Natural sense of timing

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Have you always naturally had good timing? Have you been told you're a natural? It seems to me that some people have it and some don't.

No, I don't mean metronome timing. I mean bang, smack-on-the-button timing, what I've seen here referred to microtiming. Like perfect pitch, some people have it and some don't.

Is it possible to improve your innate sense of time? I read about how Rick Marotta took up drums at age 19 and, with some lessons from his flatmate Andy Newmark, was soon playing sessions. Apparently he simply had good timing out of the box. Rick had been a dancer in the past and my guess is that whole body feeling of rhythm flowed into his drumming.

Any thoughts?
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
I think the problem here is that there are people who have naturally good timing. However, most musicians don't. But almost all guitar players you talk to will tell you they do! It's of course possible to improve your timing, just practice along to a metronome. It's a lot easier than pitch imo but i am of the belief that anyone can improve both their pitch and timing through practice. Some people have it, most have to earn it. But it's possible for anyone to achieve imo.
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Have you always naturally had good timing? Have you been told you're a natural? It seems to me that some people have it and some don't.

Any thoughts?
For as long as I can remember, yes, but "naturally" is the sort of sticky point. My mother was a concert pianist, so I had daily lessons from age six until I was thirteen. She is Bulgarian, so the expression, "He's a natural", would of never even crossed her mind although she says that I picked it up quickly. Timing, rythm and learning to listen, that is.

I think that really it's just something I got better at. By the time I started playing trumpet and guitar and then at 17, drums, I had had all that training beaten into me so much that my timing in most musical situations was good.

I think that it does depend upon the environment you're in. Kids that grow up in more musical households are more inclined to have what appears to be a natural sense of timing. The same is true with dancing.

I jammed with a guy once and he was new to playing keyboards. It was just awful. He had terrible timing and no sense of rythm. I remember thinking, "This guy just doesn't have it". A couple of years later, we crossed paths at another jam party and he was so much better, I didn't think it was the same guy. He'd obviously been practicing.

That definitely made me realize that you can overcome quite a bit with practice, even if you believe that some musical qualities are more innate.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
in my experience, people with "natural timing" usually play another instrument, or are really into music in some other way.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I most definitely did not have a natural sense of timing. It wasn't horrendous, but it needed developing for sure.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
People told me I had, but when I started recording I discovered that it wasnt so good(especially not having practiced with a metronome ever). So now I practice with a metronome while counting loud, and it has helped me immensely.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I have to say that I have an uncanny sense of timing. I don't know if it came early on when my dad first taught me the basics with drums when I was 8 or when I became a disc jockey at the age of 14. Every person at the radio station had to rely on a stop watch when talking up a record to be able to hit the post with out walking on the first lyrics of the song, I didn't. We even had a large coin jar for those who stepped on a song. I could listen to a song once and be able to have the beat and timing in my head from that point on, this was in the late 60's, 70's and 80's. Another thing is, I never wear a wrist watch, but I can tell anyone the time within just a few minutes of the actual time of day. I also work on daylight savings time, lol. Voice over work could also be a contributing fact because as I read, subconsciously I am counting to be able to get the script in the time allotted, either cramming or stretching the copy as needed.

Having a good sense of timing is great, most of the time. At other times it's like, OK give my head a rest.

Dennis
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I don't have a natural sense of time, but I know my consistent weak spots and deal with them accordingly to help regulate overall tempo.

For example, I always held a tempo very nicely, but if I rushed a fill a little bit, I'd come out at a new tempo and hold that until the next turnaround, and do it again, etc throughout the song. Thanks to years of working with a click, I learned exactly how much to 'sit' on a fill to keep it in time, and it became very natural and automatic to hold the line on fills, builds, or anything where the feel could make me stray.

Shuffles are fun that way, too. I learned a little trick listening to the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe" (probably Hal Blaine on drums.) There's a break on the line "pink slip daddy" and the pick up on the snare is so on the last note of the triplet, it's almost the 'ah' of a 16th note. Whenever I have any kid of a triplet or portion thereof, I make it very 'deliberate', and it always results in a smooth, lilting feel coming back in.

Hal locked it in the same way on "I Am I Said", where the breaks come back in after a tom flam on the 4&. It's so on, it actually sounds late. To my ear anyway. But it's instances like that that made me understand that fills & breaks can be the worst culprits for timing, and that they need to be controlled.

I still have an occoasional tempo fluctuation, but it's rarely the result of rushing a fill or a break.

Bermuda
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I don't have a natural sense of time, but I know my consistent weak spots and deal with them accordingly to help regulate overall tempo.

For example, I always held a tempo very nicely, but if I rushed a fill a little bit, I'd come out at a new tempo and hold that until the next turnaround, and do it again, etc throughout the song. Thanks to years of working with a click, I learned exactly how much to 'sit' on a fill to keep it in time, and it became very natural and automatic to hold the line on fills, builds, or anything where the feel could make me stray.

Shuffles are fun that way, too. I learned a little trick listening to the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe" (probably Hal Blaine on drums.) There's a break on the line "pink slip daddy" and the pick up on the snare is so on the last note of the triplet, it's almost the 'ah' of a 16th note. Whenever I have any kid of a triplet or portion thereof, I make it very 'deliberate', and it always results in a smooth, lilting feel coming back in.

Hal locked it in the same way on "I Am I Said", where the breaks come back in after a tom flam on the 4&. It's so on, it actually sounds late. To my ear anyway. But it's instances like that that made me understand that fills & breaks can be the worst culprits for timing, and that they need to be controlled.

I still have an occoasional tempo fluctuation, but it's rarely the result of rushing a fill or a break.

Bermuda
I have a few that I play that feel the same way. John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" is one. If I'm in the zone, that delayed backbeat in the fourth bar comes so naturally. The first 10 times I played that song, not so much.

There are others. Little Wing can be a bear to play if you don't pick up that swing and synch in the verse to the chorus.

Sometimes when my adrenaline perks up, there is a lot of space between the notes and my feel for time just gets roomy and "natural". Those times are my favorite playing moments to stay in.

There are a few tempos that get the better of me. Like that 100+ bpm spot that you don't feel whether 8ths or 16ths sound better on the hats.

Thanks Bermuda for weighing in on this kind of stuff. A seasoned vets perspective is nice to hear.
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
I have to say that I have an uncanny sense of timing. I don't know if it came early on when my dad first taught me the basics with drums when I was 8 or when I became a disc jockey at the age of 14. Every person at the radio station had to rely on a stop watch when talking up a record to be able to hit the post with out walking on the first lyrics of the song, I didn't. We even had a large coin jar for those who stepped on a song. I could listen to a song once and be able to have the beat and timing in my head from that point on, this was in the late 60's, 70's and 80's. Another thing is, I never wear a wrist watch, but I can tell anyone the time within just a few minutes of the actual time of day. I also work on daylight savings time, lol. Voice over work could also be a contributing fact because as I read, subconsciously I am counting to be able to get the script in the time allotted, either cramming or stretching the copy as needed.

Having a good sense of timing is great, most of the time. At other times it's like, OK give my head a rest.

Dennis
Hmm i think being able to tell the time within a few minutes is what's known as your "body clock".
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Right after I got back into drumming 4 years ago my sister was at my place and mentioned to me that I always had the good beat. Like everything else, some people have an ear, some have looks, some can paint, draw, sculpt. I think some can have a better sense of rhythm than others for sure. I know of no one that has perfect timing but most everyone can improve on what they have. In college I had a class called Rhythmic Analysis which was a class on learning to move and teach others to move in rhythm. It wasn't quite a dance class but we did do some dancing in it. And you guys thought we Phys. Ed teachers could only blow up basketballs. I think if the title of the thread were Better sense of timing I would say yes some people have a better sense of timing, and to a lesser degree it is natural.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
in my experience, people with "natural timing" usually play another instrument, or are really into music in some other way.
That's an unexpected observation, DM. An old band of mine had a guitarist with a great sense of time. He was almost always spot on. For a while he took up percussion. Still great.

I find that my timing is all about confidence. If I'm feeling confident (which is occasional) my timing is good. Otherwise it's questionable. It doesn't matter how much I practice or how much of that practice is against the metronome ... it's all about my confidence. Sometimes the confidence lasts for a bar, or a song, or a number of songs, a full rehearsal or a few weeks and my timing will be good. Then it goes away and the tentative timings creep in, like I'm just a bit late all the time.

It makes me feel that having good timing is our natural state and that only mental static stands between humans and good timing.
 

grannydrums

Senior Member
said it several times before--- I have not sense of natural timing at all. If the band speed up I follow them with glee and dont even notice. My teacher says that if i just play a beat by myself i keep good time, its just that I am easily influenced. I cannot play in rehearsal or live without a click. i am afraid I use it as a crutch and I know lots of you will say that is not a good thing, but I am drumming cos I love it and enjoy it and so anything that makes it easier and more fun is fine by me.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
if i just play a beat by myself i keep good time, its just that I am easily influenced.
Me too. If I play with people who have good time I play good time. If they are a bit dodgy, then so am I.

I wonder if women are more prone to this? We just give in - lol
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I had good timing once, then someone put a pair of drumsticks in my hand.
:) Funny how that works.

I suspect there's a 5-letter word that stands between anyone and good timing - B.R.A.I.N :) Some will be always be more natural timekeepers than others, and some people are plain old unco, but surely good timing is a natural thing for a relaxed human being? All it should take is to be in the moment. Like when we're doing alittle thigh drumming.

I also suspect that a lot of musos and actors are attracted to hedonism because doing things that make you feel good is all about being in the moment too, just lettin' it all hang out.
 

RhythmDrums

Member
I have a pretty good sense of timing, yes, but i wouldnt say natural or perfect. Maybe it's because i'm practically always listening to music when i can. And when im listening to music i just cant keep my hands still, theyr always tapping with the music lol.
 

brownie1969

Senior Member
Everyone is born with a, "natural" sense of time (Google..."Suprachiasmatic Nucleus" for starters). ....there are sections of the brain responsible....without going to far off the path here...you should Google something about...time-keeping, and brain chemistry, or chronobiology... or something. There are newly discovered, "time-keeping neurons" in certain sections of the brain. Everything you do...or try to do is governed by the brain....I'd say if your lucky enough to have these regions in larger mass than the average person, your going to be a monster time-keeper...the rest of us just have to exercise what we have, to help improve the actions of these regions. Hope this isn't a lame answer....I just think some of us are born, neuro-anatomically, to be better at certain things than others, there is something kind of beautiful in that...and also frustration, when someone else comes along and makes you look.....average.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
"In the beginning... as they say, I had a natural inclination to get excited and speed up.


After having suffered much verbal abuse.... I became overly self conscious and began slowing down. (I was but a young'n)


Then I had a brainstorm!!!!! "Maybe I should get a metronome???"

Things improved from then on.
 
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