Probably a stupid question, but when I play I don't count - I get the rhythm established in my head ie dum dum d d d a dum etc, and play with that, I can play well enough to play along with the original recording etc (currently playing a few Rammstien)
I seem to find it more difficult to think in terms of 1 + 2 + a 3 e + a 4 etc...
Just wondered what others, did as I know counting has been mentioned a few times...
It depends on the music. A lot of tunes have a pretty vanilla rhythm to them, so if a song is just even divisions - or even a very simple syncopation (dotted quarter/eighth figures) I don't really count the numbers. For more complicated syncopations, like notes tied into the first of four sixteenths, or subdivided triplets etc. I always count.
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I don't count notes. As NoteBoat mentions above, I play rock and a back beat is pretty basic. I count measures, number of times a verse of chorus is done, for the purpose of mapping out the arrangement of the song so everyone knows where the changes are.
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Don't take my word for it, but apparently you it becomes quite obvious after playing for a while. Counting would give you a natural rhythm, so you'd automatically know where the beat is after a long time of practicing. This is something you can work around for most songs without many people noticing, but when playing a solo for example it becomes extremely hard to find something to hang on to.
I find it something tricky to do in some ways, but I also think it has some great advantages. It gets me a lot more steady when first practicing and figuring out a song for example. In some others I can play the song while singing, and still know where my beat is. With quite a bit of repetition I don't have to think about it (and thus sing), because I can rely on my foot to do the thinking!
It's really, really easy to just not do it. And for a lot of songs you can get away with it. But I believe that it pays off in the long run and it's a skill worth learning, not entirely uninfluenced by my teacher/friends. :D
Thanks everyone :D hope it wasn't a completely blonde question
not since before i started playing.
i drum, or at least i used to, and i'm sure that helps. however, most of my rhythm chops came from about a year where i obsessed with rhythms, beats, syncopation, and stuff like that, all based off an idle comment. i'd asked a player i admired what i should work on, and his one word response was "rhythm". he'd meant it as opposed to lead guitar, but i took it to mean that my timing was shaky or that i played bland beats, and it felt like a punch in the gut, so i spent a loooong time tearing my hair out in a near religious ferver, throwing every rhythmic idea i had and heard, at the guitar. it drove me crazy, but i got really good at it.
when i found out he just meant to keep working on learning chord progressions and songs and stuff like that, i felt like i'd built the great wall of china by accident. but at least i'm a funky monkey now.
My take on this is that counting is a useful way of establishing a beat if you have no other convenient way of doing it. But it's certainly not foolproof - if you've got lousy timing then there's no guarantee that you'll count evenly just because you're saying the 'right' words. That seems to be the value of using something like a metronome or electronic drum track - to beat an accurate sense of timing indelibly into your brain, so that when you do use either words or foot and hand tap/finger click combinations then there's a better chance of them being a useful tool.
During the time I've been playing there have always been other methods available - such as programmable drum tracks and other rhythm guides - so I don't tend to use the words. In fact I can find them a bit distracting if I hear them on a teaching track. Instead I'll 'play' a beat more like a drummer - either with combinations of feet and hands/fingers, or just mentally 'hear' a beat played on various bits of a drum kit. I don't need to move my lips I've found using recording software useful too. Just loop a rhythm track on the screen in ProTools, Garageband or whatever you use, and play along. You can get multiple cues that way, a click, whatever drums you've added, plus a visual guide as the line moves through the bars. Initially, it can help to see where you are with the beat as well as just anticipating the next sound. It has the added benefit that when you come to do an actual recording you're less likely to get 'red light syndrome' or get put off by the technology.
Like Jason Brann, I spent a fair bit of time working through a couple of pages of rhythms and strumming patterns, so it doesn't seem that hard to drop into them again now when required. I also took four or five drum lessons to learn a bit more about rhythms. I don't think it matters much which method you use, so long as you do have a way of keeping accurate time. Most popular music - for decades now - uses strongly emphasised drumbeats. So I believe that the large amount of listening that many people do these days either via ipods or the radio, actually helps drive that into your brain too.
But I'm just an amateur strummer not a pro, so others may disagree and have different ways of looking at it. :)
I tend to count most of the time some things like fast triplets are more a feel than counting but most of the time I just count it off in my head.
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Normally, when playing along with a song, I listen to the other instruments and follow along. Otherwise, I just time it right....
When we started the band, it was because we were waiting for a sound that never happened. We got tired of waiting, and we decided to just do it ourselves. - Mike Shinoda