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Examples: Behind/Ahead/On Top of the beat


mound

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I was trying to describe to a friend who is just discovering the joys of playing, and I was talking about how playing isn't always metronomic, that while yes the beat is rock solid, the band could be just ahead of, just behind, or in fact just on the beat. I know how this feels, I've played it, I've been there, but when he asked for musical examples to listen to, I was at a loss to come up with concrete examples.. I was like "uhh, swing vs. James Brown vs. zeppelin" but it wasn't good enough. Could you folks kindly list some concrete examples of each type of playing?

 

thanks!

-Paul

"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."

-- Ernie Stires, composer

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Try a search, there's been discussion before of exactly this question.

 

Off the top of my head, some of my fave examples:

Behind: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"

Ahead: "Bodhisattva"

On top: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

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Chuck Rainey is a master of playing behind the beat. You can hear a lot of it on Steely Dan's "Aja" and in the "Theme to Sanford and Son."

 

Crazy ahead of the beat? Try anything by the Stray Cats.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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I was talking about how playing isn't always metronomic, that while yes the beat is rock solid, the band could be just ahead of, just behind, or in fact just on the beat.
JUST TO CLARIFY HERE: The Band in its entirety isn't going to be ahead of, or behind the beat because if the ENITRE BAND was ahead or behind the tempo would either be going FASTER, or SLOWER.

 

Certain ELEMENTS however could be subtly behind the beat or ahead, at least during parts of each measure. For instance, drummers that are often called "relaxed" have a few milliseconds drag on their snare hits on two and four, while their kick and hi hat may be dead on. A good example here could be Elvis Presleys' drummer.

 

Typically, any player in a good rhythm section has their own trademark TIME FEEL, which may by a gnat's ass anticipate or delay certain elements (but not the entire beat usually, because that too will eventually drag the tempo down or speed it up, or cause friction with the elements of the other players). When each player's TIME FEEL is combined to build the rhythm section's sound, you get a UNIQUE FEEL, a UNIQUE GROOVE.

 

Think the Meters, Muscle Shoal, Mowtown, various other regional rhythm sections that all have their own sound, and you begin to get the picture.

 

If any one player anticpates or delays any element by too far, it begins to feel clumsy or nervous. Somewhere I have the results of a time study on this, spoken in terms of milliseconds.

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Good points, #6.

 

I did catch that "entire band" phrase as well, but I didn't remember to say anything about it.

 

I'd be interested in looking at that millisecond thing...especially in the consistency of where a player puts their notes.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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This is no biggy. I'm behind or ahead of the beat all the time. I don't even have to plan it!

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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I think a great example of a band with extreme opposite pocket players is Led Zep.

 

More often than not Page is way off to the races,Bonham is pulling WAY back,and our steadfast hero is right there in the middle of it tieing it all together. It was a huge part of their sound.

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Hey davebrownbass,

 

What I've put into notes came from MIDI keyboard and computer sampling of classic recordings, and looking at the waveforms on the computer, from back when I ran a studio. But the pages either must have been part of what was ripped off a few years ago - or misfiled - whereupon I will find them when looking for my diagrams for rewiring Strats for phase reversal and two additional pickup combinations.

 

Further, they were predicated like so much else on this topic since then by an article called THE FEEL FACTOR: MUSIC WITH SOUL by Michael Stewart from Electronic Musician's OCTOBER 1987 issue - which does not appear to be on the wwweb presently. I actually have that article in stapled pages somewhere as well, or it too was part of the theft.

 

But here are a couple of spinoffs from Craig Anderton, who actually doesn't spend much time BSing at SSS becasue he's too busy figuring things for himself:

 

http://archive.keyboardonline.com/features/dhr/dhr.shtml

 

http://www.numericalsound.com/eqsndgra.pdf

 

I feel fortunate for being involved early on in MIDI and electronic studios; it's really been an aid in dealing with much else in music today. It's also why I respect electronic key guys and studio cats who've been around; they know a lot of stuff from decades of delving into the world of waveforms and sequencers.

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Anybody listen to Ben Webster, or Dexter Gordon? This is PERSONALITY PERSONIFIED. And that's all about TIMING/FEEL first, and then phrasing, and then note choice. Unlike many horn players that just seem lax about rhythm, I'm betting these guys would have been hip at the piano drums or bass had they not been into the voice of the tenor [sax].

 

Similarly, great rhythm sections are comprised of people who've built real musical personalities - not just people who can play the instrument. They've become themselves! And when you put several of them together and working together for a spell, you get a COMPOSITE PERSONALITY that works magic on any material that gets put in front of it.

 

That's why I love working bands' recorded products much better than faceless hired guns sessions where the principles aren't around each other enough to truly get the feel thang beyond a certain point. Schooled: yes. But not inspired.

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thanks again all.

 

I did catch that "entire band" phrase as well, but I didn't remember to say anything about it.
Yeah, I didn't exactly mean to say that, I meant the "sound as a whole" kinda thing.. Sure it's likely coming from the rhythm section, but for somebody who may not yet understand the difference (my friend who I was trying to explaint this to) it was easier to just say "listen to the groove the whole band is laying down".. we'll differentiate bass/drums from the solo players later on :)

 

-Paul

"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."

-- Ernie Stires, composer

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