Playing (really) slow

Frost

Silver Member
Just wondering how people go playing at very slow tempos.

I've been attempting a lot of >40bpm stuff recently and might I say, it's not easy.

I find with a metronome I have no problem, or using one of my feet or hands to follow the beat, but as soon as I try do anything complicated I quickly lose time.

Any timing advice for ultra-slow drum beats?
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
You could try out what Billy Ward calls mechanisms (as in the small moving parts of a clock): filling the time with different subdivisions and polymetric sequences either by moving, singing or just thinking. When practicing with a click, work on singing the following rhythms:

- whole notes
- dotted half notes
- half notes
- dotted quarter notes
- half note triplets
- quarter notes
- dotted eighths
- quarter note triplets
- eighth notes
- dotted sixteenths
- eighth note triplets
- sixteenths

Develop a sense of all of these different overlays and become able to play any one of them over the click. Being aware of all of these different rhythms will create a strong "web" of rhythm, and if your time starts to wander, you'll feel the strings of the web starting to pull...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
It certainly can be hard to find the groove when playing slow. Exposure to slow tempos is great but I guess you're trying to get it sorted out while causing minimum pain to bandmates.

Do you have a drum machine? Might be helpful to program the troublesome patters is so you can hear how it's supposed to groove.

I think a love of and appreciation for slow playing helps too. Have you joined a funeral doom band?
 

cp84

Senior Member
Hi,

Sometimes I play at 20bpm with the click going on the 2 and 4 at 10bpm. I think its a really good excercise.

If I'm playing with a swing feel then I will tap triples with my foot inbetween the click. If I'm playing straight then I'll tap four times inbetween the click.

It's a very good excercise in time keeping and can put you into a meditative state.
 

cp84

Senior Member
subdividing is definatlely the key. If you have a large gap then break it into smaller gaps and you will find there is less room for error.
 

Frost

Silver Member
It certainly can be hard to find the groove when playing slow. Exposure to slow tempos is great but I guess you're trying to get it sorted out while causing minimum pain to bandmates.

Do you have a drum machine? Might be helpful to program the troublesome patters is so you can hear how it's supposed to groove.

I think a love of and appreciation for slow playing helps too. Have you joined a funeral doom band?
No drum machine and I'm very familiar with slow tempos with a strong appreciation for the style of playing. Currently co-writing (seriously) for something along those lines but a tad mellower with two guitarists, oddly enough I'm struggling to play my own music. It looks easier on paper. Improv is great, but I still need to keep time. It's hard enough for the guitarists at that tempo without anything to play off.

I'll try the sub-divisions, or get a click track in my ear for the time being, I'm not just trying to hold a beat, I'm trying to work in various techniques and that is where I'm falling apart, I can play it at regular speed, I can't play it slow, not because the technique is wrong, the timing is just way off or I'm too inflexible, I can't break out of a set beat without losing the tempo.
 

cp84

Senior Member
When you drastically change speed or dynamics you will have to use different techniques. It's almost like playing a different instrument.

But I think it makes you a more rounded drummer.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
No drum machine and I'm very familiar with slow tempos with a strong appreciation for the style of playing. Currently co-writing (seriously) for something along those lines but a tad mellower with two guitarists, oddly enough I'm struggling to play my own music. It looks easier on paper. Improv is great, but I still need to keep time. It's hard enough for the guitarists at that tempo without anything to play off.

I'll try the sub-divisions, or get a click track in my ear for the time being, I'm not just trying to hold a beat, I'm trying to work in various techniques and that is where I'm falling apart, I can play it at regular speed, I can't play it slow, not because the technique is wrong, the timing is just way off or I'm too inflexible, I can't break out of a set beat without losing the tempo.
Listen to a metronome, real or imaginary, Count imaginary 8th notes, 16th notes, hum them, turn them intoa melody that you imagine between the two big accents... anything to connect the dots in your head.

Like anything else, whenever things look overwhelming and uncontrollable, break them down into bite-sized pieces.

Yup, subdivisions is the ticket. G'luck.



...
 

Frost

Silver Member
Listen to a metronome, real or imaginary, Count imaginary 8th notes, 16th notes, hum them, turn them intoa melody that you imagine between the two big accents... anything to connect the dots in your head.

Like anything else, whenever things look overwhelming and uncontrollable, break them down into bite-sized pieces.

Yup, subdivisions is the ticket. G'luck.



...
Thanks... who would have thought a lazy 40 bpm would be harder then maintaining 180-220....
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Being aware of all of these different rhythms will create a strong "web" of rhythm, and if your time starts to wander, you'll feel the strings of the web starting to pull...
Nicely put. At slow tempos I generally keep two subdivisions going internally- 8th note triplets and straight 8ths- and lay everything I play against one or the other of them. Another thing that can be helpful is to take a little mental photo of the count off, to refer back to during the course of the tune.
 
X

xymbalreborn

Guest
Subdivide the metronome. If you have to play 40bpm, set the metronome at 80 (for straight/simple meter) and call that eighth notes. Likewise, set it at 160 and call them sixteenth notes. 120bpm if your playing triplet/compound meter and call it eighth note triplets.
 

cp84

Senior Member
"Subdivide the metronome. If you have to play 40bpm, set the metronome at 80 (for straight/simple meter) and call that eighth notes. Likewise, set it at 160 and call them sixteenth notes. 120bpm if your playing triplet/compound meter and call it eighth note triplets."

I am not so sure about this. Sometimes its better to practise slow with large gaps. This is much harder to do and will force you to improve your inner clock.

Perhaps you can start subdividing with the metronome but once you can do that try and do the subdivisions internally. I usually have my metronome at 20 bpm if i'm playing at 40 but sometimes I'll half it again (10 bpm) so I just get one beep per bar. That really forces you to think.
 
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