Lingo 101- "Playing against the back-beat"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mjw, Sep 30, 2001.

  1. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Quick question for the board. Generally speaking, what does it mean when someone refers to "playing against the back-beat"? Thanks!

  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'm assuming you're thinkin' the backbeat = beats 2 & 4 in 4/4?

    I know certain backbeat/Funk/R&B drummers will shift or displace where they put the snare. They may move the snare just forward(a of 1, a of 3) &/or just behind(e of 2, e of 4) where you'd think it 'normally' falls...this + the rest of the band playing 'normally' gives the illusion of tension("playing against"?).
    Another way is playing in 1/2 may hear certain drum parts where the snare is hitting on "3"...try counting slower(in 1/2 time)& you may be surprised to find the snare is still on "2" & "4".
    Try hearing a ride cymbal in yer head goin' /1-2-3-4/1-2-3-4/ etc with a snare on the "2" & "4". Then attempt hearing the same ride pattern but with the snare ONLY on "3"...feel different?

    A bassist can do the same thing(can play in 1/2 time or doubletime vs. the group's 'normal' time).

    A displacement exercise-
    For Ss & Gs, play one of your favorite 1-bar attempt playing the same figure BUT begin the figure on, say, the & of 1. This shifts "your 1" to everyone else's "& of 1". If you want a specific example, e-mail me...hope ya have a drum machine. ;)

    Also, a bassist might play 'off' by thinking in a different timeline.
    4/4(w/ 1/16th note subdivisons)-

    /1&2&3&4&5&6&/1&2&3&4&5&6&/ etc

    Doin' this puts makes your phrasing 'different' &, possibly, pits you against the 'normal' 2 & 4.
    Basically, it's polyrhythmic.
    Some good exercises, IMO, are tapping out 4/4 in one hand vs. tapping out 3/4, 5/4, 6/4, 7/4 with the other hand. Both hands should tap together on the ONE...meaning each bar in itself is complete, no crossing the bar as in the above 4/4 vs. 6/8 example.

    ...I'm rambiln', sorry & I've probably cofused you even more.
    Where's Ed, Dave, & Chris when ya need 'em?!
  3. am i the only one that thinks profanity shouldn't be edited in ed's case? :p
  4. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Thanks for the info everyone. Actually, I was quoting "Alexis Sklarevski" in the context of "developing a feel for playing against the back-beat which is especially important in funk music".

    He mentioned this in his video, and I was trying to understand what he meant. Thanks again!

  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...thanks, Ed.
    (Great, great line: "'s like talking to a choreographer"! I love that!)

    There's different ways of "locking"(or so I've been told)...I'm assuming playing against someone else's time/rhythmic figure(via metric modulation, polyrhythms, etc) can be used as those means.
    That originals' band I was in(more 'workshop' than 'working band')tried to pull off warped s*** like example that comes to mind are those '70s/'80s Rock-Jazz Miles' groups(Panagea, Star People, etc).
    Not sure if f***ing up the feel was what we were goin' fer. Then again, maybe the scarcity of gigs shoulda clued us in, huh?

    Nice limmerick, too!! ;)
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Mike- 'bout e-mailing Alex S so he can 'splain what the .... he meant!

  7. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Time to find A.S.'s email address, I guess... :)
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Doesn't he just mean that - OK in some funk tunes you have a pretty simple, straightforward backbeat on the drums, but that doesn't mean that as teh bass player, you have to play along with it squarely. So you can play "against" it, with offbeats and tying notes across a two bar pattern - all sort of things, but actually playing "with" it, is just going to lead to a dull line that isn't really funky?

    Are we looking for something too subtle/complex here?