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What is this "groove" thang?


Groove Mama

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You're doing alright, lady. Generally speaking, questions like you've asked benefit the entire community in some way. Don't pay any mind if you get a grouchy answer or two. It takes all kinds, and we got all kinds here, from two or three continents, a few islands, maybe even a peninsula and an isthmus or two! The only people here with any standing that would entitle them to "dis-welcome" anybody are the moderators, and they don't disparage anyone for asking basic info type questions.

 

I think one of the most important purposes this forum exists to fill is to give newbies the chance to talk to "old-bies". When I started playing back in the 60's, I was in the wilds of small-town Arkansas. There was no one around to ask questions about stuff like this, and precious little printed material to work from, either. I would have given a lot for a place like this then. I'm glad to be able to share what I've learned with people new to the instrument. I'm not alone in that here, either.

 

The only stupid question is the one you don't ask if you need to know the answer. You ask any questions you want to, Mama, it's all good.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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The Basie band and the Ellington band did not use charts in performance. All the players memorized the parts and that certainly helped the band to groove as a whole.

 

I do a lot of sight-reading gigs and my goal is always to make it sound like I am making up my part, even though I am reading it note-for-note, not from chord names. One of the highest compliments I ever received was when one of the trombone players complimented my on my walking lines and I told him I was playing the charts as written and not improvising at all. I liked when he raised his eyebrows upon hearing that.

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"my goal is always to make it sound like I am making up my part, even though I am reading it note-for-note, not from chord names."

 

Now that sounds like a unique skill. How do you do that? A note is a note; right? Is this where groove comes into play?

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Gotta give it up for Benny Goodman - he swung and improvised all over the place. I love his stuff with Charlie Christian, another great soloist.

 

I think if Benny Goodman didn't have such a square name, glasses and played something other than the clarinet a lot more people would think he was hip....

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"my goal is always to make it sound like I am making up my part, even though I am reading it note-for-note, not from chord names."

Now that sounds like a unique skill. How do you do that? A note is a note; right? Is this where groove comes into play?

A note is not just a note. It is way more. Every note has some relationship to other notes.

 

Read my essay about the note C.

 

When people are reading notes, they tend to play more stiffly than when they are playing by ear or from memory. They also tend to drag a little.

 

When I read music, I am reading ahead. I can hear the music in my head as I look at it. Then instead of looking at a note and playing it, I am playing what I hear. It took me many years to get to this point. I am also highly aware of the style in which I am playing and how my part is fitting with the other parts in the band. This awareness affects my phrasing and exact placement of the notes.

 

Yes, I was a beginner at one point and have learned from many sources.

 

We now return to your regularly scheduled practicing.

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...or should I continue to ask my "Grasshopper" questions here?

 

i would suggest you acquaint yourself with the "quote" button at the bottom of posts you're responding to. ;)

 

it facilitates conversation.

 

Oh, thanks. Duh.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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"my goal is always to make it sound like I am making up my part, even though I am reading it note-for-note, not from chord names."

 

Now that sounds like a unique skill. How do you do that? A note is a note; right? Is this where groove comes into play?

A note is not just a note. It is way more. Every note has some relationship to other notes.

Read my essay about the note C.

 

When people are reading notes, they tend to play more stiffly than when they are playing by ear or from memory. They also tend to drag a little.

 

We now return to your regularly scheduled practicing.

 

Point taken about my oversimplification there.

 

Never noticed the reading vs. ear/memory thing before, though. Interesting.

 

Yeah. I definitely need to go back and slap that thing some more.

 

P.S. Can't wait for the universe to open up and reveal its secrets to me!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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GROOVE is easily defined. Next show you are playing, take a look at the audience. It might be hard to do, but look at the guys there (block the ladies from your mind). Find the 'bar guys' -- frat boys and grumpy old men, who are just there to drink beer or fight or throw darts, shoot pool, whatever. If what you are playing gets them to unconsciously, involuntarily and inconspicuously shake their booty like a schoolgirl at her sweet-16 party, you have created a groove.
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Mama, welcome to the forum. Keep on asking any questions you may have. Heck, even I might have some insight for you. Check out the Search button at the top of the page, it can be a handy way to find out topics that have already been covered, although sometimes it's hard to use. :wave:

 

Gotta give it up for Benny Goodman - he swung and improvised all over the place. I love his stuff with Charlie Christian, another great soloist.

 

I think if Benny Goodman didn't have such a square name, glasses and played something other than the clarinet a lot more people would think he was hip....

Personally, I always thought Benny Goodman was cool. Maybe tenor sax is a sexier instrument, but clarinet is harder to play (I've heard) and Mr. Goodman is possibly the best ever. IMHO of course.

 

Visit my band's new web site.

 

www.themojoroots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've been playing for a good while, started in the 1980's, then quit for a while; but I am personally glad when such "simple" questions are posted; because I find that I learn stuff I didn't know from the answers given (both here and the keys forum on this board).

 

Groove is a very difficult thing to just come up with a definition, because we don't have descriptive words needed. However, a lot of light has been sheed on its meaning in this thread. Music without a groove may be played absolutely perfectly, but it is like eating food with no spices or condiments. The groove is what sets the listner's imagination free like adding just the right amount of spices. Too much is artificial, and like using 10 times the amount of pepper needed.

 

As such, it is dependent more on the creative aspect of the musicians' minds than their technical virtuosity (although a bit of both is far better than a complete lack of either).

 

 

BTW - my first insturment, back in high school, was clarinet - I always thought of Benny as cool.

 

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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

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This topic prompted cause me to spend some time, late last night, listening to some of Pino's videos, especially with the John Mayer Trio. It helped me to remember what a "Groove" sounds like.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Gotta give it up for Benny Goodman -

 

Oh, damnitalltohell. I hate Benny Goodman. I saw some Benny movie when I was little, and sure enough he could swing like nobody's business. In the movie he was playing his damn clarinet on some rooftop making some hottie swoon. I said, "yup that's for me." Got me a clarinet in 4th grade.

 

Let's just say it didn't work out like I had planned......

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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I started taking piano lessons when I was 4. I also stopped taking piano lessons when I was 4. But I don't hate Liberace, Floyd Cramer, or that little oriental girl who played piano like a pro who was on TV all the time when I was 4...well, maybe I hate her a little bit...

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Also, a groove is like a moving target or like the tide, it comes in and goes out. What I am trying to say is, a big band or a small ensamble could play one of their best songs. The groove may come together during the performance but not be there from start to finish. I used to race outboard boats. Many times if two boats were close together, at full speed, the engine's "droan" would become syncronized. The sound was deafining and you would have to blip the throttle to get them unsyncronized. I guess they would "groove" together.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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This topic prompted cause me to spend some time, late last night, listening to some of Pino's videos, especially with the John Mayer Trio. It helped me to remember what a "Groove" sounds like.

Rocky

 

Ah, good idea. I stuck in some earbuds and jumped on the treadmill to listen to that. I think my ears are even starting to get a little sharper. Love Pino!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Groove: You know when it is present. The prior post about the solitary types moving is right-on. They may sit there stone-faced and expressionless, but the tapping foot, snapping fingers, or other such subtle symptoms betray the fact that there is a groove going on. Of course, I will inject some chauvinism by adding that my big payoff is seeing the lovely ladies shaking their thangs, or my lead guitarrist really feelin' what drummer-man and I are doing and ripping tastily. My one solo of a typical night is over the verse pattern of Brown-eyed Girl, and it even has a groove to it, much like the occasional solos taken by Graham Maby, Joe Jackson's longtime bassist, and a major influence on my playing style. If one plays and grooves long enough, your parts tend to write themselves, and you can fluidly adapt to just about any playing situation, provided that you have your fretboard and pitch relationships completely down. To me, that is what differentiates a bass player from a bassist. There are so many guitarrists out there who think that they can play bass better than me, and I let them try, but they fail to groove, and hand me the instrument back with new-found respect.

 

 

..and one more thing; I was a clarinetist while young as well, getting to 1st chair/concertmaster in my HS band for my junior and senior years.

Founder of the G&L JB-2 Legion
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Well, Plank, you and Riroon give what sounds like a great example of groove identification, but I am yarons away from playing out. The only level of groove-i-ness I can detect is when I start shaking my own thang while playing. Guess I'll just have to go by that, for now.

 

Ah, Joe Jackson. Saw him, oh, early 80s, maybe. Yeah, great show. His use of percussion was so unique and engaging.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Joe is such a musical chameleon. I love all of his rock stuff with his original band, and caught the Volume 4 tour in 2003. I also saw the Big World (86) and Blaze of Glory (89) shows. Alas, I moved to AZ, where he seldom visits, in 91. That 2003 show was a unique opportunity. I adore his new piano trio material, and would love to catch a show, but AZ is not on his agenda. Graham's a good bloke too, and we have traded the occasional e-mail.
Founder of the G&L JB-2 Legion
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The show I saw was after "Night and Day" was released. Man, that album just knocked me out! All the timbales and congas and stuff. It was so musically sophisticated but pop-catchy at the same time.

 

Sadly, having worked the audience into a frenzy with "Steppin Out," he followed it up with "A Slow Song" as the encore, and the audience couldn't make the mood adjustment. Joe actually stopped the song to scold the audience for not settling down. It was a sad commentary, but probably also a poor choice of song order.

 

Anyway, I loved the "Five Guys Named Moe" era as well. Haven't heard his new piano trio stuff. Guess I need to check it out.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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I recommend Joe Jackson's live album "Summer In the City", if only for Graham Mabe's solo on "Another World". The rest of the album is really good too.

 

As for groove, triplets and dotted quarter notes in a bassline against the straight 4/4 drumbeat can be very groovy.

 

Listen to the Meters, and Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus " for two primers on Groove.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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If you like the groovaciousness of the Another World solo, then you will love the solo in the new Rush Across the Road, which is nothing sort of Mozart-like in melodicism. If Wolfgang wrote modern jazzy-pop music, it might sound like this. I love Joe's stuff.
Founder of the G&L JB-2 Legion
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