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Playing uptempo's 350bpm+

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Gregmak, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Gregmak

    Gregmak

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    Hi guys,

    I play a lot of uptempo's cause the band leader loves them. And now I'm starting to love them too. I can play around 350-360BPM but after a couple of minutes my fingers begin to fail and I switch to half-time feel for a chorus and then continue.

    The great Ari Roland & Chris Byars are here in Cyprus every 6 months and do seminars. And last night I heard Ari playing over 450BPM and smiling to me throughout the whole tune like it's a piece of cake. I was so inspired, hearing that bass go boom boom boom boom so freaking fast. It was unbelievable to my ears!

    I know that playing like that comes in time of good practicing every day. But I'm wondering, is there a certain technique to help you play that fast? Or any exercises for strengthening your fingers?

    I play about 30min of uptempo's a day non-stop. I have like 6-7 tunes in my playlist that I practice them, starting from 280BPM and going up to 400BPM. And my fingers are literally failing after 350..

    Any piece of advice is greatly appreciated. And like I said, I am completely motivated and inspired to sound like that!!

    Thanks in advance, and happy playing!!!
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    I said it in this thread, which has a lot of great information, but I'll say it here as well: Tempos in that range, for me, are about subdividing the basic right arm downstroke into something manageable. 360 divided by 3 =120, and 360 divided by 4 = 90. If I try to make 360 arm downstrokes per minute, there's no way I can keep it up for long. But if I only play 90 downstrokes per minute and divide each into for parts (one note on the downstroke, three during the upstroke), then playing at that tempo is a lot more manageable and relaxed.
  3. Gregmak

    Gregmak

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    Hi Chris, thanks for the info and sorry I didn't notice the other thread.

    By this do you mean playing across the strings? So for example by 1 downstroke hitting 2 strings (in time)? Or using your left hand to kind of play 2-3 notes to each downstroke?
  4. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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    Chris,
    First of all I think that your video was great, and I look forward to more of the same. But, then, I may be prejudiced since I've instinctively played that way all my life, and I should say that I am a complete autodidact-- I never had a teacher, just "tips" from some of the great players along the way, and a strict adherence with the help of masking tape in the beginning of the Simandl books (Caution: I don't recommend this to newbies and definitely would get a teacher if I could do it all over again).
    However, I have to respectfully disagree with you when it comes to up tempos (Note: I've never knowingly played at 350 to 400 bpm as some of the posts have indicated. I'd like to see that.).
    I believe in conservation of motion whenever possible. I consciously keep my right arm relaxed and play with the (vertical) flamenco style (2 and 3 fingers) with my thumb anchored on the side of the fingerboard. IMHO the pumping "wave" motion is too physically demanding for extremely fast tempi.
    Regards,
    Gerry
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    You have to stay very relaxed to play fast for long periods of time. Whenever you feel yourself tighten up, consciously tell yourself to relax. It works for me! I will also alternate between plucking techniques if necessary, one finger down, two fingers down alternating, and as Gerry noted, two fingers, ala bass guitar.

    If you're in the middle of a tune and still have five more soloists waiting in line, then find a good musical spot to go into half time. If anyone complains, say "let's see you play double time solos for 15 minutes without taking the horn off your face".
  6. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Exactly. This is why I am advocating subdividing it. If you can play four notes - one on the downstroke and three during the upstroke - with each right arm downstroke, then you'll be "waving" at 90 bpm while your walking line will be moving at 360 bpm. Also, as Eric mentions, there are different finger combinations to switch back an forth between when you find yourself in long stretches of accompanying at this tempo. All of is strictly my own opinion and way of doing it, of course.
  8. Gregmak

    Gregmak

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    Eric, that made me laugh! Haha thanks man!
  9. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn Supporting Member

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    Always a good moment for stop time choruses, too.

    Like people are saying, though, being relaxed is key. And this means mentally as well as physically. Start thinking and counting in two, or better yet, one instead of four. If you are a foot tapper, tap only on the downbeat. This can give you some mental breathing room that allows you to relax physically and not tense up.
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    and horn/drum duets
  11. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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    [
    If you're in the middle of a tune and still have five more soloists waiting in line, then find a good musical spot to go into half time.

    Ha, ha! This can also apply to one long-winded player.

    I recall a session in NYC. In those days the guys were glad to have some one (anyone) bring in a bass if he wasn't adverse to allowing other players to sit in on it. Same thing with drums. On one occasion, Ahmad Abdul Malik sat in for a few tunes on my bass and naturally played great. After he finished, I, having more guts than brains, naively asked him why he didn't solo like that on the album he made with Monk at The Five Spot, and mentioned (gulp!)that I was disappointed that he just took a long walking solo. He didn't miss a beat (no pun) with his answer.

    " After Johnny [Griffin] playing 50 choruses ?"



    If anyone complains, say "let's see you play double time solos for 15 minutes without taking the horn off your face".[/QUOTE]
  12. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Make sure to breathe deeply. Lots of what wears us out is lack of oxygen. Staying relaxed is great, lightening your touch is great, and keeping your breathing deep and slow will help out a lot too.
  13. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    And have a good breakfast in the morning!;)
  14. Gregmak

    Gregmak

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    Hi guys, after a long time of practicing I decided to reply!

    First of all, you are all right and thank you so much for your suggestions.
    BREATHING and being RELAXED are indeed the key! I had a gig last night, we played Donna Lee and I'm pretty sure it was around 400bpm. 2 Sax players, and pianist, did 6-7 choruses each. I managed to play the whole tune without switching to half time feel. And I swear every now and then I was close to giving up, and for sure it was cause I was tense. So I always thought to myself, "relax and breathe". So every time I felt like giving up I just breathed slowly and relaxed my fingers and it worked so well.

    I was so damn happy after the tune!
    So thanks all of you for your help!

    Greg
  15. John Wiitala

    John Wiitala

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    "Donna Lee...400bpm.."

    Ahem, are you sure it wasn't "Indiana"?
  16. Gregmak

    Gregmak

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    Sorry, I have no idea why I said Donna Lee. I meant to say "Escalating". I guess I was thinking of Donna Lee at that moment lol.

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