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speeding up, slowing down; working w/drummer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Blueszilla, Aug 11, 2003.

  1. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    This is partial rant, partial needing advice on how to deal with this situation.

    I joined a reputable (regionally) trio in March, was just floored and extremely fortunate (OK, I can play some) to get this gig. Anyway, the guitar player is the originator of the band and has had several different rhythm sections over the last ten years. The drummer he/we have now is not fancy but usually very solid, and that's the way the GP wants it. As I have learned the material, we have gotten tighter and tighter and, on some nights, we downright groove and it sounds very good to me. Other nights though (might just be a set or a few tunes)I am having a hard time because its my feeling that the drummer either starts the song too fast (GP counts off the tempo, but dr still starts too fast)or it speeds up. I notice this immediately and try to play very simply and dig in a bit to emphasize my time and I listen to the GP, as he has a great sense of time. Our tunes 'breathe' and have a camber that makes them very funky, gives them a real old school blues vibe.

    the GP has told me in a professional way that he thinks I am 'pushing' the groove, not quite in the pocket. This happens when I think I am trying to slow the drummer down. GP and I discussed it briefly at the gig on Thursday I told him what I thought.

    It's not causing a big problem yet, but could if we don't get it fixed soon. I suppose I could be the problem, but I have been working hard with the grooves (have recorded versions) and my time has been good in the past.

    Anybody experience this and have some suggestions?

  2. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    record some gigs and judge with you ears at that time.

    good luck!

  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I can't see how trying to slow it down is "pushing" the groove but the alternative is just go with the drummer and let the chips fall where they may.

    Recording (lo fi is fine) a gig or two as nojazzloco suggested is a great idea.
  4. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    Man, I have been doing this for years. Pushing, and pulling to keep the drummer steady. I am aware that I can't be perfect all of the time and that it could be me that is speeding up or slowing down for what feels right for me. I also feel that as the bass player I am responsible for t he groove and it is my job to make the music feel good. I honestly can't say that the casual listener can detect minor changes in tempo but as a bass player, I certainly can. If the GP counts off the tempo, its bound to be wrong anyway but at least you shouldn't be faulted for making the drummer stick to it.
  5. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I'd find a way to sit with the drummer first,in a non-confrontational way,and really get to the root of it.Away from the GP,sounds like he's the employer here,so you need to work it out with the drum guy away from the GP.If the drummer is defensive,and not into some give and take,i.e,a little recorded jam to see who's really pushing,trust your instincts and the recorded versions you are practicing with.
    Sounds to me like you are experienced enough to know if you're pushing too much or not.
    Failing that,if you really like the gig,just keep playing the way the way you do,smile and say "you're right"IME,usually works itself out if you're grooving.
  6. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Good point.
  7. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    The lack of responses to this thread really is a telltale sign of how few players here gig professionally or semi- on any sort of basis,let alone regularly or part-time.:crying:
  8. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I guess it just seems like there are lots of guys gigging, but of course I really don't know what the percentages are. Maybe the guys who are haven't posted. It's nice enough to have anybody respond, it actually makes me feel better about the situation, so for those who have given me advice or words of any kind, I say thanks!
  9. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I don't know if I'm being a buzzkill here, but sometimes a bassist and drummer simply don't click at all. I suppose there's a million subjective reasons, but it still happens. I play well with other drummers, but one particular situation didn't work, no matter how hard I tried. Being somewhat of a mercenary gun for hire, I found this odd, but not unheard of from my conversations with other bassists.

    This "no hookup" thing happened to me only once, at a time when I had become a solid enough player to not chalk it up to youth or inexperience. Unfortunately, the drummer I was having problems with was in the band longer, went to PIT, and a charter member as well. I was easily the low guy on the totem pole. Although it was a steady working band with a good rep, we had to part ways. Later, I ran into many players who thought he had weird time, too. Nice guy, though.

    To sum up, I found that the magic hookup just isn't there in some rare cases. My advice isn't to just walk out like I did, but at least to keep my experience in mind.
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Sounds like you're taking the rap for a lack of competence on the part of the drummer. That's a bad situation.

    A metronome can be used determine who's actually at fault here. Resorting to its use will appear defensive, but if you are right and the drummer is the one messing up, it could get the guitarist off your back.

    Also, if the guitarist has such good time, I don't understand how he can criticize you for
    "pushing" the beat if you are trying to slow the drummer down.
  11. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I used to run a cassette or reel to reel recorder at both practices and gigs. Nothing fancy, just a mike or 2 from the ceiling. At least one was strategically placed between the drummer and myself. The guys got used to the idea quickly, and became just part of the background after a while.

    There were a few benefits out of this. I was able to identify passages I played that were weak, or awkward, areas where my voicing or phrasing could be improved. As a result, I was able to critique my own playing as if I were standing out in the audience.

    One thing, that tape sure doesn't lie. Every mistake, and who is making it, becomes painfully apparent to a musician with a critical ear. Then you can sit with your band leader(s) and objectively decide where the improvements are, and who is going to make them, after reviewing slected portions of the tapes together.

    One other thing, I have always found that the longer you play together, the easier it gets. After a couple of years, you can literally look at the other musician and anticipate what they are going to play, so time does rectify some of these issues.

  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I haven't posted because I have never had this problem with any of the drummers I have played with. I have been lucky to play with the same 2 drummers for 90% of my gigging career, and they both have a rock solid sense of time. So I cannot relate to this problem at all.
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    or it could be that some folks haven't seen the thread yet :rolleyes:.

    someone's gotta be in charge at a gig. you can't fight the groove to make the drummer "work" - the drummer's gotta be the boss. you follow him, and don't worry about who's right until afterwards.

    record the shows too, so you have some evidence :).
  14. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I disagree,there is nothing metronomic about the genre we're talking about here.It's feel + experience + personality = groove.
  15. my signature reveals I've got a problem with one of the drummers I play with re. timing and tempo- last sunday I played a gig with this band for the first time this year, and it certainly was an experience after nearly a year of playing only with drummers with stable timing.

    i can't imagine how I ever coped with his appalling sloppiness.
    he needs to play a lot quieter and listen to me.
    or be replaced. :mad:
  16. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    calling somebody out in public like that is bad kharma,regardless of whether you are right not.not cool IMO.
  17. dissing both of them in my sig is more out of frustration at a screwed-up situation- anyway, no-one on here will encounter them- but if they do maybe they could talk some sense into the drummer- he doesn't listen to me, despite the fact he got dropped from a project we were both on due to his inability to play in time.
  18. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    While the genre itself will not be "metronomic" in the sense that it will admit a certain amount of variation in tempo, a consistent speeding up on the drummer's part is a cause for concern.

    A drummer I play with actually measures how much he speeds up or slows down on certain songs by recording the tune, measuring the tempo using the "tap" feature on an electric metronome at the beginning of the tune, and comparing it to the tempo at the end of the tune. Fortunately, he has the good sense to do this without any prompting on the part of his bandmates.
  19. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    I've played with drummers who barely kicked the bass pedal, washed out the band with the ride cymble, let the drumstick vibrate on the snare after a snare snap, speeded up, slowed down, played one tempo no matter what speed the tempo started, and fell asleep on the kit during a song. There is one thing in common with all of them. None of them would take any helpful direction. They're history. :D
  20. I think you have to figure out how to talk to the drummer. From your post it seems like you are trying to communicate something to him through playing only, and he is not getting it (or is ignoring you). You and he have to figure out how to play together, and develop some cues. For tempo, aside from just playing a little slower or faster, you can give visual cues back and forth by leaning forward or backward. (Once you've discussed that this will be your cue) Or whatever visual cue you want, but that's a simple one I try to use with a lot of drummers.

    Do you guys have rehearsals? You could work on coming in at a good tempo there. Just play a minute or so of the song to see if it feels right. If not, try a different tempo. If so, go on to a different one, then come back later to make sure you still have it.