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Help: Time keeping suggestions

Frankie 27 Nov 99 - 12:11 PM
sophocleese 27 Nov 99 - 12:28 PM
Jon Freeman 27 Nov 99 - 12:45 PM
sophocleese 27 Nov 99 - 12:49 PM
WyoWoman 27 Nov 99 - 01:17 PM
charcloth 27 Nov 99 - 03:39 PM
_gargoyle 27 Nov 99 - 04:10 PM
Gary T 27 Nov 99 - 05:30 PM
Frankie 28 Nov 99 - 08:17 AM
Frankie 28 Nov 99 - 08:39 AM
Liz the Squeak 28 Nov 99 - 05:28 PM
ddw 28 Nov 99 - 06:51 PM
Jon Freeman 28 Nov 99 - 07:18 PM
marcelloblues 28 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM
marcelloblues 28 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM
Frankie 30 Nov 99 - 06:25 PM
paddymac 30 Nov 99 - 06:46 PM
Jon Freeman 30 Nov 99 - 07:02 PM
sophocleese 30 Nov 99 - 07:27 PM
_gargoyle 30 Nov 99 - 11:17 PM
Jon Freeman 30 Nov 99 - 11:31 PM
Bert 01 Dec 99 - 10:15 AM
Easy Rider 01 Dec 99 - 12:27 PM
Jon Freeman 01 Dec 99 - 01:40 PM
sophocleese 01 Dec 99 - 11:38 PM
_gargoyle 01 Dec 99 - 11:47 PM
Frankie 02 Dec 99 - 12:19 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 02 Dec 99 - 12:37 AM
Jon Freeman 02 Dec 99 - 10:22 AM
marcelloblues 02 Dec 99 - 05:47 PM
alison 02 Dec 99 - 07:06 PM
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Subject: Time keeping suggestions
From: Frankie
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:11 PM

I've been performing solo acoustic gigs for some time now and I recently hooked up with a partner. I find myself more in the role of accompaniast now while he plays most of the instrumental breaks. I find I need to provide a more solid and predictable rythmic foundation than when I played alone. This is a part time thing for us both and we don't have the time to practice together as much as I'd like to. I'm considering buying some kind of electronic device to practice with like a drum machine or a fancy metronome in hopes of improving my timing. Our repertoire encompasses everything from cowboy songs to jigs and reels to jazz sambas. Any suggestions. Thanks,

Frankie


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: sophocleese
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:28 PM

Two things that improved my timing are dancing and trying to learn the bodhran. My brother is a percussionist and recommends dancing at all opportunities to help your body learn the rhythms.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:45 PM

Sophocleese, learning to play the bodhran may have helped you but I wouldn't consider it to be an aid to timing. It is a sad fact but but of the worst time keepers that I have met have been bodhran players with guitar players coming in a close second. Youl'd think that the rythem players would be the ones to get this area right....

I did find playing for dancers a great help as well as doing a littly dancing and I do think that to do either or both of those does help one learn to feel the rhythm.

I am also a beliver in the metronome (these days, I use midi - but same principle) and another suggestion is to play along with good proffesional recordings.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: sophocleese
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:49 PM

Ah but Jon you don't know how bad my timing was before I started learning the bodhran...:-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: WyoWoman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 01:17 PM

I don't think you need any "fancy" metronome, either. Just a plain brown metronome. Just concentrate with it as you play a few minutes a day and absorb it so that you end up with a metronome in your psyche. I know that sounds odd, but having had rhythm pounded into me as a child (my mother was a music teacher) I think it is quite possible to learn it, or at least to turn on the rhythm machine that's inside every human. Rhythm is part of our human heritage, we just get out of touch with it.

Actually, have you studied any music theory? It helps to know how the music is structured, and if you're very left-brained, the mathematics of it are beautiful.

Good luck, and a one, and a two,

WyoWoman


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: charcloth
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 03:39 PM

a Quartz metronome is a must. I use a cheap qwik time I got from American music Supply or Musician's Friend, the cost was about $15.00 or so. You don't need anything fancy. But you have to use it constantly, especialy when learning a new piece


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: _gargoyle
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 04:10 PM

Another vote for Metronome -

Set the speed low enough to be faultless and gradually, increase.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Gary T
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 05:30 PM

It may be that your rhythym is quite fine solo, but not necessarily easy to for someone else to follow, due to phrasing, mixing around upstrokes and downstrokes, etc. (this seems to be my situation, anyway). It might be helpful to stick to a very regular, almost drum-like meter on your instrument (guitar, I presume?) during your partner's breaks. It also helps if you both know the songs, by which I mean every note and every pause, with certainty in your heads. Sometimes minor variations in phrasing that folks may not know exist can bump against each other when collaborating. Keeps life from being boring.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Frankie
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 08:17 AM


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Frankie
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 08:39 AM

Oops! I hate when that happens. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll get me a metronome but I'm still interested in some kind of drum machine that will generate a wide variety of rhythyms to practice with. Anyone make any suggestions along those lines?

I have played the bodrhan in the past and will take it up again. I definitely pounds that jig time into you.

Gary, you make some good points, particularly about upstrokes and downstrokes. I play guitar fingerstyle, gave up picks of any nature long ago, and most of my difficulty seems to be strumming with the right hand and playing bass notes while plucking chords with my fingers in a rhythmic fashion. I guess it's just new territory and things are getting better with practice.

Thanks again all, Frankie


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 05:28 PM

Frankie, a good tip is to sit side on to the singer so you can see when they are going to breathe at the end of phrases. I sing in church, and although our pianist is "merde chaud" the piano was so positioned that he couldn't see my (beautiful!) face or through the back of my head. Consequently, I was breathing as he was playing the next bar I should be singing or vice versa. (God, don't you just hate people who play an instrument you don't need to breathe down - they always play too sodding fast!) He turned the piano slightly towards the front, and we are getting on a lot better. Then the guitarist steps up, forces me back against the wall and proceeds to elbow me in the left breast...... I have to watch for his chord changes, which means I block the pianists view..... yada yada yada.

And have you noticed that the first person to grab a tamborine, or the loudest percussion instrument, is ALWAYS, without fail, the one with no sense of rythmn WHATSOEVER!!!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: ddw
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 06:51 PM

I recently started playing with a blues harp player, and I'm having some of the same problems. Maybe I should try using the metronome I've got and tend to ignore.

Re the drum machines: I don't know if they still carry them, but Radio Shack used to have a fairly sophisticated drum machine — lots of rhythm patters — that wasn't very expensive. I don't remember exactly, but I think they ran about $59 or $69 bucks. Maybe if y ou can call Lonesome EJ out of the woods he could tell y ou more about what's available there.

Just a thought: I try to think of body rhythms — walking, skipping, running, etc. — and I find almost all songs will fall into one of them. Of course when you get into jazz and sambas and things like that, it might get a little more difficult.

cheers

david


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:18 PM

WyoWoman,

What is this left-brained bit. I know that I am a left hander that plays right handed and even though I am not particularly good with maths, the ideas of the maths related to music does interest me.

Could you point me to any web sites that explain some of the maths.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: marcelloblues
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: marcelloblues
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM

This is an exercise for singers, but not only: take a clock and follow the seconds. Inspire for 4 seconds and expire for the same time. Then do the same thing for 8, 16, and increase the duration till you get about a minute. If you get a good control of this it will be easy to keep a good timing cheers


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Frankie
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 06:25 PM

Squeak you said people who play an instrument that you don't need to breath through play too fast. That makes sense. I suppose your tempo when playing through a horn or woodwind is going to be more attuned to your breathing. One of the most frequent complaints I get when playing guitar with others is that, like a lot of folk-based players I start out slow and finish at breakneck speed on a lot of tunes. This is mostly by design but doesn't always work that well when not playing solo. I'm going to give Marcello's exercise a try.

Thanks ddw I'll go by Radio Shack and check it out.

And Squeak, you might try to borrow a Valkyrie's breast- plate from some local opera company when you sing in church. Just a thought.

Thanks all, Frankie


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: paddymac
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 06:46 PM

Timing - the curse of every beginning player, and many accomplished players also. I've found two tricks that work for me: "dancing" in my head; and listening, to and for, the other players in the group.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 07:02 PM

paddymac, I was to sacred to mention "dancing in my head" (I'm considered mad enough as it is) but a lot of the time, that is exactly what I am trying to do.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: sophocleese
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 07:27 PM

Lots of room for fancy footwork? :-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: _gargoyle
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:17 PM

I confess....I (truly) am plagued with rotten rhythm...it is either too "interpretive" or too "mechanical." Even when clapping with a throng I want to move towards the un-accented beat.....

Could dancing, (what kind? Ballroom...Square...Folk) ((good Lord knows the first two seemed to leave little impact dispite three years of each)) Help?

Dancing in the Head....what does it mean?


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:31 PM

GG, I guess that padymac's and my ideas of "dancing in the head" may (or may not) be different.

When I am playing the folk dance music, I often have a "mental picture" of dancers that I am playing for and timing wise, I am concentrating on keeping the rythym right for them... Sounds (and probably is) crazy but it seems to work for me and timing is one area in music that I rarely have any problems with - it is accuracy of notes and the inability (some of the time) to move my hands quickly enough to get some of the triplets (I just don't go for them - it depends on my "form" in the session - I keep time but only play the notes that I feel capable of getting in) that I would like to be playing that lets me down.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Bert
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 10:15 AM

A lot of real cheap keyboards have an automatic rhythm feature built in. Take a look around your local thrift stores, you can often get them for a few dollars.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Easy Rider
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 12:27 PM

Ya gotta remember: "Not all God's children got rhythm."

That's why we have condoms and diaphrams... oops, thread creep!

But, seriously, That's the big difference between playing solo and playing with others. What you need is a bass player. When playing in a group always follow the bass player. I play fingerstyle with a strong alternating bass, so my Right thumb is my bass player, and I move my whole body with the bass rhythm, not just tap my foot. I hate foot tapping.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 01:40 PM

ER, I am not convinced that in group playing, it has to be the bass or any other player but I will agree that in that sort of work, that there needs to be one player that everybody listends to and in my limited experience, a GOOD rythym guitar player or a GOOD bodhran player can fullfill that role quite effectively in a session.

I am side tracking slightly but as I mentioned before, it is often the supposed rythym players that screw it up for the the rest. By the nature of their instruments, they have more influence on that area than the rest but have frequently taken to these instruments as an easy introdution to joining and IMO have not given any thought to the misic that they are playing.

I mentioned dancing in my head in a previous thread and it is true that I do that but if, in a session, I have got one rythym player who I know is absolutely solid on timing, I will be listening to and following that player.

Also - there are some players that I just gell with from the start or after a couple of tunes- that is the greatest of all when it happens but I find that very rare.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: sophocleese
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 11:38 PM

I once saw a performance by a harpist who had collected a band of great musicians to play with her. Trouble was at least three of them were used to leading the beat in their other bands. After tussles over a few songs they finally managed to settle into a groove where they all took turns setting the tempo. After that the concert was great. But it was funny to watch and hear at the beginning.


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: _gargoyle
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 11:47 PM

THANX...it makes perfectly good sense....

While I seek to follow the lead of the vocalist....you anticipate and seek to follow the lead of the dancers.

Brillant!


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Frankie
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 12:19 AM

Good idea Bert, I'll hit the local Goodwills this weekend.

Jon and Paddymac, When things are going good during a session and everyone's in synch I sometimes feel like there is a little man in my chest dancing to the music with wild abandon. I've never actively encouraged this image but will from now on. Thanks and thanks all, Frankie


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 12:37 AM

I have played a lot of dance music, with and without drummers, and have learned, the hard way, that you keep the beat in your head, not with your foot, not on the bass strings of the guitar, not in the up and down strum patterns--

The reason is simple enough--if you keep the beat on the instrument and you miss or muff a stroke, it throws the rhythm off--if the beat is in your head, you can miss as many notes as you want, and still be right on when you hit your next note--

Thelonius Monk had a great excercise--hum the tune that is playing on the radio, leave the room and keep humming--you should be right on the beat and with the melody when you go back into the room!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 10:22 AM

GG, At the risk of sounding even dafter, in a sense, I am actually seeking to "drive" the "dancers" i.e. put the lift into their steps - more that just keeping time - accenting the rythym as well to put the spring in thier steps...

Frankie, all sort of weird things can happen when I am playing music and I think that many of us find that. I haven't got time to search right now but have a look in the forum for Floating. You will see a how a couple of us have tried to describe some of the feeling.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: marcelloblues
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 05:47 PM

Monk was incredible, he had his own concept of time keeping. One afternoon in a theater in Milan, during reharsal, he stood up while bass and drum kept playin', and started a singular kind of bear dance. When asked about this, he said he was testing the swing.

Time must be inside of your whole body, tap your foot, if you need that, or dance in your head, or study with an electronic metronome, do anything you need to keep concentration and that magic mood of everything's gonna be alright. Personally I seat and tap both feets and dance on the chair, not in my head... hope anybody will dance ON my head. Cheers with a steady beat


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Subject: RE: Help: Time keeping suggestions
From: alison
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 07:06 PM

I agree with the metronome idea, I do the dancing in my head thing too..

Bert's suggestion of a cheap electric piano is good too.... my keyboards have rhythms built in, which I don't use much when I perform... but they are great for practicing, or getting an idea of how something would sound with a different rhythmic style....... a second hand keyboard is probably a lot cheaper than a drum machine.....

slainte

alison


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