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Pushing the Beat

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lonote, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Lately, I seem to have developed the habit of playing on the front end of the beat. This problem is new to me. I prefer to play on the back end of the beat to enlarge the pocket but I've been having a hell of a time doing it lately (the last 2 months or so). Can anybody give me a clue as to some exercises or techniques that will help me get back to where I need to be? This is very frustrating.
  2. 1stOfficerRiker

    1stOfficerRiker Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Maybe the problem is with the drummer ;-)
  3. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    What is the front end of the beat?
  4. The beat has 3 parts: the front end, the middle and the back end. Playing on the "front" tends to push the tempo, playing on the "back" tends to drag the tempo and widen the pocket making for a "rubbery" or "bouncy" kind of feel.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It depends on the style. If you're pushing the beat playing swing, you're doing it right. If you're pushing playing New Orleans funk, you're wrong. Work with a metronome, and be able to do it all.

    You said it yourself, it's become a habit. That means you don't control it. Everything you do should be a choice, not 'instinct' or 'habit'.
  6. Instead of a metronome, you can use a delay pedal to develop your awareness of pushing, sitting on, and pulling back the beat. It's basically the same exercise, but perhaps a bit more fun. If you really want to trip out, use a ping pong delay and headphones.
  7. Alun


    Jun 6, 2004
    Endorsing Artist - Elixir strings,Markbass amplification
    I had the opposite problem - I couldn't stop playing behind, even on swing and rock stuff. I spent ages trying to get the feel on D'Angelo's Voodoo album where it's so far behind that it's almost in the previous song and totally screwed up my sense of placement.

    The way I sorted it out was a combination of REALLY listening to where notes were landing on my favourite CDs and metronome practice. For the metronome stuff, I did a couple of things:

    - set the metronome so that it clicks on 2 & 4. This leaves you responsible for the downbeats and your beat placement will effect how the groove feels (and if it grooves at all!)
    -set the metronome at a slowish tempo and practice hitting perfectly in time with it and then flamming either side (eg ahead and behind). The slower the better as it's easier to hear (you may want to record it)

    How you mentally subdivide the beat can also affect your feel. Try setting the metronome at a medium tempo and playing quarter notes but mentally count in 16ths, triplets, etc. It's surprising how much difference this can make to the way you perceive the groove.

    Hope that helps.
  8. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    This is really important stuff and good information. I should point out that if you aren't working with a drummer that's on the same page it doesn't work. If you move out front on the beat for swing and the drummer does the same, all you'll have is a rhythm section that rushes. The other side of the problem is that the blues will really drag.

    Being aware of this aspect of style is what can make playing with a drum machine or recorded track sound good. Anyone looking to do studio work would do well to closely consider what is being said in this thread.

    Another point to consider. At a medium tempo the time difference (clock time) between the front of the beat and late in the beat is very, very small. Obviously having a solid technique is important.
  9. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Cool stuff.

    In my band, we just try and roughly play at the same time. I probably hit my beats right in the middle.
  10. Thanks for your help, gentlemen! I've been diligently practicing with the metronome and last night was the first gig since I started with the metronome. After the gig, the guitar player mentioned that it is obvious that working with the metronome has been helpful to me. I'm not all the way out of the woods, but I'm definitely on the right track. Thanks again.

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