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Do you count when you play?

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

  1. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    With all due respect, I can't understand how one can play with any consistency, knowing at all times just where he is in the music, without counting. Doesn't necessarily mean you have to count each and every single beat. It just means you have to be able to do so, if necessary - and know where you are at all times!

    When I was in school band back in grade school and junior high, the band director used to beat this into our heads constantly: COUNT! It has since served me very well... :cool:


    P.S. And no, it doesn't cause me to lose the groove...
  2. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY

  3. ironrat


    Sep 24, 2008
  4. If you do your practice on a metronome or the like, you may not need to count consciously. Instead you can be humming melodies for the bassline, but be sure to always tap that foot.
  5. T40Chump


    Jul 12, 2008
    Plano, TX
    I count most of the time. But I use charts and sometimes it's a cold read so I consider counting a must. I suppose it all depends. When I'm playing familiar stuff I won't count much.
  6. CodaPDX


    Feb 2, 2009
    I like to sing along (under my breath, of course) with the drums while I play. It's not quite counting, but it really hooks me up with the drummer. I do count to bridge breaks in the music and when the bassline is really sparse, though.
  7. Out loud, Never but always in my head. I play a lot of odd time signature stuff in one of my bands and it takes a lot of counting. However, I was told by a guy who has a lot of experience playing in front of big crowds and he told me to never let them see you count. I don't know why but I listened so I don't do it out loud at all.
  8. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I only really count for odd meters where you need to concentrate... and then I'm saying things like 'dit-nnn-dunn-ah-nnn' to myself, rather than saying numbers

    if there's a long tacet passage i'll sometimes count bars, just to be safe...

    if it's a piece I have to sight-read, then i'll count along strenuously with my feet stamping away, desperately trying not to **** up :)
  9. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    I rarely count, but I always know what beat I'm on. So it works like a subconscious count. Mind you the styles I play don't venture far from standard time sigs like 4-4.

    If I'm counting consciously, it usually means there's a drum solo on that's more "out there" than I'm used to, or something odd like that.

    I get nearly all my students to count while they're starting, and to count subdivisions, so that they'll appreciate accurate time and knowing where to place beats, then don't enforce it once they're playing steadily.
  10. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    I almost never count (even if it's some wacky meter or polyrhythm)...but I almost always subdivide.
  11. BahamaBass


    Nov 15, 2008
    like you counting throws me off. I do tap my foot sometimes. I just try and stay in the pocket and feel the changes. works all the time for me....once we are in 4/4!! :lol:
  12. bearshimmy


    Feb 14, 2005
    I count until I completely learn the piece and it becomes second nature to me.

    I find that counting, rather than knowing how the piece goes makes playing a lot harder.
  13. billjr


    Jul 25, 2006
    Darlington, SC

    +1. I don't count each measure, but I always know where 1 is. It's just subconscious. I do count at times like when I have a break and need to know when to come in, or to begin a song.

    Also, I find that I spend more time counting other things. It's a three diminsional concept. First, I keep up with the beat as I mentioned above. Second I count the phrases or patterns (rhythm) within each verse, chorus, bridge, etc, so I know when to move from one to another. Third, I'm counting the verses and choruses to know which part of the song I'm in and when to transition.
  14. Dertygen


    Dec 21, 2008
    A-Town, Colorado

    Nah I'm joking!

  15. As others 've said, I don't count at all in normal situ's But when there's an odd time sig./a break where the music comes in or has an accent on a "different" beat(other than the "one" for eg. ) then I'll count to keep it tight & right.. I sometimes count for extended gtr solo's etc also e.g. a 32 bar gtr solo etc.
  16. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    I definitely count, whether it is just tapping my foot, or when I run into a tune in 3 (3/4 or 6/8), I need to count to internalize it from doing so much stuff in 4.

    If reading a chart, I can't imagine not counting. If you screw up at all, you may not find your place again for a long time if reading from an orchestral type chart, ie., cantatas at church, etc.
  17. rditmars


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    "One beer, two beer, three beer, four."

    But seriously, I'm practicing with some stuff that has sections emphasizing beats two and four. I definitely have to count coming into and out of those sections.
  18. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Experience will teach you to feel phrase lengths. 2,4.8,16, 32 bars are common. The advice "count until you do not have to" is appropriate for many styles of music. Shows (broadway type) or symphonic or big band may require diligent counting where a player is required not to play for extended or odd amounts of time or through multiple meter and time signature changes. Learning to count can never hurt you, only help you if you start to play music with more complex forms and time signature.
  19. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Most of the time, my counting is only related to the number of notes I have to play, and not where they fall on the beat count.

    For example, in one song we're writing, I have a quick part that I have a hard time nailing unless I relate my counting to the notes (6x F, 3x F#, 1x B, 7x G).
  20. rditmars


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    Now, what I do have trouble counting are the "A" sections in an "AABA" structure.

    The three consecutive "A" sections often throw me off, and that is what I'm supposed to be most responsible for! Frustrating.

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