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Do you count when you play?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by chief ten beers, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. chief ten beers

    chief ten beers

    Jan 4, 2005
    I'm trying to go back to basics and root out some bad habits,and for me it means going back to some very rudimentary stuff that i skipped over.skipping over the academic fundamentals has definitely hurt my playing and left many gaps in my knowledge and execution.So i'm going back and doing exercises out of books and trying to count along with the metronome and tapping my foot.it's painful stuff to go back basics when your no longer a young kid whose just starting out.Anyways my question is do you always count when you play,like in playing a whole song as a drummer does?i find that when i try and keep count i lose the groove and fumble.i can do it to learn a passage but if i try to maintain that and count during a whole song i lose it.I can internalize a rhythm and keep it going but counting just throws me right off.I suppose once you shoulder keeping count it becomes a natural thing,but man it's messing me up right now.
  2. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I play drums as well as bass and I only count for unfamiliar stuff. Most of the time I just "feel" the measures if that makes sense, but sometimes it's necessary to count until you're locked into the time.
  3. joelc1319


    Sep 12, 2007
    +1. Definitely helps a lot. Personally I try to count and subdivide when there is a lot of space between notes in order to tighten things up.
  4. JPhoenix19


    Mar 5, 2009
    Tampa, FL
    That's pretty much what I do.

    I feel ya though. I had to do a little back-tracking myself and it wasn't the most fun thing I could do. Hang in there. :bassist:
  5. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    I tap my foot when playing always...its like subconsciously counting...If I try to count "1 e and a 2 e and a" it screws me up royally and all I can play is what I'm counting...I need my brain free to think of what to play instead of having it busy counting time....but I don't really play in any weird time sigs either, and when I play I don't necessarily KNOW exactly what I'm playing on what beat just that it works or doesn't (although I'm doing exercises to correct this).
  6. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI

    Sometimes I tap my foot too.
  7. Usually not. For odd time sigs (5/8) or fast triplets I count sometimes
  8. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    I usually tap my foot or bob my head to stay in time. I do conscientiously count out measures or bars during lead breaks and bridge pieces, but not each note.
  9. robkphoto


    Jan 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    No. I don't count but I'm not very good either. Just go by "feel" generally. Maybe I should start counting?
  10. This.
  11. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    Yes. I will generally count.
  12. i find counting to be invaluable when learning a new part, but as for counting once I start playing, it don't really think about it unless there's a tricky little run that requires some concentration. otherwise I find if I think about playing, while playing, I mess up. :)
  13. Buzzi


    Nov 19, 2008
    Joinville, Brazil
    same here...

    but... if I try to count "1e2e3e4e" i may get lost... If I need to count... I use word that fit the music:
    To do 4/4 I use "cho-co-la-te" and to do 3/4 I use "cir-co-lo"... this words work perfectly in portuguese... maybe in english you will need to figure out another ones...

    for 4/4 use one that is like "strong-weak-strong-weak" and for 3/4 one that is "strong-weak-weak"...

    it helps me a lot when I get new stuff
  14. funkmangriff


    Dec 29, 2007
    i sometimes count. if im reading music then i count untill ive got the feel of the song, but i know when ive gone wrong, so ill start counting again to get it right.

    playing in my cover band i boogey on stage! so hopefully im boogeying to the beat! hehehe!
  15. Mongo Slade

    Mongo Slade Supporting Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Northern New Jersey
    I count the number of notes I'm playing and weigh it against how much I'm earning for the gig. That way, I can figure out how much I'm making per note.:D

    Just a joke.
    Seriously though, count until you don't need to. Then you'll be freed up to listen more.

  16. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick, Mesa Boogie, Joyo, Dr. J, Levy's Leathers
    I dance when I play so I suppose that's a sort of subconscious "counting", or at least a way of cheating a bit. I never lose the tempo because of it, but I don't spend my time counting in my head. If I can't feel it enough to dance to it, I don't want to play it. Even odd time signatures are danceable to me.
  17. I used too when I played as a team, because bass guitar can be tiresome at times and I felt it was helping me go through a series of the same thing, but it's only good for the gym ("5 more crunches!")

    You need to feel it. If it is tiresome for you, you need to relax or change musical style.

    You need to feel the beat, swing while you play, it needs to be physical. All the best bassists swing while playing, even if they have to sing, the sort of swing upward (for instance Sting or Geddy Lee).

    If you're motionless and stand up like a pencil planted in the ground, counting in your head, it will show.
  18. basslinejam


    Mar 21, 2005
    New York City
    I feel the beats and count the measures or "sections" of the tune. I like to be able to listen and react, moment-to-moment without getting lost.
  19. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Always know what beat you are on. Always.
  20. upandb


    Feb 18, 2009
    CT and NY
    I never do. I find myself getting too focused on counting the one time I tried. But I have good rhythm and never lose it during shows, so no, I never do.

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