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How does everyone keep time?

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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

i used to nod. now it's anything. nod, tapping my feel, swaying, hips, dancing, whatever.


   
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(@preacher)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 125
 

I started out playing guitar. (then I tried to pull a townshend (smash) on a 65 acoustic at the age of 3, and prompty got the guitar taken away) Then at 4 I started taking classical piano lessons, I did that untill the age of 13. so that was 9 years, sitting at a piano, with the sound of the infernal metronome ticking, at least 2 hours a day. And I still hear the ticking of a metronome perfectly in my mind 2 years later. To tell the truth I dont ever try to keep time, but it always just happens that I hear the 4/4 beat, and I fall into that. So I guess you could say that I unconciously fall into time.

I play the guitar, I taught myself how to play the guitar, which was a bad decision... because I didn't know how to play it, so I was a sh***y teacher. I would never have went to me. -Mitch Hedberg


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

It really depends on the song, and on the situation.

Some progressions (like a 12 bar blues) I've done so many thousands of times, I don't worry about it - when you know a progression so completely it's part of your DNA, you can just focus on the melody, and you KNOW where the changes will fall.

For most tunes I play, I'm moving to the beat - either tapping my foot or moving around a bit. But those are "performance ready" pieces - so I've played them enough to anticipate the changes.

If it's something I'm working on, it depends on the complexity of the rhythm. About 75% of the tunes I've ever had to play are pretty straightforward... if what I have to play falls on the beat, or straight eighths or triplets (or even a mix, as long as they're on the beat) a simple foot tap will do. But if there's syncopation, odd beat divisions, quarter note triplets, etc - I'm counting. If it's really nasty, I'm counting out loud (sometimes under my breath). The more I play the tune, the more confident I'll be of note placement, and the more thought I can put into phrasing instead of raw timing.

That said, if I'm in a situation where I have to impress somebody (band leader I haven't worked with before, etc), and I'm reading standard notation... if it's syncopated, I count - at least the first time or two through it. There's a big reason for that: a song is either a 'standard' or not. If it's not, I might not be as familiar with it as I'd like to be. And if it IS a standard, there's a built-in risk that a lot of people overlook... the way you remember a tune may not be exactly the way it's written.

A favorite of mine for testing new students who already play and read well is "Girl from Ipanema". Almost everyone thinks they know the tune... and that's a problem, because unless you're actually counting while you read, most of those folks will take substantial liberties with the written rhythm. They're playing what they think it sounds like, instead of what the music says it sounds like. It's not quite as simple as it seems :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@bkangel)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 118
 

A favorite of mine for testing new students who already play and read well is "Girl from Ipanema". Almost everyone thinks they know the tune... and that's a problem, because unless you're actually counting while you read, most of those folks will take substantial liberties with the written rhythm. They're playing what they think it sounds like, instead of what the music says it sounds like. It's not quite as simple as it seems :)

Hooley Dooley... We chose this as one of the songs to do acapella in three-part harmony, and boy, is it not written the way you THINK it should sound :lol:

I'm notoriously bad at tapping my foot... obviously not enough coordination to do both hands and a foot as well :oops: I tend to nod my head, but confess my timing is haphazard. The metronome is my kryptonite. :oops:

What I lack in talent and natural ability, I will have to make up with stubborness.


   
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