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  #1  
Old 01-25-2015, 03:43 AM
bsmntdrummer bsmntdrummer is offline
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Default Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

I recently heard a bass player say that a particular drummer had a "deep pocket". I've certainly heard, and probably used, this term before, but when i really think about it, I'm not sure I know exactly what it means. Is it more about what you play, or how you play it?

Off the top of my head, Steve Jordan and Neil Peart might represent opposite ends of the "pocket" spectrum. To be clear, I'm a fan of both, but I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone praise Peart's "pocket".

Now, if Jordan played a Rush groove, would we still feel his deep pocket? And if so, what would he do differently from Peart? Is it about note placement and dynamics? Or playing behind the beat? Or leaving space in the groove?


Conversely, if Peart played a Jordan groove, would it still make the girls want to shake their thing?
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:50 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Is orange a color or a fruit?

Yes.
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Old 01-25-2015, 08:01 AM
_Leviathan_ _Leviathan_ is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Why does Neil Peart have to play dance grooves? Let Steve Jordan be Steve Jordan, and Neil Peart be Neil Peart. Peart plays note heavy orchestrations around a very large setup that don't "groove" in the traditional way, would be inappropriate in most situations, but fit Rush like a glove. If Steve Jordan played Rush then since the music involves busy playing, it still wouldn't groove like a funk band because that is comparing apples to oranges. Maybe Neil Peart can't groove like Steve, but he's a different kind of player. Pocket is both what you play and the feel you put into it, along with the time and sound you produce.
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Old 01-25-2015, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

If it sounds good then the drummer is playing in the pocket.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

It just has to do with the quality of your time, and the way you place your notes-- some quality beyond just playing accurate time. I'm sure someone has made up a scholarly definition for it, but I don't know what it is. It kind of suggests groove music, which Rush really isn't-- I don't known if it would become groove music if you had different musicians playing the same notes.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by _Leviathan_ View Post
Why does Neil Peart have to play dance grooves?
It was never suggested that he should. It was simply a hypothetical question to open a discussion.

I think that pockets are more associated with music that has less drumming because the pocket seems to come more from the notes you don't play. For example, I can visualize a speed metal pocket but I'm not sure I've ever heard one.


And, I would assume that both of these mega players could fill each others roles to some degree.
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Old 01-29-2015, 03:54 AM
bsmntdrummer bsmntdrummer is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Ahh. As i should have expected, it is a bit of both.

Or a fruit.

Thanks for the clarification.

If I might follow up, do people tend to associate a "deep pocket" with playing behind the beat, rather than on top of or in front of it? Or is it more about just playing whatever the song requires and making it feel good, like No Way Jose suggests?
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Old 01-29-2015, 04:59 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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It just has to do with the quality of your time, and the way you place your notes-- some quality beyond just playing accurate time.
This rings true with me as well. It's how well you can make the music feel. Jeff Porcaro....Al Jackson...Steve Jordan, Levon Helm, James Gadsen...Those guys have pocket.

Every notes full value is savored. I don't think Steve Jordan can make a Rush song groove unless he really changes it all up. A Rush song is what it is, somewhat frantic... a one of a kind creation.

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I think that pockets are more associated with music that has less drumming because the pocket seems to come more from the notes you don't play.
That's pretty cool too
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:04 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Free your mind and your ass will follow. It's all in your head.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Free your mind and your ass will follow.
This is true. Attach time attention to the spaces, & dynamic attention to the notes. That's a great foundation for gentleman's vegetables jigglingly deep pockets :)
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  #11  
Old 01-29-2015, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Pocket.....Play billy jean over and over as your drum to it, after 100 times or so you'll see improvement in your playing but keep going till you're sick of it then go more. Tom Petty songs are great for that too, learning to fly comes to mind.

All simple beats are difficult to own. Simple is not really simple if you want to make make people move to your drumming. You'll know when you own simple, it will be a feeling of understanding and control and you'll embrace it.
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  #12  
Old 01-29-2015, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Its not what or how, Its where you play. Play in the right place and that is the pocket.
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  #13  
Old 01-29-2015, 03:44 PM
bsmntdrummer bsmntdrummer is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Thanks for the wisdom and suggestions.

KIS, I love your idea of "time attention to the spaces and dynamic attention to the notes". I'd not thought of it that way before, but it makes total sense!
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Old 01-29-2015, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

90 year old friend of mine played swing/big band back in the hey day and explained to me once, that a musician, whatever the instrument, was in the pocket when everything came together as one. Timing, improve, sound, etc. Said when you're grooving with the others you're in the pocket.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

trying to define "pocket" is like trying to define Love

just let it be what it is and you will know it when you feel it
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:36 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
trying to define "pocket" is like trying to define Love

just let it be what it is and you will know it when you feel it
pock·et noun \ˈpä-kət\

: a usually small cloth bag that is sewn into a piece of clothing, a larger bag, etc., and that is open at the top or side so that you can put things into it

: the amount of money that someone has available to spend

: a small bag or container that is attached to something and used to hold things

love noun \ˈləv\

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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pock·et noun \ˈpä-kət\

: a usually small cloth bag that is sewn into a piece of clothing, a larger bag, etc., and that is open at the top or side so that you can put things into it

: the amount of money that someone has available to spend

: a small bag or container that is attached to something and used to hold things

love noun \ˈləv\

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship

I rest my case
...................
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  #18  
Old 01-30-2015, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

I love pockets.

Begin collective sighing and eye rolling...
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  #19  
Old 01-30-2015, 01:26 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Most people wouldn't know a pocket if they were gagging on lint. Quite possibly the most overused term in the music world.

"Pocket" refers to the relative positioning between two or more sound sources; be it a drummer and bassist, a kick drum and snare drum and hi hat, a quintet, etc.

When we play as an individual on a drumset, the groove that we create has in its own right a "pocket". It's the way our elements flow together and create motion.

When we play with another musician, it's our relative positioning together and the way we flow that gives the music a feeling of life, bounce and movement. "Pocket".

When we play with a group say, a trio... the relative position of the drummer's kit elements (kick/snare/hats) fitting in with a bassist and guitarist and the margins surrounding each of those elements will dictate a pocket.

When playing music it's as if we are on at least a two dimensional plane, like a football field (measurable in latitude and longitude). Think of the bassist, drummer and guitarist trio as if they are in a sort of a triangular positioning; as long as they flow in that same positioning as we march through the song then they are maintaining some semblance of pocket. If it's an obtuse triangle when the tune starts then it ought to be an obtuse triangle when it's finished and not have morphed into a right or isosceles triangle which is what occurs with bands who are not paying attention to the finer points of time and flow.

Once you can visualize it on this flat field then float the concept of "pocket" into space where you add the "z" axis so you now have Latitude, Longitude and Altitude. (X, Y, and Z axii...)
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  #20  
Old 01-30-2015, 11:46 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

I prefer the term "Groove", no idea where pocket came from, its not even descriptive of of a band being "Tight".

When a song sounds "right", and moves you in some way, then the musicians are working as a unit and that is the groove, or pocket if you must.

It is posible to play something technicaly perfect but not make it groove, groove is an almost other worldly state that the whole band feels, when it happens, without having to communicate.
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  #21  
Old 01-30-2015, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillRayDrums View Post
Most people wouldn't know a pocket if they were gagging on lint. Quite possibly the most overused term in the music world.

"Pocket" refers to the relative positioning between two or more sound sources; be it a drummer and bassist, a kick drum and snare drum and hi hat, a quintet, etc.

When we play as an individual on a drumset, the groove that we create has in its own right a "pocket". It's the way our elements flow together and create motion.

When we play with another musician, it's our relative positioning together and the way we flow that gives the music a feeling of life, bounce and movement. "Pocket".

When we play with a group say, a trio... the relative position of the drummer's kit elements (kick/snare/hats) fitting in with a bassist and guitarist and the margins surrounding each of those elements will dictate a pocket.

When playing music it's as if we are on at least a two dimensional plane, like a football field (measurable in latitude and longitude). Think of the bassist, drummer and guitarist trio as if they are in a sort of a triangular positioning; as long as they flow in that same positioning as we march through the song then they are maintaining some semblance of pocket. If it's an obtuse triangle when the tune starts then it ought to be an obtuse triangle when it's finished and not have morphed into a right or isosceles triangle which is what occurs with bands who are not paying attention to the finer points of time and flow.

Once you can visualize it on this flat field then float the concept of "pocket" into space where you add the "z" axis so you now have Latitude, Longitude and Altitude. (X, Y, and Z axii...)
I like this little metaphor.

I also want to paraphrase the late great Jeff Porcaro: Don't worry about terms like "pocket", "behind the beat", and "groove". Just make the music feel good and play what's stylistically appropriate.

If you do that correctly, the other things (like beat placement relative to the pulse) tend to take care of themselves.

Now, if you happen to have such an undeveloped ear that you can't tell the difference between good and bad you need to take it back a notch and actually learn how to listen on a finer level.

Because really, if you can't hear what you're doing wrong, how could you ever correct it?
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda View Post
I like this little metaphor.

I also want to paraphrase the late great Jeff Porcaro: Don't worry about terms like "pocket", "behind the beat", and "groove". Just make the music feel good and play what's stylistically appropriate.

If you do that correctly, the other things (like beat placement relative to the pulse) tend to take care of themselves.

Now, if you happen to have such an undeveloped ear that you can't tell the difference between good and bad you need to take it back a notch and actually learn how to listen on a finer level.

Because really, if you can't hear what you're doing wrong, how could you ever correct it?

Record ALL THE THINGS. :D
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Old 01-30-2015, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda View Post

Because really, if you can't hear what you're doing wrong, how could you ever correct it?
I tell my students every day

... If you don't know how to hear you cant learn how to play.... so first learn how to hear what you want to play

if you can hear it you can say it.... and if you can say it you can play it
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by New Tricks View Post
I think that pockets are more associated with music that has less drumming because the pocket seems to come more from the notes you don't play.
This is definitely part of it.

I think another big point that hasn't been mentioned is consistency. To me, consistency in your playing from bar to bar concerning your timing and your dynamic variation is very important in groove playing and creating a "deep pocket."

For example, a lot of great groove players have a slight swing to their playing. If for some reason, they would play this swing different every bar or completely straighten out on random bars, this would totally kill "the pocket."

Another good example would be some Questlove style beats. He'll sometimes over swing notes... somewhere between a 16th note triplet and a 32nd note. If this isn't played consistently, it totally kills the groove. Playing its "oddness" accurately every time creates the pocket.

My 2 cents.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:02 PM
bsmntdrummer bsmntdrummer is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Thanks, everybody. Great suggestions, and I love we are getting a richer definition with each post.

I totally agree that "just make it feel good" is the foundation of everything related to pocket, but I do think having a concept/definition/metaphor is useful. When Jeff Porcaro (or many of you, for that matter) says to forget everything and just make it feel good, it is because his ideas about HOW to make something feel good are so deeply ingrained that they are almost automatic. He doesn't have to analyze because he just knows that this is what is needed. He sees the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

For those of us at an earlier stage in our development, those ideas are still developing, and having a mental concept can help us hone in on what things to focus on to make it feel good. As has been pointed out, listening to yourself and others is critical, and that can't be said enough. But combining careful listening with a mental framework can help make the process a little faster.

At least, that it what I think.
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Old 01-31-2015, 03:06 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

I think it very much has to do with how all the instruments (each limb is 1 instrument) fit within each other. Dynamics , placement (behind/ right on/ahead) makes all the difference. Then add the other band members (instruments as well).
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Old 01-31-2015, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

It's hard to describe this feeling the pocket thing. It's the kind of thing that needs to mature in yourself by playing with other people. The pocket is an interaction between players where metaphorically you're sailing the same stormy sea together to reach the destination, not taking separate boats to get there. You're all working to sail a tight ship together as a unit, grooving in the pocket.


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Originally Posted by drum4fun27302 View Post
I think it very much has to do with how all the instruments (each limb is 1 instrument) fit within each other. Dynamics , placement (behind/ right on/ahead) makes all the difference. Then add the other band members (instruments as well).
This is true because really, the drum set is a collection of instruments that need to blend together dynamically and rhythmically while also serving the music.
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Another element that pocket has IMO....is an underlying mental attitude of being totally secure with just playing whatever it is that's being played....with no need to try and impress anyone, or change it up because you feel "boring". (big pitfall) Laying down....but staying out of the way....of the groove.... and just allowing it to happen simply and naturally. Not having to fill in every space. Leave space for the strings. A very secure, confident feeling that even though I can do 100 mph easily, it just feels really good to deliberately keep it at 66 for 4 minutes straight. A simple beat played with confidence trumps a complex beat that is at the edge of a persons abilities. Headroom, maturity, and security are all hallmarks of pocket.

It's an attitude that say's....I'm completely confident that this simple beat I'm playing is killing it, and anything I try and do extra will ruin it....so just don't ruin it. I'm succeeding, don't rock the boat.

Like getting a hammerlock on the sweet spot. Mission accomplished, hold it right there. You don't have to show all your tricks. Discretion is the better part of valor, something like that.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:02 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Like getting a hammerlock on the sweet spot. Mission accomplished, hold it right there...
That's right...



... once you're locked in, don't loose focus, keep watching that pocket :)
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Another element that pocket has IMO....is an underlying mental attitude of being totally secure with just playing whatever it is that's being played....with no need to try and impress anyone, or change it up because you feel "boring". (big pitfall) Laying down....but staying out of the way....of the groove.... and just allowing it to happen simply and naturally. Not having to fill in every space. Leave space for the strings. A very secure, confident feeling that even though I can do 100 mph easily, it just feels really good to deliberately keep it at 66 for 4 minutes straight. A simple beat played with confidence trumps a complex beat that is at the edge of a persons abilities. Headroom, maturity, and security are all hallmarks of pocket.

It's an attitude that say's....I'm completely confident that this simple beat I'm playing is killing it, and anything I try and do extra will ruin it....so just don't ruin it. I'm succeeding, don't rock the boat.

Like getting a hammerlock on the sweet spot. Mission accomplished, hold it right there. You don't have to show all your tricks. Discretion is the better part of valor, something like that.
Right on Larry. It's a horrible experience to be on the gig thinking that you're killing it and then later, listening to the recording and realizing that yeah, you KILLED it alright, crapped all over it and ruined it for everyone.

BTW, what is a hammerlock?
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:07 PM
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Its not what or how, Its where you play. Play in the right place and that is the pocket.
Yup! eg. If the drummer is constantly behind the beat it can sometimes make the band sound like it's dragging - and not in the pocket. There's something about smacking the beat in just the right place.. where it sits with the whole band - and it ties everything together. When the band is all focussed and in the pocket it makes for a great sound and feel.

Someone mentioned groove.. to me groove is like the hills and valleys that make up a great dynamic rhythm pattern usually with a great bass line. In a lot of cases, a great groove can really accentuate the pocket - especially in funk.. There are a lot of great 'pocket players'.. Harvey Mason is one cat that comes to mind.

Last edited by moxman; 02-01-2015 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:51 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by spleen View Post

BTW, what is a hammerlock?
It's a wrestling move. I meant it in the context that you have the sweet spot of the groove locked down under your control so it can't wiggle away.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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It's a wrestling move. I meant it in the context that you have the sweet spot of the groove locked down under your control so it can't wiggle away.
Here I was thinking that his spell check had auto-corrected "Hammock" . I was totally in agreement and ready to drink a frosty beverage and take a nap.
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

If you are in "time" and "feel/groove" with the song and interplay with other musicians you are in the pocket with the song. But that also means all the other musicians need to be in the pocket too-it's a group effort of all being in the "pocket". Or another way of looking at it is you play with a band and afterwords they tell you this isn't a solo and try to make an effort to at least play with the band-then you are definitely NOT IN THE POCKET. LOL
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:34 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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It's a wrestling move. I meant it in the context that you have the sweet spot of the groove locked down under your control so it can't wiggle away.
In my world that's called a Full Nelson..
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by moxman View Post
Yup! eg. If the drummer is constantly behind the beat it can sometimes make the band sound like it's dragging - and not in the pocket. There's something about smacking the beat in just the right place.. where it sits with the whole band - and it ties everything together. When the band is all focussed and in the pocket it makes for a great sound and feel.

Someone mentioned groove.. to me groove is like the hills and valleys that make up a great dynamic rhythm pattern usually with a great bass line. In a lot of cases, a great groove can really accentuate the pocket - especially in funk.. There are a lot of great 'pocket players'.. Harvey Mason is one cat that comes to mind.

Spot on. You could argue that its not posible for one musician in a band to be in the pocket, either the whole band is, or no one is. The pocket is the groove of the song.
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:53 PM
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Davo-London Davo-London is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

Pocket can only be created with a minimum of drum and bass.

Davo
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:59 PM
Maple Maple is offline
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Default Re: Is "pocket" what you play or how you play it?

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Another element that pocket has IMO....is an underlying mental attitude of being totally secure with just playing whatever it is that's being played....with no need to try and impress anyone, or change it up because you feel "boring". (big pitfall) Laying down....but staying out of the way....of the groove.... and just allowing it to happen simply and naturally. Not having to fill in every space. Leave space for the strings. A very secure, confident feeling that even though I can do 100 mph easily, it just feels really good to deliberately keep it at 66 for 4 minutes straight. A simple beat played with confidence trumps a complex beat that is at the edge of a persons abilities. Headroom, maturity, and security are all hallmarks of pocket.

It's an attitude that say's....I'm completely confident that this simple beat I'm playing is killing it, and anything I try and do extra will ruin it....so just don't ruin it. I'm succeeding, don't rock the boat.

Like getting a hammerlock on the sweet spot. Mission accomplished, hold it right there. You don't have to show all your tricks. Discretion is the better part of valor, something like that.
Good words .... I Totally Agree!
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