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Struggling keeping time in 250bpm fast swing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by cliff78, Nov 25, 2013.


  1. cliff78

    cliff78

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    Florida
    What is your suggestion in counting while playing fast swing. I've been tapping my foot on 1 and 3. Is that right. or should tap my foot in 2 and 4. The later is way too difficult at 250 bpm or higher. Please give me some advise so i could develop my execution around these speeds
    __________________
     
  2. Dave Martin

    Dave Martin

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    Honestly, I would suggest that internalizing your tempos are going to be more helpful than patting your feet - not only at fast speeds, but all the time.
     
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U Supporting Member

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    Two things will make it seem not as fast.

    1. Be familiar with the material.

    2. Be physically able to play the material.
     
  4. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

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    Definitely true. The time has to be internal. If you are relying on your feet to give you the tempo, how do you know if they are wrong? Shouldn't your hands be more accurate than your feet anyway?

    On the other hand, tapping can be handy in some situations, including fast tempos. What I might recommend is tapping only on 1. This serves two purposes--first, you are not tapping so quickly, so your foot won't get tired and start tapping with bad time. Second, and more importantly, tapping only on 1 can help relax you mentally and physically while playing at fast tempos. It's easy to be flustered by all those notes flying by, so focusing just on the downbeats gives the sensation of more space. Instead of 4 quick beats that all must be precisely the same length, you focus on one long beat, that you then subdivide into 4 equal parts. If you can keep those long beats even, it should get easier to make the subdivisions into quarter notes feel good.
     
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  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    +1. That and find a way to super relax your body. The smallest amount of tension is only going to slow you down.

    But more importantly, if you don't hear yourself in your head playing lines that fast, well it'll still come out garbage. If you can imagine and compose melodies in your head at fast tempos, it becomes tremendously easier. I think the only positive means I've been able to get myself to play faster is to work on transcriptions or bebop heads, but learn them at a very slow tempo where I can play them completely relaxed. If I can't do it slow, I sure as heck can't do it fast.
     
  7. cliff78

    cliff78

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    Great advice guys. Keep them coming. Thanks
     
  8. longfinger

    longfinger

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    Excessive body movements will only slow us down as we get tired. Mentally thinking/feeling the big 1 is a strong tool, even the big 1 out of 8 quarter notes (every two measures).

    Other physical 'body' stuff have to be addressed too. Like right hand pluck slowing down on the fatter strings. RH getting stuck on string crossing combinations. Left hand 'searching for position' instead of knowing where to be before it needs to be there... etc
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

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    Is that quarter note = 250 or half note =250?
     
  10. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

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    Simple-

    Practice playing scales at that sort of tempo, in all 12 keys, all over the bass, every day, at least two octaves.

    Until that's easy, improvising solid lines at that tempo is a pipe dream.

    Regarding what to do with your foot... Do you use it to play the bass? If not, don't move it.
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Some good advice above. Rather than repeat it, I'll try to add to it:

    At fast tempos, I almost never tap (I actually tap with my heel, but that's another issue) on 2 & 4. If the tempo is fast, I'll tap on 1 & 3. If it's *really* fast, I'll just tap on 1.

    Where a person taps can be an indication of how they're subdividing (or it can just be a habit, or it can mean nothing). I think that subdivisions of the beat are incredibly important when playing tempos while attempting to still stay relaxed. One of the videos in my series, entitled "Permutations", is largely about this subject. That subject started for me way back in my student days when i was still a pianist, and Jim Walker was the guest artist with the school big band. He had a couple of charts that were at or over 300 BPM, and the rhythm section was scuffling with the time. During a sectional which he turned into a great masterclass, he demonstrated how to feel these tempos in a "one" feel, and how doing so immediately relaxed everybody in the section to the point where we could play. Try tapping only on 1 and see what it feels like. In reality, this is part of internalizing a tempo just as much as subdividing on a ballad is IMO.
     
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    I think the thing to point out is that it's not just "tapping" on 1 but feeling the space and duration of a measure all together. Normally we "feel" quarter note beats at slower tempos. The goal would be to take a step back and feel the time in half-notes or whole notes.

    I'm not tapping when I'm doing this but I'm feeling the whole measure wit the downbeat on 1. Feeling is internalizing.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Agree. OTOH, having been a teacher for a long time, sometimes externalizing a concept can help with the internalization process. :)
     
  14. cliff78

    cliff78

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    Thanks guys. Tapping on the 1 made a huge difference. Now i can feel the one. This advice made me play better instantly.
     
  15. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

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    I tap my foot sometimes, but I find that I actually more typically sway to a beat. Fast tempos I probably sway between beat 1, left and right. I do think it helps to have the tempo in your body.
     
  16. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician Supporting Member

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    Not to get off topic, but I'm always looking for new ways to explore subdivision permutations. What are these videos you speak of?
     
  17. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

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  18. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician Supporting Member

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  19. statsc

    statsc

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    +1 to everyone who mentioned "internalizing the tempo." However, the question is, how do you learn to do this for fast tempos? For me, the most effective method has been to practice tapping my foot on 1 and 3 while thinking and playing eighth notes. Quarter notes at 250 bpm become eighth notes at 125 bpm. Most of us have no trouble playing eighth notes at 125 bpm. Instantly, your body relaxes and it becomes much less of a strain. After practicing this for a while, you begin to internalize the tempo and you don't have to think eighth notes any longer. THEN you can work on making your walking lines swing at that tempo!
     
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

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    Really? Nothing? That was pure comedy GOLD!
     
  21. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Pearls...swine... it's a tough crowd out there.
     

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