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Do you count while playing?


ZZ Thorn

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I think it is useful to internalise time this way. I have been a rock player and as such have internalised a 8 note pulse as second nature. I have been working on 16 note and various triplet note combinations. I think it is real important to be able to subdivide it will just make you groove harder.
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Originally posted by SeamyD:

I have been a rock player and as such have internalised a 8 note pulse as second nature.

That's an interesting point. Although I will often internalise a 16th note pulse, when I'm rocking or grooving in a certain vein the 8th note pulse is the one that beats within. Until you can naturally feel both the outlining beat and the best subdivision for the style you're playing at a given time, then there's no better way to develop this skill than counting.

 

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No, although I'm self-taught.

 

I do consider it important to:

1) Tap my foot (or toe, or head...) to the beat

2) Internalize (think in terms of) the smallest subdivision I'd be playing in. For example, if the piece is a fast 4/4 and I'm only playing as fast as 8-th notes, I'd think in terms of 1-e, 2-e, 3-e, 4-e. If slower 3/4, maybe I'd do 1-e-&-a, 2-e-&-a, 3-e-&-a. Note: I'm not actually counting in my head - I more "hear/see" a metronome in my head, subdividing each beat.

 

Maybe, in thinking, maybe your instructor really means #2 above - I don't think he'd literally mean counting, but instead "hearing" the subdivisions (eights, triplets, etc.) of each beat.

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Ideally, I would count on every song to keep perfectly in synch with the drums. However, some of our tunes are so fast that this simply isn't practical.

 

I definitely try to count on the slower tunes though - the more space between beats, the easier it is to lose the pulse, so counting becomes essential. I don't usually count "1-e-and-ah" when I'm playing though. Usually I use nonsense syllables like "dig-ah-chick-ah."

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I don't count consciously anymore. I did for years though....

 

I also don't tap my foot while playing. More often than not, when I see an entire band of folks tapping their feet they don't sound as together as bands populated by folks who've truly internalized time and therefore don't require the external solo expression of it.

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Sometimes I do. Most time I just "feel" where I'm at.

Tenstrum

 

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Counting is something I go over and over with my students. It doesn't matter if you use "and", "te", "uh"--whatever. Just as long as you can subdivide the beat into eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and triplets.

 

The slower the tempo, the more subdivisions. To really play tight at slow tempos I think sixteenth notes. I many not play any, but thinking them helps put my quarter notes and eighth notes in the right place.

 

As far as fast tempos go, once it gets too uncomfortable to cound in four, go to two. Just like you subdivided smaller at slow tempos, subdivide into large notes at faster tempos. For speedy jazz and rock charts I think in half notes, and for REALLY fast ones I feel it a measure at a time. My fingers don't always keep up, but my brain rarely gets confused.

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I tap my foot most of the time. I never count... at least not numbers or "ahs" or "e's" or anything like that. I hear pulses in my head sometimes as I'm playing. Also, if I'm really focusing on developing the right feel for a syncopated part, I'll tap the strings with my plucking fingers on the beat like a metronome. They're kind of like "ghost notes." After I get comfortable with the part, I soften up the ghost notes until they are more or less inaudible. This same technique is what I also use to mute notes in rhythmic time.

 

That make sense? Anyone else do this?

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Kind of makes sense, I do something similar(i think). When I'm counting out a line on my left foot and I'm coming up to, lets say an eight note rest after a stream of straights eights, or say when I'm trying to subdivide, I'll tap my right foot on that rest or I might pluck that ghost not on the bass. And as long as were getting there...for some odd reason I've always had problems with ties...they seem to lead to train wrecks every once in a while...for no apparent reason.
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Interesting topic.

 

I agree with Snowdog that the slower the tempo, the more difficult to keep consistent time. You'll know what I mean if you've ever done a gig with just a guitarist (even a good one) which included slow 12 bar blues. Not a common situation but very good exercise.

 

In such instances I have to tap my foot. For the rest, I synch with the drummer without consciously counting.

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I don't count when I play, but sometimes when I'm learning a piece I do.

 

I've also had to count when coaching sub drummers through breaks...especially if they're unusually long, like a break that's 6 beats long or something.

 

I do tap my foot a lot, though...usually to the strong beat of the time signature. ie: 4/4: 1-2-3-4, 6/8: 1-2, 12/8: 1-2-3-4, etc...

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It is important to have a metronome when you practice scales and modes and when you work on left and right hand technique. Playing in a band has the drummer keeping the beat so you can focus more on your playing and playing it with the drummer's tempo.

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It all really depends on what you're playing. If you're just playing laid-back easy grooves that you're comfortable with, you probably won't get much out of consciously counting. However, if you're trying to read some funky line from sheet music, counting will be your life-sustaining force.

 

It's most definitely helpful to do it while practicing. It's one of many skills that are something that you should constantly practice so that it gets drilled into your head so that you don't have to think about it when the time comes to actually play it. Kind of like picking up a new technique like using a pick if you're always finger style or vice versa. You pay attention to what you're doing and how you're doing it and try to weed out the bad habits before they form so that when you get to that song in your set where you need this other technique, you don't need to think about it...you can concentrate on the music.

 

Practice counting and subdividing enough so that while you're playing it's constantly going on in the back of your mind.

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Hah! 56 measures is nothing! I honestly can't remember which piece it was but one that I played in highscool had 247 measures (I think I remember the number right) of rests at one point. It was a long movement and we didn't play much. My friend was popping gummy bears discretely from his tux pocket in the back of the section.
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