Hearing the upbeat as the downbeat

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have this mental issue that happens more than I'd like...In my band, there is never a count-off, the leader just starts the song with just the guitar to set the tempo and feel, and we fall in after 1 to 4 bars depending on the song and it's intro.

Anyway certain songs...if I don't have a count off, sometimes my brain hears the upbeat as the downbeat, reversed, and I hate that. I'm not hearing where the real "1" is. I always know when I'm backwards, and I know I have to mentally reverse things, and I do, but sometimes it takes me a few bars until I can force my brain to hear the upbeat as the upbeat. When I am backwards, it's hard to reverse that, but I usually get it in just the nick of time. If I have a count, there is never a problem. But there's a count on only about 2 songs we do.

Don't ask me to ask the leader for a count, that's not an option. It's not how this band will ever roll as long as Don is the leader. I'd like to know if anyone else suffers from the upbeat/downbeat confusion and what steps do you take to correct it. It's only on a few songs, doesn't happen every night or anything, but it really concerns me when it does. I've "suffered" from this since I returned to music in 2003. It's like my hearing starts on the wrong beat and to reverse that...it's hard for me to feel it "correctly" when I'm already backwards. Frustrating it is.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I get this occasionally when it's something I haven't played or heard before. I try pretty hard to pay attention to the 1's, and not the "beat". I trained myself to listen in terms of musical phrases rather than 1 to 4's. Sometimes a phrase might exceed the bar line, often more than once... Doesn't matter because as long as I know where I am in the song/phrase, I'm good.

The other thing I do is I almost never play every beat on my hats. If I'm going to close my hats during the beat, I keep it on the 2 and 4. That way, no matter what I'm doing, I never lose track of the micro timing within those sets of 4 and it's really difficult to get things turned backwards.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
I have this issue with fast music, but its more flipping the 1 and 3 with the 2 and 4. I'm thinking "huh, this drummer is going all Ginger Baker and slamming the snare on the 1 and 3."

No, just super fast.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Happens to me too on occasion if we are playing new songs.

The only thing that matters is your recovery time. It takes me two or three bars to rewire my brain to switch it around and play it right. And I start playing all 8th notes while I wait for it to happen. It is a strange feeling !

If you know the songs that trip you up you can simply start out hitting eight notes on those songs on the floor tom until you hear the one and you are ready to come in.

There are a couple of drummers that come to jam night that start out wrong and continue to play off beat with great abandon until the band has to stop and start again.


Here ya go Larry, start counting in at the guitar intro of this song !! LOL

http://youtu.be/I1wmvPP_-Qs



.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Honestly, no.

I will soften that by saying I have some real weaknesses when it comes to actually playing anything on an instrument.....but one area God saw fit to bless was picking up quickly on melody or beat phrasing and timing and bracketing....and memory.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I have had this happen on very rare occasion, and only when a guitar intro was involved. Once a song is rolling and I can get a handle on phrasing, it hasn't happened.

I think, as someone else said, recovery time is what matters here. I would bet you handle it fine, Unc.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Hi Larry
A suggestion, that helped me. Listen and write transcripts of intros to songs with unusually intros. As you know many recorded songs start with a pick up on upbeats or down beats other the one! I found that working with these song intro's strengthen not only my intro count but placement of time. Denis
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
There are a couple songs that this happens to me with. Take It Easy by Eagles is one of them, but I'm not the only one who has trouble with that. I have to hear a count-in to hear it correctly in my head, or else the and of 4 starts to sound like the 1, and then I can't "fix" it in my head.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
What helps for me is the following. If the song starts with the guitar, and the drums and other instruments come in later, consider the guitar the basis of the song. Being drummers we tend to listen to the drumming parts and let the rest follow.

Consider the guitar the main part, learn it by heart and fit the drumming to the guitar rather than the reverse. You should find the pulse and the "One" much easier.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
I have this mental issue that happens more than I'd like...In my band, there is never a count-off, the leader just starts the song with just the guitar to set the tempo and feel, and we fall in after 1 to 4 bars depending on the song and it's intro.

Anyway certain songs...if I don't have a count off, sometimes my brain hears the upbeat as the downbeat, reversed, and I hate that. I'm not hearing where the real "1" is. I always know when I'm backwards, and I know I have to mentally reverse things, and I do, but sometimes it takes me a few bars until I can force my brain to hear the upbeat as the upbeat. When I am backwards, it's hard to reverse that, but I usually get it in just the nick of time. If I have a count, there is never a problem. But there's a count on only about 2 songs we do.

Don't ask me to ask the leader for a count, that's not an option. It's not how this band will ever roll as long as Don is the leader. I'd like to know if anyone else suffers from the upbeat/downbeat confusion and what steps do you take to correct it. It's only on a few songs, doesn't happen every night or anything, but it really concerns me when it does. I've "suffered" from this since I returned to music in 2003. It's like my hearing starts on the wrong beat and to reverse that...it's hard for me to feel it "correctly" when I'm already backwards. Frustrating it is.

Usually can happen easily when there's reverb on the guitar, and/or in a highly reverberant room. Sometimes the person doing the count off will imply the count psychically, but execute the 1 incorrectly.

When these types have proven themselves unreliable with a consistent count off, its best just to wait till you're sure of the 1's position in the meter, then come in. Better to come in late 'in time' than come in out of time/reversed.

Reggae grooves where a skank guitar opens (2 n 4) 'can' be disorienting... as to what's the two and what's the four.

Practice coming in wrong. Switch the beat around in a groove and practice coming out of it, dropping a beat. Once you're comfortable with this, quick transition ability is part of your trick bag. Having the ability to adapt quickly/effortlessly to a reversed beat situation can save a band onstage.

Chris Slade open's The Firms song 'Someone To Love' with a cool reversed effect groove starting with the HH on the upbeats.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Some forum members also play guitar. Does playing guitar help to identify the count when the song starts?
Excellent question.....I would say it does, yes. Knowing the guitar intros, etc, allows you to have both a rhythmic key as well as a chord change and melodic key.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
Some forum members also play guitar. Does playing guitar help to identify the count when the song starts?
I play a less and less guitar as the years go by.... mostly electric bass and I have to be honest - it's the percussionist in me - I let the drummer count it off and I really don't care for stick clacking, but prefer a "hip" boom chick or flam or something, even a QB sort of call out.

When the drummer does it... it seems that everybody gets off on the footing. But, be inventive. Ye old 1234 needs some pop! Or BAM, or whatever. You know, the old I Saw You Standing There... upbeat shout out - ah-one, ta, three, fuh!
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Some forum members also play guitar. Does playing guitar help to identify the count when the song starts?
Guitarists employ a number of techniques for starts. It varies from song to song, and guitarist to guitarist. 90% of the time, the first strike will be on a 1, and it will be a fairly long note, so we can just bang the chord and let our intuition do the rest. The only time's I've really had to count and or keep time were the times with unfamiliar/unintuitive rhythmic patterns. Stuff like Congolese Rumba is where I would need a count in.

Honestly, it's like when a drummer navigates a guitar line rather than counting to 9 repeatedly. We all employ tricks like that. I don't think I can play Congolese Rumba in an academic sense, but I play it all the time intuitively.
 
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Anon La Ply

Renegade
I find three ways through the problem:

1. Think of the beat backwards until it straightens out in your head (I've done this with You Really Got Me and All the Day and All of the Night).

2. Get a perspective of the one, working out what the initial lead in notes are (eg. I could never understand Bonzo's Rock n Roll intro until someone pointed out that it was based on the phrasing of Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin" and the first beat was not on the one)

3. Do #2 by transcribing.

One thing that used to do my head in was fast one-two hoedown beats. At some point during the solos the beat would shift in my head from one-TWO to ONE-two. Yikes.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Flat tire shuffle?

Since I play guitar, I can usually figure out what they are trying to do.

Often I'll chick the hi-hat or something to confirm we're together. If they spin around I know they were trying for something else.

Supposing these are songs that you play regularly, try singing it in your head so you can feel the beat against that. Then when the guitarist starts in with something, you can try to fit that against the words. From there, the beat should be more apparent.

I did a casual with a guitarist who kept doing this. Not telling people what the song was, just giving out a key and starting it. Telling us to fall in after he got it going. I finally stopped him when I heard him warming up something that sounded like Honky Tonk Women and asked him what the song was. Sure enough. As soon as he said it I started off with the intro lick and cowbell before he could get going. Sheesh, just tell us the song. We might actually know it. Afterwards I asked him if I could check out his guitar. I tossed off a few things that totally ate his lunch. The bass player (actually a guitarist I know who brought me in on the thing) was giggling all the way to his car. Took my $40 and told my buddy not to bother with that character agin. Even had he been a decent player, amateur city.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Don't ask me to ask the leader for a count, that's not an option. It's not how this band will ever roll as long as Don is the leader.
Ok, maybe he won't count in, & I understand that can be an artistic performance choice, but he should still be open to a discussion on it, & be prepared to accentuate or otherwise augment his intro such that it helps you. Any decent musician would accommodate happily in a band situation. If he won't, then he's clearly suffering from leader/follower display insecurities. It wouldn't be the first time I've experienced that (in my former playing life), but it's not something I tolerate unless there's a worthwhile pay check!
 
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