Time keeping strategies

JBoom

Senior Member
I'm a huge fan of practice really slow -- uncomfortably slow. It not only trains you to understand the nuances of the space between notes, but also -- believe it or not -- helps to develop speed as well. It keeps you from locking into a standard comfortable tempo.

Another trick is to play groves and vocalize a "fifth limb" part. Basically, that means have certain notes in the grove (whether played or not) be vocalized. For example, while playing a rock grove, say the "e" of "e-and-a" out loud while counting the other 16th notes in your head (do this with all of them eventually). Then move to syncopated vocal parts, etc. I got that idea from the book "It's About Time" by Fred Dinkins.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Besides having my own internal clock, I look at the leader's body movements to try and get on the same wavelength as them. Everybody feels their time a little differently. My 2 main bands have excellent time/tempo/meter keeping guitarists, top notch. They are also the leaders. I don't want my time feel any different than theirs (assuming they are good, some singers just don't know.) It's easy with them, I mean the one guy practices with a metronome. Unheard of!
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
I like having a more open click, instead of counting the quarter notes, have it just click every whole note or once at the beginning of two bars, that way you're practicing with a click while still developing your internal clock. Also for jazz I practiced feeling the click as 2&4 for a while, really helped internalize the feeling and the weight that those beats should have.
 

JBoom

Senior Member
Besides having my own internal clock, I look at the leader's body movements to try and get on the same wavelength as them. Everybody feels their time a little differently. My 2 main bands have excellent time/tempo/meter keeping guitarists, top notch. They are also the leaders. I don't want my time feel any different than theirs (assuming they are good, some singers just don't know.) It's easy with them, I mean the one guy practices with a metronome. Unheard of!

This resonates with my [extremely amateur] opinion that the drummer is *not* the time keeper of the band. Sure, drums provide a useful reference because of their definitive beats, but if you're playing with others that *rely* on that beat, the band will fail. The drums also provide a creative sound to the song; otherwise (in today's technology anyway) bands would just play to a click and get rid of the drummer. There are times when a drummer is contributing a creative sound to a song, and in those times he or she needs to rely on the others to keep the time.

In my own playing, I'm a very empathetic player. That is, if the "leader" speeds up or slows down, I go with it. I think it's better for everyone to stay together than to stay on tempo (and musically fight over it in the middle of a song). Sometimes a tempo change contributes to the creative whims of the moment. If tempo is considered highly important, play to a click.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
A couple of my strategies for keeping time are:

1. Consistent physical movement. For instance the hi hat hand in a rock beat--it's the common denominator for the snare and bass so the more that's on consistent auto-pilot the better off my time and flow will be. (That's another reason I hate crossing to play the hats, quite often you have to modify that flow & technique in order to get certain syncopations in.)

2. Be able to count quarter notes out loud through fills (or keep a quarter in your head going across the double bar line). If you truly feel the pulse naturally then there will be no leaving the pocket in order to play the fill and then resuming the pocket on the other side of the double bar line, it'll all be seamless and smooth.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
One common technique is to tap the beat with LF heel without sounding the hi-hat.

I've been working on this.

Davo
 

Steve_tx

Member
One common technique is to tap the beat with LF heel without sounding the hi-hat.

I've been working on this.

Davo
Interesting. I recently added a full-length mirror to my left side in my practice room and then I noticed how much I do exactly that! I watched myself doing it and wondered why? Then I realized that I was doing it in lieu of being able to toe tap to keep time, so I am doing a heel tap instead.

The main thing that I find to be crucial to time keeping is counting out loud. Not so loud that everyone hears, just enough for me to hear.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I once noticed, by chance, that when my timing felt 'good' I was breathing in a congruent cycle to what I was playing.

I then found that when my timing felt 'bad' I wasn't breathing in a cycle that was congruent to what I was playing.

I now try to conciously establish my breathing to my playing....gets a bit odd when I venture out into odd 8th and 16th time sigs...or artificial groups...
 

David Floegel

Silver Member
Practicing a full rhythmic pyramid helped me a lot!!
Full
Half
Half triplet quarters
Quarters
Quarter triplets
8th
8th triplets
16th
Quintuplets
Sixtuplets
Septuplets
32nd
Groups of 9 (novemoles? Not sure what it is in english :p)


Playing that excercise at 40bpm will help you to develop a killer timing :)
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
Listening to songs you know on an Ipod, take the headphones off for say 30 seconds so you can't hear the music anymore and try and keep the time of the song in your head, when you put them back on aim to be as close in your mind as the moment in the song it is now at.
 

SergiuM

Senior Member
Listening to songs you know on an Ipod, take the headphones off for say 30 seconds so you can't hear the music anymore and try and keep the time of the song in your head, when you put them back on aim to be as close in your mind as the moment in the song it is now at.
Haha, every once in a while i use that method to test my time keeping abilities. You can also do that to a metronome.

I used to own a Roland TD-4, and it had a feature that would let the metronome play a few bars and then silence them for the same amount of bars. It was really great for seeing if you were locked into the met.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
Listening to songs you know on an Ipod, take the headphones off for say 30 seconds so you can't hear the music anymore and try and keep the time of the song in your head...
I do that when shopping. I listen to the in-store music, and when the fake lady with the fake smile in her fake voice interrupts the tunes to try to sell me something, I keep grooving to the (currently un-hearable) song. When Ms Fake goes away and the song comes back, I see how close my timing is.
 

groove1

Silver Member
I make "snapshot" audio recordings of gigs/rehearsals etc. Later I listen to the end of the
tune first then jump to the beginning...it's a quick way to find if the tempo varied.
 
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