PULSE - Genetic vs Acquired, Development Potential

eardrum

Junior Member
Pulse is central to musicianship.

A strong internal pulse provides the musician with good overall time, good time feel and freedom to express complex phrases accurately.

A strong pulse is the most important characteristic of a drummer--driving the band and connecting to the audience.

-Is pulse genetic or acquired?

-To what extent can pulse and time feel be developed and improved in an individual who does not begin with a strong pulse?

-Have you as a teacher, student or musician, seen players who begin with a weak pulse develop to the level of players who begin with a "naturally" strong pulse?


Thank you sharing your insight and experience!
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
To what extent can pulse and time feel be developed and improved in an individual who does not begin with a strong pulse?

-Have you as a teacher, student or musician, seen players who begin with a weak pulse develop to the level of players who begin with a "naturally" strong pulse?[/B]

Thank you sharing your insight and experience!
I think it can be greatly developed and improved. Mine has certainly improved leaps and bounds over the years. Our bodies contain and utilise many repeating rhythms in our daily lives. Ask someone to walk, and chances are that they start taking regularly timed steps. Ask them to ride a bicycle and they will usually turn the pedals at a fairly constant rate of speed. Ask them to swim.... you get the picture. In good measure, pulse is a matter of practicing regular movements with our limbs and tapping into the ability of the body to work at even rhythmic intervals. Repeating motions slowly, in a controlled way for long periods helps to make them more automatic. Think of how many trial runs it takes a baby to learn to walk with regularly timed steps.

The second (more important) task is to learn to be able to hear and feel the space between notes because "automatic" regularity is not entirely what a drummer needs, but purposeful, controlled regularity. Working on subdivisions at slow tempos can go a long way to programming our brains to hear those spaces and get the limbs going where/when they need to go at our command. Exercises like the Table of Time are a key tool in developing rhythmic awareness.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Agree with Boomka.

Some people naturally keep time better than others, but the trick is to truly understand that there is infinity between any 2 notes.

Learning to develop the ability to feel, sense and play those notes in between ( or choose not to play ), is what separates uncut diamonds to polished gems.
 
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Boomka

Platinum Member
There are various versions of it kicking around, but the general concept is to start with quarter notes and then play upward through all the possible subdivisions of the quarter note pulse that you can muster. Coincidentally, the book that won the Modern Drummer Reader's Poll for best new book is David Stanoch's Mastering the Tables of Time, which is an entire curriculum built from this concept.
 

Solaris

Silver Member
Agree with Boomka.

Some people naturally keep time better than others, but the trick is to truly understand that there is infinity between any 2 notes.
But more importantly, where each note falls in those infinities.

I've just started exploring polyrhythms with my teacher, and one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is knowing where each note falls in relation to the others. This is incredibly important when playing triplets against eighth notes, for example.

Pulse is most definitely a thing we learn through repetition. Over time our muscle memory builds up and our pulse, or groove, becomes stronger. We learn not only how to play in time, but how to push and pull it. We learn what it feels like playing behind or ahead of the beat. I think the most important thing in developing our own pulse is to play with other musicians. That group dynamic of multiple pulses interacting and colliding is really what sparked a huge improvement in my own timing and groove. Suddenly fills weren't a race to get to the finish line, and basic beats didn't turn into a pile of mush.
 
I found that David Stanoch has some lessons on the Vic Firth site here:

http://www.vicfirth.com/education/drumset/stanoch.html

I'll be investigating this...

I was playing with a band recently where I was doing a bossa nova beat to a rock song. (it seemed to fit best) I measured this at 143 BPM. A month later we're rehearsing and I'm rushing again and we investigated - the guitarist/vocalist played it for me and I measured it and again at exactly 143 BPM! I don't think that he even has a metronome. I practice much of my time with a metronome...

I've taken some advice here and do some 50 BPM practice occasionally until I get into some kind of altered mental state and that has helped so much that other bands have remarked on my good time. ( I happen to know that it's still not that great, but better :) )


There are various versions of it kicking around, but the general concept is to start with quarter notes and then play upward through all the possible subdivisions of the quarter note pulse that you can muster. Coincidentally, the book that won the Modern Drummer Reader's Poll for best new book is David Stanoch's Mastering the Tables of Time, which is an entire curriculum built from this concept.
 

donv

Silver Member
Pulse is central to musicianship.

A strong internal pulse provides the musician with good overall time, good time feel and freedom to express complex phrases accurately.

A strong pulse is the most important characteristic of a drummer--driving the band and connecting to the audience.

-Is pulse genetic or acquired?

-To what extent can pulse and time feel be developed and improved in an individual who does not begin with a strong pulse?

-Have you as a teacher, student or musician, seen players who begin with a weak pulse develop to the level of players who begin with a "naturally" strong pulse?


Thank you sharing your insight and experience!
Look into Mickey Hart(Greatful Dead) and his Planet Drum thing. This is pretty much what it's all about. Our lives are nothing but cycles of time from a hearbeat to the sun going up and down and how to get in touch with what's going on with time around us. This is really an oversimplification of his studies and work, but it seems to be what you're asking about.
 
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