Tempo is of equal Importance to the Key

danondrums

Well-known member
In my opinion the tempo of each song a group plays should be written right on the set list and everyone in the group should be as committed to the tempo as they are the key.
That's all!
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
....and in my opinion....

Tempo should be as fluid as the band wants it to be for the performance at hand....

Ink on a page be damned!!!

Lol
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Guitarists must love playing with you. :)
Actually....they do....lol. So do vocalists, and bass players, and keyboard players, and violin\fiddle players, and....

And the audiences I play for have never complained about our tempos... But I run in very unsophisticated circles so that may come into play lol.

Apparently so did Stevie Ray Vaughn so I feel I am in good company!

😜
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I think tempo is important in the same way that key is important - everyone in the band should be in the same one, and it should be comfortable to everyone. And if there is a change, everyone should make it together. :)
 

danondrums

Well-known member
I think tempo is important in the same way that key is important - everyone in the band should be in the same one, and it should be comfortable to everyone. And if there is a change, everyone should make it together. :)
And it should be consistent from show to show and rehearsal to rehearsal.
If everyone always plays and practices it at the same tempo, it will get really tight much faster.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
When band members have different opinions on what the tempo should be, musical friction happens. I deal with this on a handful of songs.

That said, some songs lose their feel with any deviation of original tempo, where other songs have a pretty wide range of tempos where the song will still work well.

I like just shutting up and playing anymore. It's more important for me to enjoy my playing time than be to be right.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
When band members have different opinions on what the tempo should be, musical friction happens. I deal with this on a handful of songs.

That said, some songs lose their feel with any deviation of original tempo, where other songs have a pretty wide range of tempos where the song will still work well.

I like just shutting up and playing anymore. It's more important for me to enjoy my playing time than be to be right.
See, this is why a group should decide on the tempo that makes them sound the best, write it down on the set list and play it there.
If minor adjustments are needed (a little faster for instance) it can be done methodically from show to show instead of whimsically.
My interest is in providing the best experience for the audience. "right" is not part of my care in this.
 
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Mongrel

Silver Member
But....but...but....lol

Edit to add: I get what you are saying Dan, and I agree that there must be agreement whatever direction the band takes. In a cover situation all the more important to be consistent...

Here is the "but part" lol

Who is to say that "best for the audience" can't be fluid? I don't mean tempo drifting...I mean one night or cenue to the next night or venue is open to change-at the bands descretion's, not the drummer's or the guitarist's "feeling" or whimsy.

Why must a tune be locked into a particular tempo? Why can't there be such a thing as a mellow version or a jamming version? And why can't both versions, or even something in between be tight (they can)?

Regardless of any of that, why can't there be room for both types of band? You want to use a click and nail tempo down to bbm? GO FOR IT....

But if Stevie Ray wants to flow a bit? Is that such a crime?

Only requirement should be to have it ironed out up front....
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Music for me is a feel thing where rigidity can work too. Rigid is a feel. People's moods vary from night to night and their playing reflects that.

I found that from the audience's POV...THE most important part of any musician's performance is how much heart is put in it, and how much control the musician has.

Audiences latch onto that the most, period. They don't mentally deconstruct music like we do, they respond to the net effect.

It's good to always be evaluating the net effect of what I'm playing. Try and hear it like the audience hears it.

As a drummer, working the emotion thing is a skill. Like building tension....not releasing...this creates a certain atmosphere. I like to control that emotional atmosphere like a puppeteer, using it in a way that I know works really well.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Music for me is a feel thing where rigidity can work too. Rigid is a feel. People's moods vary from night to night and their playing reflects that.

I found that from the audience's POV...THE most important part of any musician's performance is how much heart is put in it, and how much control the musician has.

Audiences latch onto that the most, period. They don't mentally deconstruct music like we do, they respond to the net effect.

It's good to always be evaluating the net effect of what I'm playing. Try and hear it like the audience hears it.

As a drummer, working the emotion thing is a skill. Like building tension....not releasing...this creates a certain atmosphere. I like to control that emotional atmosphere like a puppeteer, using it in a way that I know works really well.
hERE'S AN IDEA. At your next "show" find a designated audience member and have him armed with a metronome. Until you get it at the tempo the rest of the crowd is reacting too, you just start over and over until you get it "right". But seriously, I've been to a lot of concerts from the Beatles to Motley Crew and many times their staple songs are at different tempos than what was recorded. Audience didn't seem to mind, even when a particular song was way off the metronomic paradigm. Many times the response was WOW, that sounds cool., As for marking the tempo on your song list, number one the band should collectively know the tempo of the songs rehearsed, and number two....guitarist Bob and bassist Joe may have differing opinions on what fast, medium and slow is. larryace and mongrel are more than correct when saying music is fluid and the audience doesn't analyze. They enjoy or walk out. But not over tempo.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Seems the concept of repeatable muscle memory is lost on this audience. :)

Play a drum part at 5 different tempos, and then play it some random 6th tempo.
Now play that same part 5 times at the same tempo. Then do it one more time at that tempo and assess your accuracy and groove.

Which time do you think you'll play it better?

It's like everyone here wants to complain about the time keeping of the guitar players they play with but they don't want to do a single thing to fix it. :)
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I see your point, but to me, music is not about muscle memory. Ultimately, music is about communication.

Now, I'm not a total rube, and I know it takes more than happy thoughts and goodwill to make good music, but... I think you can be too concerned with the mechanics (or rules) of things.

In keeping with the idea that music is about communication, is it more important to use the exactly correct grammar, or to understand and be understood?

I find it such a grey area, because we need the rules to establish any hope of understanding, but the rules are not the actual thing we are communicating, and are therefore necessarily of secondary importance.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Key is a LOT more important than tempo, if it's a choice of everyone playing same key vs everyone playing same tempo, the difference being key selected or tempo selected. Some instruments can't really play in a certain key with other instruments. Some singers can't sing in a certain key. Some chords work better when song is in a certain key. Key is very exacting. Tempo is more fluid. You can play a song at 100bpm 120 or 130 it just means it's a faster or slower version. But key isn't that easy your bandmates are somewhat restricted in choosing key.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Seems the concept of repeatable muscle memory is lost on this audience. :)

Play a drum part at 5 different tempos, and then play it some random 6th tempo.
Now play that same part 5 times at the same tempo. Then do it one more time at that tempo and assess your accuracy and groove.

Which time do you think you'll play it better?

It's like everyone here wants to complain about the time keeping of the guitar players they play with but they don't want to do a single thing to fix it. :)
What?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
If it feels good, then it feels good. Getting too tied up in specific tempos down to the literal number is kind of extreme in my opinion.

Bermuda on a few occasions has mentioned he likes to "sing" the song to himself to help establish tempo in mind/body and then goes with it.

For me, a simple count off with long sub-division for the first two usually is enough to establish a tempo. Not wavering too much in one direction or another as I play is a lot more important than listing out tempos to play songs at.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Bermuda on a few occasions has mentioned he likes to "sing" the song to himself to help establish tempo in mind/body and then goes with it.
Actually, I will sometimes hear the song play in my head, no mouthing the words or moving my hands or tapping my feet... just hearing it playback as if it's on the radio. Then I've got the tempo, and if I know the song well enough, it plays back in the correct key as well. :) Just takes a few seconds, and depending on the song and where the hook is, I may 'hear' the verse, or the chorus.

As for song tempos in general, I find there's a range in which each song feels and sounds its best. Most songs just don't work if they're too fast or too slow, and it has nothing to do with the players' ability to play at the different speeds. It's a feel thing for the people listening, and to an extent, the players. In other words, the players know when something doesn't feel right, even if it's being played perfectly. Some songs have a wider range of workable tempos, other feel weird if they're just 10bpm to fast or slow. For example, would Sex Machine sound/feel as good if it was much faster or slower? That's one that has a narrow range, and to not know the limits of that range when counting it off is just poor musicianship. Or maybe it's laziness. Or maybe it's rationalizing that tempos aren't that important.

Tempos are in fact very important.

Bermuda
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Often singers are a rate-limiting factor-not a diss as some can be great but some songs just have ridiculous original source tempos. We've had to slow down songs a hair in orchestra, jazz groups, and rock groups I've played in because of that. I'd come in ready to play like the original recording tempo given to me but the singer just couldn't keep up-sometimes the band couldn't keep up with original tempo and sometime I couldn't either LOL.
 
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