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  #1  
Old 11-05-2009, 02:47 PM
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Default Natural sense of timing

Have you always naturally had good timing? Have you been told you're a natural? It seems to me that some people have it and some don't.

No, I don't mean metronome timing. I mean bang, smack-on-the-button timing, what I've seen here referred to microtiming. Like perfect pitch, some people have it and some don't.

Is it possible to improve your innate sense of time? I read about how Rick Marotta took up drums at age 19 and, with some lessons from his flatmate Andy Newmark, was soon playing sessions. Apparently he simply had good timing out of the box. Rick had been a dancer in the past and my guess is that whole body feeling of rhythm flowed into his drumming.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:58 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I think the problem here is that there are people who have naturally good timing. However, most musicians don't. But almost all guitar players you talk to will tell you they do! It's of course possible to improve your timing, just practice along to a metronome. It's a lot easier than pitch imo but i am of the belief that anyone can improve both their pitch and timing through practice. Some people have it, most have to earn it. But it's possible for anyone to achieve imo.
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  #3  
Old 11-05-2009, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Have you always naturally had good timing? Have you been told you're a natural? It seems to me that some people have it and some don't.

Any thoughts?
For as long as I can remember, yes, but "naturally" is the sort of sticky point. My mother was a concert pianist, so I had daily lessons from age six until I was thirteen. She is Bulgarian, so the expression, "He's a natural", would of never even crossed her mind although she says that I picked it up quickly. Timing, rythm and learning to listen, that is.

I think that really it's just something I got better at. By the time I started playing trumpet and guitar and then at 17, drums, I had had all that training beaten into me so much that my timing in most musical situations was good.

I think that it does depend upon the environment you're in. Kids that grow up in more musical households are more inclined to have what appears to be a natural sense of timing. The same is true with dancing.

I jammed with a guy once and he was new to playing keyboards. It was just awful. He had terrible timing and no sense of rythm. I remember thinking, "This guy just doesn't have it". A couple of years later, we crossed paths at another jam party and he was so much better, I didn't think it was the same guy. He'd obviously been practicing.

That definitely made me realize that you can overcome quite a bit with practice, even if you believe that some musical qualities are more innate.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

in my experience, people with "natural timing" usually play another instrument, or are really into music in some other way.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I most definitely did not have a natural sense of timing. It wasn't horrendous, but it needed developing for sure.
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Old 11-05-2009, 04:51 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

People told me I had, but when I started recording I discovered that it wasnt so good(especially not having practiced with a metronome ever). So now I practice with a metronome while counting loud, and it has helped me immensely.
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  #7  
Old 11-05-2009, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I have to say that I have an uncanny sense of timing. I don't know if it came early on when my dad first taught me the basics with drums when I was 8 or when I became a disc jockey at the age of 14. Every person at the radio station had to rely on a stop watch when talking up a record to be able to hit the post with out walking on the first lyrics of the song, I didn't. We even had a large coin jar for those who stepped on a song. I could listen to a song once and be able to have the beat and timing in my head from that point on, this was in the late 60's, 70's and 80's. Another thing is, I never wear a wrist watch, but I can tell anyone the time within just a few minutes of the actual time of day. I also work on daylight savings time, lol. Voice over work could also be a contributing fact because as I read, subconsciously I am counting to be able to get the script in the time allotted, either cramming or stretching the copy as needed.

Having a good sense of timing is great, most of the time. At other times it's like, OK give my head a rest.

Dennis
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I don't have a natural sense of time, but I know my consistent weak spots and deal with them accordingly to help regulate overall tempo.

For example, I always held a tempo very nicely, but if I rushed a fill a little bit, I'd come out at a new tempo and hold that until the next turnaround, and do it again, etc throughout the song. Thanks to years of working with a click, I learned exactly how much to 'sit' on a fill to keep it in time, and it became very natural and automatic to hold the line on fills, builds, or anything where the feel could make me stray.

Shuffles are fun that way, too. I learned a little trick listening to the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe" (probably Hal Blaine on drums.) There's a break on the line "pink slip daddy" and the pick up on the snare is so on the last note of the triplet, it's almost the 'ah' of a 16th note. Whenever I have any kid of a triplet or portion thereof, I make it very 'deliberate', and it always results in a smooth, lilting feel coming back in.

Hal locked it in the same way on "I Am I Said", where the breaks come back in after a tom flam on the 4&. It's so on, it actually sounds late. To my ear anyway. But it's instances like that that made me understand that fills & breaks can be the worst culprits for timing, and that they need to be controlled.

I still have an occoasional tempo fluctuation, but it's rarely the result of rushing a fill or a break.

Bermuda
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  #9  
Old 11-05-2009, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
I don't have a natural sense of time, but I know my consistent weak spots and deal with them accordingly to help regulate overall tempo.

For example, I always held a tempo very nicely, but if I rushed a fill a little bit, I'd come out at a new tempo and hold that until the next turnaround, and do it again, etc throughout the song. Thanks to years of working with a click, I learned exactly how much to 'sit' on a fill to keep it in time, and it became very natural and automatic to hold the line on fills, builds, or anything where the feel could make me stray.

Shuffles are fun that way, too. I learned a little trick listening to the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe" (probably Hal Blaine on drums.) There's a break on the line "pink slip daddy" and the pick up on the snare is so on the last note of the triplet, it's almost the 'ah' of a 16th note. Whenever I have any kid of a triplet or portion thereof, I make it very 'deliberate', and it always results in a smooth, lilting feel coming back in.

Hal locked it in the same way on "I Am I Said", where the breaks come back in after a tom flam on the 4&. It's so on, it actually sounds late. To my ear anyway. But it's instances like that that made me understand that fills & breaks can be the worst culprits for timing, and that they need to be controlled.

I still have an occoasional tempo fluctuation, but it's rarely the result of rushing a fill or a break.

Bermuda
I have a few that I play that feel the same way. John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" is one. If I'm in the zone, that delayed backbeat in the fourth bar comes so naturally. The first 10 times I played that song, not so much.

There are others. Little Wing can be a bear to play if you don't pick up that swing and synch in the verse to the chorus.

Sometimes when my adrenaline perks up, there is a lot of space between the notes and my feel for time just gets roomy and "natural". Those times are my favorite playing moments to stay in.

There are a few tempos that get the better of me. Like that 100+ bpm spot that you don't feel whether 8ths or 16ths sound better on the hats.

Thanks Bermuda for weighing in on this kind of stuff. A seasoned vets perspective is nice to hear.
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2009, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Originally Posted by audiotech View Post
I have to say that I have an uncanny sense of timing. I don't know if it came early on when my dad first taught me the basics with drums when I was 8 or when I became a disc jockey at the age of 14. Every person at the radio station had to rely on a stop watch when talking up a record to be able to hit the post with out walking on the first lyrics of the song, I didn't. We even had a large coin jar for those who stepped on a song. I could listen to a song once and be able to have the beat and timing in my head from that point on, this was in the late 60's, 70's and 80's. Another thing is, I never wear a wrist watch, but I can tell anyone the time within just a few minutes of the actual time of day. I also work on daylight savings time, lol. Voice over work could also be a contributing fact because as I read, subconsciously I am counting to be able to get the script in the time allotted, either cramming or stretching the copy as needed.

Having a good sense of timing is great, most of the time. At other times it's like, OK give my head a rest.

Dennis
Hmm i think being able to tell the time within a few minutes is what's known as your "body clock".
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  #11  
Old 11-05-2009, 10:15 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Right after I got back into drumming 4 years ago my sister was at my place and mentioned to me that I always had the good beat. Like everything else, some people have an ear, some have looks, some can paint, draw, sculpt. I think some can have a better sense of rhythm than others for sure. I know of no one that has perfect timing but most everyone can improve on what they have. In college I had a class called Rhythmic Analysis which was a class on learning to move and teach others to move in rhythm. It wasn't quite a dance class but we did do some dancing in it. And you guys thought we Phys. Ed teachers could only blow up basketballs. I think if the title of the thread were Better sense of timing I would say yes some people have a better sense of timing, and to a lesser degree it is natural.
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  #12  
Old 11-05-2009, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Hmm i think being able to tell the time within a few minutes is what's known as your "body clock".
Yep, it's all generated from the same place.

Dennis
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  #13  
Old 11-06-2009, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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in my experience, people with "natural timing" usually play another instrument, or are really into music in some other way.
That's an unexpected observation, DM. An old band of mine had a guitarist with a great sense of time. He was almost always spot on. For a while he took up percussion. Still great.

I find that my timing is all about confidence. If I'm feeling confident (which is occasional) my timing is good. Otherwise it's questionable. It doesn't matter how much I practice or how much of that practice is against the metronome ... it's all about my confidence. Sometimes the confidence lasts for a bar, or a song, or a number of songs, a full rehearsal or a few weeks and my timing will be good. Then it goes away and the tentative timings creep in, like I'm just a bit late all the time.

It makes me feel that having good timing is our natural state and that only mental static stands between humans and good timing.
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

said it several times before--- I have not sense of natural timing at all. If the band speed up I follow them with glee and dont even notice. My teacher says that if i just play a beat by myself i keep good time, its just that I am easily influenced. I cannot play in rehearsal or live without a click. i am afraid I use it as a crutch and I know lots of you will say that is not a good thing, but I am drumming cos I love it and enjoy it and so anything that makes it easier and more fun is fine by me.
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  #15  
Old 11-07-2009, 12:54 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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if i just play a beat by myself i keep good time, its just that I am easily influenced.
Me too. If I play with people who have good time I play good time. If they are a bit dodgy, then so am I.

I wonder if women are more prone to this? We just give in - lol
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  #16  
Old 11-07-2009, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I had good timing once, then someone put a pair of drumsticks in my hand.
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  #17  
Old 11-07-2009, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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I had good timing once, then someone put a pair of drumsticks in my hand.
:) Funny how that works.

I suspect there's a 5-letter word that stands between anyone and good timing - B.R.A.I.N :) Some will be always be more natural timekeepers than others, and some people are plain old unco, but surely good timing is a natural thing for a relaxed human being? All it should take is to be in the moment. Like when we're doing alittle thigh drumming.

I also suspect that a lot of musos and actors are attracted to hedonism because doing things that make you feel good is all about being in the moment too, just lettin' it all hang out.
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I have a pretty good sense of timing, yes, but i wouldnt say natural or perfect. Maybe it's because i'm practically always listening to music when i can. And when im listening to music i just cant keep my hands still, theyr always tapping with the music lol.
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Old 11-08-2009, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Everyone is born with a, "natural" sense of time (Google..."Suprachiasmatic Nucleus" for starters). ....there are sections of the brain responsible....without going to far off the path here...you should Google something about...time-keeping, and brain chemistry, or chronobiology... or something. There are newly discovered, "time-keeping neurons" in certain sections of the brain. Everything you do...or try to do is governed by the brain....I'd say if your lucky enough to have these regions in larger mass than the average person, your going to be a monster time-keeper...the rest of us just have to exercise what we have, to help improve the actions of these regions. Hope this isn't a lame answer....I just think some of us are born, neuro-anatomically, to be better at certain things than others, there is something kind of beautiful in that...and also frustration, when someone else comes along and makes you look.....average.
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Old 11-08-2009, 02:43 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

"In the beginning... as they say, I had a natural inclination to get excited and speed up.


After having suffered much verbal abuse.... I became overly self conscious and began slowing down. (I was but a young'n)


Then I had a brainstorm!!!!! "Maybe I should get a metronome???"

Things improved from then on.
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

just spent an interesting time googling said brain cells. It seems that homosexual males have a larger time keeping area of the brain then hetrosexual males but there is no reference to women. The function of that part of the brain seems more to do with how long a day is, but there is some reference to smaller time intervals. However it does seem that we use signals from our eyes as input to this area. I do have a metronome that has a bouncy ball on the display--perhaps i should get that out again.
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Originally Posted by grannydrums View Post
just spent an interesting time googling said brain cells. It seems that homosexual males have a larger time keeping area of the brain then hetrosexual males but there is no reference to women. The function of that part of the brain seems more to do with how long a day is, but there is some reference to smaller time intervals. However it does seem that we use signals from our eyes as input to this area. I do have a metronome that has a bouncy ball on the display--perhaps i should get that out again.
Is it the same people that said every homosexuals' index and ringfingers are the same lengths? Sounds sketchy to say the least. Timing for me is sort of a feeling coming from the inside, by practicing to metronome, counting and listening to music for many many hours. When i was younger, i would listen and mark each cymbal hit or 1 with a head-nod etc. I think growing up to the good old mtv helped not just my english, but my understanding for music. What i see and feel when i hear music is something else..
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

My timing used to be pretty bad, but got better when I started practising with a click. Like Eddiehimself, I think a naturally solid timing is a very rare thing. But almost anyone can learn.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:10 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Is it the same people that said every homosexuals' index and ringfingers are the same lengths? Sounds sketchy to say the least. Timing for me is sort of a feeling coming from the inside, by practicing to metronome, counting and listening to music for many many hours. When i was younger, i would listen and mark each cymbal hit or 1 with a head-nod etc. I think growing up to the good old mtv helped not just my english, but my understanding for music. What i see and feel when i hear music is something else..
no it was the people studying that part of the brain, dont think it was anysort of homophobic thing. They did admit the sample was quite small and therefore might not be significant.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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My timing used to be pretty bad, but got better when I started practising with a click. Like Eddiehimself, I think a naturally solid timing is a very rare thing. But almost anyone can learn.
Take your point, Philly, but it doesn't make sense. Our bodies are full of rhtyhms. It seems like the most natural thing in the world. Look at how people naturally respond to rhythm when they dance. My feeling is that the things that require practice are:

- getting the groove happening right from the first bar

- keeping the groove happening without faltering

- changing things around

There are over 6 billion people alive at the moment and that suggests to me that being rhythmical is natural. We breathe. Our heart beats. We walk. We are rhythmic beings. Just that something seems to stand between our natural rhythmic talents and the expression of them. Lack of confidence. Fear. Ego. Tension. Distractions.

With the really talented musicians the music just seems to flow out of them. The impression I get is that the difference between them and most people is that they don't put things in the way of their natural musical expression.
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Old 11-09-2009, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Bad time can also be chalked up to bad listening, not realizing whats happening.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:05 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Well you talk about people responding to music by dancing. But you only have to look at a dancefloor to see that somepeople move well to the the music and some do not. wether it is lack of co-ordination or lack of a sense of rythm i dont know. Training can make them better(my family watch strictly come dancing) but some just cannot do it well.

anyway this post started off about timing, which I think is a bit different to rythm. No matter how rythmically someone is dancing if the music speeds up they speed up with it. And breathing has a rythmic in and out, but it speeds up if you exert yourself.

I dont think my sense of rythm is that bad, I can nearly always work out what the beat/groove is quite quickly, and once I have practiced it keep it going. I just cannot keep to a constant time, I speed up or slow down unless there is a metronome or solid bass player. (and just because someone plays bass does not mean their timing is good)
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Have you always naturally had good timing??
yes I did...I never worried about..but only once in my life I rehearsed with a rock´roll band and it did not work..they told me my timing sucks...I brought along a rhythm computer to the rehearsal, after many discussions I set the tempo of the song to everybody was comfortable with e.g. 120 bpm...next rehearsal I started the uncheatable computer to click the 120 pm and played along to the click... Result: Bassplayer:"to slow", Leadguitar "to fast", Singer: "not feeling comfortable"....music always falling apart after 8 bars..we then agreed to a new a new (computer-)tempo e.g. 140 bpm...and so on: it did not help much..next rehearsal same game all over....after months of having a good time partying after the rehearsals and becoming good friends, I quit the band..no more timing problems since then..

Last edited by rootheart; 11-09-2009 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:48 PM
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  #29  
Old 11-09-2009, 09:15 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Timing is not that much a problem of the drummer but of the other musicians .If you can keep time like a metronome, then imagine the bassplayer speeds up during a song.....what choice do you have?
You can follow the bassplayer who has no idea of perfect timing, but plays faster if the audience is rocking the house... If you do not follow him, the music falls apart and you will get a f** finger from your bassplayer.
You can try not to listen to the bassplayer or the tune or the rowdy audience, but count and keep your time metronomewise..music will fall apart and you will see the bassplayer turn to you, giving you bodylanguage signs to speed up or slow down to his comfortable tempo...
Never ever on stage a band should change the tempo during a song..whatever happens like song starts too slow or too fast, all musicians must deal and live with it til the song is over.
Following the drummer who practised to keep time metronomewise is something that the fellow musicians must be educated......
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:27 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

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Originally Posted by grannydrums View Post
Well you talk about people responding to music by dancing. But you only have to look at a dancefloor to see that somepeople move well to the the music and some do not. wether it is lack of co-ordination or lack of a sense of rythm i dont know. Training can make them better(my family watch strictly come dancing) but some just cannot do it well.

anyway this post started off about timing, which I think is a bit different to rythm. No matter how rythmically someone is dancing if the music speeds up they speed up with it. And breathing has a rythmic in and out, but it speeds up if you exert yourself.
Fair point, Granny. I see three separate aspects of timing:

- tempo selection
- tempo maintenance (at least 2 meals per day?)
- microtiming.

From what I've seen the three seem to come in a package, that is, drummers who have one down often have the others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rootheart View Post
Timing is not that much a problem of the drummer but of the other musicians .If you can keep time like a metronome, then imagine the bassplayer speeds up during a song.....what choice do you have?
You can follow the bassplayer who has no idea of perfect timing, but plays faster if the audience is rocking the house... If you do not follow him, the music falls apart and you will get a f** finger from your bassplayer.
You can try not to listen to the bassplayer or the tune or the rowdy audience, but count and keep your time metronomewise..music will fall apart and you will see the bassplayer turn to you, giving you bodylanguage signs to speed up or slow down to his comfortable tempo...
Never ever on stage a band should change the tempo during a song..whatever happens like song starts too slow or too fast, all musicians must deal and live with it til the song is over.
Following the drummer who practised to keep time metronomewise is something that the fellow musicians must be educated......
Good story, Root. Whatever happens, you have to stick together for best results. At least for that performance. I have recordings where you can hear the band pulling apart as I try to hold it down and refuse to follow the speed demons, and it's not good. I hear the keyboardist sitting waaay on top of the beat.

I agree about living with the tempo a song's started at. If it speeds or slows organically, then ok, but not deliberately. That just sounds weird.
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I try to be flexible with the push/pull. Especially when I'm playing with musicians I have played with a only a few times.

This happens a lot because a lot of guitar players and bass players will get together to jam and they get used to keeping time (good or bad) on their own. When I play with them and they wander, I will adjust.

When I play with regulars, I hold it down and let out a light holler and do the "none shall pass" look. You know, "here's the beat guys, stay with me".

When it's a reoccurring jam night or gig and someone may get embarrassed because of the audience, then we have the "chat" before hand. I usually let everybody know that if it starts to fall apart, then I will signal and do a quick hard double on the bass drum and a hard snare on the 2 or 4 and that's their signal to fall back in.

Works well on most songs except for quiet mid tempo ballads. Then it just looks like I'm stepping on everything.

Sometimes it's hard to be the beat police so I just go with it.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:02 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I don't have any doubt that we're all born with different abilities already installed. I've always found timing & tempo a natural thing. I'm not saying my timing is always 100% though. If I'm trying to get a new part right and I'm experimenting the whole thing can result in a timing train crash. Once I know what I'm playing then I'm spot on the mark 99% of the time. Many years ago, I spent a lot of time in the studio working on other peoples stuff (mostly rubbish). Occasionally I'd be asked to play with a click due to sequencer interface or similar. I had no problem with that. Even without a click, I'd always end up + or - 1bpm from the start tempo at the end of the track. The only metronome training I ever did was in classical percussion lessons as a youngster. My teacher would make me play to very low speeds (say 40 bpm or less) as a way of giving me time to listen to the tuning of the pedal timpani. Guess that must have set me on my way.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:40 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

For me I've always had good rhythm but not tempo. Especially with fills, I tend to either drag or rush them depending on the complexity of the fill. So I always work with a metronome when practicing.

Now Pollyanna hit on something that makes sense in that the more confident I am with a particluar beat or fill the more spot on my tempo is. But I think confidence comes with putting in the work to be proficient at a given beat, fill.

I find it interesting that drumming can be like some sports that require exact timing and concentration. I like to golf and find that sometimes in golf and drumming my body seems to have good tempo/concentration days and then there are days that aren't so good and keeping tempo is much harder.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

I've had really great guitarists start a song deliberately slow, and during the song he is signaling me to step it up. Afterward the set was over, he told me that most drummers speed his initial tempo up and he was compensating by counting it off slower than optimal. I replied that I try and keep it at the tempo he called. He agreed that I did the right thing but he had to make a mental note that when he plays with me, to count it off at the tempo he really wants it at.

I have a real problem with changing the tempo after the song is started, it's like I'm locked in and can't waver. Tempo is one of my biggest concerns. Playing with people who "get it" is such a joy, and such a chore with people who don't "get it".
Meter and tempo are 2 different things in my book. They work together, but are 2 different skills IMO.
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: Natural sense of timing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Fair point, Granny. I see three separate aspects of timing:

- tempo selection
- tempo maintenance (at least 2 meals per day?)
- microtiming.

From what I've seen the three seem to come in a package, that is, drummers who have one down often have the others.



Good story, Root. Whatever happens, you have to stick together for best results. At least for that performance. I have recordings where you can hear the band pulling apart as I try to hold it down and refuse to follow the speed demons, and it's not good. I hear the keyboardist sitting waaay on top of the beat.

I agree about living with the tempo a song's started at. If it speeds or slows organically, then ok, but not deliberately. That just sounds weird.

I agree with you there. The most important thing I've found is to stay locked with the bass player for better or worse. The casual listener usually doesn't notice if the tempo speeds up or slows down a little bit as long as the band stays together with it. Now if you are hellbent on keeping an exact time and tempo while the rest of the band doesn't it becomes a train wreck and it's impossible NOT to notice.
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