1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

pulse- behind, ahead of the beat

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mellofello, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. mellofello


    Mar 10, 2006
    I saw some mention of this in another post. I thought it might be a good thread. The basic idea is that you can dramatically affect the way a song feels by playing a little or a lot ahead of or behind the beat. I really look up to musicians who do this well. I'm sure some of the other TBer's can explain this better than me.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Yes, you can dramatically affect the way a song feels by playing in front of, on or behind the beat.

    One dramatic example that stands out from my own experience was learning simple U2 basslines. I used to wonder what was wrong with the way that I was playing them -- the notes were in the right places and I was playing on the beat, but they didn't really match what I was hearing on the recordings. Then I realized that Adam Clayton typically plays waaaaaay behind the beat. Problem solved.
  3. Snerek


    Jan 12, 2007
    what exactly does this mean, playing behind the beat?

    i'm not getting this whole idea but i feel that its a great tool in baseline creations
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Playing behind the beat means putting your note a very small amount of time later than the beat. This would not be even as much as a 32nd note usually, so it not anything that could (or should) be notated. Just being a little late. And it not every beat or every note, just the notes that feel like they should be late (and there is the issue, 'feel', just what do YOU make of the music). All the 'beat ones' might be right on time, but the other notes in the measure behind. Or beats One and Three on time with two and four a bit behind.

    Playing ahead of the beat, or before the beat would be the opposite. Playing 'on top of the beat' would be right spot on the beat. Different styles of music are helped by this.

    It all has to do with the flow of energy and tension and release. Just knowing about it sometimes is all you have to do... just be aware that some notes maybe early and some late (but not very much).

    Listen to B.B. King sing..... his time is perfect, what a great feel...but not all the notes that would be written on the beat are sung on the beat.

    And... just to really make things interesting.... not all the notes are exactly in tune (but none of them are out of tune)... some are lower, some higher... many move.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    i had a drummer drive me nuts a while back with playing in front of, on top of, and behind the beat. I learned a lot from her - BUT - as with all music and me, I play from feel and when music gets put into words or notation there's something between my brain and heart that twists things up. i'd like to bridge that gap a little by plugging into this thread and hope a lot of people give a lot of examples of both. my translation goes roughly like this (i use it as a guideline till whoever I'm playing for sayds, "THAT'S IT!"):

    in front of = agressive
    behind = relaxed
    on top of = machine like

    i'd like to actually hear a lot of specific examples. would it be true to say that 98% of the time flea plays in front of the beat, bill wyman behind, and all techno music on top?
  6. mellofello


    Mar 10, 2006
    hmmm, well I still really think someone will come and explain this better. But take the Marvin Gaye tune "let's get it on".
    the note played on the upbeat of 2 is ahead of the beat.

    downbeat being the number and upbeat being the & if you count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & .... etc .....

    to my ear it sounds like the snare is also ahead of the beat, mostly played on 2 and 4. while the high hat is behind the beat. what do y'all think ?