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Maintaning tempo through dynamic changes?


ian1642605905

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How do you guys control a runnaway band?You know when the guitar lead kicks in and the volume goes to FF and the band starts getting all excited and run away with the tempo.I have always preached "louder doesn't mean faster".What do you do to hold'em back?

I do realize that some songs are written with tempo changes but that isn't what I'm talking here.

ian*

ian*
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If you figure out that remedy, package and sell it ... you'll make millions!

 

I've always believed that the loudest instrument wins the battle. This is unfortunate in a band situation, but is very useful in African drumming ensembles, etc. The lead drummer usually has the highest pitched drum which cuts through the most. They aren't necessarily playing the loudest, but their sound is dominant and therefore can lead the group where they wish.

 

You know this already I'm sure ... but a drummer can NOT compete with guitar amps; so trying to play louder (as you said) probably won't help.

 

Here's what I have found to help the best in live (and studio) situations. Whether you are playing to a click or not, it doesn't matter; the drummer is leading the band ... period. So, with that said, you have got to do all you can throughout the entire tune to hold back and stay in the pocket. If you hold back and don't allow your fills to rush, plus hold back when you feel the energy start to grow ... you'll have a better chance at keeping the band locked in reasonably close to the correct tempo ... whatever it is supposed to be.

 

If you go with them and allow the tempo to increase with the energy, it's hard to reel them back in. The old saying is true: Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.

 

So I would just try to hold back. If you want the tempo to increase a little with the energy be sure that you are on the back side of the beat so that you can hold them back. I'm sure it feels like trying to hold back a team of wild horses. They'll swear you are dragging.

 

My interpretation of rock/pop music is that the drums are typically laying back as compared to the other instruments. Most latin and jazz styles the drums are driving the groove more on top. These are just general approaches and not necessarily an absolute. I'm trying to get into the topic of playing on top of the beat, on the beat or behind the beat. Let's just leave it with these thoughts: stay relaxed, keep the energy where it needs to be for the song, give each beat it's full value, and keep breathing.

 

If the band is really following you, they will feel you holding back from rushing into the solo chorus. We can use dynamics and different sound sources to create more energy ... we don't have to rush.

 

Oh, one more thought. Make sure the ENTIRE band takes their bathroom breaks when they are allotted for. Needing to pee when there is still 20 minutes left in your set can REALLY make you rush. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/eek.gif

 

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Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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Ian* wrote: "How do you guys control a runnaway band?"

 

Head them for a cliff!

 

This is an age old problem. You will have to let them know (and especially the bass player) that this is a problem and you are going to curtail the problem. Rehearse with a metronome ... so that they do not accuse you of ego related belligerence! Think of the metronome as the "speed cop"! The metronome is the enforcer, you are the slave to the tempo master!

 

And as Bart says, Pee before each rehearsal or set, and I say, stay away from Mountain Dew or other heavy caffeine offenders before you play!

 

DJ

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You might think this is crazy but I studied with a New Orleans style player for a few months who taught me Legba grooves. He said that on those types of gigs there was lots of food around and the band would always pig out before the gigs. He said no one rushed the first set cause they were all digesting LOL....

 

I also played with a guitar player who always stuffed himself with barfood before the gig. He had a great feel until the coke and booze took effect.

 

But yah, the metronome thing is a great idea if your band is open to it.

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I think with the way I play I would probably blow chunks if I stuffed myself before a gig!Ha

To me using a metronome in playing forces the band to "think" too much thus loosing the feel of the song.What about using a click track while recording practise sessions to review the song and locate tempo problem areas?

There are so many songs that I play that have timing and tempo changes written into them that it would be pointless to use a metronome or click track.

I like Barts solution of forcing your leadership as a drummer,and being as solid as humanly possible!I think we can not only teach the band to follow us in tempo but also in volume levels!In a big band situation the director leads you not only in tempo but influences the amount of dynamic change with his motion and demeanor.Maybe the drummer should perform a similar role!?

ian*

ian*
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I agree with Ian.

 

In fact, if and when I use an metronome or click when I play, I prefer that I'm the ONLY one that hears it. The end result is for the entire band to play together. Somebody has to lead or guide the group, so it might as well be the drummer (that's an old thread we could dig up). If the band follows the drummer, and I'm following the click, we will always be together. If I get off from the click on purpose or accidently (heaven forbid), the band doesn't need to worry about anything other than listen to ME.

 

Some groups get so hung up about the click; worrying about the music feeling right, molto ritards, accelerandos, etc. If they just listen to the drummer they will have NOTHING to worry about. Then and ONLY then can they point a finger at me if the tempo or feel isn't right. If they aren't following my direction, it's not my fault.

 

I learned from Paul Leim, a great Nashville studio drummer, about working with a click. Often times he will set the click so that it is right on for the chorus. He lays back a bit on the verses so that there is some room to push forward on the chorus ... still with the click. It's really a great method and works when you need to be able to "goose" certain sections.

 

Speaking of the click, I always try to just think of it as another musician; I play with it ... not AT it. Try setting the click to half note values of the tempo you are playing ... and hear the clicks as the back-beats on two and four. This is especially a great way to practice your swing grooves. It also allows you to move the groove around so that it feels nice against a pocket back-beat.

 

I can remember back in graduate school, the director pumped the metronome clicks through the PA so the entire jazz band could hear ... clicking away the back-beat. It really helped everyone get the correct feel happening, and also brought about an awareness of the need for them to be listening to the drummer's hi-hat.

 

Besides two and four, playing so that the click is on the up-beats or "and's" is a great practice tool for almost any style. Try it sometime!

 

Oh, one more thought. Most drummers rush their fills when going into the chorus section or "dynamic changes". If you realize that, and subdivide in your head while playing the fills ... you'll be amazed at the difference. Many musicians are used to the drummer rushing, so they automatically rush too! I can instantly tell when I band that I may be subbing for has a drummer who rushes fills ... because they automatically speed up ahead of me! LOL I've got a pro keyboard/arranger friend of mine who plays with a lot of amateur drummers at the church he works at. When I work with him I can "feel" all those bad influences coming out in his playing. It's funny how bad (or maybe I should say weak) players can effect you ... just like good players can make you play much better.

 

I always like to play in bands where I'm the "weakest link" (which unfortunately happens a lot ... LOL). Playing with musicians that are better than me, or may be on a higher level of playing skill, always pushes me to play better. Over time, I become a stronger player because of their positive musical influences. So always hang with people who are doing what you want to be doing or play the way you want to play and sound.

 

 

 

 

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Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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The idea of using click tracks seems to differ among a lot of musicians. Some people say using one takes the feel out of a song, but in my experiences the majority of players that think this tend not feel comfortable working with it because they have JUST never done it before. I knew a bass player who had a band that was heavily sequenced, he used to say he did'nt like drummers who played too at one with the click because he felt it took away from his sequences that he said felt and sounded HUMAN(did'nt understand that statement). A while later I got to see this guy play in a band with no click tracks or sequncers, to my suprise he was the weakest link in that band, his time was bad, he did'nt listen to what the other players where doing and strangely enough he did'nt sound like he did in his own band(later found out he had his bass sequenced and was pretending to play along with it most of the time).

 

What I've learned the most through using click tracks and sequencers is that every musician has their own opinion on what time is and how it should be achieved (some of their thoughts will educating and some just plain stupid).

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