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

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
In my trio, the leader counts all songs off except one. He is very good at tempo and meter. The thing is, sometimes he purposely chooses to play songs slower or faster, with the knowledge that it is definitely slower or faster than the "standard" tempo for the song. So I have to be good at holding the tempo where he starts it at. Sometimes, it's too slow IMO. Other times, I feel he does songs too fast. But I agree with his tempo choices more than 90% of the time.

Sometimes he asks me to adjust the tempo slightly. Most of the time he does it without making me feel it's my fault. Sometimes he tells me I'm dragging. Depends on his mood and perceptions. In my mind I am restraining because that's the tempo he set it at. Sometimes he decides to change the tempo part way in, other times he keeps it where it started. So the tempo can be a moving target for me from night to night. I look at his body motions. I can tell how he is feeling things on a certain night by the way he moves his leg. It's like watching a conductor.

Even in people with "good" time, most people tend to accelerate transitions ever so slightly. To me it sounds better when transitions aren't so Nazi-like. I mean to be dead on tempo-wise during transitions, it almost sounds like things are dragging. Some songs I notice this more than others. Like slow Blues songs sound good being dead on. But certain songs sometimes feel better when the transitions are pushed ever so slightly. Like no more than 2 to 4 bpm.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I got a response back that indicates they want me back at the next rehearsal! This especially important to me because the rehearsal space is less than a block from my house. And the kit I use - Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz - stays in a drum cart with pneumatic wheels, so it's a real breeze getting there in time :) :)

Steph
 

rhumbagirl

Senior 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.

Steph
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
I had a similar experience to rhumbagirl's last weekend. A guitar player and bass player who've played together for years had heard about me somewhere and asked if I'd be interested in joining them as a trio.

When they arrived at my place, the guitarist - who fancies himself both the leader and a singer - started talking about "our old drummer," who, he said, couldn't keep a beat to save his life. I didn't like hearing this, but since I didn't know any of these players I just tried to look understanding so we could get on with it.

As the guitarist tuned up, the bass player turned to me and spoke quietly. "He's talking about Bob," the guitarist said. "Bob wasn't really our 'old drummer.' We just jammed with him twice. It didn't work out."

We started playing, and I saw the problem. The guitarist would count off and then start playing at - literally - half the speed he'd counted at. Since I was the new guy, I figured the speed they were actually playing at was the one they considered "right," so I slowed to match them.

When we'd finished three numbers, the guitarist gave me "the look" and said I was slowing them down. I said that since he was the leader I was watching his foot tapping and playing to match it. (So was the bass player.)

The guitarist looked a little sheepish, counted off the song, started playing at half speed again - but didn't tap his foot. Just glared at me as though to say, "See? You can't say that you're following me now, can you?" I looked over to the bass player. He just shrugged.

We played another song. This time I stuck to the counted-off tempos. Still, the guitarist slowed down. Again I turned to the bass player. He didn't shrug - instead he slowed down too, pulling the guitarist even farther down. The guitarist who, by the way, still wasn't tapping his foot.

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.

They just nodded and smiled and said they understood. Packed up quickly and off they went. As I watched them drive away I wondered if the guitarist was going to talk about me as another of "his" drummers who couldn't keep a beat.

But only for a second. Because why think when I was so busy feeling...wonderfully relieved?
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I had a similar experience to rhumbagirl's last weekend. A guitar player and bass player who've played together for years had heard about me somewhere and asked if I'd be interested in joining them as a trio.

When they arrived at my place, the guitarist - who fancies himself both the leader and a singer - started talking about "our old drummer," who, he said, couldn't keep a beat to save his life. I didn't like hearing this, but since I didn't know any of these players I just tried to look understanding so we could get on with it.

As the guitarist tuned up, the bass player turned to me and spoke quietly. "He's talking about Bob," the guitarist said. "Bob wasn't really our 'old drummer.' We just jammed with him twice. It didn't work out."

We started playing, and I saw the problem. The guitarist would count off and then start playing at - literally - half the speed he'd counted at. Since I was the new guy, I figured the speed they were actually playing at was the one they considered "right," so I slowed to match them.

When we'd finished three numbers, the guitarist gave me "the look" and said I was slowing them down. I said that since he was the leader I was watching his foot tapping and playing to match it. (So was the bass player.)

The guitarist looked a little sheepish, counted off the song, started playing at half speed again - but didn't tap his foot. Just glared at me as though to say, "See? You can't say that you're following me now, can you?" I looked over to the bass player. He just shrugged.

We played another song. This time I stuck to the counted-off tempos. Still, the guitarist slowed down. Again I turned to the bass player. He didn't shrug - instead he slowed down too, pulling the guitarist even farther down. The guitarist who, by the way, still wasn't tapping his foot.

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.

They just nodded and smiled and said they understood. Packed up quickly and off they went. As I watched them drive away I wondered if the guitarist was going to talk about me as another of "his" drummers who couldn't keep a beat.

But only for a second. Because why think when I was so busy feeling...wonderfully relieved?
Reminds me of a similar problem I had with a school jazz guitar combo. We couldn't exactly walk away, since it was sort of a class. But we spent a good bit of time glaring off and counting off, and I spent a good amount of time walking them through the melodies, by the end we were able to play some songs, but it was painful. I think part of the problem was that the guitarists tend to like to noodle into a count off, which throws a lot of people off, I fixed that by playing through the noodles, which kind made them mad, they would stop glare, noodle again, they wanted me to sit there and listen to there little practice run through of the melody la di da, then count off, which was at a different tempo.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
Reminds me of a similar problem I had with a school jazz guitar combo. We couldn't exactly walk away, since it was sort of a class. But we spent a good bit of time glaring off and counting off, and I spent a good amount of time walking them through the melodies, by the end we were able to play some songs, but it was painful. I think part of the problem was that the guitarists tend to like to noodle into a count off, which throws a lot of people off, I fixed that by playing through the noodles, which kind made them mad, they would stop glare, noodle again, they wanted me to sit there and listen to there little practice run through of the melody la di da, then count off, which was at a different tempo.
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!
 
Last edited:

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great story Hipshot. Well not great for you but entertaining for me lol. Ya know, he must have been delusional about his own time. And the bass player didn't help by enabling him to lag. Geez what do you do with that? Kick em to the curb I guess is the only humane thing to do.
 

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
 

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.)
 

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
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,
 

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.
 

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.
 

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<
 

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
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.
 

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
 

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
 

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.
 
Top