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Holding tempo

 
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 9:32 pm    Post subject: Holding tempo Reply with quote

Sometimes I play duo with horns...then it's my responsibility to be the time keeper.

I've found that there are certain tempos I feel very comfortable in...and others I don't have a grasp on. I have this crazy habit of slowing down a performance a LOT! I mean to the point of embarrassment!

I heard Mick Goodrick has this exercise called "metronome sweeps" - the gist of it is that you play a tune for a few minutes at a certain tempo - say 170 bpm. Then you try the tune at 150 bpm for a few minutes and have to avoid rushing...then 180, then 160...in fact I forget if there was an exact staggering of the tempos, maybe I can find it in my notes. But the idea is you try to really get a feel for some subtle differences in tempo.

I know there are some awesome rhythm players on this forum, do you guys have any advice for holding tempo and getting comfortable with all tempos, not just the ones that are easy for you to groove in?

Here are some considerations/conclusions I've come to:

Faster tempos are harder for me to maintain.

A big part of the problem is not keeping the head melody in mind during my comping/walking - I resort to a different groove because I might have spent more time practicing at that different tempo.

it's especially hard for me to maintain tempo (without a metronome) while changing rhythmic feels (broken to walking, sparse comping to fours, etc)

I have a bunch of metronome exercises I've been trying to do for this stuff...I could share them if you like, but I'm starting to think the issue is much more about listening to the groove and keeping the melody in mind rather than a mathematical issue of holding a certain bpm marking.

THOUGHTS???
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nothing for this one, guys?
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randalljazz



Joined: 19 May 2009
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JakeJew wrote:
nothing for this one, guys?


well, not really...i play with the metronome ALL THE TIME, usually on 2 and 4. for some things i use the 1 2 3 4 until i'm sure i know where i am in the phrase. if not metronome, then biab, sometimes play-alongs.
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Jens



Joined: 20 Feb 2007
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Location: The Hague, The Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Here are some considerations/conclusions I've come to:

Faster tempos are harder for me to maintain.

A big part of the problem is not keeping the head melody in mind during my comping/walking - I resort to a different groove because I might have spent more time practicing at that different tempo.

it's especially hard for me to maintain tempo (without a metronome) while changing rhythmic feels (broken to walking, sparse comping to fours, etc)

I have a bunch of metronome exercises I've been trying to do for this stuff...I could share them if you like, but I'm starting to think the issue is much more about listening to the groove and keeping the melody in mind rather than a mathematical issue of holding a certain bpm marking.


I think that we all run into these things, and mostly I guess I am happy if I notice, at least then I can do something about it. It is alos good to record yourself at regular intervals (and listen to the recording ... )

Extreme tempos are more difficult to pin down. Ffast slows down and slow speeds up, That seems only natural. I think the way to help with this is to work on how you feel the tempo (ie. feel the subdivision or make the beat a subdivision) A big part is probably also to recognize when a tempo is difficult to keep. Medium swing is one of the most difficult things to play I know. Jim McNeely once said that tempos between 100 and 140 should not be played untill you had at least 10 years experience.

I think that if you play with a bass player and/or a drummer you'll notice that they sometimes have problems going from 2 feel to 4 or latin to swing etc. and keep the tempo. You can hear it on music minus ones too sometimes. For me it helps to think the "new" feel before I have to go to it. While comping it can make it hard to stay listening to the soloist though.

I would be very interested in new metronome games! Cool

Jens
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jens wrote:


I would be very interested in new metronome games! Cool

Jens


hah shit there are a LOT.

Basically, take any of the following:

comping rhythmic patterns

comping sparse/syncopated

walking bassline

consistent 8ths in lines

general soloing

consider also cycling between the any of the above (so like bassline into comping rhythmic patterns into more syncopated/broken comping) and you could apply that to any of the following metronome "settings"

click at any of the downbeats (1,2, 3 or 4)

click at any of the upbeats, any "ands", or a half note click that clicks at the and of one and the and of three, or the and of two and the and of four

click at either of the above but for every second measure, so beat 2 of every two measures, something like that...obviously could extend to every 4 measures, every 8, etc, (or every 3, every 5) and this is the challenge of holding tempo

click on a dotted half note, or a dotted quarter note

click on a group of five quarters or eights...so you mentally arrange the click so that it's like (clicking on the capital letters and not anywhere else): ONE two three four one TWO three four one two THREE four etc, and the same concept with eighths (ONE and two and three AND four and one and TWO etc)

click is a group of seven 8ths...ONE and two and three and four AND one and two and three and FOUR and one and two and three AND

click is the 2nd partial of a group of 8th note triplets...or quarter note triplets

obviously you have to do this with a drum machine or a sequencing program unless if you have a metronome that goes down really low (I just use simple midi programs like "tabit," very easy to do this kind of stuff, very quick to put it together)

I actually have a metronome on my iPhone that goes down to ONE beat per minute - unfortunately it's a hair innaccurate against the real bpms. It's consistent with itself - like 30 is half of it's 60 is half of it's 120, but it's 120 isn't actually 120 bpm. Odd, right? Still works for these exercises as long as I know I'm not dealing with "True" bpms

I have only tried (and am only capable of) a fraction of what I've listed here...obviously this is enough stuff that, if taken to it's logical conclusion, you could shed for an eternity so I guess we all have to pick our battles.
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and obviously some of this is about holding tempo and some of it is more about just feeling the pulse in an unusual place or way...I had bass player friend that got me really into this stuff. Dude had the best time of anybody...

the holding tempo thing I guess is more accurately tested with the 2/4/8 measures in between clicks kind of thing.

i have a file I made that gradually has fewer and fewer clicks each chorus, so you start just playing with quarter notes, by the end it's a click twice a chorus!
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jazzerchick



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
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Location: SanAntonio , Tx

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sub-divide the beats as much as you can, in your head, tap or whatever.
Faster tempos sorta take care of themselves, but slow to med. tempos, you need to feel the sub-division.
I play duo a lot with horn players. You have to keep the energy going.

I like listening to the Gene Harris quartet recordings. Great rhythmic
energy even at slow and med. tempos. Ron Eschete on guitar and Luther Hughes on bass.
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toddinjax



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first thing that comes to mind would be to pair down any excess from your comp at high tempos. Maybe you're trying to add too much, to keep a groove going. The tempo that fast will keep it's own groove, you can just interject sparse, short jabs of chords. Emily Remler speaks to this in one of her videos, about not playing anything too complicated/busy as tunes get faster.
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sindongui



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
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Location: guadalajara, mexico

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

agreed
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Viper



Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 568
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello cats,

randalljazz wrote
Quote:
usually on 2 and 4. for some things i use the 1 2 3 4


Of course its none of my business but I have it on good authority namely Barry Harris who said 'whats all this 2 and 4 shit, go on the 1 and 3.

Besides which, how can you nail the 1 if you are on 2 and 4. And another thing(as wife says when I am sneaking out) most changes happen on the 1 & 3.
Any way each to his own.

Keep practising.
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

toddinjax wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind would be to pair down any excess from your comp at high tempos. Maybe you're trying to add too much, to keep a groove going. The tempo that fast will keep it's own groove, you can just interject sparse, short jabs of chords. Emily Remler speaks to this in one of her videos, about not playing anything too complicated/busy as tunes get faster.


This is very difficult to do if there is no bassist or drummer!

But very easy to do if there is a bassist or drummer!
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Viper wrote:
Hello cats,

randalljazz wrote
Quote:
usually on 2 and 4. for some things i use the 1 2 3 4


Of course its none of my business but I have it on good authority namely Barry Harris who said 'whats all this 2 and 4 shit, go on the 1 and 3.

Besides which, how can you nail the 1 if you are on 2 and 4. And another thing(as wife says when I am sneaking out) most changes happen on the 1 & 3.
Any way each to his own.

Keep practising.


2 and 4 to imitate the drummer's left foot...
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm probably mostly missing what was really being asked...and I'm no great shakes on the guitar, but...

With regard to maintaining tempo -- including both rhythm and solo playing -- I really feel it is necessary to know precisely where you are in the tune.

Duh.

But still...I think that when the tempo gets out of control it is often because there is an element of "being lost." Even on a tune you have memorized all the changes for and for which you could quickly pencil out a score from memory if requested.

And the best aid for maintaining this "orientation" I have found is to quietly hum, sing, mouth, scat, etc., the tune as I'm playing. Maybe it's just coincidence, but among the people I've worked with, the ones who seem to always know where the downbeat is and lock the group into a groove no matter what "gravitational" pulls they're hit with...are generally the ones who quietly sing, hum, scat, etc., while they're playing. The ones I've played with who cannot hold tempo generally don't do this.

The other thing, which is totally irrelevant to the question at hand, but what the hell...revolves around the bass. Gigging with the double bass taught me as much or more about playing rhythm guitar as I ever learned through study of the guitar. If the opportunity presents, I highly recommend that anyone interested in the guitar take advantage of that opportunity and play the bass some...

...and not a bass guitar. The real deal...a "bull fiddle." It forces you into a different way of thinking and phrasing (and holding tempo) and discourages "faking" your way through which is what most guitar players try to do when confronted with a bass guitar.
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Viper



Joined: 04 Oct 2005
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Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks CJM for reminding us of what was the topic.

It easy to wander a bit like keeping tempo perhaps. Bands do tend to speed up. I think your advice about scatting etc. is very good especially for non blowing players (that's us).I also think it helps to be rythmically creative when you are playing a solo.
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