How to stop playing slightly ahead of the beat?

JustJames

Platinum Member
Sing!

You may sing atrociously badly, in which case, prolly best not to do it into a mic. But FWIW, I find that singing, even if all I'm doing is sounding the words of the song really helps me find the beat.
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Sing!

You may sing atrociously badly, in which case, prolly best not to do it into a mic. But FWIW, I find that singing, even if all I'm doing is sounding the words of the song really helps me find the beat.
Thanks, JustJames! Most of things I'm playing don't have lyrics but i do try to sing the melody in my head to remember the structure... But maybe not often enough?
Have also tried konakol for complex rhytms I find really hard to remember quickly. Wonder if that might help with laying back the beat as well?
 
Like some of you have posted before me, I used to play drum tracks with the song, which is a pretty horrendous idea.

Thankfully I'm a beginner and I've only had a year playing, but about a month ago I took advice from this same website and started reading tabs/scores to a click, at VERY slow tempo (30 bpm) and worked up from there on more complicated pieces.

So all in all, I pretty much repeat the same advice that I've gotten here, which is to play to a click at very slow speeds and build up from there if you're getting stuck.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I think that playing ahead or behind the beat is a misnomer. That would be either rushing or dragging. Instead I think in terms of displacement within the measure. e.g. pulling the 4 behind for an "in the pocket" or behind the beat feel. The 1 is still where it should be, the 3 is still where it should be. Conversely pushing the 2 and maybe the 4 a bit less gives that "on top of the beat" feel. You keep the 1 and 3 where they belong to keep the tempo constant, but push parts of the pattern in a pulsing fashion. Or you can slightly push the 1. Lots of options. Just don't push every thing, that is just playing too fast for the existing tempo.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Spend some time playing a box beat to old Rolling Stones recordings.

Charlie Watts is a master of playing behind the beat.

(Box beat: Boom Bang Boom Bang, 1 2 3 4.)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re-reading your OP, you indicate that this is mostly on unfamiliar stuff, and that with stuff you know, people say you have good time. You're doing the best possible thing by noticing your issue. That's a requirement to solving problems, clearly identifying the problem.

A little trick I use on myself...if I clearly state my desired outcome, my best case scenario, out loud to myself....that has to happen before I can achieve it. Writing it down is even better because it's like you are giving your brain instructions you want carried out. Very powerful tool. Whatever thoughts are in your mind will tend to manifest themselves, (for better or worse) if you just keep thinking in those terms. So think good thoughts!

Transposing that to your case, I'm pretty sure that what you want to be able to do is keep steady time on new material, steady time everywhere. Me too! So what's happening? Are nerves responsible? An uncomfortable mental space you're in with new material? Seems highly likely. Maybe just cut yourself a break and don't try to be so good at first. I think you need to trick yourself into going to a different, more productive headspace when confronted with unfamiliar material. Dumb it down if you need to at first. It's OK. You are completely capable of keeping good time if you relax and get out of your own way. What you are doing now isn't working for you, according to you. Maybe try closing your eyes with new stuff, that always helps me. It frees up a lot of brainpower. (not having to process complex visual images) It helps me to feel things easier, no distractions.

You've clearly identified your issue, rushing on unfamiliar material. You've even made it public. IMO, once you can state the issue out loud, your unconscious mind works on correcting it, if that is your desire.

It's been almost 2 weeks since you first posted. Have you noticed any progress in that certain area?
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Lots of good posts regarding pushing/pulling the beat, however if someone is trying to play on the beat yet plays ahead of the beat, then there's a problem.

I've found that my timing is better when I'm really feeling it as opposed to just mechanically going through a song or exercise. I'm sure that's not much help but it's true.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I think this video may shed some light, or at least spur on more discussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPuRMdKfjEU

As for your specific rushing/pushing ahead troubles, I try thinking about a fat old drunken hobo nearly passed out on a park bench and I try to play like that guy would.
Thanks for the awesome video, Bill - very helpful!

Another timing issue I've come across is the placement of the dubs by the engineer. A demo track my old band was doing sounded terrible on playback, as though everyone was dragging, especially drums. Yet the drum track didn't sound anywhere near as "draggy" in itself.

Then we noticed a timing issue with the first line of the vocal. Once that vocal line was placed properly we found a problem with the second vocal line. Then our singer suggested that the engineer push the entire vocal track back a bit. Suddenly the entire track sat 100% better.

A tiny misalignment with a dub by an engineer - forward or back - can have everyone scratching their heads, wondering why their take is so bad when it didn't sound that way when they played it.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Getting confused now. Not sure if you are talking about playing behind/ahead as a whole or just a feel thing.
"As a whole" meaning the whole drum track being ahead of the click
"A feel" usually involves the backbeat being purposely played ahead or behind while the rest of the drums is on.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Lots of good posts regarding pushing/pulling the beat, however if someone is trying to play on the beat yet plays ahead of the beat, then there's a problem.

I've found that my timing is better when I'm really feeling it as opposed to just mechanically going through a song or exercise. I'm sure that's not much help but it's true.
Thats what is meant by playing behind or in front of the beat. The beat is felt, in the right place, and played either on, before or behind it. Thats what is meant by the time being elastic. Think of it as a pulse that you can play with.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Hi guys,
So here is a problem I'm having: I seem to be playing slightly ahead of the beat on stuff that's fast or unfamiliar.
What is different about these kinds of songs that could be contributing to your rushing?

Thats the issue - you won't find a lot of solace in practicing with a metronome, except insofar as the practice will allow you to be more comfortable and confident at faster tempos and unknown situations. Its a mental fix you need, like the kind Benny Greb talks about in Art+Science of Rhythm.

I'd receommend focusing on something other than what you are playing, preferably breathing, while playing, and also to work on feeling space instead of notes.
 
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