Syncopation Help....

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Son of Spam, Nov 23, 2001.

  1. Okay, I was wondering what all of you guys do when you syncopate a rythem (that is, instead of playing ON the beat, you play before or after the beat) how you keep it for so long.

    When I syncopate something, I usually can only play before the beat once or twice, but always end up playing on the beat in the end. It's like the rythem takes control of me. Is there anything I can do to help me with this?

    I try counting and keeping time, and while it does work, I often can't concentrate much on note changes, and trying new things out. And if I have to improvise or solo than often I lose count within the beat, and have to pick it up two bars later after I've heard the downbeat.

    Is there any tips besides constant practice (which I can only do when I have the drummer there, cause I don't have a metronome or anything.)
  2. Its a groove thing. Listen to ALOT of jazz R& B blues, Stevie Ray played alot of ahead of or behind the beat stuff. Grab a small recorded an bring it to practice, that will give you a drummer. Otherwise a clock will give you a 60 BPM tempo.
  3. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    ok maybe this is dumb but it works for me.. just count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4... etc when you play... and say the AND really loud if you're gona play the upbeat...
  4. I practice repetitive 16th note or swing 8th riffs in one position, ghosting the downbeats (the next step in that exercise is to move the ghost note, then move the ghost note every measure, then every beat etc). After you feel comfortable with that one position, move it around.

    Metronomes are relatively inexpensive (~$20). Got a bass, strap, amp and cord? Next purchase should be a metronome or drum machine. Everybody but Jeff Berlin should have one. ;)

    Here's a free one:

    Several free ones in this list:

    Here's a free drum machine:
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    For me, it is about concentration & feel.

    You can learn the feel from listening & analyzing; also, counting & practicing with a drum machine...

    Say I program a basic backbeat pattern in my drum machine-
    Now suppose I wanna play a bass figure ONLY on the "& of 1", "e of 2", "a of 2", "& of 3", "e of 4", "a of 4".
    So, maybe SEEING it on paper would help-
    Now I would attempt to play the above rhythm against the 1&3/2&4 drum pattern...slowly, if needed. Also, with a drum machine, you can enter those 'bass' notes as maybe a cross stick pattern & HEAR how & where the bass 'should' be.

    ...and listening to some early James Brown(Bootsy & Clyde Stubblefield days) + Afro-Cuban/Latin music would help.
  6. Thanks.

    And yea Joe, I should go out and buy a metronome, wasn't sure on the price, and didn't wanna ask local music store guy cause he's an ass, and didn't wanna drive all the way out to Ontario Mills mall for Sam Ash to get one, or the local Guitar Center for that matter.
  7. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I would say it is just a feel.. a groove if you will.. I don't really think about it, it just happens... but if you listen to jazz and what not you will see (hear) it used a good bit. it really isn't that hard once you start doing it.

  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    What Joe and Jim said. Break it down, move it around.
  9. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Yeah. Do what Joe and Jim said.

    Tapping your foot never hurts either

    After youve played music, knowing the note values and the sort, youll have a feel of how to do the rests and the eighth quarter eighth stuff without thinking.
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  12. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    i usually subdivide into eigths. eg. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +.

    just play on the '+'. You could also subdivide sixteenths. eg. 1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
    hope it helps

  13. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Or to be more exact, their parents would be :D
  14. ADSicks


    Nov 26, 2001
    You don't have to buy a metronome if you have recordings of the sound you want, practice with that. Also, when I play off beat walks and drag behind the drums I get in a mode of reacting to the drummer rather than trying to play tight on the beat. Sometimes in a synchopation you can find it from the ride or the hat. Hope that helps.