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Help in understanding rhythm ?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rattleheadcrusher, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. rattleheadcrusher


    Apr 19, 2015
    I have noticed many people say that understanding rhythm is one of the important aspects of bass playing. I have tried to pick up exercises like subdividing scales with a metronome but i'm still confused on why this is important. My question is , why is rhythm important, how will these exercises help me understanding rhythm, when will i know my feel of time has improved and how will i be able to apply this to my playing in general.
  2. Look up konokol on YouTube if you really want to understand rhythm. Rhythm is what separates all styles of music. The better your command of it, the more versatile a player you will be. Think of all your favorite players. Think of what it is about their playing that you like. Notes are the same for everyone. Some may play a fifth instead of a third, but for the most part, the note itself could be anything, as long as it works diatonically. What makes everyone different is where and how that note is played. That is rhythm.
    rattleheadcrusher likes this.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    You're in the rhythm section...then it's on you (not the drummer) to understand rhythm.
    Playing out of tune is bad; worse even may be playing with no concept of "time".
    Subdividing the beat will help you internalize "time".
    ...it's a lifelong project, too.
  4. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Rhythm is important because when any note starts and stops is important. You need to be able to play notes where you want them. It's that simple. It seems like you're overthinking this and asking questions to which the answers should be obvious. Just practice playing along in time with simple rhythms at first and take it from there.
    rattleheadcrusher likes this.
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...sometimes, the notes may not need to work "diatonically".
    An example would be from Wooten's Groove Workshop DVD (IIRC).
    Wooten plays two solos over Gm-
    Solo_1 used only the 7 notes within a Gm scale.
    Solo_2 used the 5 notes outside the Gm scale.
    I think everyone agreed Solo_2 sounded better.
    I would put this in the rhythm, feel, articulation, phrasing, etc being more important than the actual notes/pitches being played.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    OK, you mention subdividing...so, in 4/4, 1-2-3-4 becomes
    Downbeats in BOLD
    Are you able to hear this in your head during your time keeping exercises?

    When you feel comfortable enough to freely move things around the bar...you may be on your way.
    Example: Simple bass figure that follows the kick drum may be-
    You play some Note of your choosing on "1", "& of 2", and "3".
    You have probably heard something like this a million times already (especially in Country music). ;)

    Eventually, see if you can shift (displace) everything in that 1-bar figure "to-the-right" (displaced by an 1/8th note), like this-
    Now play some Note of your choosing on "& of 1", "3", and "& of 3".

    If possible, play both with/against the same drum pattern; hear the difference?
    rattleheadcrusher likes this.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Rhythm is THE most important thing.
    According to Anthony Wellington , "Groove is the ability to acknowledge any subdivision of the beat (down to the sixteenth note) at any time"
    It is not about simply subdividing to a metronome, squeezing four notes where you used to play one.
    it's about knowing exactly where each of the possible 16 subdivisions fall against the beat, independently, without any obvious neighbors to clue you in.

    The best advice I can offer is to start learning notation. Sadly most of the books/lessons about "how to read" stop at simply cataloging each subdivision:

    Which does obscure the usefulness. (also the image leaves out the rests, which are at least as important as notes)
    better to think of this as the alphabet. What you really need is to read rhythmic "words" and phrases,
    that combine multiple sizes of notes with rests and ties to create truly compelling rhythms

    Once you get a basic grasp of what the symbols represent , start practicing reading rhythms like those from Cliff Engle's PDF
    The best part of practicing reading rhythm is that you don't need any equipment to do it.

    An excellent style to begin serious rhythm reading practice is Cuban / Salsa bass , like in Oscar Stangoro's Latin Bass book

    here is an advanced vocabulary example.
    Listen to it and ask yourself if rhythm is important.
    SamJ, wintremute, thabassmon and 2 others like this.
  8. bftbassman


    Aug 23, 2014
    Ephrata PA
    just follow your drummer, i still think playing by feel to a drummer is what fires me up everytime i pick up my bass....metal..motown...classic rock...funk...bring the variety !! soon as i hear the first kick drum..i still get the same feeling when i picked up my first bass and thumped an open E,.....i love it and the the dif rhythm of the drum beat is what motivates me...it where all my creativity comes from...just hit that drum and its on...i cant get that from a paper with dots on it or a numbered tab
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ..."just follow the drummer"? Suppose he's off?

    Anyway, I did just that for years...playing with guys that were mostly backbeat drummers, they kept me in my place. It was fun. Life was good.
    Then I ran into a guy that was about anything but the backbeat; even his grooves had some sort of a polyrhythm going on...I had the rug pulled out from me so many times.
    "Where's One?" That was one of his original tunes.
    At first, I was a bit pissed (at him? Nah, mostly me!); he explained to me that it was not his job to keep me in my place. I agreed. I had been spoiled all these years.
    So, I hadda count with this guy until a certain comfort level sank in (which it did).

    You can hear it in bands where every member knows "time".
    thabassmon and vishalicious like this.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It's not about reading exact rhythms
    It's about hearing exact rhythms

    Have you ever had this experience:
    You are jamming with your drummer and you summon this awesome groove,
    every body looks at each other and you are all smiling and bopping you heads.
    Next jam session, someone says "let's play that awesome groove again"
    but for some reas0n you can't quite nail it.
    How long did I hold that note?
    exactly how much anticipation did I put before the down beat?
    Sigh... I guess the feel is gone...

    That's what happens when you don't understand exactly what rhythms you are playing.
    It used to happen to me all the time.

    OP wants help understanding rhythm.
    The feel of rhythm is only one aspect of understanding.
    The specifics of rhythm are revealed with absolute clarity in the notation.
    It makes you a better player to know exactly what rhythms you play
    thabassmon likes this.
  11. DinoRock


    Mar 26, 2015
    New York State
    I agree with most above. In many songs, it is the bass player who is creating the groove / rhythm / feel of the song, often unbeknownst to the listener. When I hear bands that I really enjoy, I always think about how "tight" they are, and that always seems to come down to the rhythm section for me. For me, I think the E Street Band is incredibly tight. Think about all the musicians. Yet, because of Max and Gary, they stay locked in the groove and control the song.
  12. Tad

    Tad Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2007
    Boise, Idaho
    Well, take "Brown Eyed Girl", for instance. That is a song that a lot of people say they don't want to play, it's played too much by cover bands, etc. It is a crowd pleaser, though.

    Many people play a simplified bass line on that song. If you play the real bass line to it, it is hard to count if you don't understand how to count rhythm. Three quarters of the song is played on the "and" of the beats. Some of those are eighth notes, some are quarter notes, some are tied eighth notes. Some measures have all three on the "and".

    That is just one example of a popular song that has a deceptively complex rhythm if you try to play it exactly the way it is written. It's not that hard if you can subdivide and count it out, but if you can't count it... Maybe that is why some play the line they do for it.
    DinoRock likes this.
  13. kalanb


    Dec 17, 2012
    Being able to notate a rhythm in your head as you play it or notate the rhythm to bass line that you hear is a good skill to develop, and "Syncopation for the Modern Drummer" is a great book for this. Learning this stuff will help you understand why a line sounds the way it does and will give you another way to relate to music.
    rattleheadcrusher and JimK like this.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Being able to hear the rhythm in my head helps a lot when I'm trying to learn a piece/song/line by ear...
    rattleheadcrusher likes this.
  15. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    When you say "understand" do you actually mean "understand" or are you referring to rhythmic feel and sensitivity where rhythmic subtleties are concerned?
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  16. bftbassman


    Aug 23, 2014
    Ephrata PA
    i guess being in original bands..we get to control the creative process and if drummer is off or playing a dif tempo live or if the guitar player is moody or i feel like driving hard, or runs , or the singer wants to change tempos or talk, we roll with it, its fun, almost every show we purposely do somethin dif to some songs,, it makes the show fun for us.. my fav is where the drummer and i are left on stage and we make up stuff...or guitar man calls out E minor and we free style no set plans..i love all styles of music and i think playing along to them helped developed dif rhythm types..
  17. rattleheadcrusher


    Apr 19, 2015
    I searched up konokol, it seems like a more objective way of looking at rhythm... i think ill be looking more into it. thanks
  18. rattleheadcrusher


    Apr 19, 2015
    Yeah i do believe i'm overthinking it, i understand the length of notes and etc. but i think what i wanted to address was groove/ time....it all falls in the same place i'm guessing
  19. rattleheadcrusher


    Apr 19, 2015
    Thanks to everyone for giving me more insight on this topic !
    are there any exercises you guys recommend?

    and any tips for hearing rhythms/time signatures in songs? I usually listen to metal and so songs tend to have high tempos so i dont think trying to say 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & is the easiest method to find the time signatures

    oh and any important rhythms i should study , i saw syncopated beats somewhere
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  20. rattleheadcrusher


    Apr 19, 2015
    is there any place i can see what your talking about? like playing with drums?

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