Singers dragging the tempo

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Never fails, singers take too much liberry with the tempo and either drag or rush. In this case 4 singers d r u g the tempo off the charts. So much so that a couple complained to my wife after worship service that I played well and they like hearing me play but I "...was playing too fast and not in sync with the singers."

Fortunately my better half knows about drums and drumming and enough about music and tempo to tell this couple the singers were dragging the songs.

Their response: "Oh, well we always go with what the singers do."

Frightening.

Too funny expet it's true. Most, if not all, of the rhythm section turns down the singers and choir in their Aviom personal mixers just for this very reason - they alter the tempos of the songs. Maybe 1 or 2 singers are accomplished enough to really know what they are doing and can pull it off and meet back up with the normal tempo after their unique phrasing. Most don't even realize they are dragging or rushing a song, or maybe not even feel the tempo.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I just posted something similar when we were discusssing this a while back. IME, singers have the absolute worst timing, especially church singers.

At the church I used to go to (just recently left) I put a metronome on the singers at rehearsal and showed everyone where they were either rushing or dragging. Usually, they rush when there are a lot of words in a particular verse and they drag when there is a lot of space.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Here, here , indeed! I wish our singer would slow down. I record rehearsals, to point it out all the time, but nothing is ever down about it.

You can only roll your eyes.
 

Winegums

Silver Member
I've never been bothered with a singer dragging or rushing, but then again I've had the joy of playing with talented singers always.

What really drives me crazy is a bass player lagging or rushing. When you're tied that closely with another player it's hard to keep consistent tempo, and you know that no matter how hard you try to match they'll speed up and slow down too. Then when you're trying to get their attention they're staring off into the distance. I've had players get really pissed off at me for telling them they're lagging, and they try to turn it back on me! I don't single out someone lagging or leading until I listen to the whole band, but if they are I MUST point it out or I can't play properly. It's like hearing an echo of your voice a half second after you talk and you can't speak properly.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Mine is a slightly different problem, the guitarist likes to rush the tempo. Of course the drummer gets the blame for this in most cases. I solved this problem by using the metronome app on my phone, it'll end an argument pretty quick.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Most fingers I have played with rush. And then I do the backing vocals and then I dtop doing the backing vocals because him depending up screws up my drumming !!!
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
If you're rushing the singer then you're rushing the song. If the song has a certain tempo it likes to click at, then the singer should strive to hear it at that tempo.

Otherwise defer to the singer's needs. They're delivering the message and if the lyrics are unfolding slower than normal then do your best to embrace that. But there *is* a certain congruence that needs to occur between the players and singers.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
Mine is a slightly different problem, the guitarist likes to rush the tempo. Of course the drummer gets the blame for this in most cases. I solved this problem by using the metronome app on my phone, it'll end an argument pretty quick.
My band kinda "forced" me to use a metronome live. Once I realized it stopped ANY argument about me speeding up or slowing down, I fell in love with it. Nobody says anything about the temp anymore and that's fantastic.

Heck, I can even have it off and nobody knows. LOL

edit - that wasn't a reflection on my tempo, but rather my singer knowing he speeds up.
 
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newoldie

Silver Member
Most fingers I have played with rush. And then I do the backing vocals and then I dtop doing the backing vocals because him depending up screws up my drumming !!!
I try to keep my fingers in harmony with the rhythm, and the singers in harmony with the fingers.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
Guitarist in our band.....drives me f'ing crackers....

We're supposed to be 'punk' and sometimes he starts songs at the speed of a gentle, melodic, Indie classic.

Good God...only last week he starts a song....I just didn't come in...."too slow I said....by a mile".

He tries again...."nope...too slow"

And again...at which stage I just enter in tempo and astonish the rest of the band. Then I explain with hand singles and much sound effects (despite not being a guitarist) that the rhythm he should be playing goes like 'this'....and that he's actually putting more notes in than the actual song.

"Do you ever actually practice at home".

"No"

"Ah right...that'll be it then"

We're not 'pros' at this...I don't expect us to get everything bang on...hell I make plenty of little errors. But timing.....I can't get into my head how sometimes people can have not the slightest idea how slow, or fast they are starting a song and how they are almost blind as to what speed to start when the drums don't enter at start. "Give us a tap in?"....errrr....why?? Do you not understand speed....do you not know the speed at which our songs move at....grrr....growl......grrrr

Rant over !!

:)
 
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Drumolator

Platinum Member
The singers at our church do the same thing, slow down the songs. The worship leader and I try to keep it going, but it is like stump pulling. It actually got better when we added a choir. Peace and goodwill.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
A similar issue happens frequently when playing with a Jazz band. The tune kicks off with a strong brisk head and when the solos come in things slow down even though the drummer keeps pushing the tempo. To the untrained ear it seems that the drummer is rushing but he actually is playing at the same speed as the start or the tune.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So you guys slow the song down if someone is dragging? Do you keep it there for the rest of the song or does it come back up in tempo? I don't think I could do that. I would keep chugging along at the original speed and let them catch up. If I let them lead me all over the place, I'm not doing my job. No way can I let a clueless singer change the course I charted, the whole thing would be shot to hell. Now if the bass player and rhythm guitar player all slowed down too...then I couldn't play with them. But if it's just the singer.....I won't waver.

My singer rant is more times than not, they get lost in the song form. Like a soloist will be bringing their solo to a peak, but they are not quite done yet, and the singer cuts them off early, because they can't understand what's happening inside the solo, leaving the guitarist with a half baked solo to transition out of. One time a singer gave me a solo, then cut me off right as I was getting a handle on it. Ay yi yi. Soloist interruptus.

Another rant is despite telling them what the right lyrics are, they still continue to sing the wrong words.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
So you guys slow the song down if someone is dragging? Do you keep it there for the rest of the song or does it come back up in tempo? I don't think I could do that. I would keep chugging along at the original speed and let them catch up. If I let them lead me all over the place, I'm not doing my job. No way can I let a clueless singer change the course I charted, the whole thing would be shot to hell. Now if the bass player and rhythm guitar player all slowed down too...then I couldn't play with them. But if it's just the singer.....I won't waver.
Yeah, what Larry said !

I am the groove regulator. I own it. Don't bother trying to mess with the tempo when I'm playing.
I will change the 2 and 4 if the band gets lost, but not the tempo.

.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
So you guys slow the song down if someone is dragging? Do you keep it there for the rest of the song or does it come back up in tempo?
In a professional setting, I would re-work the song so it can be played at a slower tempo, and begin it that way. I'd also orchestrate a bunch of beat drops during the performance. If the singers are the centerpiece, why not make it official.

In a church setting, I'd probably just burn one ahead of time and not stress it. Haters gonna hate, regardless of whether or not you choose to join them.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It depends who is "leading" the song. If the singer is leading the song, which often happens, perhaps they are slowing it down for a reason, and you should go with them. If the guitarist or keyboard player are the band leader, follow them. If the drummer is the band leader, then lead the song.

If you're playing with incompetent musicians, then stop playing with them. If you continue to play with them, tell them what they're doing wrong so you can fix it and move on. If you decide to continue playing with them and don't address the issue, you only have yourself to blame and you have no right to complain. :)
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I think I've said this before on this forum...

I have a rule, whether I'm playing electric bass, or drums:

If the singer(s) aren't slightly out of breath at the end of a song then you're not quite playing fast enough.

Singers tend to get very emotional and drag the tempo and can turn any song into a dirge. They might not realize it and rarely acknowledge the phenomenon. The rhythm section needs to be mindful of that and keep it bumpin', keep it groovy, and keep it from turning into a complete disaster.
 
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Aeolian

Platinum Member
Probably folks are excited and counting off too fast. Happens all the time. Then they can't get though all the words. I tell singers to sing the hardest part in their head and then count the tempo.

There are a lot of folks who think that speed = energy. Groove = energy. Listen to the originals of things like Knock On Wood or Can't Turn You Loose. Songs that are always played way too fast.

On the other hand. Listen to folks like Charles Brown or Jimmy Witherspoon. They sound like they're a bar or two behind the song. But they always end up in the right place, without sounding like they hurried up. Phrasing is open to the singer or soloist. Keep it steady behind them and let them work it. If they can't, then that's a discussion for rehearsal.
 
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