More time discussion

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My bandleader and I sometimes butt heads over the time, especially when it comes to the looper. He once said to me..."but you're a drummer and time is your number one job".

I had never really thought about it in those terms before. You would think I would have by now.

So after hearing that I started to analyze my thought process when it came to playing drums. I realized that most of my brainpower was tied up in getting the right tone out of each piece...at the proper dynamic. Tempo and meter actually came after that, until I became aware of where my resources were going. I really don't have much trouble with time...when I can hit the drums at a comfortable volume. As it turns out, about 85% of my gigs require low low stick heights. This is when my timing problems show up, when I have to hold back. The softer I play, the harder it is to have great time, at least in my head. I really cherish the gigs I play where I don't have to stifle myself.

My bandleader is seldom wrong when it comes to music, so I've tried to move timekeeping up the list. Time is my biggest concern now. Not that I get it right all the time, but I'm much more committed to it. I've simplified some stuff to that end, because it just is more conducive to great feeling time. I'm a big believer in not too much drums, I like to disappear into the song as best I can. One thing I realized is that any time slip first starts with a mental drift, like my brain released the hammerlock for a second to enjoy a sight, like someone enjoying themselves. It's a mental focus thing. Drums are hard.

I'm thinking if I'm like this, chances are that other drummers do this too, not putting time at the #1 spot. IDK.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It really is. Drummers have to be so precise. Be honest, when you are playing, is time the very first thing on your mind? With me it wasn't, I went more with feeling, not necessarily even time...and that is a shortcoming.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Huh? I swear it seems like you're always talking about the most important thing from the drummer being time. What do you mean you've never thought of it that way before?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Huh? I swear it seems like you're always talking about the most important thing from the drummer being time. What do you mean you've never thought of it that way before?
Only because for most of my playing years, I did not. Only within the last 5 years has it really kicked into gear.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Only because for most of my playing years, I did not. Only within the last 5 years has it really kicked into gear.
Oh okay. I guess I read this thinking this was something that just happened the other day. I would have been surprised to hear that, because it doesn't seem like a new thing for you.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
No this has been percolating for quite some time. Especially since the looper was introduced into my space. It's like this cruel test that I usually fail lol. I can't hear the darn thing. But apparently I shouldn't have to lol.
 

calan

Silver Member
I've gathered from reading many of your posts that you feel that time can (should) be elastic, that there should be a push and pull as tension builds and releases.

How do you reconcile that with time being paramount? In my perception, if the time is the most important, then the tempo can't waver. If the tempo can't waver, then you should play to a click or he should play to a canned track. If he or you are not up to those things, then you just sort of have to accept some elasticity.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've gathered from reading many of your posts that you feel that time can (should) be elastic, that there should be a push and pull as tension builds and releases.

How do you reconcile that with time being paramount? In my perception, if the time is the most important, then the tempo can't waver. If the tempo can't waver, then you should play to a click or he should play to a canned track. If he or you are not up to those things, then you just sort of have to accept some elasticity.
You bring up a great point. It's a bit paradoxical, and I don't have a good answer. I was hoping someone would bring this up. I just know from the looper that certain passages....and they are always passages...have more emotion to them when they are not held to a strict grid. It's kind of like special relativity. If you're the one traveling, you don't notice the time shift, like a stationary observer (the looper) would. That's the best way I can describe it. I don't have a good answer. I've seen the dance floor clear out when the looper came on and I had to adjust to it. Everything felt fine prior.
 

calan

Silver Member
No this has been percolating for quite some time. Especially since the looper was introduced into my space. It's like this cruel test that I usually fail lol. I can't hear the darn thing. But apparently I shouldn't have to lol.
You were writing this as I was typing. In my head I'm moved to expletives, but I'm going to avoid the ire of the moderators.

Playing to a looper is playing to a metronome, but a metronome with imperfect time. It's not easy, especially if the tone is not easy to distinguish, and further compounded if the phrasing in the loop is played loose. Would you play to a click that you couldn't hear or that stuttered, skipped, or slowly sped up and down?

When somebody lays down a loop with the intention of it being used as phrase, they are tacitly stepping into the role of timekeeper, so hopefully they're good at it. If it's just being used like a shoegaze band to perpetuate some delay wash for infinity, who cares.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
My bandleader and I sometimes butt heads over the time, especially when it comes to the looper. He once said to me..."but you're a drummer and time is your number one job".

I had never really thought about it in those terms before. You would think I would have by now.

So after hearing that I started to analyze my thought process when it came to playing drums. I realized that most of my brainpower was tied up in getting the right tone out of each piece...at the proper dynamic. Tempo and meter actually came after that, until I became aware of where my resources were going. I really don't have much trouble with time...when I can hit the drums at a comfortable volume. As it turns out, about 85% of my gigs require low low stick heights. This is when my timing problems show up, when I have to hold back. The softer I play, the harder it is to have great time, at least in my head. I really cherish the gigs I play where I don't have to stifle myself.

My bandleader is seldom wrong when it comes to music, so I've tried to move timekeeping up the list. Time is my biggest concern now. Not that I get it right all the time, but I'm much more committed to it. I've simplified some stuff to that end, because it just is more conducive to great feeling time. I'm a big believer in not too much drums, I like to disappear into the song as best I can. One thing I realized is that any time slip first starts with a mental drift, like my brain released the hammerlock for a second to enjoy a sight, like someone enjoying themselves. It's a mental focus thing. Drums are hard.

I'm thinking if I'm like this, chances are that other drummers do this too, not putting time at the #1 spot. IDK.

Hey, Andy said you were a good drummer, WTF?

Get a tempo monitoring devise.


Most musicians do not have good time. Time is something you work on. Even if a guitarist plays solo with a looper, or sequencer, doesn't mean they have good/great time, most are just following.

I hear ppl all the time play'n with sequencers, and vocalists singing karaoke and right away I can hear they're 'behind' the machine, they're just following. No way in hell does that mean they have good time, it does mean that they're going to lean on you the drummer for time tho.

So sure they can say "Yeah, I have no problem playing with a drum machine, my time is good"... problem is they don't play with a drum machine in the real sense, they just follow it and sometimes not that well- Ahead here, behind there, listen close to them sometime.

Good musicians (ones with good time) do not need a drummer to follow, time is a collective thing onstage, anyone who's off affects the whole band.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You were writing this as I was typing. In my head I'm moved to expletives, but I'm going to avoid the ire of the moderators.

Playing to a looper is playing to a metronome, but a metronome with imperfect time. It's not easy, especially if the tone is not easy to distinguish, and further compounded if the phrasing in the loop is played loose. Would you play to a click that you couldn't hear or that stuttered, skipped, or slowly sped up and down?

When somebody lays down a loop with the intention of it being used as phrase, they are tacitly stepping into the role of timekeeper, so hopefully they're good at it. If it's just being used like a shoegaze band to perpetuate some delay wash for infinity, who cares.
Typically, my guy will make a loop at the beginning of a song. A rhythm guitar part that he can solo over. It's NOT a click by any means. A strummed part...where do you put the beat? At the initial attack? In the middle of the strum? I fail all the time. I usually speed up. So knowing this, I try and not speed up, and I end up slowing down which is worse. Only by a tiny bit, but enough to be off the looper. It's a mess. I agree with you 100% and it's the friggin bane of my existence! Lol.
 

calan

Silver Member
Typically, my guy will make a loop at the beginning of a song. A rhythm guitar part that he can solo over. It's NOT a click by any means. A strummed part...where do you put the beat? At the initial attack? In the middle of the strum? I fail all the time. I usually speed up. So knowing this, I try and not speed up, and I end up slowing down which is worse. Only by a tiny bit, but enough to be off the looper. It's a mess. I agree with you 100% and it's the friggin bane of my existence! Lol.
Yeah, I get it. I don't mean that it is literally a click, but it certainly is figuratively. In my opinion, if he wants to do that, you would both be better served by him actually playing a more funky rhythm track for the loop. That would give you something more interesting and obvious to play off of, and probably sound better to the audience than some boring strumming. With

Do you know what kind of looper he has? It really would seem like if he was taking looping seriously, he would have one that had a tap tempo function as well as options to adjust tone. I went to the extent of getting one for a guitar player I work with since he is set on using one. I figured I'd just help remedy the situation myself since nobody else was going to.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
It really is. Drummers have to be so precise. Be honest, when you are playing, is time the very first thing on your mind? With me it wasn't, I went more with feeling, not necessarily even time...and that is a shortcoming.

I first thought this was an April fools post.

Then I wondered if you are dying or something. :)




And, playing with a looper is fine.....as long as the loop is in tempo.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
So sure they can say "Yeah, I have no problem playing with a drum machine, my time is good"... problem is they don't play with a drum machine in the real sense, they just follow it and sometimes not that well- Ahead here, behind there, listen close to them sometime.
Yes!
Good musicians (ones with good time) do not need a drummer to follow, time is a collective thing onstage, anyone who's off affects the whole band.
Yes !!
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
My bandleader and I sometimes butt heads over the time, especially when it comes to the looper. He once said to me..."but you're a drummer and time is your number one job".
And there's the sound of a player shifting responsibility right there. The moment someone introduces an immovable absolute, they establish control, leaving only time feel as an interpretive variable tool for others to wield. He's effectively the one who "starts" the song, & just like anyone who starts a song, they are responsible for the initial tempo, only in the case of a loop, the option to adjust is taken from you.

Equally, it's his responsibility to create a loop that has a structure you can work easily with. Flip the coin - it's like you starting a song with a press roll & expecting everyone else to find the 1.

Rather than the drummer being responsible for time, it's everyone's responsibility - more than that, it's everyone's responsibility to support the "pulse", and feed into it such that it becomes the irresistible heartbeat of the song.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Larry:
This looper issue you have is totally insane. You must insist that your guitar player record the loop while listening to a click AND you must be able to hear the loop loud enough during a live performance so you can play the drums along with it without drowning it out. Anything less than these two things and it will be the guitar players fault if the tempo is off.


.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
And there's the sound of a player shifting responsibility right there. The moment someone introduces an immovable absolute, they establish control, leaving only time feel as an interpretive variable tool for others to wield. He's effectively the one who "starts" the song, & just like anyone who starts a song, they are responsible for the initial tempo, only in the case of a loop, the option to adjust is taken from you.
Just about all song's tempo adjust slightly in the beginning, while all of us establish common ground. For instance sometimes it starts a little slow and it feels better for his vocal to bump it a few bpms. I encourage him to make the loop as close to the solo as possible, because by then we've settled into the agreed upon groove speed. Of course it doesn't always go like that. When he hits the looper a minute later to play the loop, he says, "see that's how much we sped up". It's a no win situation. We had a little blow up about it 2 weeks ago and he hasn't set it up since. I hope I never see it again TBH. And it's not like I'm right and he's wrong, I'm always wrong lol. I did speed up or I did slow down. I guarantee I could play to a click in my ears, but not to a loop that I can barely hear.

Larry:
This looper issue you have is totally insane. You must insist that your guitar player record the loop while listening to a click AND you must be able to hear the loop loud enough during a live performance so you can play the drums along with it without drowning it out. Anything less than these two things and it will be the guitar players fault if the tempo is off.


.
Jim that's just never gonna happen. Are you kidding, I don't even know what song I'm playing until he starts it. Some songs like Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream"... I have about 1/2 second to recognize the tune and hit the first crash. But that's no problem. My point is there is no heads up, we are expected to follow along to whatever he does, on the spot. Which I have no problem with, but there's no help to be had lol. The fact that I can't hear the looper...it has the same tone as his lead, which is much louder. I can't pick it out unless I practically drop out volume-wise. And that doesn't sound good either. I cannot stay with it probably 75% of the time. We've already covered all of this before. I really wanted to illustrate how time was not the first thing on my mind for a very long time, in the hopes that guys with less years can take it on board and hopefully use it.
 
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calan

Silver Member
You're an absolute saint for dealing with this for so long. Your band leader may not know it, but we do.

As another possible solution. Many loopers have sd card storage. Loops could be made ahead of time to ensure good rhythm, and loop tracks get played to a click.

I still think tap tempo would solve a lot of issues.

But really what's happening here is that these issues won't get solved. You're working with somebody who's not flexible. At least you have a place to vent.
 
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New Tricks

Platinum Member
The fact that I can't hear the looper...it has the same tone as his lead, which is much louder. I can't pick it out unless I practically drop out volume-wise.
Well hell, that aint gonna work. You can adjust to a less than perfect loop, especially if is a couple/few measures long but, you cant play in sync with something you can't hear. You can guess for a while but it is going to go astray soon.
 
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