Locking in with Drummer

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by spyingcracker, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. spyingcracker


    May 27, 2004
    I've read many threads on locking in with the drummer, but there is one thing I'm having particular trouble with. I've read that the bass should make use of the beats the kick drum emphasises, but my drummer is difficult for me to predict. He's got solid timing, but he seems to be doing too much for me to think about while trying to play at the same time. How do you know/predict, when the drummer is going to emphasise a beat? Sorry if that's vague, but it's difficult for me to explain this.
  2. Time is the key here , I mean if you guys spend alot've time together as a rhythm section you start to pick up on his playing , feel , and his trade mark licks
    Another tip is if he gets busy in his playing maybe play basic underhim and vice versa this only comes with experience and oddly enough there are times where you guys will be better off laying down the groove together.
    But like everything else in music the more time you spend on it ( In this case together ) the better you are gonna get.
  3. spyingcracker


    May 27, 2004
    Eh, that's what I was afraid of. Oh well. We've only been together for about three months, so hopefully it wil come with time. Thanks.
  4. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    As long as you can still feel where the one is, the best advice I can give is to count and subdivide in your head if you feel that you're drifting away from the drummer. No matter what the drummer is doing, you should be able to keep up as long as you're thinking "1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a..." as the measure progresses.

    Aside from that, the metronome advice is always very important advice. I would also suggest practicing with just him as much as your schedules allow and recording it if possible.

    Don't bother zoning in on the kick drum thing. It's a decent starting point but there are more drums on the kit than just the kick, and all of them are keeping time.
  5. I try to listen to the high hat for the most part, one of the drummers i play with is pretty damn skilled, but he almost always plays something rocksolid on the high hat. It might be different with the guy you play with, but thats what i do.
  6. What you need to do is understand the basics of time keeping. Generally, the kick drum emphasizes beats 1 and 3, the snare is beats 2 and 4. What you should do is get a metronome, set the tempo at a reasonable rate like quater note=100, the first click is the down beat the space in between the clicks are the 1/8th notes. Practicing scales is a good starting point for nome work, begin with quarter notes, then eigith notes, then practice your bass lines with it. Lock in with the nome and make your bass line mark the time, then when you feel comfortable, move the nome to 50bpm and have the click be beats 2 and 4 and feel 1 and 3, once that's comfortable make the click beats 1 and 3 and feel 2 and 4. Once you have that tempo down, go back to step one only move the tempo up. This may seem like dull boring work, but the time in with the nome really makes a difference. Remember you're just as resposnible as the drummer for the time and if you don't have a good understanding of time then no amount of time with a drummer will help. It has to be in you too.
  7. Listening is a very important thing. Listen to motown, The Meters, rock groups from the 60's (Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who), James Brown, even some jazz. Dig the groove between the bass and drums, listen to what the drummer is and isn't doing, try to keep time by tapping your foot or snaping on beats 2 & 4, learn the lines from the records and play along with them. Not only will you devlop your understanding of time, you'll also get introduced to the bass tradition which is always good 'cause their are some groovin' cats in the history of our instrument.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    IMO, Keith Moon & Mitch Mitchell are two examples of drummers that would be 'difficult' to form a 'lock'. In other words, they are not about 1&3/2&4 backbeat playing...they're all over the place(which is also a cool thing). ;)

    The Meters & James Brown would be better examples of bass/drum locking.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Mike said it...you have to understand the basics of 'time'. You should be pro-active & be responsible enough to keep the 'time'. In other words, don't depend on otheres(i.e. the drummer). Depending on others is a good way to have the rug pulled out from underneath you(as I have learned the hard way).
    So, keeping up your end of the bargain(keeping YOU in YOUR place) lessens the guesswork.

    If your drummer is a busy player("he seems to be doing too much....")-
    ASK him what he's doing! Don't be afraid to ask for some free education!
    Perhaps he's just augmenting a simple drumbeat...ask him to play a simple beat to show you the basics. Try & lock with his kick on the 'simple' beat...then, while you keep the 'simple' thing goin', have him do his busy thing & see/hear how that works out.

    Sometimes, the bassist may need to play a line/figure in 1/2 time when playing with a very busy drum beat(-

    The bass may play in an 1/8th note groove vs. a 1/16th note groove in the drums(Sting & Stewart Copeland in The Police).
    Sometimes, it's the reverse...the bass may be busy with a simple/basic backbeat in the drums(Jaco & Don Alias w/ Joni Mitchell).
    Sometimes, BOTH are busy(Paul Jackson & Mike Clarke with The Headhunters; Rocco & David Garibaldi with TOP).

    Too much info?
  10. spyingcracker


    May 27, 2004
    Ok, I think I get it. When you talk about drummers being all over the place, this is kinda what our drummer is like. I like that style, but it's difficult for me to fit in with it. Oh well. Practice time. :meh:
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Practicing with a drum machine can also work wonders.
    Do you have one?
  12. Point well taken, but I was refering more to Noel and John. How they "danced" with the drummers. Listening to their playing is an education in itself.

    On the drum machine, I have to disagree. The machine will cover shortcomings in ones playing. The nome leaves you naked and honest with yourself. The other aspect, something I'm dealing with now, is feel or groove. The DM makes it easy to groove, if you can groove with a metronome then you'll groove with anybody.
  13. Something Mike touched on was about feeling the time when grooving without having to hear every beat. He was saying to feel the time with only 2beats to the measure, but what I'm saying is simply a paraphrase of our bass master Vic. 'Play a groove with a metronome hitting every quarter note, then every half note, then every whole note, then have it click once every 2, then 4 measures. If you can stay on beat with the click then you can play with any drummer.'

    Also, another factor is to think in 12 8 time when subdividing. It is mainly a jazz thing, but as we all know but hate to admit, jazz is the king and pinnacle of music (hehe, at least for me!). I think you can groove more easily if you subdivide in triplets to each quarter note: 1&a 2&a 3&a 4&a 1&a 2&a...
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I say use BOTH.
    Very few have the 'feel' of a 'nome(thank God)...a groove breathes with some ebb & flow, some give & take. IMHO, the DM is closer to 'real world' than a click-click-click-click. That's me & I already know many will disagree.
    Just one reason The Meters still sound better than the processed-sequenced-quantized "hits" of today.
    The idea is to internalize 'time'. Whatever works.
  15. spyingcracker


    May 27, 2004
    The only thing that I have that resembles a drum machine is a cheap keyboard in my room. It plays a bunch of different styles, but none of them really "click" with me. You can program your own beats using the drum set voice, but I'm not any good at it. I usually use a metronome that can play beat subdivisions.
  16. The point of the nome isn't to sound "quantized" or anything like that. The nome is a tool to give you a sense of time that is a foundation for groove. What I'm talking about is a woodshed thing, just like you wouldn't play scales from root to octave as a bassline or solo but you shed them anyway. Why? Because they: a) devlop a sense of melody and b) get you fimliar with your instrument. When I practice I work on things I can't play well, and concepts I need to digest. So things will sound dry or just bad, but when I'm on a gig I'm relying on that work to allow me to get out of the way and make music with the folks I play with.
  17. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Each tune you play the drummer will be playing a specific beat or beats in that song. Learn those beats and you got it. It gets tricky when the drummer starts to do crazy fills and rolls but he still has to stay within the framwork of the tune he is playing, as long as you stay within the framework the drummers improv's will have to fit as well. If not there is something wrong.
  18. SpyingCracker, how long have you been playing bass?
    I know that as time goes on, you start to get a much better sense of timing and rythme. You just have to learn to listen and a feel for your drummer. maybe your drummer isnt as solid as you think he is. maybe hes just bangin away on his set without paying attention to timing.
    You just have to give it time to get your timing down. that can only come by practicing.
  19. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Of course, it could just be a bad drummer. Until recently, I played with a guy that was all over the place - not busy, just bad (there is a difference). Hard to anticipate where ANY drum beat would be. Was obvious to me where there should be an accent and there wasn't - my bass notes were hitting blank spaces in his rhythm, so we didn't sound locked at all. He also had poor dynamics, so when the band dropped down he would continue the beat, only softer as opposed to cutting out and going to splashes or the like. Hard to find a bassline that fits in that scenario. Kicks were very unpredictable as well. I for one think the kick is VERY important and you do need to be able to lock into that - at least for the types of music I play.
  20. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    LISTEN to the drummer and tap your foot to the beat. Play to that beat! :eyebrow: