Where do you keep your time?

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
What if you want to do some funky off-time stuff on the hats, or say close them on an "and" in the beat.... Do you change your time center to another limb, or imagine the chick of the hats where they "should" be?
Maybe I can try to explain?

When I do accents with sharp opening of the HH, smooth opening with the hands or "chicks" with the foot, my left foot stays in constent motion, generally 8th notes, but very supple, then I lift the foot while in motion to get the desired effects/patterns on the HH, sometimes with a "rocking" motion as well. I only keep the foot steady when I use the HH half open for that washy sound. When the tempo is very fast, I switch to quarter notes but apply the same methods.
 

denisri

Silver Member
I establish my time and pluse before I start the song.....follow my grove/pluse....long and short of it.....my Hi Hat Denis
 

PlayDrumsNow.com

Junior Member
If you rely on one part of your body or drumset, I think that's a slight weakness compared to having a solid internal sense. At least it will constrain you to certain rhythmic choices in your playing.

I used to keep eighths on my right hand somewhere, for a timekeeping 'crutch', when I was drumming in a rock/funk group, and whenever I left the pattern to do fills I may or may not have tended to rush or drag. I've encountered the lesson many times to make even your fills groove hard... the way to do that is simple rhythmic practice with a metronome and with music, and make your goal to play any sparse or busy rhythm (with any limb) COMFORTABLY enough to rely on it for the groove.

Space is harder to feel time with than notes, but that doesn't make it impossible. The more comfortable you are with space, the more free you'll feel with your rhythmic choices.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Maybe I can try to explain?

When I do accents with sharp opening of the HH, smooth opening with the hands or "chicks" with the foot, my left foot stays in constent motion, generally 8th notes, but very supple, then I lift the foot while in motion to get the desired effects/patterns on the HH, sometimes with a "rocking" motion as well. I only keep the foot steady when I use the HH half open for that washy sound. When the tempo is very fast, I switch to quarter notes but apply the same methods.
Interesting. I was also going to ask about wash-y stuff on the hats as well, I'm a big fan of half-open hat stuff and, that's another instance I find where it helps to just internalize the quarter pulse, else I tend to get little unintentional splashes from my left foot tapping the beat. When I'm playing jazz or a style/song that requires a steady hat note flow, I'll generally use the "rocking" method similar I think to what you're talking about... My left heel on the floor for one beat, and on the pedal for the next. Anyway, thanks for the explanation!
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
In my head. I'm a headbanger! It's actually a subtle headbang, but not always. I've always been a little jealous of you guys who can keep time with your left foot. I have a good meter (at least guitar players have stopped complaining) and I use my left foot effectively for chicks and accents, but never anything beyond that.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
It makes for good practice to have the riding hand acting as the time keeper. All the other voices can be placed reliably against the cymbal line. This makes for a rocksteady groove - no speeding up or slowing and no unintentional snare/bass flamming.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
If you rely on one part of your body or drumset, I think that's a slight weakness compared to having a solid internal sense. At least it will constrain you to certain rhythmic choices in your playing.

I used to keep eighths on my right hand somewhere, for a timekeeping 'crutch', when I was drumming in a rock/funk group, and whenever I left the pattern to do fills I may or may not have tended to rush or drag. I've encountered the lesson many times to make even your fills groove hard... the way to do that is simple rhythmic practice with a metronome and with music, and make your goal to play any sparse or busy rhythm (with any limb) COMFORTABLY enough to rely on it for the groove.

Space is harder to feel time with than notes, but that doesn't make it impossible. The more comfortable you are with space, the more free you'll feel with your rhythmic choices.
Everyone should have a solid internal sense! The thread is asking where does it come out for you. For many of us, it's the left foot. Ever notice how many other musicians tap our the pulse with one of their feet when playing, especially seated? Does that "constrain" them? I sure hope so - there are some things musicians definitely want to be constrained from doing, like messing up time.

Bringing what's in your head out for others to hear is the whole point of music. As a drummer, my core function is to regulate time and I find it useful to dedicate one limb full-time to that, in addition to everything else that goes on in a drum set.
 

K.Howden

Senior Member
Great thread! I think this illustrates the way we think about what we're can alter the feel...at least to us.

A couple of things I've noticed; if I using my left hand (open handed player) to keep the time in say eight notes on the ride then I perceive my snare as being at the back end of the beat, if I'm playing the same pattern and use the 2&4 backbeat on the snare as my time reference then then I perceive the snare as being pushed ahead of the beat. Now whether or not this comes across to the listeners I do not know, I haven't the facility to record and find out.

My answer to the original question would be that I keep my time in various places physically depending on the song I'm playing and the feel that I want for the part...or at least my perception of the feel, but with that said, I always feel the time in an overall sense internally regardless, it's unavoidable I guess.

Hope everyone is well,

Kev
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Interesting. I was also going to ask about wash-y stuff on the hats as well, I'm a big fan of half-open hat stuff and, that's another instance I find where it helps to just internalize the quarter pulse, else I tend to get little unintentional splashes from my left foot tapping the beat. When I'm playing jazz or a style/song that requires a steady hat note flow, I'll generally use the "rocking" method similar I think to what you're talking about... My left heel on the floor for one beat, and on the pedal for the next. Anyway, thanks for the explanation!
Yes this is how I do it, but sometimes the "rocking" motion is not on the beat(quarter note) but on 8th notes feel where I can add a "swing" feel to it (dotted 8th notes)

....You're welcome.....
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Everyone should have a solid internal sense! The thread is asking where does it come out for you. For many of us, it's the left foot. Ever notice how many other musicians tap our the pulse with one of their feet when playing, especially seated? Does that "constrain" them?
I think it's a bit different, since other musicians don't have anything to actually play on their left foot. They don't have to alter anything if they want to play a half open washy hat part, or play off-time hat accents. To me, little things like this are what make me not want to tie "time" to any one limb... I'm constantly struggling to have total independence on all limbs as part of my drum kit studies. The concept of "tying" or even expressing something like time on one limb is a bit foreign to me. If I'm making a sound on my kit, it's because I want that sound as part of the song. I kinda get annoyed when a drummer plays every song with that annoying hat chick on every quarter or eighth, and I think most music rarely calls for that sound over the whole song.

Bringing what's in your head out for others to hear is the whole point of music. As a drummer, my core function is to regulate time and I find it useful to dedicate one limb full-time to that, in addition to everything else that goes on in a drum set.
I mostly agree with this, which is why I have a hard time regulating time on my hats... For most beats, I don't hear, and don't want to hear a steady "chick" sound from the hats closing. It distracts me because as you mention, I'm trying to add to the song, and play what I hear devoid of anything else. At one point I was trying to put hat chicks in my playing as a matter of course, until a teacher pointed out that I shouldn't play any notes unless I mean them for the song, which sometimes I do... But our thought is that nothing should be automatic.

Interesting to hear the thoughts from the different methods people use for time keeping on the kit. I don't think there's a "right" answer here. Some folks (the majority it seems) feel more comfortable with a dedicated limb, others feel it's not necessary in their playing.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I think it's a bit different, since other musicians don't have anything to actually play on their left foot. They don't have to alter anything if they want to play a half open washy hat part, or play off-time hat accents. To me, little things like this are what make me not want to tie "time" to any one limb... I'm constantly struggling to have total independence on all limbs as part of my drum kit studies. The concept of "tying" or even expressing something like time on one limb is a bit foreign to me. If I'm making a sound on my kit, it's because I want that sound as part of the song. I kinda get annoyed when a drummer plays every song with that annoying hat chick on every quarter or eighth, and I think most music rarely calls for that sound over the whole song.

I mostly agree with this, which is why I have a hard time regulating time on my hats... For most beats, I don't hear, and don't want to hear a steady "chick" sound from the hats closing. It distracts me because as you mention, I'm trying to add to the song, and play what I hear devoid of anything else. At one point I was trying to put hat chicks in my playing as a matter of course, until a teacher pointed out that I shouldn't play any notes unless I mean them for the song, which sometimes I do... But our thought is that nothing should be automatic.

Interesting to hear the thoughts from the different methods people use for time keeping on the kit. I don't think there's a "right" answer here. Some folks (the majority it seems) feel more comfortable with a dedicated limb, others feel it's not necessary in their playing.
I don't see what kind of difference it makes, whether a limb is opening hats, or just keeping time. Tapping time on a foot certainly helps musicians across the board - and I happen to have that foot connected to a hihat, block, cowbell or tambourine to add to the music.

You are right about not wanting the chick, or the swooshing of hats compressing and decompressing when playing them. For me, that doesn't happen often. These things add to my music in a subtle way. I know band members often seek out the movement of my left foot to help them align their own foot tapping. The left foot, in the situations I play in, become the control center for the band's timing.

Your approach to playing seems to put independence above all else. I come from a different school, one that values dependence and interconnectedness. For such an approach, having a dedicated limb to keep time and express my internal metronome - a "drum set" for my drum set. Indeed, turning off my left foot would reduce my limbs in use to three and I'd have fewer limbs!

What do you do with your left foot while you are playing, I am curious to know?
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
For the sake of clarity; I think DMC means tapping the heel with the hats closed, if you're not playing something w/ the left foot. At least, that's what I do. My left heel is bopping most of the time, until I need to open the hats for an accent or just play them wide open during a heavy groove. I'll tap the whole foot when I do want that "chick", of course.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
Everyone should have a solid internal sense! The thread is asking where does it come out for you. For many of us, it's the left foot.
Is that cos it does the least? Or that we can rock the left foot to time and not actually move the hats unless we want to. It's be a lot harder with any of the other three limbs
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
What do you do with your left foot while you are playing, I am curious to know?
Personally, I like high hats a lot. I'm always thinking about the specific pressure and accent pattern I want on my left. As I'm sure you're aware, hats aren't just open or closed... The pressure or lack of pressure applied creates different sounds, moods, and options. The same groove played with different hat accentuation can create all new sounds. It's just harder for me to do independent things with my left foot if I'm always trying to keep it super steady on one idea or hold the beat with it though a whole song.

So I guess the answer is I'm almost always applying pressure of some amount to my hat pedal. As I said, if I bounce my leg a lot, I tend to get un-intended sounds from the cymbals, or get too locked into the beat with that leg to the point where I can't change it up without altering the time, or making the change more apparent to the listener than was intended. One thing I see a lot when going to watch a band play is drummers who will have a nice steady hat chick until a fill, or another more complicated part comes up, and usually, I'll notice that they lose the consistency, or even just forget about the steady open close they had going. I'm often worried this will happen to me as well, since it has... I suppose practice would make perfect, but as you mention I strive for complete limb independence...
 
D

Doctor Dirt

Guest
I try to kick the stupid guitar player so he shuts it down a little. Other than that nothing it just stays still and wants to go home mostly. Doc
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
For the sake of clarity; I think DMC means tapping the heel with the hats closed, if you're not playing something w/ the left foot. At least, that's what I do. My left heel is bopping most of the time, until I need to open the hats for an accent or just play them wide open during a heavy groove. I'll tap the whole foot when I do want that "chick", of course.
Yes, that is correct.

However, if you are heel tapping while playing the hats, you will change the texture of the hat sound. Which is something I like and it's a part of my playing.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Personally, I like high hats a lot. I'm always thinking about the specific pressure and accent pattern I want on my left. As I'm sure you're aware, hats aren't just open or closed... The pressure or lack of pressure applied creates different sounds, moods, and options. The same groove played with different hat accentuation can create all new sounds. It's just harder for me to do independent things with my left foot if I'm always trying to keep it super steady on one idea or hold the beat with it though a whole song.

So I guess the answer is I'm almost always applying pressure of some amount to my hat pedal. As I said, if I bounce my leg a lot, I tend to get un-intended sounds from the cymbals, or get too locked into the beat with that leg to the point where I can't change it up without altering the time, or making the change more apparent to the listener than was intended. One thing I see a lot when going to watch a band play is drummers who will have a nice steady hat chick until a fill, or another more complicated part comes up, and usually, I'll notice that they lose the consistency, or even just forget about the steady open close they had going. I'm often worried this will happen to me as well, since it has... I suppose practice would make perfect, but as you mention I strive for complete limb independence...
So it sounds like you keep time with your left foot, but you use a wider variety of movements to control the hat sound - from no sound at all, to big splashes and everything in between. I think I have locked my left foot into a narrower range of use - just timekeeping - and I should explore making no sound with it at all, even as I keep time with it.

It is common for my left foot to lose time in a fill. I just pick it up later. A person's internal clock is fallible.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Well I keep time on my ride most of the time, but keep myself in time by singing/humming along to the music. I remember Neil Peart saying that he doesn't count while playing but he sings.
 
Top