

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Jazzbass
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Jazzbass » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:29 pm

I just feel it and time happens...

ryla
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by ryla » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:56 pm

Jeff Berlin stirs the pot with his "dont use a metronome, use your body clock" stance.

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Dan
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Dan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:44 pm

While I agree with Jeff Berlin, every musician has to have done the hard yards with a metronome in my opinion. Personally, I haven't practiced with one in years (naughty) but by god, I spent many a hour with the tick tock tick tock.......

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john
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by john » Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:44 pm

i totally go by feel. whats the point in being on time if the drummer speeds up if your like a metronome ,who follows who ,you or the drummer.
but i do count the odd 5/ 4 or 7/4 til i have it. like ryla. our guitar player is the one who gets excited and starts to gallop away ,(playing a beat behind or ahead, usually after a solo) he does'nt seem to notice so me and the drummer have to look at each other do the nod and change to what he is doing ...fun

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Jazzbass
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Jazzbass » Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:13 am

Ah well, count this old fart as one who has never used a metronome.
That said, I suppose in all the years I've been playing, I wouldn't have practiced for more than 100 hours on bass in total. It just happens.

I have played with people who tried to keep things at exactly the same time as the recording, but they fell by the wayside fairly rapidly, as the reality of gigging bands hit home.

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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by beagle » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:32 am

Timing is a funny issue. People seem to have it naturally to different degrees. The strange thing about it is that people who have bad timing don't know unless someone tells them.... and then they are faced with a dawnting task of trying to correct something they arn't aware of. That's the situation where metronome practice for self improvement is essential.
I've practiced a resonable amount with a drum machine over time but not any concerted effort toward improving my timing. I think my timing is pretty good but not anything to rave about. I like to feel it. Tapping my foot is my lock when I feel I need it. New songs where the other musicians are playing bizarre patterns can be tricky until I've got the root imbedded in my subconcious... once it's in I don't have any hassles.
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implandnoises
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by implandnoises » Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:19 am

I only started using a metronome a few years ago (I have been playing for about 13 years). I have just stuck with my natural time and still do mostly. I use the metronome to practice tricky passages that I may not be able to play up to speed yet. So I start the clock at 120 say, where it is comfortable for the line,then speed it up bit by bit until I can do it at 150 or whatever is required.

While rehearsing with the band I rely on feel when I can. But if there is something new that is tricky, perhaps if I have to play 4/4 over 7/8 for a while and then come into the 7/8 on the & of my 4 (which falls on the 4th quaver of the 7/8 bar), then um....I count for a little until I can start feeling it. As soon as I can feel it then it sounds better. But it is important to know the count, whether I have to use it or not - especially in a new song that is still being constructed. Take the above example again. Perhaps in the next jam we decide that as i near the end of my 4/4 bit I should do some accents with the drums and then come out of the 4/4 on the & of 2 in the bar after where I left before, thus hitting the 1 of the 7/8 bar. Without knowing exactly where everything lies in the count then it might take me a while to realise the simplicity of that last idea - that I hit the 7/8 on its downbeat - easy.

Basically I use these methods of keeping time in varying degrees and combinations -
internal feel, internal counting, external feel, external counting, external clock.

There is in theory an internal clock, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as accurate as a metronome. Of course my internal feel and internal counting are influenced by it, but those in turn can influence it. This is why it is not listed - I cannot directly control it like the others.

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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by beagle » Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:42 am

and to expound this a bit more .... Depending on the feel I want to put into a song, I also work on the intention of the beat. Either 'sitting back' or 'playing on top' of the beat. Anybody got any good ideas on that?
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Jazzbass
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Jazzbass » Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:59 am

I've read a bit on other forums about playing behind/ahead/on/under the beat :) but I have to say its all just been nonsense to me. For ME - I feel it and play it. I never have to think about it. I may well be any of the above relative to the beat, but I have no idea - its just what feels correct to me. The advantages of not cluttering my mind (what's left of it) with TMI.

I've played with people who couldn't play a 12 bar by ear, insisting on having the sheet music - yes, the real fly-*BANNED* stuff in front of them. They played the timing exactly as written. When the band shifted time they got real pissed off. "That's not the way its written" etc. Maybe its not, but its the way we do it - learn to fit, or walk... most learned to fit and I believe they enjoyed music better as a result.

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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by foal30 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:28 pm

Well, if charts are provided they should play as written. It is farcical to do otherwise.However if they have no tempi indication then it's probably madness to not accommodate the drummer and/or leader

"Time" is not "Groove". Rog mentions the fluctuations of his Band...would we want anything else? This is for the most part why I think Metronomes are complete rubbish...I do not want to play with a click, I want to play with a Drummer who is feeling and communicating and trying and listening. If he or she then uses a concept of "Time" as part of this approach then I either "Feel" it or maybe open/return a dialog that is contrary.

This , believe it or not, is often hard work but extremely rewarding if we actually want to include "Time" or make an active attempt to breathe "out" the performance. You will never need a metronome for this, more a good attitude and a willingness to work with different rhythm sections across different styles.

I'm also skeptical of the ability to transfer metronome practice to the bandstand because invariably the count will differ, or as above, we rushed into the first chorus because it so exciting. (or so we thought when we wrote it!). I'm sure an argument can be presented to the opposite, but I preempt this by saying that is for a specific piece...as with the chart example above, this is a direct requirement of THAT selection, certainly not a Band ethos or tenant.

maybe our time is better but is our feel? I'll attribute that quote to T.M.Stevens (hurl stones if I'm wrong) and I think it clearly outlines that the two are not always one, and nor should they be.

Is Bootsy Collins funky? I wager whats left of credibility that when he got the role in the J.B.'s is practice regime for "Get Up" never included a click track.

and as for different time signatures...cop "Money" , 7/4 right...count the front and compare the outro..if there is not 20bpm difference then I'm Bootsy. Yet is this song great? How many actually knew? and now you do does this make the selection any less of an emotional imprint?

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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by implandnoises » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:18 pm

Yes, feel is vitally important. As for where you are sitting on the beat - ahead, behind or whatever - it just depends on how much informed control you wish to have. I would guess that many early jazz legends didn't know what their regular position was in this regard - they just played to the feel they felt.

If that is your inclination - to play what comes naturally - then so be it. That is admirable. Likewise, if you are inclined to explore the subtleties and you find this opens up your scope then this too is admirable. The important thing is that there is feel at all. Whether it be natural and uninformed or learned until made natural there must at least be feel.

I have learned some things about classical performance this year in my studies. Even though the pieces are written to exacting standards, the performer, having studied to work in depth, should play it with feeling. This inevitably results in them breaking away from the exact parameters of the time for the written notes, if ever so slightly, and produces true music. A computer can play the pieces exactly as written, but feels nothing. Have a listen to Sibelius (the computer program, not the composer - he's dead). With this program you can hear exactly what you have written and it is often ghastly. Even the most well notated pieces sound mechanical when played with machine precision. A performer must use that quality of feel which is unique to living beings in order for the music to become alive.

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Dan
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Dan » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:49 pm

Agreed, feel is vitally important, but I for one do not want to be playing in a band that is speeding up or slowing down. I'd probably get my ass kicked in most of the stuff I do if I was wavering around the tempo, and I would not expect other musicians I play with to do so either.

I would not compensate my time for another player who's time is average, if they speed up, I'll stay exactly where I am. Of course there are extreme cases where I don't have a choice, but thankfully I'm not often in a situation where that is likely to happen.

Its another case of different strokes for different folks, Pretty much my entire style revolves around feel, but no way do I want things moving around much in terms of tempo.

My 2.11cents :)

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Jazzbass
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Re: How do you keep time?

Post by Jazzbass » Thu Aug 23, 2007 7:36 pm

I know its not really directly related to the thread, but try setting a metronome (I haven't done this) on most 'big name' bands. I'll wager that they slip time frequently. One of the longest serving bands in r'n'r - The Rolling Stones, are widely known for their inability to remain in strict time - but they seem to do ok in the biz....

Note - I am NOT suggesting that slipping time is cool or even acceptable, but I AM saying it allows a certain freedom and that many bands do it without their public either knowing or caring - maybe even without the band members knowing or caring.

However my point was not about slipping time as much as neither knowing nor caring where I am relative to the beat - I'm just in the groove with the drummer and the rest of the band should be following us. Its simple - we are the rhythm section - we are the most important part of the band, although the lead guitarist gets the most attention. Flashy is easy, timing is a fundamental everything.

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