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Old 05-16-2018, 08:30 PM
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Default Difficulty with certain tempos

Another thread about what tempo to practice at prompted me to start a thread about this. That other thread is centered on improving speed and the concept of "headroom." But I'm talking about something different.

I find that there are specific tempos that I have a built-in tendency to drift from, either up or down a few bpm, before settling in. For instance, I have been noticing that 116 bpm is one of those tempos. For some reason, even playing a simple money beat with a click, I am fighting an urge to drop tempo a few bpm and then lock into that.

I'm guessing that this comes from practicing or playing music at certain tempos more than others, and then finding that it's hard to resist the memory that the "right" tempo is a few bpm away.

Anyone else experience this?

My way of combating it is to practice with a metronome that randomly mutes at the tempo it's happening at to really internalize it so it stops happening.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

I have problems with that same ballpark. 114-118 is a weird spot for me.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

My sticky spot is 70 or 140. I always drag
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

I find this is also influenced by who(m) im playing with.

Some folks expression of certain tempos lead me into perceptual illusions and take a bit more concentration.(let alone when the other players simply cannot keep time themselves...which means its time to wrap that project up)
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Lar, help me out, do you mean that with any beat at all, you have minor issues in that tempo range? Any beat? Is this something at practice or at a gig?

I know if some songs are started slightly slower or slightly faster than we've done them scads of times before...(I start none of our songs) I tend to drift to the tempo where it is "usual" for my "conditioning".

If it's way slower, as in a different version, no issue. But if its like 10 bpm (guess) slower or faster... then I suffer from...if I'm not vigilant enough...defaulting back to the "normal" (to me) tempo.

If you experience certain problem ranges, I probably do too, and I'm guessing many others as well. I just never pinpointed it like that.

If you think of it on a more esoteric scale...you are vibrating at a certain frequency. If what you're playing is interfering with you natural vibrations...maybe you body tries to move out of that zone?

It could be a common human time circuit compensator due to fractals.

I'm calling it the Larry8 factor.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:39 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

I think we all have this, certain tempos our internal clock locks into. I don't do well at 100, 105. My 'difficult tempo' ranges also vary whether its a money beat, 6/8 ballad or shuffle.
Seems lots of threads on here get concerned with hi speed limits, but a lot of that seems not so useful in playing with a band. The slower tempos are far more difficult to master.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:42 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

It's like anything else. It's not always natural to identify a tempo as a thing to practice as it may seem less tangible than other things, though it is what most pros I know do with most practice time.

I'd say pick 1-3 of those tempos and practice everything at those tempos. Everything you normally do at those tempos.

Silent bars are good, especially if done with good play-a-longs like the Turn it Up... stuff, but if I was to pick one metronome setting to really feel the time it would off-beats. Maybe combine the two.

I kind of feel like natural built in tempos are BS. All this is learned and can still be learned. If not I wouldn't be able to play one lick of good feeling funk, soul or jazz. Make it your focus, put the time in and that will be what you're used to.
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:24 AM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Lar, help me out, do you mean that with any beat at all, you have minor issues in that tempo range? Any beat? Is this something at practice or at a gig?
Hey, Lar. Certain songs are what made me notice, but it can be during practice, also. If I set a click to that tempo, I can stay with it, but I have to focus. It's work. I don't have too many tempos that cause this. Most of them, I can lock in and it feels right in short order to stay there. But I have a few of these bumps that I tend to get stuck in.

Since we're getting esoteric here, I picture it like how they tell you to break in a new engine by varying speeds. Or better yet, think of a groove (the literal kind) in a road that if you get near, your tire wants to slide into and stay there. That's kind of what these tempos feel like to me.

And great point about "any beat." No, it's probably not just any beat. A swing jazz pattern may feel fine at that tempo, but not a money beat. So I guess the beat matters.
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Old 05-17-2018, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

I have exactly the same issue at low-medium swing tempos. I've been playing with a different jazz trio occasionally and find that this piano player always counts in just below the speed I feel for that song. Then we gradually speed up a bit and stay there. The bass player always gives me a look, but I can't help it.
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Old 05-17-2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

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Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post
I kind of feel like natural built in tempos are BS. All this is learned and can still be learned. If not I wouldn't be able to play one lick of good feeling funk, soul or jazz. Make it your focus, put the time in and that will be what you're used to.
Yes, I agree with all of this. It's not really something I'm concerned about because it is fixable. I just wondered if this was something others experienced, which it seems like it is.
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

I have a thing which isn't so much drifting from a tempo because I can lock into a tempo playing just by myself while keeping live BPM running and the tempo stays where it is give or take a 1 or 2 bpm fluctuation.

But I seem to often perceive tempos of some songs slower or more laid back than they should be, mostly when we're doing them on the fly with no prior rehearsal or knowledge we were going to play them. For example, Cocaine by Eric Clapton. I used to count it in around 100bpm which felt nice and groovy to me and what I thought was about the correct tempo. But I noticed the singer and guitarist in my band wanting to push it. When I listened to the original record, it's actually about 106bpm and I've since heard covers bands even playing it slightly faster than that. But even now, although I'll make sure we're playing it at least 106bpm, I still feel more comfy at 100bpm. It's a case of retraining my brain for that song so that the faster tempo becomes more natural to me rather than me feeling I'm pushing it to maintain that tempo.

Same with Soulman by Sam and Dave, 109bpm feels comfortable and right to me, but the original is around 115bpm. So then I realised why they were pushing it! So I'm making a point now of always checking original song tempos. Conversely they like to play some songs way faster than the originals.

I think larry has a good point though, that we probably do vibrate at certain frequencies where certain tempos just feel right for us.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:36 AM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
I'm guessing that this comes from practicing or playing music at certain tempos more than others, and then finding that it's hard to resist the memory that the "right" tempo is a few bpm away.
Totally. I think we all have tempos that we naturally gravitate towards whether it be some unspoken thing that's just built into us or it's muscle/aural memory. Just like a singer has spots in their range that are just awkward for them I think we drummers have spots that just don't quite sit right.
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Old 05-18-2018, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

There's this really weird quirky thing I deal with a lot:

There's a song we have to play at church that need a little quick double-kick pickup.

The part is actually right at :30 into this video. This is the same BPM we play it at as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa0EIFFc6xk


The problem is, I have a hard time playing this particular kick part at this particular tempo. It's easier to play it faster and easier to play it slower, but for whatever reason I have trouble with this particular BPM setting. If I play with the regular heel-up, I play it too slow. If I use the method where I slide my foot up the foot pedal board, I play it too fast. I can never get it just right.
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Old 05-18-2018, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkPieGuy View Post
There's this really weird quirky thing I deal with a lot:

There's a song we have to play at church that need a little quick double-kick pickup.

The part is actually right at :30 into this video. This is the same BPM we play it at as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa0EIFFc6xk


The problem is, I have a hard time playing this particular kick part at this particular tempo. It's easier to play it faster and easier to play it slower, but for whatever reason I have trouble with this particular BPM setting. If I play with the regular heel-up, I play it too slow. If I use the method where I slide my foot up the foot pedal board, I play it too fast. I can never get it just right.


You don't mean the fill at :30, you mean the pattern repeated after :30, yes?

My foot is the first to atrophy if I don't practice enough. Have you taken that pattern and just looped on it? And looped and looped and looped? If you log the time - over a period of time - that will get comfortable. As I'm sure you know, that is a very important bass drum - rudiment - so to speak, and it is worth your time logging serious time on that if it is not completely comfortable.

You'll get stronger at it.

[I like that song. Great performance by that band.]
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Old 05-18-2018, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Yes I was confused if he meant the fill at 0:30 or after it but it seems he means the repeating three stroke bass drum pattern afterwards, 'a 1 +'. It's just the 1/16th note on 'a' joining the '1' that would be tricky because it's a quick 'ba-boom' in succession each time. As said, practise this, but you may be able to get away with dropping the 'a' and just playing '1 +'. Though it would slightly weaken the feel.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Look back through your entire life and you'll see when those natural tempos were learned.

A good tempo for a song depends, but if are recording and you're able to look at it with a clean slate it should come to you. Those few times I've been in a studio recording original stuff there is always a discussion, but we always somehow end up with my original suggestion. That's simply about listening to the song and what works instead of letting our ego rule. If you yourself don't have that issue you know how rare that is, sadly. It also proves that there is a tempo for most not necessarily song, but that arrangement of the song that we, being honest with ourselves, all know what is.

You can change the tempo of a song, but to make it work you probably have to change some elements, change how you play it.

With some things, like more open swing stuff there is a wider range.
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:42 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank View Post
You don't mean the fill at :30, you mean the pattern repeated after :30, yes?

My foot is the first to atrophy if I don't practice enough. Have you taken that pattern and just looped on it? And looped and looped and looped? If you log the time - over a period of time - that will get comfortable. As I'm sure you know, that is a very important bass drum - rudiment - so to speak, and it is worth your time logging serious time on that if it is not completely comfortable.

You'll get stronger at it.

[I like that song. Great performance by that band.]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin5 View Post
Yes I was confused if he meant the fill at 0:30 or after it but it seems he means the repeating three stroke bass drum pattern afterwards, 'a 1 +'. It's just the 1/16th note on 'a' joining the '1' that would be tricky because it's a quick 'ba-boom' in succession each time. As said, practise this, but you may be able to get away with dropping the 'a' and just playing '1 +'. Though it would slightly weaken the feel.
Yes, I mean the pattern...not the fill. :)


It's funny because I can play it slower AND faster than this particular speed, but for some reason, I've always struggled with THIS particular pattern at THIS particular BPM. I can play much more complex stuff, and I've been playing for over 20 years (close to 25 years now), so it's not like I've not put my time in. It's just a little thorn in my side, you know? :)
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Old 05-21-2018, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkPieGuy View Post
Yes, I mean the pattern...not the fill. :)


It's funny because I can play it slower AND faster than this particular speed, but for some reason, I've always struggled with THIS particular pattern at THIS particular BPM. I can play much more complex stuff, and I've been playing for over 20 years (close to 25 years now), so it's not like I've not put my time in. It's just a little thorn in my side, you know? :)
I feel you. Here's my theory. Playing it slower allows your foot more time to play each stroke evenly, and playing it much faster allows quick consecutive nerve reflex motions. I'm thinking that at 130bpm which seems to be the tempo of this song, that it's just at an intersecting and perhaps awkward speed for you of not being so fast that it only needs reflexes, and not being too slow that you have that much time to think about placing each stroke, in other words you need to control a bit of both.

I would definitely work with the metronome for this. Make sure you are actually playing your strokes evenly at the slower and faster tempos you said you have no problem with. Record yourself to the metronome, you might be spot on or you might be surprised. These things are often deceiving.

At the actual 130bpm tempo, you could perhaps experiment with a couple of things. Try heel down completely, see how that feels. I often find I can control strokes better this way and power/volume doesn't suffer much.

And you might already know about this but there's a flat footed technique you could try which is something I'm doing more of these days. I believe John Robinson swears by this method.

It's like a cross between heel up and heel down.
Couple of vids here that help explain it.

https://youtu.be/-rIwYVUfEf0
https://youtu.be/i_L-cIT2sug
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:41 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post

Silent bars are good, especially if done with good play-a-longs like the Turn it Up... stuff, but if I was to pick one metronome setting to really feel the time it would off-beats. Maybe combine the two.

@odd-Arne could you elaborate on this please? Why is the off-beat click a useful technique? What does it develop, and what are the mechanics of it? Any advice on when to practise against the off beat vs the 1st or third sixteenth?

Cheers
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Old 05-26-2018, 03:00 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with certain tempos

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@odd-Arne could you elaborate on this please? Why is the off-beat click a useful technique? What does it develop, and what are the mechanics of it? Any advice on when to practise against the off beat vs the 1st or third sixteenth?

Cheers
The first thing that happens with an off beat click is that you go from following, maybe trying to bury it, to playing together with the click, making music together, like with another player. You have to focus more and you start getting more aware of not just your tendency to speed up or slow down, but how you push or lay back influences the groove.

Jazz players on all instruments to the click on 2 & 4 thing. That's the constant. How hey push back on the 1 & 3 is the feel.

Going with the other parts of the subdivision with 16ths or triplets, for that matter, will just help you internalize those things. You can play anything, but to gain maximum benefit play really simple and slow at first, 1/4 note grooves so slow that you know exactly what's happening, and be mostly concerned with time and feel.

Many types of music depend on subdividions being not quite even to feel right, but working with the click will still increase your awareness. That's the main thing really.

When I start the kids off with playing off beat ride we talk about this stuff. It's the same with them it's just on a beginner level, where they're pretty much forced to learn to feel the 8th note pulse internally. Simple, but it is their first linear pattern and demands tons more focus than the straight quarter of 8th note pattern. It's the same process, just different levels.
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