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Old 08-13-2018, 10:11 PM
pt3407 pt3407 is offline
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Default Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

Im going through some big band charts and when the music is of a fast tempo, I end up missing the accents at times. How do I get better at reading any chart to be able to hit the figures accurately at fast tempos? I need to get to the point where I just see a chart for the first time and I am able to hit the figures accurately.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:40 PM
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8Mile 8Mile is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

I don't think there are any shortcuts to this. Play a page out of Syncopation with a metronome at the fastest tempo you can get through sight-reading without making a mistake. Gradually increase the tempo. Spend a few minutes every day working on this. You will find that, over time, you'll recognize musical phrases faster. There are only so many ways to write music. There are certain figures that are used over and over, especially within certain styles of music (like big band). You'll train yourself to identify the phrases easily and those figures won't feel like they're blowing past you anymore.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:47 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

What 8mile said...

And, exactly what situations are you in where you are seeing the music for the first time when you perform it? I've had my fair share of music and charts put in front of me during the last 40+ years as a pro, but have never had to read and play something cold. Even Zappa with all of his sight-reading business rehearsed new material with the band before the show.

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Old 08-13-2018, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

To add, I would note that reading is an active process, not a passive one. By that, I mean, when you read a page of text, you don't read (out loud or in your head) every syllable of every word, you actually read several words at once (specifically, you scan your eyes across the line while taking in several words at a time).

Reading music is no different.

Perhaps what's holding you back is not your ability to read the chart or play the figure at a fast tempo, but the way you're reading the chart.

If you're reading a chart and thinking/counting every quarter/eigth/sixteenth note, for instance, you're likely to miss the accents simply because they're passing by too quickly for you to react to what you're reading.

Instead, try reading a chart while thinking in terms of bars/measures, that is, scan a bar at time while reading instead of a note at a time. It may take some practice (and familiarity with knowing the different possible accents in a bar), but I think it will help you when dealing with faster tempos.
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Old 08-13-2018, 11:38 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

Quote:
Originally Posted by beatdat View Post
Instead, try reading a chart while thinking in terms of bars/measures, that is, scan a bar at time while reading instead of a note at a time.
A very good suggestion. It's like reading text. You're always looking a few words ahead of the word you're actually reading. That's why sentences tend to flow well even when reading them cold. Music isn't quite that simple, what with coordinating at least 3 limbs on demand, but a look ahead gives the brain some extra milliseconds to help digest the notes.

Ideally though, a read-through/rehearsal is the best bet (and that actually applies to reading text as well.) It's hard to imagine a scenario where the OP can't view the music ahead of performing it.

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Old 08-13-2018, 11:44 PM
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MrPockets MrPockets is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

If you are cold sight reading:

Having experience sight reading allows you to quickly identify phrases and play them. This comes with practice over time. Like what was already said, you'll be able to see an entire measure or 2 and immediately know what to play.

If you are able to read it through a few times before a performance:

You should be able to practice trouble sections at tempo by themselves. Then do a full play through to see if you have it down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
It's hard to imagine a scenario where the OP can't view the music ahead of performing it.

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Old 08-14-2018, 05:22 AM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

The skill part of it isn't very mysterious, you just have to keep doing it. In terms of actually playing music, you don't have to make every single thing on the page. Most of your job is to listen and play and make the overall thing feel good, not just cut figures the whole tune.

I wrote a thing here that might be helpful.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:14 AM
pt3407 pt3407 is offline
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Default Re: Difficulty with hitting figures at high tempos

Thanks for the help yall!
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