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  #1  
Old 10-09-2013, 07:19 AM
SheLovesMyDrums SheLovesMyDrums is offline
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Default The importance of counting?

I know this may sound like a weird question, but how many of you guys actually count while you are playing? I've actually never took the habit to do that. I play with a band in bars and I've never had any problems playing without counting. I just always know where I'm at, I just feel it sorta. Actually, when I try to count while I'm playing, I get all messed up it's like counting is another limb. If I have to explain a rythm to someone, I can count it to them but not while I'm playing. Do you guys think I should practice that more?
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:26 AM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

http://drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=110094
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:43 AM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

I don't consiously think about counting out the individual beats (except for when I'm counting the songs in like "Can't Get Enough"). I tend to count the measures and the verse/chorus/solos relationships. I normally play pretty simple 4/4 stuff and I've always had the ability to find the "1".
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Se Dazzlez above. It is covered in depth in that thread.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:09 PM
moxman moxman is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Yes lots of good points in that thread.. the only thing I'd add is:
- I don't count when I play unless there is a really tricky section where shots come out of nowhere and it's tricky to just feel where they come in. In that situation it can help lock in the timing.. eventually you can memory lock it in; but there's a few tunes I can think of .. for example something like: '4 bar vamp, 1-crash-crash-crash, 1-2-crash-crash-crash, 3 bar guitar, 1-2-3-crash-crash-crash'
- other than that its an internal clock... or feeling 4, 8, 12 bar sections etc.
- check out Gary Chester's New Breed book - fantastic for cementing the internal clock, site reading and if you are a singing drummer - great practice for the '5th limb'!
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:15 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by moxman View Post
Yes lots of good points in that thread.. the only thing I'd add is:
- I don't count when I play unless there is a really tricky section where shots come out of nowhere and it's tricky to just feel where they come in. In that situation it can help lock in the timing.. eventually you can memory lock it in; but there's a few tunes I can think of .. for example something like: '4 bar vamp, 1-crash-crash-crash, 1-2-crash-crash-crash, 3 bar guitar, 1-2-3-crash-crash-crash'
- other than that its an internal clock... or feeling 4, 8, 12 bar sections etc.
- check out Gary Chester's New Breed book - fantastic for cementing the internal clock, site reading and if you are a singing drummer - great practice for the '5th limb'!
how do you sing to new breed exactly? Only looked at it very briefly with my teacher once. I would like to improve myself by singing out the drum-sounds.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by mikel View Post
Se Dazzlez above. It is covered in depth in that thread.
Must be the wrong link. All I saw was debate over semantics :)

I count only a handful of times, generally in a stop that isn't a 4 count. In a repetitive piece, sometimes I count the bars if there are no instrumental or lyrical indicators to tell me when it's time to change. If it's basic 4,8,12 measure stuff, it just comes naturally.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:11 PM
moxman moxman is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by dazzlez View Post
how do you sing to new breed exactly?
It's a series of ostinato type patterns you play with various limb combinations.. then you 'sing' either written out syncopated 'melody' lines (charts included) - or sing the foot or hand pattern or sing just the quarter notes. You can use whatever word you like to sing the rythmn like; 'chik' or 'un' or 'Ka' or whatever..

All you need is Volume 1.. enough to last a lifetime. Vol. 2 is more of the same but more complex. I'm still on Volume 1!
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by SheLovesMyDrums View Post
Do you guys think I should practice that more?
Yes, for two reasons.

1. Counting out loud will refine your timing, perhaps in ways you do not expect.

And yes, it will be difficult at first, as every new skill is. In the beginning, you will add the task of counting aloud to beats, fills, and grooves you can already play. In the short term, you will feel like you've taken a step or two backward as a drummer. Press onward.

2. Eventually, you will encounter a piece of music, groove, fill, or beat that just completely kicks your ass, and you won't be able to just "feel" it. It happens to everyone. At this point, you'll be able to use your newly developed skill to count the piece aloud, so that you can understand and eventually internalize the piece. However, if you've never practiced counting, you won't be able to use that skill in order to conquer a difficult piece.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RVkEyIbIzE
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Counting is also needed to transcribe. I agree with others it is more about learning to count as a beginner and to help you learn new parts.

I someimtes count rests as well to make sure I come in right. And I mean rests where you do not have a recognizable cue to bring you back in. Steely Dan Reelin in the Years is an example. Even though it is just the drummer that restarts it, I think the rest of the band is looking for something consistent to come in on.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:39 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
Yes, for two reasons.

1. Counting out loud will refine your timing, perhaps in ways you do not expect.

And yes, it will be difficult at first, as every new skill is. In the beginning, you will add the task of counting aloud to beats, fills, and grooves you can already play. In the short term, you will feel like you've taken a step or two backward as a drummer. Press onward.

2. Eventually, you will encounter a piece of music, groove, fill, or beat that just completely kicks your ass, and you won't be able to just "feel" it. It happens to everyone. At this point, you'll be able to use your newly developed skill to count the piece aloud, so that you can understand and eventually internalize the piece. However, if you've never practiced counting, you won't be able to use that skill in order to conquer a difficult piece.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RVkEyIbIzE
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

I always count when I am learning a new piece of music, until I feel it and know it well. I count through trick spots of music to be safe.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:35 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by SheLovesMyDrums View Post
I know this may sound like a weird question, but how many of you guys actually count while you are playing? I've actually never took the habit to do that. I play with a band in bars and I've never had any problems playing without counting. I just always know where I'm at, I just feel it sorta. Actually, when I try to count while I'm playing, I get all messed up it's like counting is another limb. If I have to explain a rythm to someone, I can count it to them but not while I'm playing. Do you guys think I should practice that more?
I feel that counting time (like saying "1, 2, 3, 4" or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6", or whatever while playing) has its place, such as learning a new song or drum part, but otherwise I feel that it's not needed unless it is helping you for a particular section or for a particular song or drum part or drum fill or something. Once you've internalized something, counting time becomes unnecessary and it can easily distract you from playing music. Counting time while playing something that you have already internalized can make your playing sound mechanical, lifeless, meaningless - as though you're just going through the motions without any real purpose behind it.

Of course, beginners should learn how to count time while they are playing. It was a tremendous help to me to be able to count time out loud while playing everything that I wanted to know how to play. Today, I don't count time while I'm playing or while anyone else is playing unless I absolutely need to - or unless it's a habit for a certain part. However, sometimes I'll count time for certain things because it's an emotional decision. Other times, I might count time if I feel that I'm losing my focus, or I might count time if I've lost the beat somehow. Even then though, I subconsciously quickly get back on track thanks to learning how to count time out loud while playing when I was younger, and it doesn't even require that I count time because I have internalized it.

So, to answer this in a very general sense, I rarely count time while I'm playing because I've already mastered that part. I have internalized it. When I took lessons, it was the first thing that I was taught, and it was all on the snare drum. My job was to count time while playing the simple snare drum exercises. Then I was taught how to count time while playing simple popular grooves. It ranged from counting quarter notes all the way up to 16th notes, all out loud while playing. It was difficult at first too because I had already taught myself how to play basic rock-type drumming on my own. I had to learn how to coordinate it because before I began learning, I had no knowledge of time signatures, subdivisions, syncopation, etc. All I knew was sound, and all I was doing was imitating what I was hearing, not having a clue of what I was really doing. Experienced drummers would have known what I was doing and they probably would have been able to hear that I didn't have a clue. It's like listening to someone speak a language fluently vs. someone who is merely copying what they're hearing. They know the sound, but they don't know the meaning behind it. Have you ever spoken phrases or words from another language without having a clue of what you just said? Yes, drumming is a universal language, but that's beside the point.

The point is, being able to play time fluently vs. simply copying what you hear without really knowing what you're doing are two vastly different things. If you don't know the language of time, then you might start unintentionally saying things that don't make sense to other musicians and they might ask you what those odd time signatures were that you were throwing into your groove so that they can follow you next time. Or, they might say that they couldn't feel what you were playing. I played with lead/rhythm guitarist once who didn't know how to count time. He had been playing for over 60 years, but he couldn't count time to save his life. He knew "1, 2, 3, 4", but he didn't know where those beats really sat in his playing. I couldn't feel his beat, I couldn't feel his 1. Why? Because he didn't have one. Everything he played was executed beautifully and cleanly, but I could never feel a true pulse and there was never a clear indication of where his '1' was because again, he didn't have one. Counting off songs for him was interesting, to say the least. I had to spell it out for him every time he was supposed to come in on some other beat that was NOT the first beat of the measure. It was like working with a beginner at times.

So, for beginners reading this and wondering, "what's the point if I can already play?", that's simple: other than what I just said above, for me personally, it demystified everything that I wanted to learn how to play. When I heard something that I didn't understand at first, I would figure out where 1 is, and then I would just count it out. Within seconds, I went from all the way being confused to simply saying, "Oh, pff. That's easy", and it's all thanks to learning how to count time. An extremely simple example is Led Zeppelin's For Your Life (on Presence). The very first time I heard [the beginning of] that song, I began counting 6/8. If you've never heard it before, then listen to it on YouTube. The very first couple of seconds can sound like a bar of 6/8. Of course, I realized that it was in 4/4 after a few more seconds, so then I had to work backwards in order to figure out where the first beat was in time. Once I figured that out, counting the song off and playing it with my band was a piece of cake. If I didn't know how to count time, then I never would have been able to count it off for my band, and I never would have been able to play it with the proper feel (and it would have taken me a LOT longer to learn how to get into that intro - I think). All I would have been able to do is copy what I'm hearing; I never would have truly understood it, and I believe that understanding it is about the only thing that I feel can enable you to play something correctly so that the listener can enjoy it, so that the listener can really feel your groove. Looking back, I can see how I would have learned this song if I didn't know how to count time, but it wouldn't have been nearly as good. I wouldn't have truly owned my part.

So yeah, I only count time now when I need to (such as when I'm still learning something), or when I can't help it due to some emotional thing (which I don't know how to explain).

For an interesting example of when you need to count time, watch Mike Mangini's Dream Theater audition in the video entitled The Spirit Carries On. You'll hear and see him count a few different times.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:12 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Counting isn't chiefly about numbers, it's about rhythm.

It differs from using verbal devices for rhythms like konokol only in that it allows one to keep track of the beats in a bar.

A good approach is to look at it as singing rhythm.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:15 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Counting isn't chiefly about numbers, it's about rhythm. It's about learning to hear (internally for the most part) a flow of rhythm which connects a piece of music together from beginning to end.

It differs from using verbal devices for rhythms like konokol only in that it allows one to keep track of the beats in a bar.

A good approach is to look at it as singing rhythm.

This bears repeating:

Quote:
So, for beginners reading this and wondering, "what's the point if I can already play?", that's simple: other than what I just said above, for me personally, it demystified everything that I wanted to learn how to play. When I heard something that I didn't understand at first, I would figure out where 1 is, and then I would just count it out. Within seconds, I went from all the way being confused to simply saying, "Oh, pff. That's easy", and it's all thanks to learning how to count time.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

I just heard the other day that Mickey Hart counts by blinking his eyes. I thought that was unusual.
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Counting is over-rated. Not counting is even more over-rated. The drummer who can get it right by "feel" may be best. But I'll take the robot over the one who's obviously just guessing where the accents go.
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Old 10-10-2013, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

When learning where shots, accents, and just how the general form of a song goes, I like to count. Once I'm comfortable with where I'm supposed to stop, start, and accent, I stop counting, cause by that point, I can usually feel when and where things are supposed to happen. But that's just me!

I also find it helps counting when learning new things and playing slowly. Sometimes, I'll sit and listen to a metronome and count subdivisions along with it.
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Counting is essential for a drummer, but not during a gig!!! By that stage you should really have the count internalised and 'feel' the count.

I suggest you practice counting more, yes.

Cheers

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Old 10-14-2013, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

I think of it like language development.

When we first learn to talk we have to relly concentrate on the structure...getting the right subject associated with the right predicate(not that we know those terms, of course).

Once you have been talking long enough, it becomes easier and the focus moves to content.


Being able to sing rhythms(including simple quarter notes...or the note most closely matching the fundamental pulse of what you are playing) along with your playing is a widly suggested practice technique.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SheLovesMyDrums View Post
I know this may sound like a weird question, but how many of you guys actually count while you are playing? I've actually never took the habit to do that. I play with a band in bars and I've never had any problems playing without counting. I just always know where I'm at, I just feel it sorta. Actually, when I try to count while I'm playing, I get all messed up it's like counting is another limb. If I have to explain a rythm to someone, I can count it to them but not while I'm playing. Do you guys think I should practice that more?
Like I stated before in other threads, I don't count while playing... it messes me up big time.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Count while playing? I'd rather play while playing.
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:34 AM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Unless it's a song like Beat On the Brat where they change the number of those crashes at the intro and a couple other places, I don't count while playing the drums on songs for the most part. In my band, we do a seamless song transition from 4/4 to 6/8 and I do count at the end of the 4/4 song.

When I first started playing trombone I counted and read off of a sheet. I made a conscious decision at the earliest stage of my drumming to internalize the count and just play by feel. Nobody had to tell me to do it that way, but it stemmed from a conversation that me and my dad had about playing the trombone by heart rather than sheet.
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

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Originally Posted by mymarkers View Post
Counting is over-rated. Not counting is even more over-rated. The drummer who can get it right by "feel" may be best. But I'll take the robot over the one who's obviously just guessing where the accents go.
Yes! This is as brilliant as it is succinct.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:08 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Great question and great responses,

here's my 2 cents, when I practice I'm always counting the help Fortify my timing until I have it down pat.When
with my group or a group, I do the same Thing. When we are working on a new song I'm always counting until it comes natural and we feel it. And then I also count If We are not in Sync.
so I obviously Find counting very important and worthwhile sKill.
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Everyone counts, you can't play the drums/music and not count, the difference being you're either aware of it, or your not.

When I run into ppl who tell me "I don't count, I play by feel" I tell them "Playing by feel means you're 'measuring' sections of music which is actually a higher form of counting."

When someone claims to 'play by feel' what they're doing is counting subconsciously, they're measuring the distance between parts in the song/music and this is what everyone does when they're not counting quarters, eights, sixteenths consciously. Just as conscious counting its all about how good you are at doing it.

Multiplying exercises like Dave Weckl does here @ 7:00 are a good way to develop subconscious counting as these types of exercises force you to remember where you are in a sequence, they train you to count/remember in multiple groups/sections. If you know where you're at you can't get lost and in sequence, if you remember where you've been you know how much you've got left to do.
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Old 10-19-2013, 12:34 AM
SheLovesMyDrums SheLovesMyDrums is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Thanks for the great reponses guys! Really interesting stuff here. I don't feel like it would be necessary for me to practice counting while playing because I can play some pretty complex rythms without actually counting (like Make Total Destroy from Periphery, I'm almost done transcribing this song on guitar pro 6) but it is very useful to know how to count in order to explain rythms to others and better understand what you do/hear.

Thx again everyone!
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Old 10-21-2013, 05:44 AM
moxman moxman is offline
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Default Re: The importance of counting?

Sometimes its useful to count when you're not playing if you have to come in at an odd place.. you can usually listen for how the tune goes and remember where to come in.. but - if someone screws up a cue and plays it differently.. it can cause a chain reaction. eg. you get thrown off by a misplaced cue; and come in at the wrong place; the brass who are reading charts come in at the right place; and it ends in a dogs breakfast! So knowing where the count 'is' is important whether its bars or beats.. whether you count it or feel it - it has to be bullet proof!
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