Thoughts on Touch and Time

beatdat

Senior Member
I've spent the better part of the year working on getting my hands even with help from my teacher, Igoe's GHFAL and Famularo's The Weaker Side.

One thing I've noticed, as my left hand is beginning to loosen up and I'm getting more comfortable practicing to a click track, is that there seems to be some correlation between touch and time, almost as if they are two sides to the same coin. Specifically, I've noticed that as my touch improves, so does my timing, and vice versa. If, however, I lose the time, my touch seems to go with it, as does my timing when my touch is not up to par.

Has anyone else noticed a correlation between these to aspects in their playing? Did anyone find that these two aspects somewhat dovetailed into one another as you got better as a player? Conversely, is it possible to have one down but not the other? In other words, is it possible to have a great touch on the drums but poor timing, or great time but a poor touch?
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
There are guys with so-so chops but great time and feel. And the reverse is also true. But I agree that, especially for certain players, the correlation can be high between touch and time.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
In other words, is it possible to have a great touch on the drums but poor timing, or great time but a poor touch?
I would say yes. I've always played loud, fast, aggressive music. A few years ago I started playing slower, quieter stuff for my own benefits. I always use a click. I found that at first staying with the click was a bit more challenging while trying to keep the levels down. I would notice that as I would drift from the click my playing would get louder, or back to normal if you will.

I think it's a relaxation thing. I'm totally relaxed being loud and fast because of how many years I've done it for. Trying to be quieter, I am out of my comfort zone and so therefore not as relaxed. I'm having to think as well as do.

I still don't play quiet very well. That's okay though, that's not the kind of drummer I am, and I don't see myself ever being in that situation. It's quite an eye opener when I do occasionally revisit being quiet.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I can see how they support each other, somewhat. When you're confident about the time, you can relax and your touch may improve. Definitely when one element is going to hell, it's not going to affect the others for the better. But there are plenty of drummers with good time who have a really ugly touch, and drummers who know how to get a good sound, but aren't particularly strong timewise.

But your time shouldn't be reliant on your technique-- sounds like that's maybe the next thing to work on-- time awareness, and making your technique serve that.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
It's odd, I can think of drummers who I consider to have a great touch, but not necessarily great time (heck, I'll name them because they are two of my favourite drummers - Bonham and Helm), but I can't think of a drummer who has great time, but not a great touch. If anyone has an example that can be given without turning this into a flame war, I'd be interested to know who you think falls under this category.

But your time shouldn't be reliant on your technique-- sounds like that's maybe the next thing to work on-- time awareness, and making your technique serve that.
I read you article, and I thank you for the food for thought. But, do you mind or have the time to explain a bit why "time shouldn't be reliant on your technique"? I'm of the mind that time (and touch) highly depends on technique, that is, you can't develop good time or a good touch without good technique, but I may be thinking of it all wrong. I'm interested to hear what you have to say.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Mainly I meant that you don't want your time to depend on the motion of your hands, or any body motion. Most people do that, and it's not reliable for keeping accurate time in performance. And it messes with their dynamics. It's why most people's playing completely falls apart at low volumes-- they're used to gauging the time with stick motion, but the sticks are barely moving. So either the time goes to hell, or the volume creeps up uncontrollably.

As I said in the thing, there's plenty of good music that's made that way, but standards are different for drummers doing work for hire. That really requires using your head and being aware, and making your hands follow that. That's actually what good technique means-- that your hands follow the time as you conceive it, in the right rhythm and the right volume for what you're trying to play.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
That's actually what good technique means-- that your hands follow the time as you conceive it, in the right rhythm and the right volume for what you're trying to play.
But isn't having your hands follow the time a result of stick control, which is a result of good technique? Is the difference in what we're saying merely semantic, or is what you're saying more upper echelon stuff related to drummers who are doing "work for hire"?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You could say that-- I think people are so into technique as harnessing kinetic energy, that they forget what is supposed to come first. The time comes first, and technique that supports good time and dynamic control follows from that.

Work for hire means doing pretty dumb stuff at times, so I don't know about upper echelon. All I mean is that people expect the time to stay basically the same throughout a piece of music, and they come after you if they're uncomfortable with it for any reason.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I feel I have a nice touch, and yea, my time can waver. My touch is way more automatic than my time, which I have to be vigilant about.

In me, my time circuit is a separate, less developed thing from my touch, which was shaped in the early 80's. Every once in a while I'll slow down/speed up...not a lot...but I am clearly unaware when it happens, or it wouldn't happen. That's what I mean about staying vigilant.

I just started really focussing on time within the last 7 years. I've been doing the touch thing way longer.
 

Flow

Member
I feel I have a nice touch, and yea, my time can waver. My touch is way more automatic than my time, which I have to be vigilant about.

In me, my time circuit is a separate, less developed thing from my touch, which was shaped in the early 80's. Every once in a while I'll slow down/speed up...not a lot...but I am clearly unaware when it happens, or it wouldn't happen. That's what I mean about staying vigilant.

I just started really focussing on time within the last 7 years. I've been doing the touch thing way longer.
I have the exact opposite problem. My inner clock is pretty accurate (not perfect, but good.) OTOH, I'm currently putting a lot of work into my ghost notes and finding it difficult to control my dynamics with my left hand. I suspect the reason why my time is better than my touch is that before focussing on drums I was a bassist for many years and that skill transferred, whereas touch is more of a technique development thing that is specific to the instrument.

Great thread!
 
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beatdat

Senior Member
I suspect the reason why my time is better than my touch is that before focussing on drums I was a bassist for many years and that skill transferred, whereas touch is more of a technique development thing that is specific to the instrument.
I was hoping that was true in my case, having grown up taking classical piano lessons, but the kit has shown me otherwise. No matter what it is or will be, it's the most rhythmically unforgiving instrument - I can't hide time behind a note. It took me years to understand what "playing time" meant, quite awhile to start doing it, and I still have a road ahead of me to get to where I can play what I want to play when I want to play it. I haven't played piano in almost 15 years, and I feel I could play polyrhythms on it just as well as I now do on the kit.

I just started really focussing on time within the last 7 years. I've been doing the touch thing way longer.
Did your touch change at all when you started focusing on time?

Anything that increases control will also give you more command over timing for sure.
It seems to me that all the concepts we talk about in drumming (eg. touch, timing, taste, etc.) start to converge or dovetail into one another at some point in the learning process. I'm guessing it's around the time you start to develop a certain amount of ease and proficiency in each.

I'm totally relaxed being loud and fast because of how many years I've done it for. Trying to be quieter, I am out of my comfort zone and so therefore not as relaxed. I'm having to think as well as do.
Being able to play fast and relaxed the way you do, surely playing a lower dynamic is just a matter of practice? Isn't it just a matter of developing another (as opposed to a better) touch?

The time comes first, and technique that supports good time and dynamic control follows from that.
So, I've been thinking about this, and I think it's time for me to prioritize vocalization. I've done it, I do it somewhat, but likely not enough. If you don't mind answering a few more questions, I've asked some questions about it in this thread: https://www.drummerworld.com/forums/index.php?threads/how-do-you-count.168583/.

If anyone else wants to add to that thread, please go right ahead.

Thanks, everyone.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
The easiest way to improve your time is to set the metronome to quarters at around 120 (or higher, for beginners), and play quarters without subdividing in your head. Day by day, drop it by a few bpm until you can bury the click at 15 bpm or so, WITHOUT subdividing.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Did your touch change at all when you started focusing on time?
Not really. I feel they are two seperate things. Things sound better in time, but my touch has been my touch since the mid 80's. I had a teacher who taught me a very specific technique that transformed me from a basement drummer to someone on the next level.

I never really thought about studying time until earlier in this century.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Being able to play fast and relaxed the way you do, surely playing a lower dynamic is just a matter of practice? Isn't it just a matter of developing another (as opposed to a better) touch?
I suppose so. When going fast, my hands are farther up the stick utilizing the fulcrum. There isn't really much hand movement except when moving to different targets. When I slow down, my hand moves down the stick and hand movements become used more. I think this is where my issue lies. It's hard for me to keep stick heights down, it just doesn't really feel natural to do so. It's getting better though.

I think it's a conundrum of sorts. I've spent so many years in longer/faster mode, going slow can be difficult. I imagine NASCAR drivers have the same issue trying to do 30 in a school zone.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
beatdat - Your idea to start with vocalizations is spot on. If you're into books, Benny Greb's Language of Drumming is amazing for this. It's sorting out some things for me that have irked me for decades.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The easiest way to improve your time is to set the metronome to quarters at around 120 (or higher, for beginners), and play quarters without subdividing in your head. Day by day, drop it by a few bpm until you can bury the click at 15 bpm or so, WITHOUT subdividing.
Somebody else suggested that. To me that's like a carpenter training to work without a tape measure, and just eyeball everything. Like, you could do it, but it's not actually a normal job skill, and is it going to be reliable when you're performing? Subdividing is the real tool for making slow tempos, and it's an elusive enough skill for most people.

Naturally I also wrote a longer winded comment on that.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Somebody else suggested that. To me that's like a carpenter training to work without a tape measure, and just eyeball everything. Like, you could do it, but it's not actually a normal job skill, and is it going to be reliable when you're performing? Subdividing is the real tool for making slow tempos, and it's an elusive enough skill for most people.

Naturally I also wrote a longer winded comment on that.
Subdividing is boring and is kind of a crutch. I agreed with you when I was in college, but my timpani teacher felt otherwise. And he was the timpanist with the Dallas Symphony for 50 years, so...lol
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..Subdividing is boring and is kind of a crutch..

If i were you i would start listening more to what people like toddbishop say on this forum, because a lot of those "training methods" that you suggest lately (also the one with a 'bad time' metronome app) have very little use to become a better drummer in any musical situation..

Like, really very little use..

I could also say, no use at all..
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
If i were you i would start listening more to what people like toddbishop say on this forum, because a lot of those "training methods" that you suggest lately (also the one with a 'bad time' metronome app) have very little use to become a better drummer in any musical situation..

Like, really very little use..

I could also say, no use at all..
😂😂😂😂
 
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