I can’t hear the song start on the upbeat.

DrumDoug

Senior Member
One of my bands it learning the live version of Boderline by Madonna. It’s from the 2008 Sticky and Sweet tour where she does it as a punk rock song. After some arguing at rehearsal I realized the song starts on the upbeat of 4 and the snare is playing quarters with the kick on the offbeat. The songs just starts with a big chord and kick and snare on the upbeat. I hear this as the downbeat and I have been sitting here for an hour starting this song over and over, trying to hear it the correct way. I just can’t do it. I know enough about music that I can count it off in my head and sing it correctly. I just can’t hear it correctly when I listen to it. Does anyone have any advice on this?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Are you explaining that you can play the piece correctly but that you can't hear it correctly? If so, your obstacle stems from a disconnect between execution and perception. If you can play the song without error, dismiss the contrary interpretation your mind is imposing upon you. Feel the song; don't think the song. Intellect can be a blight on timing and groove.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Maybe I'm listening to the wrong recording but I don't hear it as a weird start. Double time punk like first part that opens to half time wider parts.

I did hear a few parts later that were as you described, snare then kick on the &s. Those parts didn't start weird or anything, he just hits the 1 with the snare.

I found this version:

You can practice this kind of thing by leaving a metronome going and move the "backbeat" around to different parts or subdivisions.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I have had that difficulty before.(long ago in my studying of The Police/Copeland)

I have found that doubling the pulse that I use to 'frame' the song helps me be more fluid with defining the 'down beat'.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, it's a hard thing to do. I struggle with this kind of stuff.
Try this. Chord is hit, then start the bass drum and snare together on the quarter notes right after the first note that the guitar plays. You start on the second guitar note. After the two guitar riffs, stop the snare drum but keep the bass drum going. As soon as the guitar starts playing the song hit the snare drum on the two and four. This way you don't have to count anything. just feel it.

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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
It just dawned on me. Yes, the song starts on 4&. The fist guitar note is on the 4&. The bass drum and snare start on the 1. Count it off for the guitar player. If the guitar starts when they should OK. All you have to do is start on the 1.

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sumdrumguy

Senior Member
Yeah, I hear the guitar starting on the upbeat (+) of 4. If it were me, I would do a full measure count in. Count/stick click the 1-2, and then flam the 3-4 on the snare. If the guitar player doesn't get it, add the kick on the upbeats of 3-4.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yeah, I hear the guitar starting on the upbeat (+) of 4. If it were me, I would do a full measure count in. Count/stick click the 1-2, and then flam the 3-4 on the snare. If the guitar player doesn't get it, add the kick on the upbeats of 3-4.

Yep. Or just start playing the snare and bass drum and let the guitar come in whenever they want. No one in the audience is gonna' know the difference anyway.

.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Okay I see. I wasn't getting that the guitar was throwing off the start for you. In my mind that little guitar build was just a spur of the moment lead in and the start of the song was the "1" where the band starts.

One of my bands starts a song like that where the guitar lead in is on a "ghost" 3 and 4. Typically I'll just count in the quarter notes on my sticks and he starts playing when I hit the 3, then on the next 1, I start the beat. Even for that song, I consider my "start" to be the start of the song, and I take it from there in terms of where the notes belong. I consider the first set to be the count-in, in other words, and I just ignore the fact that someone does a little noodle as we count in.

Also remember that you don't have to count in out-loud. There's lots of times where I'll just have people look at me, and I'll very obviously and exaggeratedly do a count in on my thigh with the stick. It's a visual way to establish time and even allow for little pre-song embellishments like we're discussing here.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Listening to the video linked above, I'm hearing an implied '1' followed by hihat strikes on the & of '1', then '2', '3', '4', then the offbeat kick on the '&' of '4'. That's the intro bar to the intro section, which is snare on all quarters, kick on the '&'s of quarters.

I listened on my macbook, so I may have missed something due to the audio quality of my speakers.
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
Interesting. I have had similar issues with other songs, particularly a few Stones songs which use offbeat drum intros (said intros being the most complex patterns Charlie Watts used through any of their songs IMO). This one used to give me fits until I conquered it by listening to it about 1,000 times.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
I think what throws you off, is that the "punk rock"-intro, for some weird reason, is actually played 6 bars + an 1/8 note..

If the band comes in at 1, that is..

Which i think is, because you can clearly hear the drummer each time hitting a crash on 1 and i am not considering Madonna necessarily a beat displacement wonder..lol..
 
Stewart Copeland is obviously a beast when it comes to this stuff. Same with that one bit of "Stairway to Heaven." And good lord Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower"...

But two otherwise normally bog-standard artists (when it comes to stuff like rhythmic displacement) which I just can never get are the drum intros to Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" and the Eagles version of "Take It Easy." I know where the 1 is. I just can't feel it.
 
This is a Madonna show..

Would you really think they start on purpose playing around with 1/8 note beat displacements (or 1/8 note rhythmical illusions) for that..?
...I'm not sure where the disconnect is. I'm aware that this started as a discussion about the (excellent!) Madonna song "Borderline," and a kickass live version was posted, but it then seemed to broaden into a discussion about tricky drum parts and intros, and people had already mentioned Stewart Copeland, so I was agreeing that, obviously, he's a master of that kind of thing.

OH! I just realized that because my post was right after yours, perhaps you thought I was responding to you, rather than the thread as a whole?
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I'm not sure where the disconnect is. I'm aware that this started as a discussion about the (excellent!) Madonna song "Borderline," and a kickass live version was posted, but it then seemed to broaden into a discussion about tricky drum parts and intros..


Ah ok..

Yes, i thought you were referring with "this stuff" specifically to the Madonna song, instead of speaking in general about what has been brought up..
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I think it’s my drummer brain that is throwing me off. Two members of the band and my wife all hear it correctly. They aren’t stuck hearing a upside down drum beat. I just need to sing the correct way to myself until I can hear and feel it. It was the same with Take it Easy by the Eagles. It took me forever to hear that first guitar strum as the & of four. The same as the Madonna song.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I think Police's "Roxanne" has the intro bar throughout its verses.

I also think a right-handed dominatrix has no business playing a left-handed four-stroke!!
 

fess

Senior Member
I think it’s my drummer brain that is throwing me off. Two members of the band and my wife all hear it correctly. They aren’t stuck hearing a upside down drum beat. I just need to sing the correct way to myself until I can hear and feel it. It was the same with Take it Easy by the Eagles. It took me forever to hear that first guitar strum as the & of four. The same as the Madonna song.
I still struggle with “Take it easy”. It’s so hard for me to not hear that 1st chord as being on the 1.
 
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