Off beat rhythm

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Norm Whipple, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. Norm Whipple

    Norm Whipple

    Jan 10, 2020
    I thought that I was between a beginner and intermediate bassist. But, trying to play this takes me back to wanting to have a marshmallow roast with my bass.

    I’m struggling with the timing on Blue Bayou. The bass rhythm is
    1 - 2& - 4, 1 - 2 & - 4
    I just can’t seem to hit the 2& on the beat I’m usually ahead or behind. But rarely on it and never consistent. ‘On the beat’ isn’t a problem for me. But this off beat is challenging.
    Help? Tips?
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Have you tried counting 123-123-12, just until you get a better feel for the subdivision placement?
    6-3-2, Eli_Kyiv, dbsfgyd1 and 4 others like this.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
  4. Norm Whipple

    Norm Whipple

    Jan 10, 2020
    I definitely did not think it as 123-123-12.
    The video is great help to see how 123-123-12 works.
    Thanks for the tips
  5. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    I just played and sang this on Saturday. I don't count it, but if I were having the problem you describe I would be counting each eighth note: 1234 1234 with the changes where the numbers are bold. Sometimes it helps me to give everything a number rather than a grunty syllable. Breaking it down as above could work too.
  6. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013

    Here is how I've handled that "rhythmic pattern" many decades ago.
    Let's take the most basic bass riff.
    Play that riff as written.
    It could be written also as the root and the fifth.
    Then, try to play the third note - on Beat 3 - softer and softer, and the second note longer and longer.
    Eventually, don't play that 3rd note.
    Your picking hand finger can still play that 3rd note but without touching the string/s.


    Attached Files:

  7. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    Start by practicing the rhythm 1 - 2&.
    The way you can feel the 2& is to think of it as a 8th note pickup note to 3. So, first play //: 1 - 2& - 3 / 1 - 2& - 3 ://. Then progressively start removing the 3 (you keep thinking it in your mind, but do not play it actively). This works for all kinds of syncopated notes.

    Finally when you're able to play reliably //: 1- 2& / 1 - 2& ://. it is rather easy to add the 4 by thinking of it as a quarter note pickup of 1.

    Once you can play //: 1 - 2& / 1 - 2& ://, you can try playing //: 1 - 2& / 1 - 3& ://.

    I have practiced exercises to be able to sing or play any 8th note within a 4/4 bar. Similar thing for 16th notes in a 4/4 bar, as needed to play some funk stuff, is still work in progress for me.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
  8. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    It's incredible that we both have offered the same method.:thumbsup:

    Papageno likes this.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Sing the rhythm.

    Tap the rhythm out on a table.

    Snap you fingers to the rhythm.


    Then pick up the bass and play it.
    Matthijs, bfields, dbsfgyd1 and 3 others like this.
  10. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    Not so unlikely, because it is a good method. But I apologize for having overlooked your response...
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  11. Freddy T

    Freddy T

    Mar 15, 2014
    Hi OP, if you're playing the Linda Ronstadt version then the verse bass note fall on the "1", the "And" after 2, and the "4". The 1 and 4 are easy, so I think the issue maybe in hearing or "conceptualizing" the sound of the upbeat "And". Practice your upbeats, reggea style, until it feels and sounds musical. For instance, play Roxanne by the Police. The verse bass beats there are on "And 2".

    In short, practice eighth note upbeats (Ands) within the bar. For instance get a 4/4 beat going then play only the "Ands" after 1,2,3,4 for 2 minutes; use static notes, scales, whatever you like. What's important is to practice these upbeats until they sound musical and you can "feel" them. Then insert them wherever you like within a bar of music.
  12. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Try playing or singing with a metronome at double speed to help you hear the &
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  13. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    play off the kick...

    6-3-2 likes this.
  14. djmay


    Apr 8, 2022
    1. Use a metronome
    2. Set metronome to beat eighth notes
    3. Play very slow, like half-tempo
    4. Increase tempo gradually only when you can play the current tempo with no mistakes. This could take 1-2 weeks
    5. When you have mastered the song’s tempo, change the metronome to quarter notes. By then you should be able to feel the off beats.
    bfields likes this.
  15. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    You have not overlooked my response.
    You have improved (properly articulated) it.
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  16. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    The fact that you can write out the rhythm, and hear when you're off, suggests you understand what you need to do, which is most of the battle, so don't throw the bass on the fire yet!

    For something like this, I usually start *very* slow, counting out loud and just tapping the rhythm on a table. So slow that you can think consciously about every eighth note, and you're totally relaxed and not at all worried about missing anything. Don't speed up until you're bored and it's super-easy.

    Once it's really easy at tempo, then switch to the bass. Again start super-slow.

    That's how I get the basic feel for the rhythm, anyway. For accuracy, I practice against a metronome. I know I'm getting it when I make the metronome sound good. (A little hard to explain, but you'll probably know it when you hear it--suddenly I start to feel like the metronome is a really good human drummer landing in exactly the right spot every time.)

    Variations on that rhythm are super-common in bass lines so it's worth the work to nail.
    JRA likes this.
  17. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Good idea! It makes for an interesting observation that nobody has actually written out the rhythm in standard notation. Even the Anthony Wellington video had nothing in standard notation, just a strange-looking ruler. So, for avoidance of all doubt:
  18. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    Take the bass off. You can drill a hole in your head with subdivisions of the measure, etc. if you can't reasonably hear where this is falling as you count 1-2-3-4 through each measure, if trying to do it by count is hard for you.

    So, tap the two bass notes per measure with your hands until you nail it, as you listen to the recording. You'll hear where you are against the groove. Then take that feel, put the bass on, and you play where you were hitting the notes with your hands.

  19. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    The ideal way, for building music knowledge, is to get those subdivisions down. That Anthony Wellington video is a really clear way to get the idea and great for practice.

    But the easier way, for me at least, is to think of the bassline as a riff. Focus on it alone and forget the timing of the song in general, but instead listen to the the space between the notes in the bassline itself. I find I can sometimes fall into the reflex on wanting to hit that 1, 2, 3, 4 and I make the bassline harder than it is. By focusing on just the bassline alone it clears things up a lot in my mind.

    Then, after you get the bassline down by itself, focus on locking in with the drums. Sometimes a little tunnel vision can help a lot.
  20. All great suggestions here. I would add, that for further study and to really internalize this rhythmic pattern - which you will see often in pop music - it would be beneficial to learn about clave rhythms in latin music and how they're used. Then this type of rhythm will become instinctual.

    (I once played a piece in a classical orchestra for a "pops" concert that had this rhythmic pattern. The conductor told the orchestra "just play triplets"!!)
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