Keeping Time

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Intrepid, Nov 2, 2001.

  1. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    How the hell do you keep time while soloing. Supposedly in my jazz band everybody else is suppose to shudup while I solo like a drum solo, but I can't seem to keep time.
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK

    first off, on electric bass, I can see no reason why you should have to solo unaccompanied - the convention only started cos acoustic bass wasn't loud enough to solo over a piano...! If I was taking a solo, I'd want someone to comp for me...

    having said that, the key to playing in time is practice (really? what a surprise... :oops:) - jumping straight in and trying to take a whole solo like that is not going to help - you gotta develop the skill set needed to do that - if your harmonic and melodic capabilities are up to the job, and rhythm is your main problem, try working on smaller more manageable phrases to start with - alternating with yourself playing four bars walking, four bars solo - try it with a metronome set to play two in a bar or even one in a bar, and see how you get on. Keep your soloing material simple enough to hold it down, and once you're on top of that, then start to expand it - don't try and run before you can walk.

    But before all that, I'd ask the drummer to keep time for me... :oops:)


  3. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    ...and my right leg always shakes with the precision of a Swiss pendulum!
  4. Camel_spit

    Camel_spit Guest

    Nov 12, 2001
    Dubbo, NSW, Australia
    i nod my head, except when i get tired it slows to a crawl - don't take my suggestion.
  5. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    ...which is the problem - without developing your internal sense of rhythm to some outside reference point, it's rather difficult to recognise you body's influence over the timing and either choose to go with it or not. Which is where playing with other musicians, with drum machines and with a metronome come in really really handy - ensemble music is all about being able to play to an external time reference, whether that's another musician, a drummer, a click track or a programmed part - you've got to be able to keep time with 'something else' - and in so doing, you are able to train your own internal sense of time, to hear where you might slow down, and then make a decision whether or not that's what's best for the music. Using rhythm tools to develop your internal clock isn't about getting 'metronomic' timing, where you become mechanical etc. It's about getting control over your perception of time, so that the music can 'breathe' where you want it to, or be bang on with the click if you want it to - being able to play to a click, or play pretty close to bang on in time without one, gives you options, choices, avenues, paths, new journeys, whatever other metaphor works for you...


    Steve - click here for details of my California Solo tour - Jan 2002!!