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Guitarist Can't play in 12/8 time

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Tazziedevil, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    So we are not strictly a blues band, but we do play a lot of blues tunes. Drummer, Singer, Keyboard and Bass (me). Our style is old school R&B, Motown, Soul with some blues standards and a few other blues songs we like... Our guitarist is in his late 20's, the rest are a little older. He's great, able to play lead parts and play competent solos; Nothing revolutionary but certainly not a blues master.


    He can't count or play in 12/8 time. The songs we try to do in 12/8 time he gets flustered and usually stops playing after several bars. He just... loses his place and can't find his internal rhythm. The drummer and I have played several choruses while he listens, when he starts to feel it, starts playing and then just loses his place again. I have literally tapped my foot on his while we play to get him to feel the beat and the subdivisions, same thing. We've made him a playlist of mid/slow tempo 12/8 blues to listen to and learn, he can learn the riffs but once he has to do something on his own he just gets flustered, loses it and either stops playing and can't find a place to get back in or tries to play 4/4.

    Anyone encountered anything like this before? 12/8 isn't that weird of a time... I've asked the singer if it's the rhythm section, she says definitely not, we've had a few guest/fill in players and they can do it without an issue so it leads me to think he just has this odd inability to feel a tune in 8 !
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  2. Do you count it 1 two three, 2 two three, 3 two three, 4 two three ? It is 4 to a bar.
    mambo4, jeffbrown, MCF and 20 others like this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Some people just haven't exposed themselves to odd time signatures (not that 12/8 is that unusual). Try showing him how the drum beats breaks down, so he can hear the trigger for the "one".
  4. Can you give him a recorded example of a song with that time, so that he can get a feel for it?
    osv, dalkowski and gebass6 like this.
  5. Isn't Black Velvet in 12/8?
  6. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    It is 4 to a bar, but the subdivision of the best is I think what he can’t wrap his head around.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  7. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    We’ve made him a whole playlist.
  8. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    I think it is, yep. Haven’t heard it in a while so I’m not 100%.
  9. Just a slow 4/4 as I recall it.

    Come to think of it I play a lot of charted swing jazz which the rockers would probably write as 12/8 when we just use 4/4 and swing it.
    Spectrum, joebar, scuzzy and 18 others like this.
  10. I usually count it in 4, as triplets.

    Other than listening to more songs in 12/8, you could try having him play quarter notes while you guys play triplets, and have him play triplets while you play quarter notes. It sounds like he's just not feeling the pulse, as others mentioned.
    Mr_Moo, jeffbrown, Mushroo and 8 others like this.
  11. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    Exactly. He's probably trying to count 12. Completely wrong.

    Kids these days...
    joebar, pbass2, dalkowski and 6 others like this.
  12. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    I think that's how most would count/feel it - 4 groups of triplets per measure.
  13. Seems obvious now, but I still remember our school band director passing out sheet music, 30-35 yrs ago. I was think whoa, what the heck is this? Then we started playing and I was thinking oh OK, I've heard this before.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  14. nomaj


    Apr 2, 2012
    You can either count it in 4/4 triplets like Down Under Wonder posted, or in the traditional 12/8 way, which is, per bar: 1-2-3-FOUR-5-6, 2-2-3-FOUR-5-6. (Or: 1-2-3-FOUR-5-6-7-8-9-TEN-11-12.)

    Maybe ask him if he knows 'Hold the Line' by Toto or 'Everybody Wants To Rule the World' by Tears for Fears. These songs can help him to feel the tempo.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  15. ^^
    not to be nitpicking or anything but...its THIS...four groupings of 3s..12 beats to a measure each eighth note gets a beat...This is the problem with a lot of people that have no formal training in music. Not there is anything wrong with it because there are a LOT of fantastic musicians and artists that write and play fabulous music without knowing squat about music notation and such..However, this is some of the basic stuff that probably everyone should know. how to count as the music dictates and actually count..some don't even count, trust me I know some of them. So when you try to explain to them a song is in say 12/8 or 6/8 or what ever time signature they know exactly what you are talking about and can do it on demand..not a lot to ask..and anybody who plays music should take the time to educate themselves on it..I'm sure there are lots of you tube videos explaining it all...
  16. Tell him it's 4/4 with triplets !
    SoCal80s, pbass2, 3Liter and 9 others like this.
  17. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    we’ve made him a playlist of songs in 12/8. He says he’s going to listen very carefully this week and hopefully something clicks!
    nomaj and mmon77 like this.
  18. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Guitarist Can't play in 12/8 time
    Teach him, don't diss him.
    Rezdog, uusak, mcnach and 7 others like this.
  19. Could be the alternating down/up strumming pattern

    D U D .... U D U etc
    1 & a ......2 & a

    He could simply be stuck only doing down strums on every beat (like 4/4 does).
  20. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    We’re all trying.
    pellomoco14 and lat like this.
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    Dec 3, 2020

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