Really not getting the appeal of playing at faster tempos...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by glocke1, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002
    Maybe it's an age thing but over the past year or so I've found that faster tempo stuff just doesn't come off well with a lot of players.

    Sometimes it's a legit comfort zone issue, for example some the guys I am in a jazz ensemble with are talking about getting together and tune suggestions with tempo suggestions are being thrown around and the KB player is suggesting tempos that IMO are pretty fast and ambitous for our skill level (we are all really just novices/hacks in this genre). For example he requested Cherokee at 220 BPM...I think the fastest I've played that with anyone is around 160-180 BPM and there have been a few times its been played even slower in some of the ensemble workshops I've attended.

    Sure...its a tune played at faster tempos by more skilled players but
    thats not us. I put forth the argument that if we can't hold it together as an ensemble playing these tunes at faster tempos, it makes little sense to do so and we should focus on getting the tunes right at slower tempos and work our way up. Not entirely sure how well received that was.

    Even in the rock bands Im in,
    a lot of tunes are just played by some of these guys at tempos that just seem rushed/chaotic to me and don't really settle into a nice groove. I'll try to pull the band back into a more relaxed groove, but it seldom works.

    (thursday morning rant)

  2. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Could be an age thing..... I agree rushed sounds rushed. But if THE BAND plays at this speed and you like playing in this band, you know the rest of this story.

    Good luck.
    petergales and Spin Doctor like this.
  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I'm 68 so.........ehm! I like the Goldilocks tempo. Not to fast not too slow. But, in most cases I'd rather hear a slower tempo than a faster one. Just depends.

    Some really fast songs don't necessarily mean that the bass line also has to be fast. The bass player can go to 1/4 notes, or 1/2 notes to establish a solid foundation for the fast song.

    At my new age of being old for the first time, a slower song allows me time for me to absorb the melody and to hear each individual instrument and vocals.

    But, I still like my The Who and a host of other fast songs.

    Nice thread!
  4. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002
    Bolded: Yup...Thats where Im at with a lot of stuff now. When I practice a song, even if I already know it I'll still practice it at 75% (or slower) of the recorded tempo when i play along to it because I'm able to hear and appreciate what the other instruments are doing so much more, and Im also able to enjoy and feel the groove better.
    bassdude51 likes this.
  5. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I like rehearsing at a speed slightly slower that studio speed...

    ... it's going to get sped up anyways, when playing out.

    If you have a timekeeper mindful of this, shouldn't have any problems, either way.

    The situation I despise is the drummer who tends to fly through rehearsal at the speed of sound, and does so at the gig, too...

    ... needless to say, it sounds like crap when everyone isn't on the same page, no matter what speed they are playing at.
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  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Get Joe to tell you that story about studying with Lennie and playing up.

    Anyway, particularly in sessions, you ARE provided with an opportunity to challenge your limits - harmonically, melodically, rhythmically - and, sure, playing up is one of those challenges. But just like training for sprints, sometimes you just have to get out there and run as fast as you can. Even if you can only do it for short distances. Just accept that, at least at this stage of the game, there will be more athleticism than art and bite the bullet. You don't get to a 4 minute mile average by walking a little faster every day, engaging in non - art exercise helps build endurance.
    Familiarity also breeds tempo, I'll wager you can already play music you're very familiar with at a faster tempo than music you're just learning or reading. The other thing I think you'll find is when you bring these tunes back down to a tempo you're more comfortable with, suddenly there's more "space" for you to hear your own voice and melodic line.

    I do agree that, like volume, uptempo can hide a multitude of sins. That's another reason that folks call those; it's going by too fast for most folks to really hear anything besides velocity and energy. But that's kind of a false feeling, anybody that can hear, can hear that there's a lot of ******** being purveyed.

    Me, I really don't/can't hear that fast. My playing gets very mechanical when half note gets above 130. And it's necessary to change my physical approach which changes my sound. The only other thing that I'd say is - sometimes it's just part of being a rhythm section player to take one for the team and sacrifice a little of your art so that the alto player can engage in some exhibitionism...
    project_c, JRA, Nashrakh and 5 others like this.
  7. ZBirdV8


    Feb 26, 2012
    Detroit Michigan
    It's not the tempo it's the song. I played doom metal for a really long time because it felt more groovy, but then I discovered Bolt Thrower and everything changed, Joanne Bench was playing these groovy as hell lines with monster tone. I learned how to play fast because of her lines on "Those Once Loyal" album. Specifically "Dead Armor": Prior to this I enjoyed thrash but was never motivated to learn to play at thrash tempo because the basslines in a lot of that music are kinda thin and usually just a doubling of the guitar.

    TL;DR: It's not the tempo, it's that you haven't find a fast song that you like enough to be motivated to play it. Keep Searching.
  8. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002
    Great post Ed..thanks.
    Supposed to go up there tomorrow to see him for the first time since the shutdown..I will definitely ask him about that!

    re: bolded: Well, thats kind of what I was eluding to in my O.P. A lot of stuff I play with people is played at tempos beyond what the original recording is at...These songs just don't groove at those tempos.
  9. OogieWaWa


    Mar 17, 2013
    Oak Harbor, OH
    Oh, you mean on purpose. :D Definitely not our problem.
  10. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Speeding up most songs a few percent is often (but not always) OK, and sometimes gives a new energy. But if you go to far (180 to 220 almost certainly is), you'll go over a cliff, lose energy, and unleash the "slop machine" that exists beyond that cliff.

    Practicing faster at home (slowly building the tempo to reveal and work on places where your technique is borderline) can be a good way of building technique, but you don't want to do that in front of an audience.
  11. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Depends on the genre. When punk or hardcore is all breakdowns and no speed, that's just boring to me. I like my thrash metal with speed too. Yeah, having some slower or softer sections to break things up is great... but then get back to the speed that makes me want to headbang, pogo, mosh, etc.

    I sure as anything don't want punk speed in my R&B. I like that stuff with that smoother, more relaxed groove.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  12. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Some jazzers like to play as fast as possible. Other than boo tunes, I prefer a more relaxed groove.
  13. oren

    oren Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    Cherokee at over 200 is not uncommon (at least partly because the melody is all half notes, which makes it seem easy until you get to the solo, if you’re not in the rhythm section), which is not to say it’s comfortable. The two questions I always have when a group wants to do something way uptempo is can it groove without either dragging or rushing even faster, and can the soloists really do anything coherent at that tempo? Most frequently, at least at my level of plying, the answer is no to both, but it doesn’t hurt to try it and, as Ed said, treat it as an athletic sort of challenge. As long as everybody is comfortable laughing about it afterwards!
    Bassist4Eris and Ed Fuqua like this.
  14. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Everything faster than everything else
  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    That's interesting. I sometimes practice as slow as my (phone) metronome will go. The Fender app metronome goes as low as 10 BPM. I think it's useful to be able to hold time even though that's slower tempo than I'd ever use. But to OP point in my observation there are some (I said some, not all) very fast bands who don't have really great timing, sounds like caterwaul. But there are some very fast bands with very good timing. Comes down to discipline.
  16. This right here for most bands. I am currently in a band where the drummer makes notes about tempo and counts off correctly, but for most bands the adrenaline takes over and everything is a little faster than you rehearse it.

    That said, doesn't the real book have suggested tempos? I think it might be wise to stick with those, unless you're doing a serious arrangement that involves a lot more than a tempo change.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  17. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    I'm learning a jazz tune originally recorded at about 280 bpm. I practice to it at half speed. Occasionally I test myself at 3/4 speed. It now sounds almost ridiculous when I listen to it at full speed. I don't even like it that fast much less play to it, even if I could. It flies by to fast to be musical IMO.
  18. klejst

    klejst Guest

    Oct 5, 2010
    Unless speed metal or punk or some style that requires it I am not a huge fan of it either.
  19. petergales


    Dec 29, 2009
    Leeds UK
    I remember rehearsing in a band and feeling that all the numbers were a bit rushed. Eventually I played the original and but the tempo into my metronome and asked that we play it at the speed. The singer was amazed at how much better it felt and the rest of the band agreed. Needless to say such an approach is impractical in a gig situation but it demonstrated a point very well. I should add that the band members are all good friends so no offence was taken!
  20. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    When I was young I liked fast tempos. The adrenaline shot of it matched my youthful energy well. When you get older, you learn to control the groove a little better. So you can play some notes a little behind, or a little ahead, and it affects the groove. But in order for this to even be possible, you need some space between the beats. I can always tell a player's experience level by how comfortable they are at slow tempos. In fact, I recently got my own butt kicked by a locally renowned jazz drummer when he wanted to play "Red Clay" way slower than I was used to. Embarrassing! :roflmao: