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Examples of the same bassline played ahead and behind the beat?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tupac, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Could someone who is skilled enough do the following: Record a bassline played right on the beat, record another one ahead of the beat, and another one behind? That would be super awesome and I think it would make things clear for a lot of players studying doing this.

    If not, can I just get some regular examples of each style of playing?
  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    If you have a sequencer, record a line yourself playing with a drum loop, and shift it back and forth a few clicks to hear the difference. It's not quite the same, but you can get the idea. You can even do this just with midi tracks if you can't record audio.
  3. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I don't think people intentionally play consistently ahead of or behind the beat. That's just 'not being in time', I think, though feel free to point me to examples that prove me wrong.

    When I've looked in the past at what makes interesting rhythms tick, I've usually found that one or more of the beats in the bar is being hit early or late (swing is an example of this, after all...) but not all of them.
  4. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    "In The Pocket means that you are right on the beat".

    Here are some videos for the drummers. It should give you some understanding.
    "Playing on the beat, behind the beat and in front of the beat".

    In my opinion, any beginner bass player should have that book, because
    the first thing for the grooving bass player is
    to play not WHAT to play.
    Just read it slowly, don't rush, and try to apply that knowledge to anything you play.
  5. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Seems to be a lot of words not saying much.

    Not having a go at you Whousedtoplay, just I think those links show how ill-defined these concepts are.
  6. SidMau


    Sep 3, 2012
    Think of the bassline (not the melody part) in the intro of birdland, after the first 4 or 8 bars it shifts off by an eighth note
  7. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    You are incorrect.
  8. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I'd be pleased if it were so, as it means I will learn something.

    Could you maybe post a link to anything where the bassist is playing all notes ahead or behind (fractionally, not just syncopation) and it actually sounds any good?
  9. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    what time do you mean?
  10. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    That first video was very cool.
  11. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013

    Therefore, I clearly said the following:
    "In The Pocket means that you are right on the beat".

    Just play in the pocket.
  12. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GlcSuJlOwJ0&desktop_uri=/watch?v=GlcSuJlOwJ0

    I get this. It is pushing or dragging very slightly. It is not playing out of time. Hard to hear but I would guess that his kick drum is more or less on the beat, the push or pull is happening mainly on the ride.

    For the bassist, this creates the option of locking with the kick, or pushing or pulling with the ride, each of which will flavor the groove differently.

    Exercise this by playing with a drum track or click track. Pick a simple groove of quarter notes for starters, and 1) play right down the middle and hear the click disappear, or 2) play an in- time, steady groove that is just off the back
    of the click. You should hear the click hit just before your down beat. Shuffles use this sometimes. 3) play just ahead to where you hear the click after your down beat. To me this is a good way to play certain fills.

    I hear it not so much playing outside the pocket as widening the pocket when done right.

    Just my $.02
  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    If the meter remains constant you're playing on the the beat.
    The beat has width or duration though and there are five fundamental places to engage it:
    way behind, a little behind, right down the middle, a little in front and way in front.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I'm amused by these concepts. Curious why the difinitive video explaining and demonstrating it has yet to be posted. Or discovered. I've had people direct me using the terms on top of, behind, ahead of the beat. I'd be lying if I said I've got this stuff down perfectly, but it's worked to change those words and think of them in terms of playing (in regard to tempo of course) aggressively, laid back, or like a metronome. It seems to give the people working with what they're asking for.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The "definitive" explanation doesn't exist because there isn't really one. So much of why playing the time in different places works (or doesn't work) depends on the interaction with other players and their concept of time. On the bandstand it gets dealt with situation by situation in the moment.

    But giving it some serious consideration in the practice room will help prepare you for those performance moments. The more you've thought about it practicing the less you'll have to think about it playing. The example I gave was given to me by Rick Kilburn who got it from double bass giant Michael Moore. It didn't really "explain" anything to me as much as gave me food for thought....showed me a door to open and explore what lay beyond. This stuff is kinda abstract and all you can really do is give someone a shove towards it and let them get what they can. Sorry it's not as simple and clearly definable as you'd like. But at least you were amused and that's better than a kick in the nuts.
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Sorry you thought my post was directed at you. :) Or it least it sounds to me as though you thought that. Was just sharin my thoughts regarding the OP as this topic is something a lot of people struggle with. It's amusing to me because of the fact that I thought it was something finite, and clearly definable, yet nobody seems to be able to do it. Looking at it as something a little more abstract makes sense to me. A feel thing, more than a scientific or mathematical thing maybe?
  17. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Play in time, don't be stiff like a board.
  18. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    "The essence of groove may be hard to identify, but one thing's for sure: you know when your music doesn't have it."
    10 ways to give your music groove

    There are quite a few postings/questions about the "groove" at TalkBass.
    I understand how important it is for the bass players, but to my regret, I could not find any threads asking/talking about the "length of notes played in the groove". For some reason, I always wanted to get some kind of answers about it.

    I decided to look on the Internet but could not find a lot of info.

    Once again, there was only one book about "Bass Grooves" by Ed Friedland

    (It so strange, the bass players talk so much about the groove, but there is only one, very good, but only one book about it on the market.)

    From Ed's book:

    “Where you stop the note is just as critical to the overall feel. Optimum note length depends on several factors: Tempo, the level of rhythmic activity, the amount of “bass energy, and stylistic aesthetics all co contribute to defining effective note length and more....."


    The following are some links about the groove/swing that I found on the internet, mostly for computer musicians:

    “The length and strength of notes is almost as important to a groove as their actual placement.”

    “Bassists know that the player who grooves will work the most. Bassists also know that a groove grows from a magical combination of attack, sustain, and release. Whether jazz, rock, country, or funk, there is always a basic pulse, and we create a groove by stating parts of that rhythmic pulse—playing notes—and implying other parts of the pulse by added rests.”

    “Playing a great groove is not about playing all of the notes, it’s how one plays the best notes. Easy, right?”
    “Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has written about the groove conundrum in his blog: “Swing is elusive. The harder you try to swing, the less you swing.” Or as pianist Hal Galper described the goal of effortlessness, “Playing music is supposed to be easy! Most of us think it’s supposed to be hard to play, but truthfully, you can’t play music well if it’s hard to do. If you can’t do it easily, you can’t have fun and project that feeling of fun to your bandmates and listeners.” [IAJE Journal interview with Hal Galper, 1990].”
    “…a good groove sounds easy. If a bass line sounds hard, then it’s probably not really grooving.”

    “So what is swing really? Is it all timing? No, it is not just the timing or the Note-On strike, it is as much about the note end point (“gate time” or duration) and it certainly is influenced by volume (controlled by “velocity” in computer chip-based products). Timing, Velocity and Gate (duration) are the keys to what we consider swing and feel.”
    Gate time, the duration of a held note, can be critical.
    One of the things I learned playing with legendary bassist, (the late great) Bernard Edwards of Chic fame, was just how much a bass line could swing all by itself. Now I’m not necessarily talking jazz swing here, Bernard was very much out of the James Jamerson school of R&B and Funk bass playing. But it applies to jazz swing as well. How you deaden certain notes and how you let others ring can setup its own rhythmic “thing” within the groove. Often on a song that ‘Nard had written or was arranging, he would play just the bass line for you and you could hear where everything was supposed to go – because the spaces were as important as the notes that were played. It was a skill that not many have on this level. But from just the bass line you could hear where the drums would go, where the guitar would fit and where the keyboards would go. The ‘ghost’ notes, the thumps and the knocks were all important. Guitarist Nile Rodgers (also from the Bronx, by the way) and I would be able to voice so-called “jazz chords” over top of the bass line – giving the music a sophisticated feel. This was back in the pre-Chic, “Big Apple Band” days (circa 1974-76) Bernard and Nile would work out very intricate rhythmic interplay that eventually blew up into “the hook” for many a song. Guitar and Bass grooves – spend some time with the various arpeggio patterns in the Motif XS – by offsetting timing, altering gate time, velocity and swing quantize you will be able to come up with an endless resource of material.
    I like to think of the Gate time as the “attitude adjustment”. Swing Quantize will offset the upbeats by delaying their timing… giving the feel of holding back, then catching up. And Velocity alterations can be important in hiding some events and bringing other to the front. Attitude adjustment – like walking with an attitude versus marching… while marching is some how “stiff” and rigid, when you see (in the language of the old school music) a “cool cat” struttin’ down the avenue, there is a swing to it. Both types of walking are rhythmic and in time but one has a definitively stiffness to it, and the other a very “cool” laid-back attitude to it… like it has more components in motion… Swingin’


    …projects with a swing feel, though they may be written entirely in eighth notes, are often played more like eighth-note triplets, with the first note extended and the second one shortened. The Swing option lets you distort the timing grid so each pair of notes is spaced unevenly, giving the quantized material a swing feel.
    A swing value of 50 percent (the default) means that the grid points are spaced evenly. A value of 66 percent means that the time between the first and second grid points is twice as long as the time between the second and third points. The following figure illustrates the effect of the swing setting on the timing grid:
    http://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation/default.aspx?Doc=SONAR X2&Lang=EN&Req=EditingMIDI.38.html

    "Real musicians do not generally play exactly in time: they play with 'feel', where there can be 'microshifts' in timing. The snare might be slightly late on beats 2 and 4 ('laid back'), while the kick or the bass might be slightly early or 'pushed'
    “Conventional 'swing' or 'shuffle' feel is where 'even' eighth or 16th notes are played as the first and third of a group of triplets. While this is 'correct' for slow tempos, as the tempo increases a triplet feel can end up sounding rather uneasy, so musicians tend to play the swung notes nearer to the 'even' timings”
    “For more funky grooves, it can sound good to make accented second and fourth 16th notes slightly early.”

    “Swing ratios tend to get wider at slower tempos and narrower at faster tempos. Miles Davis varied his swing ratios, frequently delaying the first note of each pair of eighth notes by some milliseconds and then synchronized the second eighth note with the drummer's swing eighths being played on the cymbal. Advanced performers often lay back or play behind the beat when performing jazz melodies by delaying the rhythms by milliseconds.
    Rhythms identified as swung notes most commonly fall somewhere between straight eighths and a quarter-eighth triplet pattern.
    Quarter notes can sound swung when they are played slightly behind the beat, detached, and accented on the two and four, or late on one and three, but closer to the beat on two and four. Phrases swing when they begin between the beats, similar to how straight eighths can swing when they are behind the beat which creates an asymmetrical cross rhythm.”
  19. Jookbox

    Jookbox Registered Drummer

    Mar 16, 2006
    That's not really what pocket means. It's just a general term that means the drummer (or other musician) is playing a solid groove. It can be behind or ahead of the beat.
  20. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I recorded these using a sequencer a while back. The difference is subtle but it's there.

    Behind the beat:

    On the beat:

    Ahead of the beat: