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  • Rhythm Jargon

    David Byrne has a very interesting new book called "How Music Works".

    In it he says:

    Sometimes a band that has played together a lot will evolve to where they play some parts ahead of the beat and some parts slightly behind, and singers do the same thing. A good singer will often use the "grid" of the rhythm as something to play with-never landing exactly on a beat, but pushing and pulling around and against it in ways that we read, when it's well done, as being emotional. It turns out that not being perfectly aligned with a grid is okay; in fact, sometimes it feels better than a perfectly metric fixed up version.

    I think getting the "feel" right is probably the most important aspect of making a good record. It doesn't matter how good a song is or how well it's recorded if the feel's not there then the song will suffer.

    I've always heard terms like "groove", "swing", "in the pocket", "on top of the beat", "behind the beat", "shuffle", and "syncopation". But not being a drummer I never really knew exactly what they meant technically.

    Since I've been recording on my computer I think I'm now actually able to see some of these rhythmic characteristics that I've been playing with all my life but never actually knew what they were.

    For example: When I was a kid I remember Keith Richards saying that one of the things he liked most about Charlie Watts was that he played behind the beat.

    When I look at the recordings I make on my computer now I can see that the drum tracks are slightly behind the bass track.

    So is that what they mean when they say "playing behind the beat"?

    All my life I've just been telling drummers to play - "Booga Chucka, Booga Chucka".

    You know like "Gimme Shelter".

  • #2
    A single vocalist or lead player can get away with a bit of this, but don't let the rest of the band do this. Otherwise , the music will begin to fall apart.

    Dan
    http://musicinit.com/fastfingers.php An Experiment in 80's Technology

    http://youtube.com/techristian My YOUTUBE channel
    Music videos at http://musicinit.com/video.php

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    • #3
      A single vocalist or lead player can get away with a bit of this, but don't let the rest of the band do this. Otherwise , the music will begin to fall apart.

      Dan


      It depends on what you mean by "this". Listen into the Nevilles tracks or the old Elvis band or Stax Records. They're all playing like that. But they know and feel how to make it work. Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, and David Hood as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. They're all doing. it. But God watched over them.
      __________
      Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
      Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
      Jesus

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      • #4
        It depends on what you mean by "this". Listen into the Nevilles tracks or the old Elvis band or Stax Records. They're all playing like that. But they know and feel how to make it work. Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, and David Hood as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. They're all doing. it. But God watched over them.


        What I mean is that you can't have one person feeling it "ahead of the beat", while another is lagging behind , and another is on time. This will produce the same confusion as 3 conversations at once.

        Dan
        http://musicinit.com/fastfingers.php An Experiment in 80's Technology

        http://youtube.com/techristian My YOUTUBE channel
        Music videos at http://musicinit.com/video.php

        Comment


        • #5
          What I mean is that you can't have one person feeling it "ahead of the beat", while another is lagging behind , and another is on time. This will produce the same confusion as 3 conversations at once.

          Dan


          I know what you meant. But listen to the old Elvis band. Those guys did exactly that. And... one guy would shuffle while the others played it straight. What I'm saying is, the very best of them do exactly that.
          __________
          Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
          Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
          Jesus

          Comment


          • #6
            Different styles of music have different concepts of what the beat is and where one should play in reference to the metric beat. I recall a ground breaking article in one of the audio or music magazines from the late 1980s or early 90s that actually measured and quantified how musicians play before and after the metric beat. I believe that article impacted the way people programmed their drum machines and sequencers after it was published.

            I couldn't find the article with a Google search. Perhaps someone else can link to it.
            "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

            My music: http://www.oranjproductions.com

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            • #7
              It's genre related. All musicians should hopefully understand something about the groove/genre they're playing, before they ever give it a bash or record the tune.


              Here's a song featuring a behind-the-beat groove:



              And here's a song whose groove demands a Before-the-Beat, or anticipated treatment:

              Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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              • #8
                Historically speaking, the term "pocket" originated in the middle of the last century with the occurrence of the backbeat, and implied that the backbeat, the Snare Drum striking the beats 2 and 4, is slightly delayed creating a "laid back" or "relaxed feel".

                If the downbeat is exactly when the Kick Drum is struck, then the Snare Drum was very often played slightly later than the midpoint between two consecutive pulses from the Kick Drum. Musicians (and music listeners) were often times unaware of science behind this, but they had a term for it: "the drummer is playing in the pocket."


                http://www.drummercafe.com/education/articles/in-the-pocket.html

                Is the pocket similar to swing?

                Is it reverse swing?

                I always heard that swing was when the first half of the measure was longer than the second half.

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                • #9
                  with regard to the beat & "swing" : as stated above ; it's all about the players working with each other

                  I tend to play guitar "ahead" of the beat. One drummer I worked with couldn't get that & kept stopping b/c he lost my rhythm. For whatever reason, he & I didn't communicate, even if he was a terrific drummer of & by himself. He needed a player who managed the beat more perfectly, I need a drummer who trusts his own time
                  an expert on what it feels like to be me
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                  • #10
                    I know what you meant. But listen to the old Elvis band. Those guys did exactly that. And... one guy would shuffle while the others played it straight. What I'm saying is, the very best of them do exactly that.


                    Definitely - that's a magic combination when the right people do it. That was what IMO Ringo did for his band....he swings just enough, and the other boys - George especially - played straighter against that. I think of this analogy where that swinging drummer manages to levitate the feel, make it feel airborne. Or another analogy is that the swing puts the sand on the dance floor so even the white guys look like they move smoov

                    Thelonious Monk really played around with straightstick lines and sharp angles against a heavy swing. With him, it's so extreme it brings this aggressive, intense feel to his lines. I don't know much about John McClaughlin's influences, but he plays a really aggressive unswinging blindingly fast runs against a swing - so extreme I find it a bit offputting.

                    Another more subtle jazzer is Dave Brubeck who plays an almost baroque/classical straight runs against his swinging drummer and Paul Desmond's sliding, foggy sax.

                    I keep thinking of bands that do this - Chick Corea, lays down super precise, straight lines like a machine gun shooting pebbles at bells, against a swinging background. Although with his more fusiony stuff, the bass/drums also tended to play staighter - which is one reason I prefer him in his less fusiony modes. But he's good all the time, really -

                    So, yeah, I say yeah!

                    nat whilk ii

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                    • #11
                      http://www.drummercafe.com/education/articles/in-the-pocket.html

                      I always heard that swing was when the first half of the measure was longer than the second half.


                      Swing is that thing that girls' skirts used to do. The skirt lagging with a flip and snap back while the legs step off the straight beat. Yum!

                      nat whilk ii

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                      • #12
                        Swing is that thing that girls' skirts used to do. The skirt lagging with a flip and snap back while the legs step off the straight beat. Yum!

                        nat whilk ii


                        I grew up playing classic rock type music and when I was a kid I remember having a hard time playing big band music like Sinatra. Did it swing too much for my young rock and roll ears?

                        I've tried to program swing in my computer but could never get it to work. Sonar has a swing function. When you look at the piano roll view you can see it moves every other note slightly. But it sounds clumsy and artificial to me.

                        Can a machine swing?

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                        • #13

                          One drummer I worked with couldn't get that & kept stopping b/c he lost my rhythm. For whatever reason, he & I didn't communicate, even if he was a terrific drummer of & by himself. He needed a player who managed the beat more perfectly, I need a drummer who trusts his own time


                          What good is it "being a terrific drummer of & by himself?"

                          I think a lot of today's musicians grew up with heavily quantised music where every note is on the grid. I've had the same problem trying to communicate a laid back feel to some younger guys I've tried to play with lately. They seem to want to rush everything and I'm constantly trying to hold them back. I think you either feel it or you don't.

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                          • #14
                            Definitely - that's a magic combination when the right people do it. That was what IMO Ringo did for his band....he swings just enough, and the other boys - George especially - played straighter against that. I think of this analogy where that swinging drummer manages to levitate the feel, make it feel airborne. Or another analogy is that the swing puts the sand on the dance floor so even the white guys look like they move smoov

                            Thelonious Monk really played around with straightstick lines and sharp angles against a heavy swing. With him, it's so extreme it brings this aggressive, intense feel to his lines. I don't know much about John McClaughlin's influences, but he plays a really aggressive unswinging blindingly fast runs against a swing - so extreme I find it a bit offputting.

                            Another more subtle jazzer is Dave Brubeck who plays an almost baroque/classical straight runs against his swinging drummer and Paul Desmond's sliding, foggy sax.

                            I keep thinking of bands that do this - Chick Corea, lays down super precise, straight lines like a machine gun shooting pebbles at bells, against a swinging background. Although with his more fusiony stuff, the bass/drums also tended to play staighter - which is one reason I prefer him in his less fusiony modes. But he's good all the time, really -

                            So, yeah, I say yeah!

                            nat whilk ii


                            Yes!

                            Listen to Page attack the riff of The Immigrant song. He's at least on the the beat. Perhaps a little ahead, and decidedly stinging in his feel. Bonham, however, playing exactly the same basic rhythm motive, is behind and heavy. A lumbering swing almost. For 8 very clear bars you have two different ways to feel the beat and together they sound like Led Zeppelin.

                            __________
                            Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                            Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                            Jesus

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Different styles of music have different concepts of what the beat is and where one should play in reference to the metric beat. I recall a ground breaking article in one of the audio or music magazines from the late 1980s or early 90s that actually measured and quantified how musicians play before and after the metric beat. I believe that article impacted the way people programmed their drum machines and sequencers after it was published.

                              I couldn't find the article with a Google search. Perhaps someone else can link to it.


                              Did this ever surface?!?!?!? I would really love to read that article...
                              __________
                              Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                              Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                              Jesus

                              Comment

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