help me be a better time counter

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Albini_Fan, Aug 22, 2003.

  1. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    please? i really, really suck at counting time. and i feel this is the one thing holding me back. i never know what to listen for to count a beat. ahh. and when to stop counting.

    if you could, you could help me out via songs i like. i like bands like interpol, unwound, shellac, isis, pelican, joy division. or not, do whatever.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    If you're talking about maintaining a consistent tempo while playing, there's nothing to do but practice using a metronome.

    If you're a beginner, the simple physical aspects of playing--string resistance, position shifts, finger placement, hand fatigue, even the position of the instrument--will throw a spanner into your efforts to maintain consistent tempo, so you can't really work on tempo alone without attending to the other elements.

    If you're talking about how to figure out what time signature of a song, my primary recommendation is to listen to lots of music. Do you have experience reading music? Do you know what a time signature is? If not, take some lessons or ask someone knowledgeable to explain it to you. We could do it here, but it's less confusing and time/word-consuming if you have someone demonstrating in person on an instrument.
  3. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    What don't you understand? (almost) Every piece of music has some meter that you should be able to count - just find meter and tempo and start counting.

    For help maintaining a constant tempo, subdivide your counting. It makes a world of difference.
  4. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    I wish there was a quick way. My most recent challenge was to execute alot of notes over two measures as a solo and to be home at the time the orchestra rejoined the song. I try tapping my foot, but when there's alot of quick notes and its just you playing, its easy to lose the time and to rush it. Either its playing at (or above) your ability or its nerves. Both require getting back to the basics in your practice sessions to remedy I guess.
  5. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Listen to the hi-hat of the drums. This is what most drummers use to keep time and tempo. This isn't a genreal rule, but a good place to start.

    Ditto about what everyone else says about a metronome.
  6. ClarkW


    Aug 1, 2003
    Provo, UT. USA
    Here's an exercise that is versatile enough that it can be used for left-hand speed, right-hand speed, or both, AND it's a great counting exercise, and can also be a good theory exercise. The funny thing about this one is that you start out with a FAST metronome and get slower as you go!

    Put the metronome on about 160, maybe 200 if you can keep up with that. Remember your starting speed; let's say we start with 160.

    Play right along with the metronome, one pluck (or pick) per click of the metronome. Start out just working your right hand for the first week or so if necessary. Then on your left hand, alternate notes, any pattern you like. Start off with just one finger per fret. Then start doing major scales (the Ionian mode). Then do the Aeolian mode for a week (minor scale). Then do the Mixolydian mode (major scale with flat 7th). Then Lydian. Then Dorian, then Phrygian, then Locrian. Switch keys every day. Then do ascending and descending thirds. Then do fourths. Then make up some lick and do that, etc.

    But let's go back to just playing one note along with the 160 beat. Now we're going to slow it down by about 20 bpm at a time. Play it at 140 for a minute or two. Then play it at 120 for a minute or two. Then 100, STILL playing just one note per click. At this point, you're not hurrying your notes or either of your hands, so you can correct finger positions, concentrate on relaxing every muscle in your body, and MOST ESPECIALLY, landing smack dab on the metronome click every time!

    Now it's time to take it to the next level. Put the metronome down to 80. Notice we're at half our previous tempo. After you've played slowly at 80, one note per click, switch to double time. You're playing back at the original 160, but now the metronome isn't doing all the work for you! Land those in-between notes RIGHT in between!

    Now divide your original tempo by 3. That's about 54. Set your metronome to 54, and play triplets. It's pretty much the same as your original 160 speed, but your brain is doing the work as triplets now!

    You probably guessed that 40 was next, huh? Well, you're right. Put that metronome to 40, which is excruciatingly slow, and then play 4 notes per click (16th notes). You may not even get this far for the first month that you do this exercise, which is probably good. You want these things to be clean as my mother's kitchen floor, every sixteenth note landing exactly where it belongs.

    Then increase your original tempo for the next month. If the exercise runs too long, you can cut a few of the initial reductions of 20 bpm, or you can START out with those, speeding up to your target speed, as a warm up.

    For the advanced level, of course you'll be playing two-octave ascending and descending scales in the key of A through Ab, stringing together all 7 modes, one after the other, starting on each note before you switch to the other, at 240 bpm. So divide that by 5 and do them in 5-tuplets. Then divide by 6! Or 8, or 9, or 16! Lemme tell you, a feller who can play 16 notes per beat at 10 bpm is one rhythmic mofo!

    Then do the whole exercise over again, this time with thump and pop. :) Then do different rhythms, like 16th-8th-16th, or 8th-16th-16th, or 16th-16th-8th, or Rest-16th-16th-16th.

    Then, you can do the whole thing backward, which is killer.

    Set the metronome to about 40 bpm. Play one note per click. Then play 2 notes per click. Then 3. Then 4. Skip 5 if you want to. :) Then 6, then 8, then 9 (triplet-triplets). Then 12 (triplets in four), then 16. Well, if you can even play 8 notes per beat at 40 bpm, you sure don't need ME giving you lessons. :eek:
  7. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    Along with these I would add learning to lock into the sud-division of the beat....which could also be described as listening to the hi-hat. If a tune is in 4/4 then the Hi-hat could be playing 8th notes and or 16th notes and hearing the beat broken down to its smallest dividion can really help you lock in. If you can lock into that, it will help you "feel" the beat more then worrying about counting in your head.