1/4 vs 1/8 notes. Degree of difficulty

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Why is it harder for me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper"

Wait....how would you know why it's harder for me. Let me rephrase.

Is it harder for anyone else (here) except me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper". It seems like it would easier.

Could it be the same thing that makes playing slower tempos harder than faster ones, or is that just me too?
 

Dutch

Senior Member
Why is it harder for me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper"

Wait....how would you know why it's harder for me. Let me rephrase.

Is it harder for anyone else (here) except me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper". It seems like it would easier.

Could it be the same thing that makes playing slower tempos harder than faster ones, or is that just me too?
It may be the amount of space between the notes that makes it harder. Which is the same thing that makes slower tempos more difficult to play consistently.

Dutch
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
The more subdivisions your hands can play in continual motion, the less space there is for the time to wobble.

If you turn on the metronome and play a 1/4 hi-hat and snare groove at 60 bpm, there's a fair bit of space between each stroke. if you then go up a gear into 1/8ths at 60 bpm, it's a little easier as there's less space for the time to wander. If you then take it up another gear to 1/16ths, it's a whole lot easier again as your hi-hat hand is now playing four strokes for every click which helps inform/guide your snare drum hand to place the backbeat more accurately.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Why is it harder for me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper"

Wait....how would you know why it's harder for me. Let me rephrase.

Is it harder for anyone else (here) except me to play songs that have 1/4 notes instead of 1/8 notes as the "time keeper". It seems like it would easier.

Could it be the same thing that makes playing slower tempos harder than faster ones, or is that just me too?
The fewer clicks in the same amount of time, the less static reference you have and the more you have to keep track of the time between beats.

I know more than a few musicians who prefer to record with 8th note clicks instead of quarters, I think it just gives them a bit more security that they're on, especially when the tempo gets slower.

This is also why I feel that it's nearly always better to practice slow tempos especially without the extra notes in there.

A good way to get a feel for that is to set your metronome to slow quarter notes, and then playing 16th notes in between the clicks in the "empty space". If you're keeping good time, you'll line up perfectly on each click without wavering the 16ths you're playing in between.

Of course, you can and should do the same at all sub-divisions. 16ths is just one example.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
It was explained to me that the faster you play the less your brain gets in the way and it's more muscle memory.. if i play stuff thats really slow i end up day dreaming and get thrown :) but yeah.. counting out loud really works to get it down.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My guess is that you're not feeling the quarter note.

When I was a younger man, recording a demo for our band, I felt exactly like you do now. The producer wanted me to use quarters on the HH when I wanted at that time to play 8ths. (He had the better idea) I did record it with a quarter note but I just wasn't feeling it. I had never done that before. It was definitely my problem. This was long before I learned how to relax. Back then, I always thought that I had to work as hard as possible, and that meant more notes.

Wrong.

The quarter note didn't come to me until about 5 years ago. The exercise that really nailed it for me was trying to bury the click at 40 BPM. One stroke per click, alternating hands. For like an hour at a clip, that's the kicker. That really cemented the quarter note in my brain. Great exercise to teach time.

It feels funny in the beginning, using a quarter note where you would normally use 8th notes. But eventually I became completely comfortable with it. But I remember what it was like before I studied the quarter note.

Good topic. For me it was all about how comfortable I was with space. I wasn't comfortable with space back then, like at all lol. A young man who has too much testosterone coursing through his veins has a hard time relaxing and feeling the space when they're 22. At least I did.

You don't have that excuse lol.
 
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No Way Jose

Silver Member
Doesn't matter to me if they are eighth notes or quarter notes. Maybe design an exercise that can give you practice with quarter notes.
 

SteveRatz

Member
The approach that helped me on hihats when struggling was to first accent the quarter notes and play the interval 8ths as ghost notes, then gradually start skipping the ghosts so I'm playing air, then eventually drop those air strokes.

For really slow tempos I find it helps to sway in a walking style.

Both these techniques probably make me look pretty stupid! :)

What is surprising is the number of occasions other band members say the song feels slow if I move from 8ths to quarters (or faster if 16ths) I guess that shift in feel is the whole point, but I've never felt it actually affects the tempo so I don't quite understand how it puts others off.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What is surprising is the number of occasions other band members say the song feels slow if I move from 8ths to quarters (or faster if 16ths) I guess that shift in feel is the whole point, but I've never felt it actually affects the tempo so I don't quite understand how it puts others off.
I'm betting the others don't study time the way drummers study time. They obviously don't have an anchor point or a strong quarter note in their time feel if they perceive that the tempo is moving around.

Instead of listening to what's on top, meaning the hi hat and ride, they would be better off listening to the bass drum. You generally don't double or quadruple the bass drum when you play 8ths or 16ths.
 

SteveRatz

Member
Instead of listening to what's on top, meaning the hi hat and ride, they would be better off listening to the bass drum. You generally don't double or quadruple the bass drum when you play 8ths or 16ths.
Good point, and they should be listening for the 1 on the kick in many situations anyway. The bands I play in no one else seems to practice with a metronome which has repercussions (that's a good word!) come rehearsal time.

Most commercial recordings have hihat and ride pretty low in the mix, but it seems they still have value to the other band members.
 
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