Tempo is of equal Importance to the Key

beatdat

Senior Member
Establishing the tempo is important. Everyone starting at the same tempo is just as important. Meter depends on what you're playing and who you're playing for.

Key is pretty much a dealbreaker. Doesn't matter how good your tempo is, if your bandmates aren't in the same key, chances are the song's already shot.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Science! That's what!
Yeah....I forgot that part. What if you played the tune backwards 5 times slow, then one time fast before returning to the tune in forward progression at a medium slow tempo then half fast tempo while morphing from the key of A to E flat? Now that's an exercise in musical science.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Yes exactly. The thesis that tempo is more important than key is ridiculous.

Establishing the tempo is important. Everyone starting at the same tempo is just as important. Meter depends on what you're playing and who you're playing for.

Key is pretty much a dealbreaker. Doesn't matter how good your tempo is, if your bandmates aren't in the same key, chances are the song's already shot.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I think it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Original bands, key shouldn't matter. You play it the way you wrote it. I've never once gone to see an original band and they mess with the key of the song. The verticals should already have this sorted anyhow.

If you are playing blues, time is important, but key is more important. It isn't exactly drum music.

If you are playing metal, time is higher on the list. Everything is fast, and the strings are usually drop tuned and doing all sorts of finger acrobatics. Lose the time there and the whole thing falls apart.

I'm in the second camp, so for me time is king.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Maybe it's more like tuning than key? I remember before the ubiquitous electronic tuners came out how badly out of tune even many working professional bands were.
Now we are at a time with portable and affordable tempo devices are gaining acceptance.
It's a good thing I think.
But,
I have always felt, and my experience has confirmed that a well ear tuned band sounds better than a electronically tuned band, if you have the time. I think it is the same for tempo too.
I got to get one of those tempo deals, it can't hurt.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
LOL.

Tempo can vary a bit. Key is exacting is has to be the exact key band rehearsed and agreed to. And deriving the right key often takes a lot of work. Some keys might work for guitar but not keyboard or other instruments. And vice versa. Add bass sax brass as other variables. Then if song has vocals you gotta decide on key for vocalist. On stage you play song in that exact key. Then there may be key changes during song that everybody's gotta hit exactly. Tempo is not nearly as exacting or important as key.

I didn't say tempo is not important. Your confusing the arguments. You postulated that tempo/ meter is equally as important as key. I disagree. I postulate that key is MORE important. But I also say that tempo/ meter IS important, just not as important as key. If you think tempo is more important or even as equally important as key, then yes that is a ridiculous statement.

There are scholarly articles on Beethoven's intended tempo and meter. Much debate. But key - no the orchestra is all gonna start together with the correct key. Here's an article on intended tempo: subject to debate and discussion. But the key is gonna be the key. https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54586757/FULL_TEXT.PDF

When in a jam and someone calls out a tune, what's the first thing they call out after the name of tune: key. They very seldom call out tempo or meter. They call out "Sweet Home Chicago in A". Or if it's a folk tune it's most likely the name and then "start in D, end in D". Only if a song is particularly slow or fast will anyone mention meter, and then it's something like "and lets play it fast", or "let's play a real slow groove", and then they count it off and everybody starts jamming. Nobody every says "Sweet Home Chicago in A, and let's play it at 126 beats per minute". You'd get some weird looks for that lol.

Tell that to the professional acts who are playing to a metronome, with dancers and video synced. It's how the pro's do it.
 
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Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Tell that to the professional acts who are playing to a metronome, with dancers and video synced. It's how the pro's do it.
In the original post you spoke about "a group". And now it's an entire show production! There IS a difference. 4/5 peeps in a band or group, if they are accomplished and have played together for a time--"should" be able to manipulate the tempo, IF THEY WANT. But, if there are 20 people involved, with different jobs like dancing and video production--that's just different man.

People are basically agreeing with you. Do you just not have any control over tempo in YOUR group?

Being in a band, and having parameters set in stone. . .IMO, a group needs flexibility in all facets of the music.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Ha. I just like fun discussions and strongly feel this approach will make all bands sound better.

The people I play with are cool with this. :)
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Last year, I was listening to gig recordings and appalled at how fast some songs were. Even considering that some bands bump up the BPMs for some songs in live settings. And for others, live matches the album temp. So last year I wrote down the BPMs of each song in my tempo app and count them off at the agreed upon tempo. The feedback from the band mates has been incredibly positive and and set me apart from their previous drummer. Our lead singers usually thank me at every gig for how much better it now feels to sing and not rush. My only regret is I did not do this years ago.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold 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!
Yes multiple tempos to accommodate changes in the song like key changes.

I find it kind of annoying in Jazz that people have to practice songs in different keys, they sound so different, especially when you have to consider each instruments range.

I think it is interesting that in some ways tempo and key can interact for example certain inversions of an A minor chord have harmonics that oscillate at specific tempos, and IMO are effective ways to set the tempo.
 

Channing

Member
Last year, I was listening to gig recordings and appalled at how fast some songs were. Even considering that some bands bump up the BPMs for some songs in live settings. And for others, live matches the album temp. So last year I wrote down the BPMs of each song in my tempo app and count them off at the agreed upon tempo. The feedback from the band mates has been incredibly positive and and set me apart from their previous drummer. Our lead singers usually thank me at every gig for how much better it now feels to sing and not rush. My only regret is I did not do this years ago.
For me the tempo is a big deal. When I first started playing, I didn’t ever really know what tempo we were at, or where we should be, and instead just kind of played everything however. We would speed up and slow down all over the place. Sometimes we’d speed up so much that the song was essentially unplayable at that tempo. Then we decided one day to try practicing with a metronome. The difference was immediate, like night and day. The tempo went from being all over the place to being perfect and solid at all times. It took a bit of practice, mostly for the guitarists to listen to me instead of rushing certain parts, but it’s been so worth it. We immediately went from being a sort of bad sounding band with potential to being a band that pretty consistently sounds really solid and tight. Plus, I feel so much more confident. It makes my job way easier. I don’t have to think about the tempo. I just lock in with the click.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
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

Great information. My band has one song, and I ALWAYS rush it. It's an extremely fun tom groove where I get to show off a bit, but the guitar riff is quite "chuggy" and when I speed it up it is REALLY hard for them. Even telling myself, keep it slow, I was speeding it up live.

I started to sing the guitar part in my head really getting into it. "Feeling it" is the best way I can put it. All of a sudden my band came up to me after that gig and were super happy with that part. It has worked every time. When I am focusing on what they are doing more than what I am doing my timing is great.. I think all of my playing with a click made it too easy to focus on my own playing because I KNEW i was in time. When the click ISN"T there is when I need to focus on the feel more.

I think as drummers too many focus on the drums, and playing our parts. The music I play is fast and pretty techy, but my body knows what to do. After jamming these songs hundreds of time I just let the muscle memory play the parts now and listen from a different perspective now. I've started easing off the cymbals a bit and it's worked great.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Tell that to the professional acts who are playing to a metronome, with dancers and video synced. It's how the pro's do it.
A lot of the time they're doing that because they have dancers, video or audio synced. I've personally seen instances where sticking to a click made things sound a little draggy or less energetic too.

As humans we like black and white, do this, not that... But when it comes to art, personal preference, and multi-element blending, there's a hundred ways to do it. You might make one decision or the other based on any number of circumstances but deciding you like one and then declaring "that's how the pros do it" as an end-all is both incorrect and a little limiting. We could both sit here and I could list "pro" bands who would never go near a click live, and you could do the opposite, all it would show is that my point stands... There's more than one "right" way to do things like this.

I have had projects where we never touched a click, and projects where it was used more often than not, I'm cool with both. I'd never try and force one way or the other on a band if things were working well already. This same concept has been mused upon for centuries and there are absolutely famous composers who think whole-heartedly that slaving to a machine's time removes the "life" and "humanity" from many types of music. This amazing ability humans have to "keep time" without and with external sources is super freakin cool, and you 1000% have the option to just dial in your own sense of time and musical flow. It sometimes even allows you to create music that you could not create if you are too worried about following a beep.
 
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oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..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..

The master himself would not have agreed with you on that..


 
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