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dotted 8ths + 16ths

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by leanne, May 7, 2005.

  1. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I tend to have some trouble playing lines with dotted 8ths + 16ths consistently. I start making it sound more "swingy" a lot, especially when the tempo is faster. Maybe it is because I am more used to swinging, but it doesn't matter, I need to be more consistent.

    I'm looking for suggestions about how to practice to do this better. Would it help to set the metronome on 8ths? 16ths? Some other approach? I seem to be okay when I'm playing alone or with a metronome, but once I play along with a recording or at band practice, I frequently start swinging that last note after a few measures.

  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's a very common problem. I've known lots of seasoned musicians that don't make the difference betweeen a dotted eighth + sixteenth and a tripleted quarter + eighth note group.

    The key is to learn to subdivide the beats properly. If you want to play a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth note, you must subdivide the beat in four equal parts, and tie the first three. Think of a four-syllable word or phrase like "Victor Wooten". From each metronome click to the next, you must be able to pronounce those four syllables equally. You're doing a sixteenth note subdivision. Having that in mind, think of joining the first three syllables (Vic-tor-Woo) in a single note duration and leave the last one (-ten) alone.

    In the case of triplets ("swinging"), your're doing something similar, but instead of subdividing the metronome clicks in four equal parts, you're subdividing in three. Again, think of a three-syllable word or phrase ("Les Claypool") and make sure the three syllables are equally distributed on each beat. Then join the first two in a single duration and leave the last alone.

    I'm posting a link for downloading some audio examples I created for you (I wanted to post them as an attachment, but I've just noticed that zip files aren't valid anymore. Why?). In these recordings you'll hear a metronome, the desired rhythm played by a piano along with my voice subdividing the beats. That subdivision is what you MUST sing in your head while performing the rhythms. For subdividing, I've used "ta-ca-ta-ca" (sixteenths) and "ta-ca-ta" (triplets), but again, you can use any word(s) you want. Note that both examples are played exactly at the same tempo. The timing difference is minimal, but the character is VERY different from one example to another. For practicing, you can play scales with those rhytmic patterns very slowly and gradually increase the tempo. Make sure that the difference between both rhythms is clear for you and for anyone who hear you (recording yourself is a good idea).



    Let me know if this helped, Leanne. :)

    P.S.: The file will be available for the next seven days only.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    You're 'odd', Leanne-
    I think most would say they could do a Shuffle before they could swing.

    My suggestion is to find some recordings with a definite Shuffle thing goin' on.
    This New Country band I'm in is doing a ZZ Top tune called "Jesus Just Left Chicago"...during the guitar solos, Dusty Hill plays the dotted 1/8th note staccato. Maybe you can try choking the dotted 1/8th full value a bit?
  4. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY

    This is an awesome suggestion. I think that this would work really well. I learn toward the old school, "1 e and uh 2 e and uh 3 e and uh 4 e and uh". I am going to try Vic-tor-Woo-ten with my students tomorrow. Thanks!

  5. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    It always works, Joe. I'm glad it does for you! :)
  6. Good stuff Alvaro.

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