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How do keep time so accurately?


dansouth

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Okay, here's my ALL-TIME most perplexing drum question. How the heck do you guys keep such accurate time? I work on time a lot, but when I play without a click and record myself, well, it's okay, but it's not nearly as consistent as I'd like it to be. Is it me? Is this a talent thing that I just happen to be missing?

 

Extra credit questions: How do you keep from rushing fills? And can someone explain the concept of playing before and after the beat? I have enough trouble trying to play ON the beat. Playing a little early or late seems impossible at anything but the slowest tempos. How do I develop these skills?

 

Boy, it's a good thing I can rely on YOU guys/gals to keep the time!!

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Well, I have spent hours and hours for years practicing subdivisions to a click. I have good time I think...I also think I have to keep working on it. My bass player 4 years ago never played to a click...now he practices with one. He also knows how to read pretty well. His time has improved dramatically (it was never horrible by any means) but in the studio ca ca really comes out. Now he is just on fire.

 

I know the internal clock is something that can be practiced and improved.

Drugs and alcohol impair time keeping/concentration. For me it is about concentrating but letting go at the same time (no pun intended) and a great player always "sees thru" the time when playing fills. It gets easier the more you practice it. No big mystery...don't freak out about your talent that God gave you. Just be glad you have some. Is Monet a better artist than Rembrandt? Technically Rembrandt was the superior, but look at the impact Monet made with his work.

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Hey dan,

 

There are a couple of people I'll quote in the course of replying - I've incorporated these ideas in my overall playing concept as a drummer, geeetarist, keyboardist, etc. It applies to all.

 

You are not genetically missing the time talent. It's a skill which can be developed. The first thing to do when playing is to *listen*. To the other players and to yourself. While the drummer is assumed to be primarily responsible for driving the band, if you listen to a good jazz piano/bass duo the bassist is the one driving it! Ray Brown is a great player to listen to; no drums neccessary when he's around. John Novello (Niacin) says that all the musicians "co-create" the time. And he's right. If you are relying on the metronome to hold time FOR you you're never really gonna be on it. You just have to learn to feel it by listening as you play. Ideally when you practice to a click you do NOT hear it at all. This means you are now *creating* time along w/ the click.

 

Steve Gadd says about rushing anything (including fills) "You just have to WAIT for the beat". Many drummers get so excited about getting to put their fancy bit in they forget to keep playing the MUSIC, and that's when you end up rushing. With many of the bands I've worked with, a great number of musicians have a tendency to rush - esp. on uptempo tunes as they get excited. What I tell 'em is that, as soon as you start feeling that excitement, channel it by digging deeper into the groove - by using that energy to concentrate even more on locking in w/ your bass player, on making that groove so heavy & deep that it's irresistable.

 

As for playing ahead of or behind the beat, a mere explanation won't do. Listening is instructive here. One example is R.Blackmore drummers w/ 70's Deep Purple & Rainbow. Ian Paice played spot-on the beat yet had 'swing', while Cozy Powell played ahead of the beat and was 'pushing'. Nick Mason of Pink Floyd played 'behind' the beat. An easy song to experiment on is "Gimme Some Lovin'". Play/record it a number of times at a jam session. Focus on your pass drum - on getting it spot-on |1&2&3 4 |. After you do this, try lagging *only* the bass drum ever so slightly while everything else is in time. Then try pushing the bass drum slightly ahead of the rest of the band. If you're not a drummer, do it on your primary instrument.

 

Oh BTW - DON'T rely on the drummer to keep time! (see Novello's quote above) PEACE

 

Originally posted by dansouth@yahoo.com:

Okay, here's my ALL-TIME most perplexing drum question. How the heck do you guys keep such accurate time? I work on time a lot, but when I play without a click and record myself, well, it's okay, but it's not nearly as consistent as I'd like it to be. Is it me? Is this a talent thing that I just happen to be missing?

 

Extra credit questions: How do you keep from rushing fills? And can someone explain the concept of playing before and after the beat? I have enough trouble trying to play ON the beat. Playing a little early or late seems impossible at anything but the slowest tempos. How do I develop these skills?

 

Boy, it's a good thing I can rely on YOU guys/gals to keep the time!!

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Well, It's my opinion that some people are blessed with great timing and don't have to work at it at all.

I'm not talking about just musicians either.

Unfortunatly, I'm not one of em.

There is hope for us less fortunate ones.

Practicing to a click or reference beat will improve things to a point where timing isn't a problem.

Try to remember timing is first.

It's easy to forget that when your thinking about how to play what your thinking about playing ;-)

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Thanks to everyone for you advice and for passing on the time philosophy of some top notch players. This has made me look at time from a whole new perspective. I especially liked Steve Gadd's advice: "Just wait for the beat." So simple, and yet so profound.

 

I've been working hard lately on internalizing the beat and concentrating on the subdivisions as I read or improvise. I'm still working at slower tempos, but judging from the last few practices that I recorded, it's made a big difference. Sincerest thanks from the bass player's side of the stage! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

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Felix touched upon it - subdivisions. Instead of counting/thinking 1234, think 1and2and3and4and . Or if it is a slow song- think 1e&uh 2e&uh etc.

 

Filling in the holes like this keeps things more constant, and more even.

 

Good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I'm a keyboard/guitar/vocalist and find this conversation very interesting. I would like to ask you drummers what techniques you employ to change the feel of your playing. In order to create a laid back feel, which drum(s) do you lay back on? Do you put the kick right on and then lay the hi hat behind it? Do you put the snare right on the 2 but then lay back on the 4? How about with swing feel? It would be very interesting to know how you interact the different parts to achieve the various feels. Thanks.
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You are like getting into the "zen" of drumming. Advanced time feel. I think it is an individual thing...but I'm sure there are more qualified people to answer on this list than myself. For playing big places and some styles I have been told to just stay a little behind the "beat"...I sort of keep the pulse in my head/heart and "squeeze" my backbeat/downbeat/chop, whatever, out in a fluid wave a fraction after the "fact"...It's easier to do with a click, try it...live you have to groove with the band and you might want to warn them that you are going to stay laid back or else every one will be fighting the time which really sux. That's a toughy question. I took part in a groove seminar at school and the instuctor said his band would loop different sections over and over to get the feel "right" and experiment with different places in the pocket. Different styles of music call for different time feels, but I guess you know that. I normally stay on the beat for the most part or lay back. Most cats have their "own" time feel anyways...that is what makes all drummers unique. I don't really sweat it...it is just something I do...like breath, ya know?
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Hi all

 

Being an engineer and a drummer i can tell you about recording with a click.

I prefer to record without a click. IMO you don't get a groove (most of the time) with a click.

 

Just listen to bands like AC/DC (with Bon Scott) and listen carefully to the drums and bass.

 

I think everyone should practice with a click, not only the drummer, the whole band. Playing with a click is something like riding a bicycle or swimming. Difficult in the beginning but it will soon be an automatism.

 

So the most important thing is practice, practice and practice with clicks until you can play steady without this f**cking clicks.

 

Peace.

The alchemy of the masters moving molecules of air, we capture by moving particles of iron, so that the poetry of the ancients will echo into the future.
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I guess I've practiced with the metronome long enough that I feel the subdivisions in my body as I play. It's almost like my heart beat changes to match the tempo of the groove I'm playing.

 

I've had to learn to trust myself and my time keeping. It's when I second guess myself that I speed up or slow down ... trying to compensate ... WHEN I DON'T NEED TO.

 

Record yourself, practice with a click (sequences or loops) as well as recorded music that you know has a steady tempo and solid groove.

 

I'm always working on my time keeping and feel that I will never reach a point where I am 100% content with my playing. The day that happens is the day I die musicially!

 

 

 

------------------

Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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I starting playing piano to a click. Used the metronome for a while then got away from it. Started playing guitar and drums. Love playing drums. I found myself rushing with fills and jumping ahead of the beat. Started back with the metronome and within a couple of practices everything started to sound a whole lot better. I practice with the click all the time now. I try to use subdivisions for triplets, sixteenths etc.. I find triplets difficult for me to bring in and out of a song still. How do you count out 1/32's?

 

Brad

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the zen of drumming is a very personal and intense thing.

ultimately if you really listem to your playing, you will be able to identify your personality. if you are an edgy kinda hyper person, you may have a tendency to play ahead or "on top" of the beat. i.e....stewart copeland.

if you are a laid back and reserved type of person you may have a tendancy to play behind the beat i.e......john bonham.

the mastery of drumming will ultimatley come down to mastering yourself.

pesonaly. i am a very emotional person therefore i tend to feel music on an intense emotional level. which makes my playing intuitive and emotional.

JLB

ATOMIX! :evil:

http://www.abc.net.au/common/logos/whtblkgrn.gif

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Always remember volume shouldnt effect tempo.Alot of drummers get out of control when the chorus or a guitar lead kicks in.Play with feel rather than playing systematically.Practice your rudiments at different tempos'and volume with a metronome, progressively get faster and at different volumes.Difficulty level of a song intimidates some drummers and it causes them to think too much.Just learn to "feel" the groove and run with it through the dynamic changes of the song!

ian*

ian*
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Since I didn't recognize any gals in here, I'll chime in.

 

I use my biological clock to keep time http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif (Just kidding).

 

I actually have to admit that I'm am not the most disciplined drummer in the world (and I'm certain I'm not the only one). I hated trying to learn rudiments, so I spent my time on groove and time. Somehow, according to everyone that hears me play, that payed off. I don't know how many times I have heard, "Wow, your timing is dead on!" I say thanks and then secretly wish I was hearing, "Wow, your chops are so there!" Oh well - my fault!

 

 

 

I think it's only human to speed up or slow down when you play, no matter how good your timing is and in my opinion, that's a great thing. That's what gives music it's feeling. If I stay focused, I screw up, if I let my mind wander, I'm usually fine.

 

I don't know how I would fare if I had to play to a click track - but I do have a tendency to lock onto our bass player. I generally wait until he's come up with his line for the song and then build from there, intertwining myself into his playing (which tends to be rather percussive in and of itself).

 

Anyway, that's my dime (or quarter apparently, sorry I got so winded!)

 

------------------

Jen H.

Wondercrush

http://www.mp3.com/wondercrush

info@wondercrush.com

Jen H.
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