Timing!!!!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by prof2915, Nov 5, 2005.


  1. prof2915

    prof2915 Guest

    I´m curious to learn your approaches to "timing".

    If one goes to the "member soundclips" of TGP one can hear various levels of playing but to me the most common problem is "timing". (even some of the players that are considered to be "monsters" - at that page - have quite weak timing I must say)

    One way to get a good timing would of course be to practise licks to perfection.
    Ones "improvisation" would then consist of combining these "perfect licks" in different ways.
    I know that this works for a lot of people, personally I would be bored to death...

    I want improvisation to be spontaneous!!!!!

    One can learn music theory and practise scales and arpeggios etc, but HOW does one practise timing?

    While listening to great improvisers like Chick Corea one can hear that most of us guitarists have a lot to learn about: TIMING.

    I´m one for sure!
     
  2. Mullet Kingdom

    Mullet Kingdom Senior Member

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    I practiced the **** out of 16th notes with a metronome for over ten years.

    I stopped doing it because it's become beyond tedious at this point, but it has worked wonders for my single note/melody/soloing chops.

    Make the metronome your best friend.
     
  3. prof2915

    prof2915 Guest


    I´m sure that this helps the coordination/zyncronisation of the fingers/hands, but my approach to "timing" is wider than this.

    Watched a videoclip of Eric Johnson playin "Cliffs of Dover" earlier this evening. Eric is considered to be a great guitarist - and I suppose that he is - but his timing wasn´t in place at all times during his solo.

    In the word "timing" I include: the exact/precise (100%) rythm of a phrase as well as its rythmical "inventiveness" together with the technical aspects of playing.

    It´s of course hard to play with 100% perfection while improvising, but I´ve never ever heard a really great sax or piano player with a poor timing...

    Scott Henderson and Pat Metheney are examples of guitarists with a great timing (as I can remember it)

    My intention is NOT to "pick on us guitarplayers" by saying that we are inferior musicians, I just - as I wrote in the beginning of this thread - want to know how you all approach this.
     
  4. renico00

    renico00 Member

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    Metronome, metronome, metronome...

    I cannot stress enough how important it is to use a metronome. Have it going whenever you are practicing. To practice or test your timing, scratch the strings on the click... if you're spot on, you will not hear the click.

    If you're serious about a career, you never know when you may be in a session with only a click track. I think Vai used to walk around with one clipped to his pants. If I remember correctly, it would drive his wife nuts.

    Lastly, record yourself. Start recording yourself if you're not already. Listen back and find your flaws. Listen for timing and pitch. These are the things that really separate the pros. Listening back to a recording of yourself can be eye opening. Make sure when you listen to the playback that you're detached, as in, unbiased listening.

    J
     
  5. -=MYK=-

    -=MYK=- Member

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    Some solos are meant to be solos...and not rythmic guitar wanking;)...:eek:



    I need a metronome
     
  6. prof2915

    prof2915 Guest

    What I´m trying to say is:
    - If a solo would be reduced to just its rythm, would the rythmical ideas be totally clear?

    - If clear, are they well performed?

    - If clear and well performed, are the rythmical ideas created inventive and interesting?

    Well, I don´t know if I make myself clear here, but I´ve got really sensitive ears for this as well as high standards...

    I mentioned Chick Corea earlier as an example of a player with clear, well played and interesting rythmical ideas. Another one is the Brasilian keyboardplayer Renato Neto of "Strait Jacket".

    Plays like a great great drummer!!!
     
  7. Mullet Kingdom

    Mullet Kingdom Senior Member

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    If you think about it, the flaws and inconsistencies are a main component of what makes our styles unique and largely contributes to our voice on the instrument.

    I don't want to hear melody that sounds like it's being played by a sequencer.
     
  8. prof2915

    prof2915 Guest

    You´re right!

    I´m not at all looking for "sequencer perfection"!!!

    What I´m seeking is: strong and clearly stated rythmical ideas, as well as methods for practising this.
     
  9. Antero

    Antero Member

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    Basically: If your rhythm sucks, the solos sucks. Departures from the rhythm must be intentional accents, distinctly of the kind that doesn't suck.

    Personally, I think it comes from people jumping into lead guitar without becoming good rhythm guitarists first. I can't solo for beans, but I know that anything I can do is going to be grooving properly.
     
  10. al carmichael

    al carmichael Member

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    Sense of time. Its the heartbeat behind the music, yet how many players are there that can't demonstrate what a triplet or dotted 8th sounds like? I urge my students to understand not just note values: whole, half, quarter, eighth, 16th and 32, but also the dotted and triplet versions of these notes. Why? Because it opens up the phrase palette when putting notes together. It also helps us understand those odd sections in some songs.

    I strongly urge practicing with the metronome. It builds consistent chops and imparts a sense of keeping time--both essential to fluency. A basic study in drums is not a bad idea either. Someone mentioned Chick Corea's sense of time--he was drummer before he became a keyboard player and it shows.

    I agree that the variance in our sense of time is part of what gives us our unique voices as players. Sometimes the groove is not "perfect" in a strict sense. Drummers shift the feel of the beats very slightly to create certain grooves that have that extra something. So, we have to learn to adjust and adapt to their time.

    But, to start out, I think its good to know how to be robot perfect, or to be able to play right on the money. After that, its easier to be aware of the shifts that do occur naturally. I've never met two drummers that play the same patterns the exact same way. In other words, begin by polishing your time as perfectly as you can. Once you can do that, its far easier to adjust to a groove, because you know what "right" is (and I use that word loosely, lol!).

    Really, it doesn't take too long to understand the basics of rhythm, but its something that will improve musicianship as much as studying scales, licks and chord changes. ALl the good players have an innate sense of time, and thats a big part of why they sound so good.
     
  11. Antero

    Antero Member

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    Yeah, it's definitely a question of controlling your relation to the rhythm. Bad guitarists - even bad guitarists people think are good - go out of time because they can't keep in time. Good guitarists are always exactly where they want to be.

    Bassists talk a lot about pushing the beat or playing behind the beat.. I think they understand this stuff better than most guitarists.

    I encourage anyone who wants a better idea of guitar rhythm to pick up Gang of Four's album, Entertainment!. Not only is it a seminal, genius post-punk album, the rhythm section is incredible and guitarist Andy Gill has the sickest sense of rhythm ever. He can play metronome precise, but also wander away from anything resembling the beat in a way that is unbelieveably exact. He shatters the rhythm and puts it back together in hideous forms, then drops a chord precisely on the downbeat... crazy skills.
     
  12. tacorivers

    tacorivers Member

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    Playing with a metronome has made me a much better player. It bridges the gap between noodling around with no purpose and actually playing music. I now always try to practice with a metronome or drum machine, and my playing is much tastier.
     
  13. FUSER

    FUSER Member

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    So could someone explain "dotted and triplet versions" a ittle more?


    Thanks
     
  14. Antero

    Antero Member

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    Well, a dotted note is half again as long - a dotted quarter note is a quarter-and-an-eighth long, a dotted half is a half-and-a-quarter long, you get the idea.

    A triplet is three notes in a space where you'd put two, basically. Swing time is triplet rhythm. Instead of

    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

    you'd have

    1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a

    It makes sense if you say it out loud.
     
  15. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I think all musicians should learn how to play the drums. It is an excellent way to come to terms with weaknesses in rhythm (especially when playing with a metronome), as well as build an awareness of more complex rhythms that can be applied to any instrument.

    Bryan
     
  16. ABKB

    ABKB Member

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    I think I got a little lucky here. First when I started off, I learned by listening to albums (remember vinyl lol), and a lot of those guys were going off a metronome, or a click track. Second, after a few years of learning guitar, I switched to bass for about ten years (long story but we could never find any bass players so I got stuck with it), so I learned how to be in front/behind the beat as at that young age I was saddled with drummers would couldnt keep things steady. By the time I switched back to guitar, playing against a click track or metronome was no big deal. I am certianly not perfect, but I can hear quickly when I or somebody else is off slightly.

    So I agree 100%, metronome is really the only way to go to get better at this, yes learn the notes and what they mean, but even then, you cant get a handle on it without really sitting down with a metronome.

    I do want to add though, there are times when I will "stall" a note during a lead intentionally to add some flavor. And even the best guitarists will be slightly off now and then, or they may stall a note or move it ahead for the same reason. If I stall a note, or somebody else does, that does not make anybody bad at timing. I do think I hear what your saying prof2915, but I also think you need a wider frame here. Chick Corea is a monster player no doubt, but his solos never inspired me and maybe it was because of his impecable timing. I am not sure here, just talking out loud, it has been a while since I listened to him. Cant remember who said it, but "learn everything you can and work at it, then forget it all because music is about the heart, not the head". Chick sometimes sounds like he remembers everything still. That's not a slam against the man, I play keys as well as guitar and I will never be even CLOSE to as good as Chick is on one of his bad days. But a lot of good musicians will also "play" with thier timing. There is a fine line between being off and playing with timing I know, but it's there.
     
  17. al carmichael

    al carmichael Member

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    You made me think of Duke Robillard's album "Duke's Blues." he does anything BUT play in "perfect" time, but, man--his phrasing is spectacular. It was a little bit jarring at first, but once I got into the groove, it was amazing. I think knowing how to do it both ways is where I want to be.
     
  18. e-z

    e-z Member

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    A bass player friend of mine recommended the following exercise. Connect the output of your metronome to a volume pedal. Play along with the metronome. Drop the metronome out with the volume pedal but keep playing. Bring the metronome back in and see how far off you are.
     
  19. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    There is a mode on my electronic drum kit that will drop the metronome for as many measures as you like. I use it for doing 3 "on," 1 "off," which is great for getting fills in time. Pushing it up to having more measures "off" can be very humbling, especially when doing more complex rhythms.

    Bryan
     
  20. Dajbro

    Dajbro Member

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    Mick Goodrick's "The Advancing Guitarist" has some great ideas on working on your time: (paraphrased)

    1. Use a metronome. Use ALL settings available, not just fast, medium, and slow.

    2. Learn to play three "styles" of time. Dead center, a bit ahead, a bit behind.

    3. Learn to use accents. Accents give "life" and "definition" to music.

    4. Experiment with different ratios of "even notes to odd notes." ie. 50% - 50% = even 8ths; 66.3% - 33.3% = swing 8th shuffle; 75% - 25% = dotted 8th note & 16th note; 25% - 75% = 16th note & dotted 8th note; 33.3% - 66.3% = inverse shuffle; 55% - 45% - jazz 8th variation; 60% - 40 % = jazz 8th variation.

    Combine all of the above = infinite.


    I have a cassette of Pat Metheny giving a private lesson. The main thing that I got from it was that rhythm is THE most important element in playing if you want to sound convincing.

    Pat mentioned Dave Liebman vs. Michael Brecker. He said that Liebman knows more s#*t on the sax than anyone, but that it will never sound as good as Brecker because Brecker has that time thing going on where he sounds like a truck coming down a hill at you. If you "float" the time, without really owning it, you are not going to sound as good.

    Metheny demonstrates with a metronome, playing a single note, what it sounds like playing right on the beat, just ahead of the beat, and just behind the beat, much like Goodrick advocates in his book. The point being, you need to be able to control where you play, depending on what the music calls for.

    The goal is not to be able to play like a quantized drum machine, far from it. The goal is to have such a strong sense of the groove, the one, swing, funk, or whatever you want to call it, (independant of the drummer, bassist, etc.) that you can leave it, and come back to it at any time, as the music calls for it. You push it, you pull it, you nail it, as you see fit.

    David
     

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