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Rushing rhythmic subdivisions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by belzebass, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012

    I have a problem when working on rhyhm. When playing, I hit relatively precisely the 1, 2, 3 or the 4 of the measure, but the subdivisions are rushed, especially the sixteents. When I try to slow down, I start dragging, but I dont seem to get a nice steady subdivision.

    I've been doing all exercices slowly with the metronome on 2 and 4, just on 1 and just on 1 of every two measures. I hear myself speed up after the tick and slow down just before the next tick. I still hit the tick itself rather consistently (except "1 of every two measures" of course, I'm just starting it).

    What exercices should I do for it?

  2. Mister_argentum


    Aug 30, 2011
    My advice will be to start practising with the metronome very slow, say 50 bpm. It requires a lot of concentration and it amplifies your mistakes so you will see what you are doing.

    First play the quarter notes at 50 bpm (just an open string following the pulse) then play straight 8ths (divide the pulse by two, you can count it loud, one-two, one-two). After you master these play straight 16ths by dividing the pulse by 4.

    With the metronome at 50 you have the time to count 4 16ths at every quarter note. Bring it up in tempo as you succeed and record yourself often to listen how you progress.

    I hope this helps.


  3. +1000 Great advice!
  4. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    You do explain the nature of the playing, you only give the problem.
    Your problem falls into two very distinct areas, the physical use and the mental use.
    If your problem is physical, then you are tripping over your fingers, your lack of physical co-ordination is cause you to lose time in the actual act of playing.
    If it is a mental problem, it is because you are not defining the task clear in your head what you want to play.
    Knowing what to play is not enough, knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it is a task of resolve, accepting and believing it has to be done this way every time is the mental process involved.

    There is no mental difference between playing whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, thirty second notes, but there physical difference is a relation to a set tempo before it is ever a physical task.

    For example how do we know when is a player playing slow sixteenths instead of fast eighth notes? The mental process still requires the brain to make the relationship to the timing and then pick the notes to play.

    When you play a whole note you think 1-2-3-4 but you play only on the 1 and hold the note for 2-3-4. So you had to continue to think 1-2-3-4 but only puck the note once.

    When you play half notes you think 1-2-3-4 but you only play on the 1 and the 3. So you play the 1 and hold it through the 2 before plucking it on the 3 and holding it through the 4. You still think 1-2-3-4 but you only plucked twice.

    When you play quarter notes you think 1-2-3-4 and pluck 1-2-3-4. So you play what you count. But you still think 1-2-3-4

    When you play eighth notes you count 1-2-3-4 and play each note twice, but you still think 1-2-3-4

    When you play sixteenth notes you play each note four times, but you still think 1-2-3-4.

    But if you change the mental relationship to the above task by counting
    1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & you change the relationship to the mental and the physical.
    To play the previous examples using this count we need to play one beat and feel the and other till we get to the eighth notes.
    It is the feeling and relationship to who the time is passing that we need to work on...not how fast it is passing.

    When we play the eighth notes the task marries up the notes we feel and the notes we count, so we play the beat and the feel to get the eight notes. This gives us the physical task of playing once to what we think and feel.
    This was the same mental and physical task of playing quarter notes when counting 1-2-3-4.

    If the count was 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 & the relationship changes again. The mental process is longer between what we count and what we feel, so how we pluck those notes when we play has changed....but it is still a reference to 1-2-3-4.
    Those quarter notes now get pluck on the 1 3 5 7 to create the correct tempo.... and so on it goes.

    We cannot think this fast, so we have to take a mental count and sub-divided it into feel, we have to feel the time passing because we cannot think or count that fast.
    We learn to build a relationship of how much time has passed between the notes we play, not how fast they were played.
    How fast they are played is tempo, not timing, and as I said at the start, how do we know when is a player playing slow sixteenths and not fast eighth notes?
    I find the working to 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & is a great way to develop the relationship between feel and playing.
    I give players the idea that in playing straight fours we think 1 & 2 & not 1-2-3-4 and 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & instead of 1-2-3-4.
    The brain quickly works out what to feel and what to play because there is space within this count to feel. Also there is space to develop the count and feel aspects of it in to 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &.
    This paves the way to counting and feeling sub-divisions using 1 & E & a 2 & E & a 3 etc because we have got used to feeling the space in what we count against.

    As has been mentioned slow everything down and focus on the space between the notes passing...not the speed they pass at. When playing this slow the sub -divisions are where you put them, so after four notes it is quarters, after eight notes it is 8ths, so how fast they pass is not what you are developing (that is a tempo issue) and there relationship to a count within a beat.
  5. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    It is a mental problem. Even if I tap the rhythm on the table, it tends to be the same. I don't seem to rush much while playing straight notes (straight 8ths or 16ths or 4ths). But when in a groove, I seem to have reference beats (like 1 and 3, or the snare) that fall rather good, but the subdivisions close to those references gravitate and come a little closer then they should. For instance: A simple groove like A dotted 4ths and an 8ths, the 8t gets a bit closer te the reference point (the 4th)

    Actually, you propose using 8ths as "reference beats" instead of 4ths?

    And thank you,Fergie, it is one great post. You must be a really teacher.

    And, yes, generally, I have a tendency to rush. But the metronome is gradually helping me out.
  6. bander68


    Jan 29, 2013
    All excellent suggestions. Another tip to use with those - get a metronome that plays the subdivisions. I use a Digimet in my classroom, but that's a bit much for individual practice. Perhaps a Dr. Beat would be more appropriate (and cost effective). On my smartphone (Android) I have a free app called Mobile Metronome, but it's not very loud unless I plug it in my amp. Yuck.
  7. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I think only using some rhythm exercice for snare drum with a metronome would put things in perspective.

    first read the rhythm tree then the easy exercise. Saying the rhythm with a sylable like : ta and ke ... a quater note will be Ta and four 8th note will be taketake. I don't know maybe in english it is hard to prononce that very fast so you may find something that work better for you.

    also very important to accentuate the first of every group of four 8th/16th, it justs make things easier to follow.

    Once you can sing those thing, try play them by choosing whatever note on your bass. With the metronome on every beat then just on the 1 and 3 or only on 2 and 4 ... then only on 1 etc.

    Attached Files:

  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Try not to be to hard on yourself as far as far as being spot on the beat, think more of being at the beat within the tempo you are playing.
    Everyone has naunces of how the play....that is what makes what they do desirable rather than a click......any good computer will produce the goods on a click, but they cannot introduce the feel required.
    Good feel has to be part of good time keeping, a feel can disguise time through the use of implyed timing....as in did the bass or the bass drum just play that beat, was what we just heard and felt a result of what actually we heard or what we felt?
    Slow songs use 12/8 because it better represents the feel not the tempo.
    Set your nome on 12/8 and play some simple slow walking Blues lines.
    Now tighten it up to 4/4 and feel the difference of playing them with "less time to move" your playing between the beat.

    Again the tempo is the same, it is not any faster, but the room to think and move is just less

    The reason i use and teach implied 8ths within 4s is it is a natural step to playing 16ths smoothly and calmly it give more "thinking time" which develops in to a feel for it, so in the end you actually think less and use the feel you have learned to associated with the time that passes between beats...not the speed of the tempo being used.

    Our brains learn to sort out all the "ands" as feel so only deal with the 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, then our brain realises the relationship to how much time has passed to understand what is happening within a tempo.
    This means we are not rushing to count, the tempo always remains the same, the music does not get faster, but notes can come around to be played sooner.
    This feeling of our fingers fretting new notes and hearing notes sooner can panic us into believing the music is faster than it is, but the tempo is set so it cannot be....it is an audio perception of the brain.
    8th notes at say 120BPM are not played faster than 16ths at 120BPM, there are just more of them to be played, the tempo is the same.

    Follow the link and try this exercise...i gaurantee you it does not get harder or any faster...the notes just come around sooner and that panics the brain into trying to anticipate things that are not really happening. The exercise is a basic entry level exercise to understand the basic concept of beats within a tempo.
    What we need to develop is the need for a slow head and fast hands...in other words do not panic..we are allowed to wait for the beat to come to us because we can feel the tempo has not changed.