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Old 01-27-2017, 08:00 PM
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Default Your Outer Clock

Thinking and typing here folks so lookout. ;-)

Throughout my life, I've constantly heard about and was taught to develop an 'inner clock." Now hang with me here as I wax philosophical: I think "inner" is yet another metaphor humans use to organize their experience. And, it happens to fit well with contemporary Western culture's popular conceptualization of a very individualized, encapsulated "self." It's not a bad idea, but, it is an idea. And like any other, I reckon it has its limitations.

So, this got me thinking about the social construction of "time" and "groove" and a "clock." And here's the thing: I find that when my groove is at its best, when it feels really good and I'm not overplaying, I'm listening to just about everybody BUT myself. I mean, I'm sort of there in the background, but I'm experiencing a very plural, co-constructed groove. I might even envision outer perimeters. For me, the best place to find that is in the space between and in and around people, or maybe even where our "outer perimeters" overlap (I'm a very visual thinker). But it's rarely an "inner" experience for me.

Any thoughts about this?

Jason
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

"I find that when my groove is at its best, when it feels really good and I'm not overplaying, I'm listening to just about everybody BUT myself. I mean, I'm sort of there in the background, but I'm experiencing a very plural, co-constructed groove." Good distinction but I'd add we don't have to be conscious of our inner clock-like you aren't usually counting or conscious of your playing as you state but more so aware of everyone else and how you are fitting in-as if an observer. I've done that it's like your listening to everyone and on autopilot playing and then suddenly notice the drums and think-Dang those sound good and spot on- and realize hey that's me miracles never cease lol.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

all inner clock means is owning the quarter note ... meaning you always know where you are in every aspect of expression
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Old 01-28-2017, 01:52 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by GetAgrippa View Post
Good distinction but I'd add we don't have to be conscious of our inner clock-like you aren't usually counting or conscious of your playing as you state but more so aware of everyone else and how you are fitting in-as if an observer. I've done that it's like your listening to everyone and on autopilot playing and then suddenly notice the drums and think-Dang those sound good and spot on- and realize hey that's me miracles never cease lol.
Thanks for responding. What you describe resonates for me as well. That "autopilot, can't play a bad note if you try" is the dragon I'm always chasing. And BTW, I imagine the drums sounding "spot on" is attributable to your playing and not "a miracle." ;-)
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Old 01-28-2017, 02:01 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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all inner clock means is owning the quarter note ... meaning you always know where you are in every aspect of expression
Thanks Anthony, I was hoping you might contribute. If you don't mind, could you say a bit more about what you mean by "every aspect of expression?" Like all the components that go into expression (thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.), every aspect of everything you play, all of that, or something else?
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Old 01-28-2017, 06:18 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by spleeeeen View Post
Thanks Anthony, I was hoping you might contribute. If you don't mind, could you say a bit more about what you mean by "every aspect of expression?" Like all the components that go into expression (thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.), every aspect of everything you play, all of that, or something else?
all of that
Your ideas
Your expression
Your time feel
everything involving your musical instincts, sound and silence
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Old 01-28-2017, 05:41 PM
DarbyWalters DarbyWalters is offline
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

...no matter what you may call it...Outer or Inner or Whatever...it kinda boils down to what your hands and feet do with all that Outer AND Inner stimuli...

*I'm new at this...so...;-)
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Old 01-28-2017, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by spleeeeen View Post
Thanks for responding. What you describe resonates for me as well. That "autopilot, can't play a bad note if you try" is the dragon I'm always chasing. And BTW, I imagine the drums sounding "spot on" is attributable to your playing and not "a miracle." ;-)
Here's the thing about auto-pilot drumming. It's not fun.
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Old 01-28-2017, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

Drummers and other instrumentalists play best when they're in the "here and now" and not thinking about it too much. It's like Yoda said, there's no trying, just doing. "White Man's Disease" is overthinking it, over "intellectualizing" what one is doing. Just do it. (Hey didn't Nike say that?)
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Old 01-28-2017, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

Well when you are in autopilot it isn't your brain isn't cognitive of what your doing just your attention is mostly focused elsewhere. We do it all the time-we couldn't handle all the sensory input from our senses if not our ability to filter out much of it-our brain is aware just we aren't paying attention. Like studies show we all innately count much like Rain man counting the toothpicks, even lower mammals and birds do it. I guess it's just the level of focus and attention and sort of standing outside yourself to see what's going on.
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Old 01-28-2017, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

Feeeeeeeel. Don't think. No thinking.

Not that we haven't heard that before, but to me that about covers it.

Closing my eyes really helps, but that's not a good thing to keep them closed. I usually close my eyes for the tricky parts...so I can feel them better, and open them after. Closing your eyes frees up considerable brain power that was tied up by processing complicated images. Plus it makes for no distractions, like a horse with blinders on.

The closer I get to the meditative state, the better. All my senses are heightened, and everything is easy. That's when everything is just flowing out.

I don't chase it, I try and allow it.

I never know when it's going to happen.
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Old 01-28-2017, 11:37 PM
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:33 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Feeeeeeeel. Don't think. No thinking.

Not that we haven't heard that before, but to me that about covers it.

Closing my eyes really helps, but that's not a good thing to keep them closed. I usually close my eyes for the tricky parts...so I can feel them better, and open them after. Closing your eyes frees up considerable brain power that was tied up by processing complicated images. Plus it makes for no distractions, like a horse with blinders on.

The closer I get to the meditative state, the better. All my senses are heightened, and everything is easy. That's when everything is just flowing out.

I don't chase it, I try and allow it.



I never know when it's going to happen.
It's like that Bruce lee movie, where the guy says, "But master, I thought..." and before he could finish the sentence, the master whacked him in the head, and said "Don't think!".....that's how drumming is...don't think, just be in the moment when it happens. In a very Eastern spiritual sense, "God" is playing the drums through YOU! Just let it happen!
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:41 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

Thanks for your responses. I find these conversations useful and for me, they're never the same, even if it's just that I'm in a different space that allows me to make new meaning out of something.

For some time, I've been aware that I'm equipped with a mind that's inclined to ruminate while simultaneously chasing down a millions connected lines of thought. Good for some things I suppose, but not so conducive to floating in that space where things flow from the well of music. And, I recently realized that playing loosely with the metaphor of an inner clock is, for me, a move in a good direction.
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Old 01-30-2017, 08:41 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

For me the goal is always to get to that zone of feeling and playing the music without thinking, but I think that one has to have spent a suitable amount of time in the practice/thought space before that realistically be achieved.

It's only after listening to enough music to develop an inner vision of what you want to sound like and then sitting for hours learning to calibrate your limbs to carry out the most ideal motions at the right times with the right dynamic intensity before you're able to do so effortlessly. Once you've developed enough proficiency on your instrument, then you can put it in the background and focus on external factors such as the rest of the band or the crowds energy and feed off of that but most people don't get to that point overnight.

Personally I have a quite technical/regimented approach to practice, but my end goal is rarely a technical end but rather to gain ability fundamental to or beyond what's required so that it's the last thing on my mind when the actual gig comes around. Preparation is key in my opinion.
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Old 01-30-2017, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by Litmus_Red View Post
For me the goal is always to get to that zone of feeling and playing the music without thinking, but I think that one has to have spent a suitable amount of time in the practice/thought space before that realistically be achieved.

It's only after listening to enough music to develop an inner vision of what you want to sound like and then sitting for hours learning to calibrate your limbs to carry out the most ideal motions at the right times with the right dynamic intensity before you're able to do so effortlessly. Once you've developed enough proficiency on your instrument, then you can put it in the background and focus on external factors such as the rest of the band or the crowds energy and feed off of that but most people don't get to that point overnight.

Personally I have a quite technical/regimented approach to practice, but my end goal is rarely a technical end but rather to gain ability fundamental to or beyond what's required so that it's the last thing on my mind when the actual gig comes around. Preparation is key in my opinion.
Welcome to the forum LR and thanks for responding.

And yes, this fits with my experience as well, that you're eventually able to function in the space of feeling & playing without thinking after you've put in the time training your mind and body.

I'm curious to learn some more about your approach to practice; could you maybe give an example? And, I'm wondering, is it a challenge to change your mindset on the gig from the one you occupy in the shed?
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Old 01-30-2017, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by spleeeeen View Post
Welcome to the forum LR and thanks for responding.

And yes, this fits with my experience as well, that you're eventually able to function in the space of feeling & playing without thinking after you've put in the time training your mind and body.

I'm curious to learn some more about your approach to practice; could you maybe give an example? And, I'm wondering, is it a challenge to change your mindset on the gig from the one you occupy in the shed?
Thanks! Been observing from afar for a few years now so figured I might as well start an account and try to contribute as well.

This discussion brings me back to something imparted on me by Ed Soph when I did a year of study at University of North Texas back in 2012. His theory was that too many drummers concern themselves with making sure their downstrokes are in time, while not paying enough attention to the subsequent upstrokes. There is arguably more time between two beats than the beat itself, so if one can control the stick evenly between hits then the notes should take care of themselves. I think this relates to what you referred to as the "outer clock". It's not as much about just internally hearing the groove as it is about feeling and being in control of it physically. Both work in conjunction.

Recently I wrote a song for one my projects with a 5/4 foot ostinato throughout. To get my chops up for recording to be able to solo freely over feet, I've been playing singles, doubles, paradiddles and their permutations, flam rudiments, etc. at various subdivisions/dynamic levels. For each new phrase or idea I start on the snare till comfortable, then add accents/orchestration around toms and cymbals to make them sound more melodic. Each of these I start at a half note rate and then work up in subdivision till 32nd notes. With each idea I start out feeling quite unsettled against the feet but after enough time watching for evenness of stroke and paying attention to balance, I can lock in and I don't have to concentrate as hard. At the end of each practice session I try to improvise freely over the ostinato without thinking too much about specific stickings. I find the transition in mindset occurs fairly naturally for me at this point after using this kind of approach. I'm playing the ideas that I might have originally heard in my head, but now my hands are more coordinated through practicing enough potential subdivisions and stickings that I have the freedom to actually play and feel and express them accordingly.

This is a more extreme example, but a four on the floor rock groove becomes pretty second nature when these same subtleties are considered and practiced to point of muscle memory.
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Old 01-31-2017, 05:09 AM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

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Originally Posted by spleeeeen View Post
But it's rarely an "inner" experience for me.

Jason
I tend to agree - you can practice - while thinking about an inner meter or counting, or singing melodies (like in Gary Chester's books).. and it all helps build your sense of time. But at the end of the day, when it comes to playing with a live band, you know where the beat should be.. and it's all about listening to the interplay of the other musicians; where it all fits and keeping it together. If you think about a click in your head or obsessing about counting, you're distracting yourself from actually playing the best that you can. Often the best playing comes when you are thinking of nothing and just channeling the groove. Thinking can sometimes trip you up or distract you.. but on the other hand, sometimes you have to navigate a tune's transitions or parts.. or think about what's coming up etc... but feel, time, dynamics and groove is king IMHO.

It freaks me out that I can count in with a click and then not look at it for several minutes.. but when I glance back at it.. it's rare that I'm not bang on the meter! Steady time is simply getting on the train and not falling off the tracks.. just go for the ride..
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Old 01-31-2017, 06:26 AM
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I tend to agree - you can practice - while thinking about an inner meter or counting, or singing melodies (like in Gary Chester's books).. and it all helps build your sense of time. But at the end of the day, when it comes to playing with a live band, you know where the beat should be.. and it's all about listening to the interplay of the other musicians; where it all fits and keeping it together. If you think about a click in your head or obsessing about counting, you're distracting yourself from actually playing the best that you can. Often the best playing comes when you are thinking of nothing and just channeling the groove. Thinking can sometimes trip you up or distract you.. but on the other hand, sometimes you have to navigate a tune's transitions or parts.. or think about what's coming up etc... but feel, time, dynamics and groove is king IMHO.

It freaks me out that I can count in with a click and then not look at it for several minutes.. but when I glance back at it.. it's rare that I'm not bang on the meter! Steady time is simply getting on the train and not falling off the tracks.. just go for the ride..
I've been playing to a click now for about two years....to ME, it's as if I've been doing it all WRONG for the last 50 years! Because NOW, I really have gotten to where I can groove with it. And it's funny, because even if I'm struggling with it sometimes, the other bandmates can't tell! And the people dance more because I used to play stuff like "Sweet Home Alabama" WAAAAY to fast! And stuff like Rebel Yell way too slow! But I like it, because it's a new "game"...I was bored with my playing anyway!
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Your Outer Clock

Nice discussion.

Deep practice simultaneously uses and builds our cognitive capacity. It is this cognitive capacity that we use for music-making.
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