Thoughts on Touch and Time

toddbishop

Platinum Member
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
Are tools and standard practices crutches? I don't know. It is sort of arbitrary to decide that good time = not subdividing. Whatever that even means. Usually we're playing subdivisions, to help the other players do their thing. I don't get it.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Are tools and standard practices crutches? I don't know. It is sort of arbitrary to decide that good time = not subdividing. Whatever that even means. Usually we're playing subdivisions, to help the other players do their thing. I don't get it.
Subdividing is a great tool, but there’s a level beyond it. When your time gets good enough, you don’t need the tool.
 

buddhadrummer

Junior Member
Both schools of thought are correct, if I understand their pov's correctly. If we subdivide incorrectly, say rushing slightly, then the beat that follows will be early. Conversely, if we have solid internal time and know where the beat that follows will fall, the subdivisions leading up to it will be spaced properly. I think the distinction comes from how we actually know our own time as we play. If we get that information from the notes we play, then we are simply blindly, without knowing, following our errors. If we have the solid internal time feel, that time is more immovable and remains in place regardless of the notes we play. That said, using subdivisions to measure time can be valid, as long as the beats are placed within a solid time feel.

The perception of time I describe is like putting the fence-posts in place first and then cutting the lengths between them, as opposed to going incrementally.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Subdividing is a great tool, but there’s a level beyond it. When your time gets good enough, you don’t need the tool.
Well, tool is a metaphor. It's a basic orientation. I don't know what "a level beyond" means.

Do you have any recorded examples of your level beyond playing so I can judge whether you know what you're talking about? I need to see evidence of some real mastery to take any of this seriously.

Both schools of thought are correct, if I understand their pov's correctly. If we subdivide incorrectly, say rushing slightly, then the beat that follows will be early. Conversely, if we have solid internal time and know where the beat that follows will fall, the subdivisions leading up to it will be spaced properly. I think the distinction comes from how we actually know our own time as we play. If we get that information from the notes we play, then we are simply blindly, without knowing, following our errors. If we have the solid internal time feel, that time is more immovable and remains in place regardless of the notes we play. That said, using subdivisions to measure time can be valid, as long as the beats are placed within a solid time feel.

The perception of time I describe is like putting the fence-posts in place first and then cutting the lengths between them, as opposed to going incrementally.
None of that makes any sense to me.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Well, tool is a metaphor. It's a basic orientation. I don't know what "a level beyond" means.

Do you have any recorded examples of your level beyond playing so I can judge whether you know what you're talking about? I need to see evidence of some real mastery to take any of this seriously.



None of that makes any sense to me.
I haven’t got the slightest idea how to prove to you that I don’t need to subdivide. Do you have any idea? It’s internal. How could I prove the absence of something internal? 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Well, if you're claiming a technique is effective for learning to play music well, you do need to be a good musician yourself. Otherwise, how would you know? Non-players don't understand the issues involved well enough for their theories and experiments to have any meaning.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm a big fan of not subdividing to slow tempos with the metronome as practice. The way I figure it, the longer interval I can go without subdividing, the better my clock becomes. And it's working for me. Trying to bury the click at 20 BPM...that's 3 seconds between beats. That's a long time for me. I can't bury it consistently. However I come pretty close most of the time. And it does help my timing. The most I want to subdivide in my head while playing is the quarter note anyway. Anything smaller and it clutters my mind with too much chatter going on. I just need to feel the Q note.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Well, if you're claiming a technique is effective for learning to play music well, you do need to be a good musician yourself. Otherwise, how would you know? Non-players don't understand the issues involved well enough for their theories and experiments to have any meaning.
Fair enough, but you still haven’t explained how it’s possible to prove that someone isn’t subdividing. I’m interested to find out how you plan to implement this test. I mean, I can post a video of me clapping along to a 15 bpm click and burying the click, (that’s about as slow as I can go, I don’t train this skill on purpose much) but....what method would you use to test that I’m not subdividing?
Or you could accept that I’m not insane, stupid, or lying. Because I’m not assuming any of those 3 about YOU, dude.
 

buddhadrummer

Junior Member
None of that makes any sense to me.
I'm sorry to hear that Todd. As a teacher I thought you'd be more open to perspectives different from your own. Since we are all trying to find our own way on this awesome instrument, sharing and conversing to find ways to discover what might work for us is a positive step toward that understanding.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
When I started at 8 I played by feeling the tempo- I had no concept of counting it as discrete units of time. I envy those who have such mastery to be aware of all your limbs and focus on time with such precision. I’m pretty good at keeping steady time but if tempo is wrong at start we’ll there ya go
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I'm sorry to hear that Todd. As a teacher I thought you'd be more open to perspectives different from your own. Since we are all trying to find our own way on this awesome instrument, sharing and conversing to find ways to discover what might work for us is a positive step toward that understanding.
You were drawing a distinction between beats and subdivisions that is not real-- at least as far as time awareness is concerned. Time is time.

I'm a big fan of not subdividing to slow tempos with the metronome as practice. The way I figure it, the longer interval I can go without subdividing, the better my clock becomes. And it's working for me. Trying to bury the click at 20 BPM...that's 3 seconds between beats. That's a long time for me. I can't bury it consistently. However I come pretty close most of the time. And it does help my timing. The most I want to subdivide in my head while playing is the quarter note anyway. Anything smaller and it clutters my mind with too much chatter going on. I just need to feel the Q note.
What for, though? I would never do that in playing music. You're usually playing the subdivisions-- or somebody else in the group is-- even if you're trying not to think them. It's like we arbitrarily decided to do something hard that never happens, because ????

I mean, any time you focus on the time it's going to do something, I just question whether this is necessary or effective for making music.

My thing is that slow tempos don't actually exist. You can get the entire practical range of performance tempos by halving or doubling or quadrupling the standard met values between 52-100 bpm. So 80 bpm = 40 bpm = 160 bpm = 320. Once you figure out it's all one thing, you can get on to the real business of figuring out what to play, which is supposed to be the whole point of all this.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What for, though? I would never do that in playing music. You're usually playing the subdivisions-- or somebody else in the group is-- even if you're trying not to think them. It's like we arbitrarily decided to do something hard that never happens, because ????
It's solely for my own personal clock development Todd. I play subdivisions at every gig, as do all drummers. So for this specialized practice, I try and balance out by not subdividing. It's really hard. That's another reason I do it, because it's hard. Subdividing for me is much easier. My attitude is that any practice that is easy for me is not as good as practice that is hard for me. The better honed my firing of the quarter note is, the better my time sounds on my playback recordings.. It's also a great way for me to get into the meditation zone while practicing that I love so much. It's a chore just to clear my head, which is necessary for me to do this the best I can. Sometimes clearing my head of the chatter takes 30 minutes. After that happens, I do much better, but I still need lots of work. Trying to do something that is hard for me gets me faster results than doing something that I can do easily. I believe that practicing time while in the meditative state...ingrains time into my subconscious much better than practicing in a non-meditative state.

This works for me, because I dig it, but it's not for everyone. On the surface, it probably seems pretty boring to most. To me it's anything but.
 
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Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Springboarding off Larryace’s concept that practicing hard things is a better use of time than easy things, I’d like to add that...crazy stuff happens in life and on gigs. I want my time to be so rock solid that I can walk on to the gig on zero sleep, having argued with my wife 10 minutes ago, and having just got laid off at work that day....and still nail it at the gig. Even if the other players have crappy time and I can’t hear them well. Even if the music is at the limit of my technical ability.
The only way to approach that level of solid as a player is to challenge yourself in the practice room WAY beyond what the gig will ever do. I can’t practice playing an easy-ish gig right after a major life shock....but I can practice a much harder version of my parts, and so when I’m at the gig I can remain totally calm despite stage fright, other players messing up, and unfortunate life events.
I mean, whatever. Feel free to disagree, anyone and everyone. LOL
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The only way to approach that level of solid as a player is to challenge yourself in the practice room WAY beyond what the gig will ever do.
I subscribe to this as well. Take on things that are stupid hard. Feeling out 3 seconds between beats consistently is stupid hard for me. I might nail it at best 20% of the time, usually less, so I still need lots of time spent. It's hard! It's a mental exercise for me more than a physical exercise.

The thing is, I found an approach that works well for me. That's the important thing. It doesn't matter if I'm the only guy in the world that does a certain thing, if it's working for me. Everyone must discover what works for them.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I subscribe to this as well. Take on things that are stupid hard. Feeling out 3 seconds between beats consistently is stupid hard for me. I might nail it at best 20% of the time, usually less, so I still need lots of time spent. It's hard! It's a mental exercise for me more than a physical exercise.

The thing is, I found an approach that works well for me. That's the important thing. It doesn't matter if I'm the only guy in the world that does a certain thing, if it's working for me. Everyone must discover what works for them.
just for fun, today I set the click to 15 bpm and clapped along without subdividing. It took me about 5 clicks to start burying the click, but once I did, I was locked in. 20 bpm is no problem for me to bury it almost from the start. 15 is rough. But I don’t train this regularly. I think I’ve done it 4 times in the last year, and none at all before that.
I’m actually curious to see how long it would take to get to 1 or 2 bpm. I wish someone would spread this idea to school band and orchestra teachers. Kids would have metronome-quality internal time before they started high school. LOL
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
just for fun, today I set the click to 15 bpm and clapped along without subdividing. It took me about 5 clicks to start burying the click, but once I did, I was locked in. 20 bpm is no problem for me to bury it almost from the start. 15 is rough. But I don’t train this regularly. I think I’ve done it 4 times in the last year, and none at all before that.
I’m actually curious to see how long it would take to get to 1 or 2 bpm. I wish someone would spread this idea to school band and orchestra teachers. Kids would have metronome-quality internal time before they started high school. LOL
Try it with a stick on a snare drum next time. It doesn't count unless it's buried with nothing peeking through.

No nevermind, don't do that. I'll feel embarrassed ha ha.

Anyone who can feel 2 BPM I don't care if they subdivide, they have my respect...I saw a video about Victor Wooten and he mentioned doing this.

For my purposes, 20 BPM will suffice. If I can do that consistently, anything with a normal tempo...the slow practice helps me deepen my pocket at normal tempos.

Touch, and time, (which to me means meter) I'd add tempo, would be my 3 T's of drumming.
 
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buddhadrummer

Junior Member
You were drawing a distinction between beats and subdivisions that is not real-- at least as far as time awareness is concerned. Time is time.
Thanks for your reply. That's incorrect. I am not drawing a distinction between beats and subdivisions, but rather our perception of them. And to your "time is time", this also is incorrect, since time is a construct and is a large part of what we do, to construct a time feel that suits the musical, cultural moment. In that construct, the most solid way to build that time feel is by internalizing a strong quarter-note pulse, and then dividing, either "accurately" or by altering the feel of the notes between them. Using your language, I might say that time is time and notes are notes. I don't use notes to feel the time. My notes are articulated from my inner time, not the other way around.

Try this analogy if the others didn't reach you. If you wish to divide anything in half (or in any other subdivision) you must know the total measurement first. Humans have an amazing capacity for measuring time without increments. It is this fact to which I believe others are referring. If understand you correctly, measuring the beats by the notes we play is fine, but is only accurate if the measurements are correct. And this leaves a lot of room for error. Feeling the larger space of whole beats is stronger and less prone to moving than building beats through increments of notes.
 
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