Singers singing ahead of the beat

resohead

Silver Member
We had a singer sit in with a country band I was in many moons ago. He had a band for about 20 years and regionally in Texas they packed every place they played every gig.

His band finally broke up and he wanted to join our band. The powers that be said no. We would have turned into hired hands.

I had never played with someone that sang ahead of the beat the way he did. It wasn't us and it wasn't him, it was just what it was.

Has anyone run into that? It took some getting used to.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The opposite thing is far more common. If there's a spot where the whole band stops, and it's just singing, most singers will slow down. I'm in the habit of clicking sticks, or even hi-hats, during those moments, it happens so often.

But yeah, I'd find it difficult to manage with a singer who rushed all the time. It would sound strange, I think. I'd be having the "let's work to make it groove" conversation every chance I got.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So his old band must've pushed everything? That sounds tense just thinking of a whole show like that ;)
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Here's a good trick when recording with a singer who's monstered the beat in his or her take - afterwards just insert a small amount of space before the vocal track to push it all back a fraction.

Suddenly the band won't sound like it's dragging any more! (assuming that the vocal track is laid down after the band has done its takes).

As for live ... maybe slip a little Valium in his or her drink ... :)
 

kettles

Gold Member
I've run into this exactly.

When the singer rushed, it made me feel like I was dragging so I started to push. As you can expect, it's not long before whole band would speed up beyond what was appropriate. When I figured out what was going wrong things got a lot better but I still have to resist the urge to keep chasing him. It was a good lesson in how the drummer has to strongly hold the tempo no matter what. The funny thing is, this singers sense of tempo is spot on. For the songs he starts on his own, I tap my metronome and he will be bang on the right tempo 90% of the time.

I also bought a Beat Bug after this, it has helped a lot.
 

mo2vation

Senior Member
It could be worse...

You could be playing for Rikki Lee Jones....

Ahead in this part, behind in this part, swoop in here, drop off there....

She snakes all around the pulse, depending on her mood and on what she's feeling.

I've played with people like this.... man. You concentrate on hitting 1 and 2, and the singer will do what the singer will do.

:-D


-Ken
 

resohead

Silver Member
Yeah, it was strange. I don't even know if the rest of the band noticed but I'm sure I brought it up at some point. I just stayed put but it kind of drove me nuts.
 

richkenyon

Silver Member
Time is the responsibility of all musicians, a fact that many non-drummers overlook.

You have my sympathy!!
 

Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
Some singers (if they're good enough) will mess with phrasing and feel like crazy. Listen to some of Willie Nelson's stuff or the classic example is Sinatra. Guys/girls who do that expect the band to keep the tempo so they can "play around" what is happening. My pet peeve is guys who either drop or add measures. aaarrghhhh.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If you have a good command of your own time, this should not throw you off, even if the singer is nowhere in the vicinity. If the drummer has to adjust to the singer, basically that's not a good thing. Drummers need to BE the beat, not play a beat to a song. Singers can play with the meter, and have a ton of leeway. It sounds weird onstage, but on playback, it usually doesn't sound as bad as you thought it might when you were playing. You gotta stand your ground, and play your part at the right speed, and not be swayed. Tune the person out if necessary. Pete's right, singers expect the drummer to remain steady. So does everyone else for that matter.
 

resohead

Silver Member
Like I said, I stayed put, I didn't chase his own sense of time. He did it on every song consistently and like was said, good singers sometimes do that sort of thing. I give him due credit, he was a really good singer. He got a record deal before I met him and recorded an album in Nashville. Unfortunately it didn't do too well. I hope he's still out there gigging.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
You gotta stand your ground, and play your part at the right speed, and not be swayed. Tune the person out if necessary. Pete's right, singers expect the drummer to remain steady. So does everyone else for that matter.
What if you need to tune out the whole band at time? lol

There comes a a point where you have to give in ... at least in the hobby music world. I was cussed for a while and refused to budge but it always felt like I was fighting city hall and, ultimately, spoiling the music because of the constant push/pull wars.
 

choki

Senior Member
The only way to get over that is to rehearse the band with a click, and play to a click live.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
The only way to get over that is to rehearse the band with a click, and play to a click live.
You'd think so, but we tried a click with a demo track and they pulled away from it within seconds. I accept IT fate ... I'm just glad to have a place to vent :)
 

choki

Senior Member
I understand wanting to vent, but accepting the fact that your band can't play in time doesn't help you out at all. If they're serious about sounding better, they need to commit to the process. Everybody just needs to agree on the tempo they think is best and rehearse it over and over again. If the time still goes out the window, rehearse it even more. Hopefully your other bandmates will be interested in seeing where there time issues are, and everybody can learn. If they have no desire to improve, I would find a new band, and find a playing situation that allows you to grow. If you become used to adjusting your tempo to follow the band, it's going to make your own sense of time diminish.
 

resohead

Silver Member
This band was 20 years ago and we were good. The singers original band was huge. I heard once that if you requested any of about 2000 songs, they would play it. They were a cohesive unit for so long.

The singer wasn't rushing and the music was great. His style was singing just ahead of the beat and that was different to me.

Sometimes I liked to lay back on the beat or play just ahead. It's subtle and I guess that some or most drummers do it. I dunno.

After packing huge halls for 20 years, the last thing this guy needed was a metronome in my opinion.
 
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