Fixing my wobbly time.

NerfLad

Silver Member
My band recorded a song live on Sunday, and in listening back I've found that even after 7 years, my ability to play without slightly speeding up or slowing down is just so-so. I can play to a click or other reference point just fine, but when it's up to me, I can't be trusted to keep great time on my own. I listened to Journey's "I'll Be Alright Without You" earlier today and I just can't believe Steve's time is so good with no click!

My question is, what, or rather how do you practice to internalize a strong sense of time and tempos? How do you get that rock-steady Steve Smith/Gadd/Jordan internal clock?

I don't mean for this to be a show off of my playing, I only played 2 or 3 fills on the whole 5 minute track, but if you'd like to hear what I'm talking about, I'll upload.

Thanks,

Nerflad.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Larryace has done a lot of work on this recently, he's a good guy to ask.

In my own experience, it mostly apes his. Slow practice (70BPM), practicing rudiments and simple playing. Learn to absolutely nail the time every single time. I was doing this just today on a pad and noticed that I was hearing issues with my timing that I hadn't heard before. Your ears develop when you get heavily into this kind of practice and it's important to have critical ears.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
your answer is right here

at first set up 2 measures with then 2 without

as your time gets better lengthen the amount of measures without and see if you land on the "1"

http://bestdrumtrainer.com/tt/
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The thing that helped my time the most...set the metronome to 40 BPM. Alternate hands, 1 hit per click. Try and bury the click. That's it.

Do that for 1 hour straight for best results, a few times a week for at least a month. I did it for like 8 months, but it started carrying over into my playing very quickly. It turned into a meditation session that taught me evenness.

The first 1/2 hour clears my head. The 2nd half hour is amazing. Worked for me.

Sounds wacky but it transformed my time feel. The space between the notes is what it drives home. If you are doing it right, after your mind clears, (unbelievable how much chatter is in there) you will reach a point of enhanced hearing, where you will start to notice the sympathetic vibrations of anything around you that makes sound. Like I knew when to strike based on the length of my tom heads vibrating. You really have to experience it for yourself.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
There are two ways that your time playing can be "bad". The first occurs when the quarter note pulse slows down or speeds up. In this case, the tempo has literally increased or decreased, because one or more downbeats have been played before or after the intended moment. The drum trainer is good medicine here.

The second problem deals not with when the downbeats occur in your playing, but where in between these downbeats the various subdivisions, if any, are played. For example, if you are playing straight 8th notes, and the up beats ("ands") are being played closer to the downbeat prior or after it, instead of precisely in between the two downbeats, then there is an issue with your subdivision accuracy (microtiming). Of course, the subdivisions can be "pushed" in one direction to create lilt or swing. Practicing the various subdivisions (i.e. the time table or rhythm scale) to a click will aid your "internal clock", but in a different way that the drum trainer.

Obviously, it's possible to have both issues going on at the same time, or for certain grooves or tempos to bring forward a particular issue.

Also remember that your band can make your experience difficult when one or more members rush or drag the time. In these moments, it's not enough to simply play good time, you have to "fight" the offending member(s) as well. (Steve Smith probably did not have to do much "time fighting" that day with Journey!) When you listen to the recording, does it sound like you're following another member during the accelerations and decelerations, or leading the charge? If you can hang with a click, and the groove feels good, then it's probably only a matter of asserting your instincts while playing with an ensemble. Be confident!

Btw, have you ever played with a click while playing with this particular group? When you do, you'll force the other members to submit to your interpretation of the time (which is now "correct" b/c of the click). Turn the click off, and the band should now be more comfortable following you, and in turn, you should be more comfortable leading them.
 

dmacc

Platinum Member
The thing that helped my time the most...set the metronome to 40 BPM. Alternate hands, 1 hit per click. Try and bury the click. That's it.

Do that for 1 hour straight for best results, a few times a week for at least a month. I did it for like 8 months, but it started carrying over into my playing very quickly. It turned into a meditation session that taught me evenness.

The first 1/2 hour clears my head. The 2nd half hour is amazing. Worked for me.

Sounds wacky but it transformed my time feel. The space between the notes is what it drives home. If you are doing it right, after your mind clears, (unbelievable how much chatter is in there) you will reach a point of enhanced hearing, where you will start to notice the sympathetic vibrations of anything around you that makes sound. Like I knew when to strike based on the length of my tom heads vibrating. You really have to experience it for yourself.
Nothing wacky about it. It's really an important thing to be able to do. Additionally anyone who's dived into the Jim Blackley material knows about his feelings on playing everything at 40 bpm.
 
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boltzmann's brain

Senior Member
some excellent ideas here. i use most of them, and i also record myself playing a song in my head, and go back and verify timing against the metronome. it's funny- you can listen to a recording that sounds totally locked in, and the metronome will reveal the truth, no matter how accomplished the drummer. the most important thing is to develop awareness of groove- when listening, and when playing. allow yourself some inconsistency, so long as the groove is not compromised, and there are no discernible timing errors. record yourself, and listen. with, and without a metronome.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Indeed - this tool will help you! I have the Dr. Beat DB88 which does this as well. Most times I'm practicing with it so the click is stated on the "1" of every 2nd or 4th measure.
I use an iPhone app that does this.

I found an interesting "problem" with my own playing. I didn't have much trouble maintaining the tempo playing while the click went on and off. The hard part for me was not playing at all, neither when the click is going nor when it stops, but hearing inside my head where the click is.

I can play along with and without the click, but somewhere when the last click happens, my internal counter would get displaced and I'd always come in late. All I had to do to fix this is play with the sticks one quarter note past when the metronome stopped and I could come back in right on one. But for some reason, I had a tendency to "hear" something wrong between the very last click of the metronome and the internal click I hear inside my head. So, I'd be keeping steady time without the click, but I'd be off an 8th or a 16th the whole time. That damn last click, for some reason.

Strange problem, but one that needed attention, and this thing has helped a lot with it.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
I use a metronome during band rehearsal and that really helped point out where I speed up or slow down. It has absolutely helped my internal clock develop.
 

EvilDrummer

Senior Member
I have bad timing, however it has improved a lot in the past two weeks. I'm practicing playing beats to a click at 70 BPM 2 measures on and 2 off.

I also do the following exercise:

16th notes on the hi hat with the kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4. Play 3 measures with the click on 1, on the fourth measure chop off the beat one 16th note so you hit the kick on the "a" and start the beat from there so the click will land on the "e" (as in 1e&a). Play that for 3 measures then do the same thing on the fourth measure so the click lands on the "&" after that on the "a" and again on 1. Also you accent the hi hat eight notes and ghost the notes in between so it's harder to hear it "wrong". You are supposed to hear the beat on 1 the whole time and hear the metronome shifting and not the other way around.

Great exercise for hearing subdivisions correctly.

I've heard suggestions of playing a beat at say 120 BPM but have the click very slow maybe 15 BPM so it doesn't support you only tells you if you are correct or not. I haven't tried it yet though.
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
Good points, guys. Also, I think it's important to pay attention to breathing. Separating your breathing process from your drumming process [not holding your breath through passages, breathing irregularly or through your mouth, etc] will help your internal clock. Keeping independence in breathing, I guess is a way to put it.

When I'm training my limbs to play to a metronome, I train my mind to remember the tempo. This takes time, however.

When you say your tempos are changing, do you mean they change throughout the beat or between the fills?
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
My way was to spend 5 years playing in a band that did old disco classics. As it's dance music tempo and consistency are everything and I can still just lock into a tempo now.

It's possible to play backbeats slightly ahead or behind of the beat too, to give an illusion of speeding up or slowing down.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
I practice with a metronome or click pretty much always in order to train my perception of rhythm/time to be accurate. It's good to count quarters out loud when you play to prove that you truly understand the pulse while you're playing syncopations on top of it.

Another tip is to trust your muscle memory/hand motions. The lead hand is usually playing an ostinato and by "setting and forgetting" it and having the independence (coordination) dialed such that the other limbs don't adversely affect the flow, good time is the general result.

I also like to practice solo over a groove idea with a click so that whatever weird rhythmic idea /lick pops into my mind, I learn how the rhythm properly sits in time/in the pocket. Although this clip isn't clicked in and there's a bit of breathing in the time, here's the general idea: http://www.youtube.com/qbachman
 
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