A discussion on feet, and how you use yours.
Hi guys, I came across this video. I first heard of Hal Galper in one of Ed Friedland's books with the concept of Forward Motion.
Here is the video in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRjEpjd9S4
I use to tap my foot on the 2 and 4 when I was in 4/4. However, when I saw the video and noticed how much smoother the playing was when the guy was tapping on 1 and 3, I tried it and it basically did the same for me. I would also add that I felt my lines differently when I started tapping on 1 and 3. It just felt a lot more solid. I guess because my whole rythmic being was now on 1 and 3 as opposed to 2 and 4.
I found myself playing a lot more half notes too, which I guess is normal. Interestingly enough, as I started adding more rythmic embellishments, I went back to tapping on 2 and 4.
I find it a huge challenge to tap on 1 and 3. I can't say that I do it consistently. But it's amazing to me how this has an impact on phrasing but especially feel. At least in my case, as well as the case of the guy in the video. Things really are smoother when tapping on 1 and 3.
I wonder too if maybe, because he and I are more uncomfortable on 1 and 3, if maybe it just feels more solid because we are being extra careful because we are doing something different and unusual. Maybe when (if) I reach a point where it is simply normal, maybe the solidness will go away as my attention begins to wander away from nailing the 1 and 3 so much.
I really don't know, I just started experimenting with this stuff. But it is interesting. I wanted to see if anyone else has ever experimented with it and what you found. And also to see how other bassists use their feet.
The rest of the video is cool too, but this first concept is what really nailed me.
I guess I never paid any attention to it myself, but that's certainly another interpretation of "playing on the one". Gonna give it a try & see what happens...
While studying jazz, I was always told to tap my feet and/or set my metronome on 2 and 4. My sense was that it helped my to 'feel' the 1 when walking, and when soloing I felt freer to move around the beat than if I was constantly trying to come down on the 1. Playing swung 8ths felt more natural this way, also, for whatever reason.
Playing straight-up 4/4 rock and pop stuff, though, I usually find myself tapping on the 1 and 3. This is perhaps because of the need to provide a solid, driving rhythmic feel in those styles of music.
But to be honest I don't really know why I tap differently for different styles. One is free, the other solid...maybe?
But I can't argue with my ears, and the fact is that in my case, tapping one and three really does make my jazz playing more solid. Just smoother somehow.
I am curious to hear other bassists experience with this stuff.
Some songs I tap on the 1 and 3. Some on the 2 and 4. Some on the 1 only. Some all over the place (especially when I'm singing at the same time.) Some not at all.
So basically, I'm a loose cannon. :)
I often myself sort of dancing(???) Both feet and legs doing stuff. I have been given a nickname...crazy feet..I really dont know what I'm tapping, shuffling...stomping and walking around to...but its fun. Moving my body with the playing works well for me..gets everybody else moving in time also. Tap Out! Ha...
Yep, me too. Jazz emphasizes the 2 & 4. I've been told to count there for years. Frankly, I feel my whole body becomes a metronome when playing bass. I have to move to all four (or three) beats. Can't help it.
Not the same when I play guitar. Odd.
Anyway, there is nothing smoother when he plays on 1 & 3 and the real way to feel the groove is really on tapping on 2 & 4. Even on heavy and slow grooves. I'm really not into that 1& 3 thing, not at all.
Hal Galper's concept of Forward Motion is a very useable point of view.
I pat my foot on 1 and 3 or 1 2 3 4 depending on the music. Since I hardly ever play lines that emphasize 2 and 4 patting my foot on those beats has never seemed functional to me. In most forms of western popular music 1 and 3 are the money beats for a bass player.
IMO, 1 & 3 are and will always be the 'strong' beats of the bar structurally..... we just ACCENT the 2 & 4 in Jazz. The backbeat is simply played louder for a different FEEL and for EFFECT.....
"those Cats really know how to Swing!".
From a dancing point of view, you still dance to the strong beats (the 1 & 3 in 4/4 time) in any style of music with altered time-feel eg. Reggae/Ska upbeat, Salsa anticipated beat, Jazz/Tap backbeat, etc. This music makes you want to move/dance by the TENSION created by the other beats against the strong beats.
I think as a rhythm section player, you need to be able to feel it all ways. A groove feels different when you tap or feel the 1 & 3 as opposed to 2 & 4. It's not necessarily better or worse, but you should be able to make the internal shift. I find feeling it on 1 & 3 is helpful when playing up tempo jazz, sometimes I even feel it in "one". Playing slap funk stuff with the 1 & 3 helps keep it grounded and in the pocket. But then, practicing your walking lines with 2 & 4 is a must for all jazz bassists at some point in their studies (IMO). You develop a sense of the jazz feel that way, and learn how to take responsibility for the downbeat. Job #1? Beat 1!
Hal Galper is a true giant of education, and a brilliant pianist. I have learned some very important things about melody and rhythm from him. You should listen to everything he says!
I would like to be able to switch effortlessly between the two different feels and I'm certainly not there yet. But as the Mr Galper says in the video, breaking musical habits takes time, sometimes lots of times and sometimes it simply isn't even possible.
Player really need to learn to internalise and feel the beats not tap them out.
When you tap out beats you introduce another discipline to the task, a discipline that may or may not have nothing to do with keeping time, but is what we call a Left brain v Right Brain not right handed v left handed.
In simple terms it is not that you may not keep time, you just cannot represent it through the physical act of tapping it out.
Tapping it out is a completely different task to playing it.....as Hal and Ed are saying, its about feeling the music not sticking to a ridged concept of time within tempo.
Try this, take any hand and tap out a straight beat on a table or your leg, now use the other hand and tap out a counter beat of varying tempo or syncopation.
Now swap hands and do the same thing again.
Most will struggle with one or the other, very rare do they ever struggle with both, and a few may find no real problem at all.
So if your right side can syncopate against the left side then you should tap your left foot to keep time.....not your right foot, and of course visa versa for anyone that was the other way.
Those that it did not effect can make a free choice, but I would go opposite as the next part will show.
Why is this so, as said his has nothing to do with being left handed or right hand it is to do with Lateralization of the brain functions, this will also affect the right and left foot.
Now try this, whatever hand could syncopate against the straight beat, use it to make a small clockwise circles in the air, then use the opposite foot to make a counter clockwise circle in the air (you may have to sit down for this), now keeping the hand the same swap over the foot being used, so effectively you are using one side of the body only.
Again many will find the first part easy, and the second part hard, but if you swap this task over you will find that either opposite side can do the task in any direction they choose, but not so for the same side, whether it be all left or all right. The left or the right side when used together want to compliment each other by working the same.....not against each other.
So if you have to tap an foot not only does it matter what beats you can tap on, but what foot you use.
As a rule (and it is just a guide) if you play right handed your right hand is the syncopation one, the hand that does the real work shall we say, so as shown you can separate the syncopation from straight time by choosing opposite sides.
So by letting the left side of the brain deal with on part it free the right side of the brain to deal with the other.
Now this is a very basic simplistic explanation and demonstration as the brain gets involved and develops for musicians in more ways than this, but this is a very basic concept to build timing on.
Anyone that has played live and asked the audience to clap for them (or has been at a concert when the audience has been asked to clap along) will have heard that one section of the audience claps to the opposite beat to the others.....again this is based on how the brain works out the task.
Technically both sections are in time, ( but really it is in tempo) but one section is out of time,if there was a purpose to their counting, as in coming in on a beat or bar number..they would miss it, and that would mean compensation of sorts, so thinking, so maybe a panic etc..whatever..they have lost timing, and as such they may find the tempo, but not the beat...so all the foot tapping in the world will not help them if they cannot recognise and feel the one..or the two.
Try the exercise for yourself and see if it teaches you anything about how you count and feel time. Remember a drummer uses both fret and hands as does a piano player so they have learned to feel time as they cannot always tap out straight time to work to...at some point they must feel time as being separate from what they do.
As Hal says "by trying to do something you can already do.... you mess it up"....... So of you can feel time then why are you worrying about tapping your foot?...... If you can feel it, it is internalised, so no need to work on externalising it unless it is through the instrument via the hands.
Lots of good postings in this thread.
+1 on internalizing. If you don't know by heart where the beat is and where you you want to play relative to the beat, you can tap whatever you want. You won't groove.
-1 on "don't tap, internalize". Some people groove hard while standing still like a statue. I just can't do that. And I'm by no means an extrovert person. I can't dance to save my life. But when I play music, I need to move. I tap, I nod my head. It helps me feel the beat I'm playing my bass lines against. The more funky, the more syncopated stuff I play, the more my groove suffers when I don't "externalize" the beat just like the music I'm playing. It still comes from within. I just have to get both to the same physical level.
I wouldn't say he's discouraging moving around, but I think he's saying to try to get away from relying entirely on tapping.
As a drummer, I tend to subdivide a beat into oblivion. So whether it's through tapping, head bobbing, walking around, or hip gyrations, I break the beat down even further than a simple quarter note beat and count out 8th notes. If you can fight your natural tendency to speed up a tempo doing this, it becomes much easier to land dead center on an off beat.
No one is saying you should not tap, its about why you tap......movement is a good thing but it is a reaction to what you play.
It is the same process you use when you watch or listen to a band/music and tap your foot along with it, you are not keeping time your are just feeling it.
This is another reason why some players learn a song from a recording and can play along with it, but then struggle to reproduce it away from the recording.
There are elements within the recording that have been internalised, our brain registers them within the sub-conscious and uses them without us thinking about using them. These internalised markers can be many things within the recording, from a feeling of time to an audible sonic marker. That marker may be a dropped beat before a chorus or bridge a hi-hat hit different, a snare beat that sounds different etc..but it has be internalised. So when playing the song live, if these sonic markers are missing then the player feels he is not sure where he is, hesitating in flowing music means you are thinking about it in the wrong way, so you tend to trip over your own thoughts and loss time, tempo, or both.
Tapping the feet or body movement is not always pro-active to keeping time, it is about reacting to it as well,.....but one is a conscious action the other an un-conscious action.:)
I would add that practicing "internal time" without a metronome like it is done on that video is like taking measurement without a ruler, it will never be as precise as it should be!
some personal experience of what fergie is talking about re: physical manifestation of tapping
I played drums from age 10. At abou age 14-15 I took up playing a kit. Steady beat, right hand on ride or hihat and syncopated or accent beats on snare on left.
Years later try to take up keyboard. Expectation is steady rhythm on left hand with bassline and/or chords and melody/improvisation on right.
I found it incredibly frustrating and all that kit training and deep 'intuition' came back in my face.
The 1 3 or 2 4 reminds me of our training up through the percussion section. I came up in marching band/orchestra on bass drum 1 and 3, advanced to cymbals 2 and 4 and after that 'apprecticeship' got to move to snare when the seniors graduated. (some kids moved to tom-tom). Now it's pretty clear how effective all that training could be, even with something like marching band. Playing 1 and 3 on bass drum is a lot different feel from 2 and 4 on choked cymbals.
I've been working on this pretty diligently. I can now pretty much tap on 1 and 3 on most jazz tunes as long as I'm playing whole notes or half notes. I THINK I'm doing it also when I switch to quarter notes, but when I check back, I'm often back to the 2 and 4. Sometimes I'm still on 1 and 3. I still can't get over how changing my foot tapping changed my phrasing.
Things get really whacked out when I try to start my solos on beat 4 in order to shake things up. When things get really complicated, I notice that I just don't tap at all. I would not be surprised to find out that in those moments, I am too much into the note part of what I am playing and not so much into the beat selection part.
Whatever the outcome, I dig what Mr Halper is saying, which is basically to be super aware of the emphasis that you put on beats and be conscious of which ones you emphasis. Like a lot of bassists, I find that I am very conscious of choosing certain notes in my phrasing, but less so of choosing to emphasis certain beats, yet this is as important as notes, from what I can hear. Mr Halper is a real stickler for finishing on certain beats for increased emphasis, something I never even thought of before I got into Forward Motion.
Thanks to Mr Friedland for putting Forward Motion in one of your books, that's where I heard about it first. I can't say enough about what those books have done for me. I'm not a naturally talented musician, I had to work for everything and those books really gave me the keys to start the engine and learn to function as a bassist.
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