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Rhythm&beat--how to practice/learn?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Xocolatl, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. Xocolatl


    Aug 16, 2010
    I have never been good with music. I have had a lot of experience with it though. I have tried my hands at piano, violin, viola, guitar, and a lot of voice lessons. (I slowly move down the key until I finally hit the bass recently) The one thing that I could never do is keeping the beat. But that's supposed to be one of the most important thing for a bassist, right?

    I have tried starting off slow, then speed up to the normal speed for a song. I've tried practicing some interesting beat patterns. I try counting, tapping my feet, even trying to internalize the beat by incorporating it into everything I do (if you see some guy mopping the floor in a weird pattern, that's probably just me).

    But like I said, I just can't seem to keep my timing straigh. I always lose the beat and end up going too fast, or too slow, or totally lost at times.

    Is there any good ways to practice keeping the beat? What are some common beats that I should know?
  2. Etienned


    Jul 16, 2010
    Among other things, ime, a metronome that clicks is better than a metronome that beeps to feel the rhythm.
  3. xocolatl, it is a known fact that some people have a better feel for time than others. however, if you are a bassist or a drummer, you must develop an excellent feel for time because you set the pace for the band.

    i once met jeff berlin, who is arguably one of the world's top 10 bassists. he said throw your metronome away, becuase everyone has a decent feel for time. i dont agree with this completely.

    practice with a metronome, but dont depend on it completely (i once played with a drummer who was so dependent on the metronome that he could not play without it, a critical weakness). turn it off too and play without it.

    another good idea is to play along with a drum machine, makes for a lot more fun. i have a boss dr-880, but there are much simpler ones available too: http://www.bosscorp.co.jp/products/en/DR-880/

    one of the ways i internalize best however is to play along with an MP3 for songs i am practicing to. i find that when i start thinking of the song or play without the MP3, i know exactly how fast it is played.

    if you play in a band, ask your drummer if he will practice with you or find a drummer with a really good time feel. lock into one another and groove.

    finally, ask your bass teacher about some exercises to improve.

    good luck.
  4. Xocolatl


    Aug 16, 2010
    Thank you.
    Frankly, I'm so bad that I can't even tell when my beats are off unless I'm playing against something else. Usually for me, I plug Guitar Pro into my VOX, which lets me hear everything together without using an amp (Makes life a lot easier for me, as I share an apartment with 3 or 4 other people). That was the first time I realized I was out of synch with the actual song.
    I guess I'll keep on practicing. I could get the tempo down ok for a song if I keep practicing it for a few days. I just couldn't quite make that sense of timing universal just yet.
  5. Also, there is a lot to be said about time. I mean just keep practicing and over time you will hear an improvement in your ability to keep time. A metronome is useful, but you really need to know how to use it. Start by practicing something simple (scales or arpeggios) in quarter notes at 60-70 beats per minute make sure you are connecting your notes (legato) and be super aware of how you relate to the beat (do you rush or drag?) Then rinse and repeat.
  6. dtiii


    Apr 22, 2009
    It sounds like you just need someone to sit in front of you and demonstrate various timekeeping exercises... maybe walk you through a solid metronome routine. Do you have a teacher?
  7. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    A metronome is indispensible. Also, as a drummer, I can tell you that a good way to develop time is to get a practice pad and some sticks and practice keeping time with your favorite songs. Just basic time; 1,2,3,4, nothing fancy. Do this with a metronome and also with recordings. It should help.
  8. dtiii


    Apr 22, 2009
    +1 bassinplace. Part of my practice that was impressed upon me by whom I consider to be a great teacher is to sit down with brushes and on a note book keep time using basic brush strokes. It's not only great for building time chops, but it's fun... as any drummer can tell you. I integrate this into my teaching practice by keeping time in this manner as the student works on walking/soloing. With this, the lesson becomes a session... for both of us. :hyper:

    I think it's about perspective. The more perspectives that you have on a specific item, in this case time-keeping, the deeper the understanding.
  9. gmarcus

    gmarcus Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2003
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    +1000 to getting a metronome
    "rhythm" & "Timing" are somewhat fuzzy terms and will mean different things to different people.
    Be clear that what your are asking about is ACCURATE TEMPO.
    If you say "rhythm" or "timing" the Jeff Berliners will come and steal your metronome :)

    +1 to the idea of practicing rhythm without the bass...just hand claps are good.
    There is a difference between missing a beat because you have a poor internal sense of tempo
    and Missing the beat because your hands aren't yet used to the instrument.
    Practicing with simple hand claps will take care of the internal tempo stuff
    without complicating it with muscle memory issues related to any instrument.

    Also, start leaning rhythmic notation : half notes, quarter notes, dotted quarters etc
    ... nothing will better improve your accurate awareness of rhythm (as opposed to tempo).
    But be patient and give yourself time -as in years-to gain fluency
  11. Wow some good stuff here. I have a metronome that beeps and I want to replace it so badly. That's for all the helpful info.
  12. mrekoj


    Feb 17, 2009
    how do you guys go about practicing 16th notes counting ?
    I set my metronome to 4/16 to make sure i wont miss any note, but i cant go pass 40bps without getting lost after a few bars.

    is there any better methods for 16th note counting ?
  13. Etienned


    Jul 16, 2010
    I count by saying
    «takadimi» = for 16th or semiquaver

    ta - ka - di - mi - ta - ka - di... etc
    click__________ click______

    «takita» is useful for triplets
  14. dtiii


    Apr 22, 2009
    Counting syllables are arbitrary. Pertaining to four-note groupings like 16th notes, any four syllables will work. Find something that flows easily so you can practice faster rates without it turning into a tongue twister.

    Keeping track of beat number is important. Conducting through a rhythm is helpful because it puts each pulse in a place. You can find conducting patterns in any music rudiments book. I'm sure you can google it, also.
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Are you saying you set the metronome to play every 16th note?
    probably not a pratical approach.

    eights and sixteenths are best undertood as subdivisions of the 4/4 beat :
    set your metronome for 4 beats /bar and fill in between the beats your self.

    in fact setting the metronome less than 4/4 is also good practice:
    half speed beats on 2&4 (simulating a typical snare backbeat)
    or 1/4 speed beats on every 1.
    anythign that forces you to "fill in" beats with your own feel,
    while still providing a solid reference point.

    Victor shows how far you can take the idea:
  16. mrekoj


    Feb 17, 2009
    cool, thanks everyone for the advice.
    i'll try those methods
  17. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA

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