Thoughts on Touch and Time

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Feeling the larger space of whole beats is stronger and less prone to moving than building beats through increments of notes.
Why do people suck so bad at playing slow tempos, then? Why is this even an issue?

This seems to be the crux of your claims and obviously I totally disagree. Again there's an artificial distinction between "beats" and "increments." Whether you call a pulse a beat or an increment or subdivision, it's still just a pulse, and it's well established that it's easier to judge medium speed ones accurately than very slow or very fast.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Why do people suck so bad at playing slow tempos, then? Why is this even an issue?

This seems to be the crux of your claims and obviously I totally disagree. Again there's an artificial distinction between "beats" and "increments." Whether you call a pulse a beat or an increment or subdivision, it's still just a pulse, and it's well established that it's easier to judge medium speed ones accurately than very slow or very fast.
Some people actually don’t suck at slow tempos. For a few, the skill is inborn. For the rest of us, it requires practice.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I sucked at playing slow tempos until I decided to tackle them. They definitely did not come natural. Heck, playing with a metronome didn't come natural. I had to shoehorn time into my head. So I was born with no real sense of my own steady time. It had to be learned. That's my excuse lol. Only a metronome could do that for me. I could play along to recordings just fine, but "being the time"...requires a drummer that definitely knows what the tempo should be and how to keep the meter steady in spite of all the goings on around them. Playing at 40 BPM whipped me into shape, and then later down the road, I tried getting even slower. BEST thing I've ever done for my time, learning to play super slow.
 
Just some personal experience, not saying that it's any good: As someone who didn't count loudly or conciously for a long time, I still somehow subdivided. So on slow tempos I might have thought about long notes like "Oooooonnnnee Twoooooooo Threeeeeee" but I later realized that I still implied some kind of subdivision of the long notes like "Twoo oooo oooo oooo" to split the time span into four parts. Maybe it was like a legato descending melody of four notes but I can't recall what it was. Anyway, I believe that subdividing is the way to go, to get the right perception of where the notes fall.

it's well established that it's easier to judge medium speed ones accurately than very slow or very fast.
I agree. However, I read in "The Evolution of Jazz Drumming" by Danny Gottlieb that Bassist Gene Perla had some initial issues counting all quarters solidly when playing very fast tunes with Chick Corea. He got the advice to think of longer phrases like half notes, one bar or two bars. He claims that in the end he was able to feel a 32 bar form without thinking about it which helped him when listening to Elvin Jones soloing. I find this idea fascinating but I believe that this only works because he already had a solid perception of time beforehand.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Just some personal experience, not saying that it's any good: As someone who didn't count loudly or conciously for a long time, I still somehow subdivided. So on slow tempos I might have thought about long notes like "Oooooonnnnee Twoooooooo Threeeeeee" but I later realized that I still implied some kind of subdivision of the long notes like "Twoo oooo oooo oooo" to split the time span into four parts. Maybe it was like a legato descending melody of four notes but I can't recall what it was. Anyway, I believe that subdividing is the way to go, to get the right perception of where the notes fall.
This is why playing with people is so important-- you figure out what works because you have to.

Check it out, on slower ballads my main felt pulse is actually a hemiola [threads are colliding!]. It's not something I worked out, it just happened because I was doing it a lot, and on ballads you play a lot of triplets and a lot of straight 8ths.

I agree. However, I read in "The Evolution of Jazz Drumming" by Danny Gottlieb that Bassist Gene Perla had some initial issues counting all quarters solidly when playing very fast tunes with Chick Corea. He got the advice to think of longer phrases like half notes, one bar or two bars.
Sure, it's the same principle, turning the fast tempo into a medium or even slow tempo-- of course you're still aware of the "subdivisions", which in this case are quarter notes. Half notes, whole notes, and double whole notes at 320 = 160, 80, and 40.

He claims that in the end he was able to feel a 32 bar form without thinking about it which helped him when listening to Elvin Jones soloing. I find this idea fascinating but I believe that this only works because he already had a solid perception of time beforehand.
And several decades of playing experience at a very high level. But this is different-- knowing when 32 bars is up without counting when you're playing, or when you're listening to someone, is not the same as feeling 30-90 seconds as a pure pulse.
 
I'd like to post a photo of the page but I'd rather not due to the copyright. I just found his statement interesting that he was already playing with Chick Corea but how this change of perspective helped him still, even as an already very accomplished player. And Elvin was even more challenging to him. I'm sure he's not the only one who's been thrown for a loop by Elvin - I'm thinking about the end of his solo on Black Nile where "One" is a bit shaky (I'm not picking on these greats, if this doesn't get across in my post). Anyway, thanks for chiming in and thanks for the link to the Ballad post - haven't seen it yet.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I don't really use that book, but I own it-- that whole page is great. It's kind of reassuring that everyone doesn't have everything worked out in advance. It's just a bunch of humans figuring stuff out as they go. Or in Elvin's case, not figuring it out, just doing it.
 
Top