feeling 4 and 8 bar phrases

ikol

Junior Member
Hello,
I've been playing drums for about 3 and 1/2 years, focusing on jazz. I'm looking for advice as to how to quicken my slow brain as it learns to feel four and eight bar chunks of music. When trading 4's or 8's, especially when I first began trying, I've found that unless I do pretty basic patterns, I am at risk of loosing my place in the form!
The following have greatly helped:
-practicing with a metronome with one click representing one measure, with an accent every four clicks, meaning the metronome is pretty slow (anywhere from 35-80 bpm).
-counting beats/measures out loud while I practice various cross rhythms
-relentlessly playing to Steve Houghton's drumset soloist, which contains short choruses followed by extended trading sections
-learning solos by other greats like Max, Elvin, etc
-listening and listening...
-singing/thinking the melody when playing*

these have all helped, and I record myself so I am sure. obviously the goal is to feel the form instead of deliberately counting, but I'm not there yet when I apply more advanced vocabulary.
Any tips from more experienced drummers? I realize that the greats were immersed in jazz since they were infants, which is vastly different from my experience. I'm in my 30's and didn't listen to any jazz until my 20's. so any tips to help would be most welcome.
thank you!
Ikol

*while this method seems like the obvious solution to my problem and it is probably the most cited method by drummers like Elvin, I have found it extremely difficult to apply if I am doing extended cross rhythms. my brain just ain't there yet...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think it takes more time. Especially more time listening to other musicians. For some reason I started feeling 4- and 8-bar phrases early on in my playing career, but then I look back at how much longer I had been listening to jazz and other forms before I started playing. Take some time and immerse yourself for a bit longer, it'll happen.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I think a vastly underrated part of being a good drummer is understanding music and the way songs feel. Sure you could count all the way through a song, but it's pretty hard to feel what the music needs in order to live, breathe and speak.

Bo is spot on. Listen to as much music as possible. Learn why certain songs just seem to fall into place as they do. It's also important to note that those people who always seem to be thinking out of the box .... have to first realize where the box is. </zen>
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
It's also important to note that those people who always seem to be thinking out of the box .... have to first realize where the box is. </zen>
That is deep man. To help paraphrase that to our younger generation: you must know what the parameters are before you can even think about altering them. Well said, alparrott!
 

denisri

Silver Member
Start with simple fills..quarters..eights,triples,16's...work the subdivisions very simple,keep HI-HAT on 2 and 4. Count out loud..lounder than your drumming...Denis
 

trommel

Junior Member
1) Learn and play music. Become a musician with knowledge of a multitude of instruments and genres.

2) Be a musician that plays drums/percussion instruments, not a drummer that plays music.

Playing orchestral, jazz, and wind ensemble music taught me more about phrasing and feeling/knowing what 4, 8, 12, or 16 bar phrases are. Experience will help you develop this feel.
 

dcrigger

Senior Member
Hello,

-singing/thinking the melody when playing*


*while this method seems like the obvious solution to my problem and it is probably the most cited method by drummers like Elvin, I have found it extremely difficult to apply if I am doing extended cross rhythms. my brain just ain't there yet...
I really don't know that this is really a total solution at all - one part certainly, but...

taking cues from listening to solos of not just drummers, but other players as well - there is plenty of times (maybe even most of the time) when the solo has little or nothing to with the melody, but is rather entirely new content created over the changes.

So while the melody can sometimes help us with target notes and such - in order to be able to sing/count the changes - slavishly trying to sing the melody to oneself, while soloing over it doesn't make much sense to me - certainly not all the time.

I find myself singing melody fragments, bass or root notes/drones as a way of keep in the form. But knowing where I am in 4 and 8 bar phrases, at least for me, just grew out of playing, while counting (at least to some degree), and practicing a lot of measured solos, playing with hundreds of records, hundreds of times.

And basically as someone suggested - just doing it all a lot - until it becomes somewhat second nature. And after 3 & 1/2 years, I wouldn't overly sweat that everything isn't second nature yet - just keep expanded your palette and with it your comfort zone... it'll get there.

David
 

techristian

Senior Member
I have always mentioned that the sign of a new drummer is one that wants to put rolls in every 8 bars, but 4 bars ??

Your drumming will get boring if you try to put that many breaks in, but if you must.....then you will need to COUNT.

Dan
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Be aware of it, and listen to and play a lot of music. It's more difficult to do it only in the abstract, so learn tunes. I Got Rhythm will help you hear the length of eight bars, and any blues will help you with four- maybe Bags' Groove.

Make sure you can solo over shorter periods- first get control over trading ones and twos. On the twos, you might try counting the measures using A and B instead of 1 and 2. You can also count that with a conversational intonation, with A? as a question and B! as a response, instead of just saying the letters in a monotone. Then for a four measure phrase, you can extend your A and B to two measures each, or try counting the measures A A B A- the conversational thing will help there as well, maybe A (statement) A (more emphatic) B (question) A (response). Finally you can extend the AABA to two measures each, which will give you eight measures. After you do that and learn a few tunes really well, it should become pretty instinctive.
 

ikol

Junior Member
Thanks for the suggestions. Maybe should have mentioned that I am a professional string player and have been immersed in classical music before I could read. My drumming is better than I might have implied. I have no desire to add fills every 4 or 8 bars for the heck of it- really focusing on being able to trade in a jazz context without sounding too boring or predictable! and it's really as I try to veer off into complex rhythms that cross the bar line that is my biggest challenge. As most of the comments say, experience and time will help.

On a related note, I'm still amazed at the ability of the greats to count through pretty abstract soloing. I listen over and over to solos of Elvin Jones, Bill Stewart, etc, and sometimes it's quite clear where the measures are. But sometimes, I am totally thrown, but it's obviously clear to the other musicians as they come in with perfect synchronicity at the end.
Jon Riley's book Beyond Bop has a transcription of an Elvin solo on Monk's Dream. that's pretty amazing- not particularly any single phrase, but the way each phrase lies within the form. Without the transcription I would never have thought it stays in the form. Pretty sophisticated displacements. And that's just from the 1960's...
Great forum, thanks again!
 
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