playing less and keeping time

TroutMacDuff

Junior Member
Hello,

I'm after some advice (again).

Whenever I try to play a part with less involvement/less notes, I feel significantly less solid in the time department. Like it's all wobbly and I'm struggling to hold it together. For example, with a New Orleans 2nd line type thing between snare and bass drum, I just don't feel like I can hold it together or play around the spaces like I can when playinh even quarters/8ths with the right hand.

I suppose it boils down to too much reliance on one limb to keep time for the other three, and not having a strong foundation in the whole body, if that makes sense.

Another example would be to start with a basic funk groove, 8ths on the hat, and to then take away the right hand all together. There just isn't anything left to keep it all together. The drummer keeps the band together, the hi hat keeps the drummer together, haha.

Any remedies? Books, songs, grooves, anything?

Thanks,

Trout.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
This is why naked open grooves are so deceptively difficult to get feeling right. Try shifting emphasis from playing the notes to playing the spaces. Practicing linear grooves is a good fun way of getting you there, & it expands you're repertoire at the same time.

The classic fix is to practice to a metronome but increasingly progress from 1/8th to 1/4 to 1/2 to 1 then one every two bars, then 4 bars, etc. I hope you get the idea.

Playing simple grooves patterns at very low tempo is another good thing to do.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
I discovered that singing along helps me tighten up my time.

Singing can be as simple as vocalising the sounds that other instruments are making or mumbling the lyrics...it doesn't imply any quality to the singing!
 

Derek

Silver Member
I discovered that singing along helps me tighten up my time.

Singing can be as simple as vocalising the sounds that other instruments are making or mumbling the lyrics...it doesn't imply any quality to the singing!
Yeah, that too. Ever notice that the singer is usually the first one to notice if the tempo is changing?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Another example would be to start with a basic funk groove, 8ths on the hat, and to then take away the right hand all together. There just isn't anything left to keep it all together. The drummer keeps the band together, the hi hat keeps the drummer together, haha.

Any remedies? Books, songs, grooves, anything?
Not sure if it's a remedy, but it struck me when you said "there just isn't anything to keep it all together".

Yes there is. The quarter note pulse.

Your hi hat 8th notes....accent the first note then every other one. That's what you need to move it along. Otherwise it sounds flat and uninspired. Every song I play, I deliberately make sure that there's an undeniable pulse...in some fashion... on each and every quarter note, all night long. It's the one thing that is common to nearly every single song I play. Of course this is lyric based groove music I'm referring to.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Any remedies? Books, songs, grooves, anything?

Thanks,

Trout.
The key is to develop your awareness of time. Counting out loud as you play is the best method, something about connecting your voice to the beat that really develops your ability to play solid time. Counting silently (in your head) defeats the purpose entirely, so if you're not going to count out loud, there's not much point to the following exercise.

Practice with a metronome, and count 16ths out loud as you play ("1 e & a 2 e & a..."). Start with simple grooves and go slowly at first. Inhale and stop counting as needed, but then get right back to the counting aloud without losing your place.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
With every beat there are tempos - too fast and too slow - where the groove starts to become mechanical (not felt), and soon beyond that point it's not functional. It's hard to practice slow grooves because people (family, friends, neighbours) often don't understand how difficult it is, and during practice it can make you sound less competent than the local garage band kid. It seems a lot worse than if you're flubbing a fast groove.

It's an odd thing to play your favourite grooves at a tempo slow enough for you not even to remember what hand does what, let alone make it sit well.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Counting and Singing are good. Also, do you know that your busy time is actually good, or is it harder to notice it being off? Try recording you fast time and look.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Whenever I try to play a part with less involvement/less notes, I feel significantly less solid in the time department. .
First, just because you feel less solid, doesn't mean you are less solid.

Second, play with a click as much as you can.

Third, playing a simple slow song at 80 BPM is harder than playing a 125 BPM dancey tune. Besides slowing yourself down, you oftem need to slow down other players.
 

SteveRatz

Member
It's one of my current challenges to break free of the 8ths hihat/ride pulse, although the band find it useful for keeping time during pauses. I think the problem concerns keeping the groove going during slower songs, which isn't a concern at faster tempos, and yes using the space between beats. I've found it helps to fatten notes by slightly flamming between say snare and hihat to create a sort of echo. Or a tiny delay/hold after the downbeat. Really isn't as easy as the audience thinks!
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
8ths on hi-hat is the crutch that the OP is trying to free from.

Play very slowly a familiar beat but play 1/4ths rather than 1/8ths.

Try alright now by free to get the feel of playing 1/4s.

Play in 50-60 BPM range and internalise the rhythm.

As Andy says, run the metronome down as low as it can go. Start at 160 bpm, 80 bpm, 40 bpm and 20 bpm. Each time playing the same beat. At 20 bpm there is so much space. But you need to be spot on to stay in time with the metronome.

Good question BTW. Playing along to tracks isn't very helpful for this issue!

Davo
 

TroutMacDuff

Junior Member
8ths on hi-hat is the crutch that the OP is trying to free from.

Play very slowly a familiar beat but play 1/4ths rather than 1/8ths.

Try alright now by free to get the feel of playing 1/4s.

Play in 50-60 BPM range and internalise the rhythm.

As Andy says, run the metronome down as low as it can go. Start at 160 bpm, 80 bpm, 40 bpm and 20 bpm. Each time playing the same beat. At 20 bpm there is so much space. But you need to be spot on to stay in time with the metronome.

Good question BTW. Playing along to tracks isn't very helpful for this issue!

Davo
It's actually not just 8th notes. Generally any sort of completely even repetitive strokes with one limb. Quarters, triplets, anything. I'd like to be more comfortable implying the pulse using the entire kit rather than devoting one limb to it, if you get what I mean.

I can and do practice these things, slow metronome quarter notes, etc. But the thing with that is that it's repetative and even, which is what I'm trying to get away from.

Perhaps playing piano or guitar would help with this sort of thing? Looser phrasing and all that.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Playing along to tracks isn't very helpful for this issue!

Davo
IMO, tracks are the same as a metronome, assuming the tracks are in tempo. They are just more enjoyable to use instead of a clickty clack sound.



But how you feel when playing is important too. A mistake is still a mistake even if the audience don't notice it, know what I mean?
How you feel is huge but how you actually sound is more important. I've seen a ton of amateur drummers who play too loud and rush their fills, but it looks like the feel great :)

My point about "feeling" was, feelings can be inaccurate. My bass player often questions tempo, even if we are playing with a click or backing track. He may feel the song is dragging/fast but he is just a little amped up or extra mellow that night.
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Reinforce your right hand with your bass drum, you can even play your right hand slow and strait and dance around with your bass drum to keep it interesting.
 

TroutMacDuff

Junior Member
How you feel is huge but how you actually sound is more important. I've seen a ton of amateur drummers who play too loud and rush their fills, but it looks like the feel great :)

My point about "feeling" was, feelings can be inaccurate. My bass player often questions tempo, even if we are playing with a click or backing track. He may feel the song is dragging/fast but he is just a little amped up or extra mellow that night.
Yep, I know where you're coming from now. And I entirely agree.

But even so. Especially for drummers, feeling uncomfortable can be sensed by other players. Whether they're aware of it or not. It affects the whole mood. That's why Steve Gadd gets so much work. He's comfortable and it's contageous.

Also it's a confidence thing. If I have a groove you're not comfortable with in the way I've been going on about (say something like Cissy Strut), there's much less you can do with it in a jamming context. The more you can improvise and diddle over something, the better it sounds when you don't.
 

ron s

Senior Member
Also it's a confidence thing. If I have a groove you're not comfortable with in the way I've been going on about (say something like Cissy Strut), there's much less you can do with it in a jamming context. The more you can improvise and diddle over something, the better it sounds when you don't.[/QUOTE]

I know exactly what you mean and couldn't agree more. There is a noticeable correlation between being comfortable enough to add fills and the steadiness of the basic beat when you don't.
You put it very succinctly.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
My best guess would be "linear playing" with a click.
You won't have any repetition with one limb doing thst. Start slow and go from there.
 
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