People Who Count Off The Song At A Different Tempo To The Song's Actual Tempo

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I've just found this old thread, and I can relate to this issue, not just counting in wrong, but when other people start the song at the wrong speed.

In one recent band, around half of the songs were started by other players in the band. Songs like 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' 'Johnny B. Goode' 'La Bamba' or 'Unchained Melody' started with guitar, then we all joined in later. Almost every time we played one the guitarist would quietly say to me 'That was a bit quick - can you keep it back a bit next time'. Once or twice I pointed out that he had started the song, so if he wanted it slower, he should just start it slower, but he just didn't get it. It was firm in his mind that the tempo was entirely the drummer's responsibility/fault. He was quite old and a respected player around town, so I didn't want to make a scene. After a hundred gigs or so I really began to doubt my internal clock. Eventually I left the band, and immediately felt relieved! I'm in another band now, and it's great. Everyone keeps time, we sound great together, and no-one complains.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
Too late! You're now a resident pro here, with two hit singles, and who's now primary responsibility is to make sure the rest of us here are doing it all right now.
Actually, I do that - but for writers, via a little website you can access HERE.

Come and visit, rhumbagirl, any time.

Is it okay to put that link in this forum? Hope so. If not, a thousand apologies.
 

vxla

Silver Member
Every once in a while I play with a group where the leader can't play the heads at faster tempos. If I'm feeling nice, I'll stop him when he starts counting off and be honest with him: "that sounds a bit too fast". But if I'm feeling like a jerk, I'll let him bury himself.
 

TColumbia37

Silver Member
An old drummer that I used to play with always counted every song off at the same tempo. Then we had to guess how fast he was going to start playing, because the count-off tempo was NEVER the tempo of the song. Eventually we got used to it, though, and we able to lock in as soon as the song started.
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
A simple metronome/click solves all of those arguments. People that don't play with them are always surprised how far they can stray in a short time. I've had people insist that the click was changing lol.
I've definately been quilty of this in the past. Some nights everything just seems slow, or fast. Must be either too much caffeine or not enough or something.

In one of my old bands in particular there was one song in particular, that seemed to stump me at the count in. But like the Maiden scenario we were so rehearsed and tight as a band we always came in at the right tempo.

having said that, I think like the comment above the best thing is to have a metronome to hand. No matter how good your internal time, some days things just end up slower. The only way to be sure is to set your count off to a metronome, that way if a singer or guitarist comes up to you after th gig and says we played "x" slow tonight, you can say actually we didn't, maybe lay off the red bull!
 

sdedge

Senior Member
Well the only way to stop this is,.
Stop the bad count in.and look for a count in that works for all.If the band needs a count in?
If one of your band members ,counts in ,in a manner that do not work for you ,just say it!
How cares what he thinks ,it has to work for everybody!
 
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New Tricks

Platinum Member
In the examples I just listened to, I hear the difference but I don't understand the concern.

IMO, the count in is just to get everyone to start at the same time on the first note. After that, it's gonna go wherever it goes. Granted, it would be logical to count in at the songs tempo but it certainly isn't always necessary. The lead person in the song will push or pull it into his comfort zone rather quickly.

Personally, I KNOW I can't count in at a prescribed tempo out of my head and I doubt that most players can. We can certainly get close but, dead on? Uhhhh,.... no.

In rehearsal, I generally count in with a click and sometimes reactivate it during the song if something seems amiss.


When we'd finished three numbers, the guitarist gave me "the look" and said I was slowing them down
A simple metronome/click solves all of those arguments. People that don't play with them are always surprised how far they can stray in a short time. I've had people insist that the click was changing lol.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
hmmm, Stevie did it about 130 bpm.....218 is insanely fast.

I know the drummers often count in, but I actually prefer a band leader do that. The whole band keeps time.
Louis, this is a jazz arrangement and not anything like what Stevie sings to. I'll ask the band leader if I can post the mp3 here and let you guys listen. It's still swing eighths as far as I can tell. I think 218-220 bpm is still within range of swing eighths. Any faster and it's straight eighths.

The cool thing is, there is another big band group that plays weekly there as well. I'm putting my name in the hat for both, maybe just to sub. Who knows, maybe this will lead to something :)

Steph
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Guy sent me an mp3 of his old band playing the tune and it was 218 bpm (bright swing). That's a totally different ballgame from 154 bpm. First, it's a more busy drum part, and thus easier to communicate tempo for the band. Secondly, if the melodies were written for a faster jazz rhythm, then it might not sound right - not groovable - played slow.

The tune is "You are the Sunshine of my Life" by Stevie Wonder, arr Jack Meakin.
hmmm, Stevie did it about 130 bpm.....218 is insanely fast.

I know the drummers often count in, but I actually prefer a band leader do that. The whole band keeps time.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Oh crap. I shouldn't have said anything.
Too late! You're now a resident pro here, with two hit singles, and who's now primary responsibility is to make sure the rest of us here are doing it all right now.

Just kiddin :) No harm. I won't ask again.

I bet you could've played for the Doors though!

Steph
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I have been jamming with a new band, well an old band that reformed. Basically a slew of crusty punk rockers that play loud and aggressively and then me with my trad-grip and my K dark ride.

I asked the guitar player to count me in for on tune as I didn't know it very well and didn't have the tempo set. I started playing at his tempo and he started slowing down. When he made a comment at this "Jazz drummer" slowing down I reminded him that he counted off. Now I know that they're following me and I can move the tempo wherever I want. I was dragging a bit on some of the faster tunes because I haven't played that fast for some time. They caught it right away and were very polite when they brought it up.

Also when I read the title of this thread I thought of Jerry from the Misfits. He would count every tune off live and sometimes the tempo he counted in at would be a bit off. Check out the first track here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEJqFTliFzs
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
So since nobody's asked yet, which songs did you play on? I'm not much of a rock historian but I would guess you played for either the Doors or Led Zeppelin. Both had hits in the 60s, at least Led Zeppelin did (right?).

Steph
Oh crap. I shouldn't have said anything. This is very, very far from playing with the Doors or Led Zep.

It's embarrassing. The band was a local band in Chicago. The singer got a record deal and recorded without any of the other members. Studio musicians only. A couple of the tracks did well as singles, primarily because the singer sounded a whole lot like the biggest star of the day and deejays played the singles because of a kind of, "Is it or isn't it?" mystery that developed.

Those hits were all that the singer had. The band never toured. Didn't gig anywhere but in Chicago. The band fizzled out. The singer died young. Mid-twenties. I was a backup drummer, which is pretty much the story of my whole drumming career, because what I was really going for was a life as a writer. I got that life partly because of musician friends I made during that time, which is a whole other story.

I lived in L.A. for a zillion years and would slip away from TV, where I earned my living, to music whenever I could - touring with a few well-known bands when the regular drummer had a problem, recording with a few singers, that kind of thing.

Sometimes I wish things had been reversed, with writing as the part-time backup. Well, maybe not wish but wonder. Well, maybe not wonder either. Odds are that if that had been the case I'd have been dead a long time ago too. The '60s were funny that way.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Yep, I definitely was noodling on drums. Thought it might get me yelled at, but I was 16 and didn't care. Didn't know it would get me kicked out. That I did care about.

>sigh<
So since nobody's asked yet, which songs did you play on? I'm not much of a rock historian but I would guess you played for either the Doors or Led Zeppelin. Both had hits in the 60s, at least Led Zeppelin did (right?).

Steph
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
Were you noodling on drums? That's just blasphemy, only guitars can noodle and play out of time, drums have to keep the beat ;p Not many top ten rock hits these days though.
Yep, I definitely was noodling on drums. Thought it might get me yelled at, but I was 16 and didn't care. Didn't know it would get me kicked out. That I did care about.

>sigh<
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Ah, sounds familiar, but I don't dare comment on it. My waters are hopelessly poisoned. I'm a guy who was kicked out of band in high school (for noodling) and 2 years later, in college, was in a rock group with two nationwide Top 10 hits.

God, I miss the '60s!

Agedly yours,
Were you noodling on drums? That's just blasphemy, only guitars can noodle and play out of time, drums have to keep the beat ;p Not many top ten rock hits these days though.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I always sing the chorus of the next song, to myself, while the singer is talking to the audience so I have the tempo of the song going in my head before I count us in. Simples.

I am the drummer, I count in.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
This is a little different, we also had a teacher, and were supposed be practicing the techniques he showed us. We could do it when the teacher was there, but then when we practiced with out the director is when the non sense happened. Later "we" tried the noodling arrangement that "we" came up with while he was there, and he told us to cut it out.
Ah, sounds familiar, but I don't dare comment on it. My waters are hopelessly poisoned. I'm a guy who was kicked out of band in high school (for noodling) and 2 years later, in college, was in a rock group with two nationwide Top 10 hits.

God, I miss the '60s!

Agedly yours,
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
The free jazz group I play in is all originals that began as noodling and then got titles. When one of us calls out a title everyone knows exactly what it is and we always begin together without even thinking about it and at the tempo we all know. Musically, we state the theme together, as a group, and then the keyboard, alto sax, et al do their solos.

I do everything I can to "feel" each player is going and urge them on with my drumming. We do a lot of trading 4s between keyboard, sax, bass, and drums. It's only when we try to end that we have problems - because no one ever wants to stop!
This is a little different, we also had a teacher, and were supposed be practicing the techniques he showed us. We could do it when the teacher was there, but then when we practiced with out the director is when the non sense happened. Later "we" tried the noodling arrangement that "we" came up with while he was there, and he told us to cut it out.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
I thought about getting up and leaving while this sax guy kept on and on. His snapping is fingers out of tempo during the song and me going along with him to speed up... I hope this hasn't permanently jinxed my playing. I was playing the tempo he counted the song off. In some cases, you can't hear his snapping fingers because of the ensemble, but you knew it was there because all the sudden the tempo of the band and myself suddenly changes to be in sync with his arm and hand motion.

I hope they're not reading this. I mean they don't let sax players on here right?? :)

I found out this morning that I'm not their regular drummer yet. That next rehearsal they'll be playing with their old drummer. That they will let me know. Should I walk over and check them out?

I suppose I misinterpreted the phrase "see you soon".

Steph
You've got to do whatever makes you feel best about the situation. I wouldn't presume to intrude on your psyche.

But I definitely know what I'd do. Depending on how much tequila I'd imbibed, I'd either blow a group like this off completely or go over there just for the hell of it - and maybe talk to the other drummer a bit.

The going over there bit would be a tequila thing. The blowing off is me sober - because that's what I've always done whenever I've felt like my creativity was being screwed up by those around me and it's worked out well in most ways. (Yes, I'm counting my divorces as well as my job changes here.)
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I was staggered - and pissed off. Playing in slow motion just doesn't work for me. Neither do other people's head games. So I stopped. Thanked the guys for coming over but said - truthfully - that I didn't think we were exactly a match made in heaven.
I thought about getting up and leaving while this sax guy kept on and on. His snapping is fingers out of tempo during the song and me going along with him to speed up... I hope this hasn't permanently jinxed my playing. I was playing the tempo he counted the song off. In some cases, you can't hear his snapping fingers because of the ensemble, but you knew it was there because all the sudden the tempo of the band and myself suddenly changes to be in sync with his arm and hand motion.

I hope they're not reading this. I mean they don't let sax players on here right?? :)

I found out this morning that I'm not their regular drummer yet. That next rehearsal they'll be playing with their old drummer. That they will let me know. Should I walk over and check them out?

I suppose I misinterpreted the phrase "see you soon".

Steph
 
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