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  • Tempo vs. Groove

    Offshoot from my "rough year" thread:

    My drummer often complains that we play everything too fast.  He's big on trying to keep tempos as close to the original recordings as possible.

    I tell him I'm much less concerned about tempo than I am overall groove.  I view tempo the same way as I do key:  you pick the key where the singer will best sing the song, regardless of what the original key may have been.   Same with tempo:  if the band grooves better a few notches faster or slower, then so be it.

    His response is we need to make the groove work at the tempo HE sets (which, admittedly is almost always VERY close to the original recordiing.  He's got an amazing knack for finding those tempos) and not let the song veer faster or slower simply because some of the other musicians might be "feeling it" at another tempo on a particular night.

    Thoughts?

    ______________

  • #2

    guido61 wrote:

    Offshoot from my "rough year" thread:

    My drummer often complains that we play everything too fast.  He's big on trying to keep tempos as close to the original recordings as possible.

    I tell him I'm much less concerned about tempo than I am overall groove.  I view tempo the same way as I do key:  you pick the key where the singer will best sing the song, regardless of what the original key may have been.   Same with tempo:  if the band grooves better a few notches faster or slower, then so be it.

    His response is we need to make the groove work at the tempo HE sets (which, admittedly is almost always VERY close to the original recordiing.  He's got an amazing knack for finding those tempos) and not let the song veer faster or slower simply because some of the other musicians might be "feeling it" at another tempo on a particular night.

    Thoughts?


    We are at our best when we push the tempo.   The down side is that its hard on drummers. 

    "you mess with him and you mess with the whole trailer park"

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    • #3

      I think getting the groove right is paramount. As you know, sometimes the tempo affects your ability to get the groove right, I know as a lead singer it's often really hard to make the melodies sit in the groove right when the tempos are too fast (space to breathe is helpful...). But I really think that the drummer should be in the driver's seat and everyone should play off them. There are a few songs that sound slowed-down and plodding in their original tempos when you play them live (Pour Some Sugar On Me comes to mind), and those benefit from 3-5bpm increases. So a conversation and an agreement should be made with everyone about tempos in rehearsal or at the shows - sometimes it's cool to speed them up a little so long as you don't lose the fundamental groove.

      As a side note, personally, I don't think that adjusting tempo is the same as adjusting a key. I prefer original keys when possible because I think there's a feeling or vibe to every key that gets lost in transposition.

      That said, almost every band I've been in in the past 15 years runs everything a half-step down. It's always kind of annoyed me, because some stuff just doesn't sound right down there, but it does make some stuff a TON easier to sing.

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

      Comment


      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment

        MusicalSchizo wrote:
         So a conversation and an agreement should be made with everyone about tempos in rehearsal or at the shows -

         


        Well, we have those conversations, but suddenly views change once the show starts and everyone gets amped up.   Suddenly that previously-agreed-upon tempo feels too slow for some people and others are insisting it's spot on.  

        I agree that once the drummer sets the tempo that should be it, and everyone should try and settle into that groove unless he's playing at some obviously way-wrong speed.


      • tlbonehead
        tlbonehead commented
        Editing a comment

        MusicalSchizo wrote:

        I think getting the groove right is paramount. As you know, sometimes the tempo affects your ability to get the groove right, I know as a lead singer it's often really hard to make the melodies sit in the groove right when the tempos are too fast (space to breathe is helpful...). But I really think that the drummer should be in the driver's seat and everyone should play off them. There are a few songs that sound slowed-down and plodding in their original tempos when you play them live (Pour Some Sugar On Me comes to mind), and those benefit from 3-5bpm increases. So a conversation and an agreement should be made with everyone about tempos in rehearsal or at the shows - sometimes it's cool to speed them up a little so long as you don't lose the fundamental groove.

        As a side note, personally, I don't think that adjusting tempo is the same as adjusting a key. I prefer original keys when possible because I think there's a feeling or vibe to every key that gets lost in transposition.

        That said, almost every band I've been in in the past 15 years runs everything a half-step down. It's always kind of annoyed me, because some stuff just doesn't sound right down there, but it does make some stuff a TON easier to sing.


        yes! Especially on the 3rd or 4th night in a row. And conversely, all the stuff that is originally done 1/2 step down loses some of its "girth" when done in standard.


    • #4

      guido61 wrote:

      His response is we need to make the groove work at the tempo HE sets (which, admittedly is almost always VERY close to the original recordiing.  He's got an amazing knack for finding those tempos) and not let the song veer faster or slower simply because some of the other musicians might be "feeling it" at another tempo on a particular night.

      Thoughts?


      Tempo battles are always a problem.  Personally, I'm in the "it's fine to push the tempo a little when playing live" camp.  Obviously the definition of what constitutes a little ends up being a hot topic of discussions.   Personally, if I had a drummer that was counting off tunes that are almost always close to the original tempo and has the ability to not let it veer faster or slower - I'd be all about going with what the drummer says! 

      My two primary projects are very different in this regard.  One has a drummer that's similar to the one you've described - and we simply go with whatever tempo he sets.   The other project's drummer has a tendency to play stuff a little bright - but in a band that has a tendency to "train" (i.e., speed up over the course of the tune...) on top of that.  The "training" can be pretty pronounced at times.  Some nights, it's out of control such that I find myself struggling to play my parts at the tempo we end up at.    Given my druthers - I'd much rather go with the drummer's chosen tempo (even if my preference might be a hair brighter) ... than be constantly out of control in terms of tempos. 

      The SpaceNorman

      www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
      www.souldoutrocks.com

      Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
      Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
      Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

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      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment

        We're going to have another "conversation" about tempos at this week's rehearsal.  As the keyboard player, I'm really just the guy caught in the middle here.   What I've got going on is the drummer and the bass player fighting over the tempo and ruining the groove.   While it might not be plainly obvious to anyone not in our band, what's going on in that clip I posted in the other thread is the drummer trying to hold the tempo back and the bass player trying to push it and as a consequence, the song has lost most of its groove.   (Thankfully, on that particular track, the groove is so dumbed-down and simple that it can only ever sound SO bad.) 

        I don't really care which tempo we play it at, but we can't have two guys trying to be the master of it.


      • SeniorBlues
        SeniorBlues commented
        Editing a comment

        It's not so much about tempo as it about how each musician counts and how they feel the groove.  Guys who grew up playing different genres in different eras will feel the pulse differently.

        Case in point....  I played a gig several weeks ago - a pick up gig put together by a drummer we'd never played with.  Bass, guitar and keys were used to playing soul/funk tunes with a variety of compatible drummers, but this guy was from your basic four-on-the-floor school who dragged badly when he played anything resembing Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright".  He blamed the bass player, but we cover this stuff comfortably all the time,  It was all on him and I don't think he understood it at all.

        We've talked about metronomes.  We've also talked about being able to cook the song by yourself without having to rely on someone esle to keep your time.  If you have trouble playing together, break it down and see who's uncomfortable holding their own.

        If everybody understands how to count, there shouldn't be any problem unless you're breaking in a new guy, and that should be temporary.


    • #5
      I would bet we don't play at exactly the same tempo on any two gigs. Don't know if it's just luck but we find our "groove" very easily. It just seems to happen. We try to practice in a regimented fashion but come gig time, we just let it happen.

      A&H GL2800 console, BagEnd Crystals over D-18's, 12"and 15" BagEnd and EAW wedges powered and processed by QSC, Klark, BSS, Symetrix, Valley, Sabine, Peavey and BagEnd INFRA.

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      • #6

        Given the choice between "groove" and "tempo", groove would always be more important.  But the way tempos of succeeding songs stack up can make a big difference in the way you perceive it.

         

        I'll share something a DJ taught me about it a long time ago.  If you arrange your set so that the tempo of each song is faster than the last then the original/normal tempo of the song will feel correct. 

         

        To Illustrate:   if song #1 was at 120 bpm, song #2 at 130, song #4 at 140 and then song #5 at 130, song number 5 would feel slow played at 130 and you'd likely speed it up so it wouldn't feel like it is dragging.  Song #2 at the same tempo would feel right and you'd probably actually play it at 130.  So I always plan out sets with increasing tempos and then put in a slow song that pulls it way back down and then start over with increasing tempos again.  Try it and see what you think.

        Don Boomer

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        • guido61
          guido61 commented
          Editing a comment

          dboomer wrote:

          Given the choice between "groove" and "tempo", groove would always be more important.  But the way tempos of succeeding songs stack up can make a big difference in the way you perceive it.

           

          I'll share something a DJ taught me about it a long time ago.  If you arrange your set so that the tempo of each song is faster than the last then the original/normal tempo of the song will feel correct. 

           

          To Illustrate:   if song #1 was at 120 bpm, song #2 at 130, song #4 at 140 and then song #5 at 130, song number 5 would feel slow played at 130 and you'd likely speed it up so it wouldn't feel like it is dragging.  Song #2 at the same tempo would feel right and you'd probably actually play it at 130.  So I always plan out sets with increasing tempos and then put in a slow song that pulls it way back down and then start over with increasing tempos again.  Try it and see what you think.


          Interesting.   Makes sense.


        • nchangin
          nchangin commented
          Editing a comment

          dboomer wrote:

          Given the choice between "groove" and "tempo", groove would always be more important.  But the way tempos of succeeding songs stack up can make a big difference in the way you perceive it.

           

          I'll share something a DJ taught me about it a long time ago.  If you arrange your set so that the tempo of each song is faster than the last then the original/normal tempo of the song will feel correct. 

           

          To Illustrate:   if song #1 was at 120 bpm, song #2 at 130, song #4 at 140 and then song #5 at 130, song number 5 would feel slow played at 130 and you'd likely speed it up so it wouldn't feel like it is dragging.  Song #2 at the same tempo would feel right and you'd probably actually play it at 130.  So I always plan out sets with increasing tempos and then put in a slow song that pulls it way back down and then start over with increasing tempos again.  Try it and see what you think.


          You've just defined "beat matching" in the DJ world.


      • #7
        Our last drummer could NOT play live without his metronome right beside him. He didn't last long. I have never seen that before or since.

        A&H GL2800 console, BagEnd Crystals over D-18's, 12"and 15" BagEnd and EAW wedges powered and processed by QSC, Klark, BSS, Symetrix, Valley, Sabine, Peavey and BagEnd INFRA.

        Comment


        • #8

          Set the tempos with the drummer and a metronome at rehearsal. He should have it at the gig and you play it at the correct tempo. Just KNOW sometimes it feels too slow because of the adrenalin rush of playing live. That's your own issue and one to overcome. What's important is what the audience perceives and it's your job to lock in and groove at the right tempo. Around here most of the good drummers use a metronome on stage to make sure they are on. Video yourself using this technique and without. You'll undoubtedly see that the when you are playing too fast it looses the groove and when you are playing at the right tempo what you thought was slow on stage, was actually much more grooving. I've done this and it was a good lesson learned.

          Comment


          • SeniorBlues
            SeniorBlues commented
            Editing a comment

            I wonder how many of you think in terms of "swing"? . . .  and no I don't mean big band music from the 40s.  If you feel the beat that way, tempos tend to be self-correcting, unless there's a disagreement about how to intrepret the song.


        • #9

          We play everything a bit faster than the recorded version.  DJ's almost always push the tempo up some too.  To me there's nothing worse than having a song drag.

          ****************

          Jason
          My band: http://www.facebook.com/thetrickydickies

          "Do or do not. There is no try" - Yoda

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          • tlbonehead
            tlbonehead commented
            Editing a comment

            TrickyBoy wrote:

            We play everything a bit faster than the recorded version.  DJ's almost always push the tempo up some too.  To me there's nothing worse than having a song drag.


            sure, dragging sounds tired and bored. But playing a song too fast can suck the hard and heavy right out of it. Especially if it leads you to just playing the notes/riffs, etc instead of "selling" them.


        • #10
          Yes ^^^
          __________
          Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
          Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
          Jesus

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          • #11

            I can't see having "perfect pitch" as being anything but a curse for the working musician.  Not being able to hear a song in any key other than the key you first heard it in without feeling that it's wrong is incredibly limiting.   I'll take have a good sense of "relative pitch" over "perfect pitch" any day of the week!

            The SpaceNorman

            www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
            www.souldoutrocks.com

            Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
            Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
            Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

            Comment


            • MusicalSchizo
              MusicalSchizo commented
              Editing a comment

              SpaceNorman wrote:

              I can't see having "perfect pitch" as being anything but a curse for the working musician.  Not being able to hear a song in any key other than the key you first heard it in without feeling that it's wrong is incredibly limiting.   I'll take have a good sense of "relative pitch" over "perfect pitch" any day of the week!


              I completely agree. That's why I'm happy my hearing of pitch isn't truly "perfect", and it only annoys me a little instead of making it impossible to stand.

              Relative pitch is such a great tool, and one that can be learned.

              Brian V.


          • #12
            Lol.. Based on recent Seger vids he probably does it in "E" now. It's seriously time to give it up Bob.

            Comment


            • guido61
              guido61 commented
              Editing a comment

              Potts wrote:
              Lol.. Based on recent Seger vids he probably does it in "E" now. It's seriously time to give it up Bob.

              Yeah, there's something to be said for knowing when your time has past and calling a career a career.

              Seger is a legend who has written and recorded some GREAT music.  And there's some value I suppose to seeing a legend "perform" regardless just to say you saw him before he died, or to pay tribute to his legacy or whatnot.   But Bob's act is pretty embarrassing at this point.   I feel sorry for him more than anything else.   Not a way I'd want to go out, but maybe he just wants to go out swinging.   I get that too.


            • tlbonehead
              tlbonehead commented
              Editing a comment

              I heard him about a year ago and he knocked it outta the park. Maybe he just needs to put more off days between his gigs.













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