The quickist way to learn good time keeping?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pkeeg, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. All suggestions greatfully accepted
  2. I don't think it is something you pick-up in one day.

    I think keeping tight w/ the time is a big soft spot in my playing.

    I bought a metronome to help me(cheap one),and whenever I practice keeping time,I set-up my metronome...write down a few measures (lately triplelets because that is a big weakness for me) and I just play through it...Sometime's I'll up the tempo to get it down tighter.

    This is a stupid suggestion but be sure to be "physically feeling" the beat. either if you're rocking back and forth or tapping your foot,it helps keep nice rhythm:)

  3. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Play with as many drummers as you can!
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Always practice with a metronome or drum machine - drummers can often have sloppy timing as well - only rely on machines!! ;)
  5. lpbassics

    lpbassics Guest

    Jan 26, 2002
    It's a slow process, but here's what I suggest.

    Try playing along with a metronome at least for a warm up if not all the time. Just play a simple groove or a song, but make sure it's just you and the metronome.

    Then halve the tempo, but keep playing the song at the same tempo. Got it?
    Good, then halve the tempo again, and again etc...
    After a while the metronome will only click every so often, such as the down beat of every four measures. If you find that you're off sometimes, just keep trying or double the tempo so that the metronome keeps you 'on track' more often. If you can always be on time through any song in this method... well I'd say your time is pretty good.

    If you really want to test your time, try throwing in some rhythmically challenging licks in there, and land on that downbeat every time!
    Another thing I find entertaining is playing only when the metronome isn't or trying to incorporate it into my own groove. ;)
  6. MMSterling

    MMSterling Guest

    Feb 19, 2004
    Leicester, England
    Get a metronome its your friend ;)!

  7. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    (Entering ramble mode)

    With the obvious risk of being flamed, I have to say that I am more of the Jeff Berlin school of thought on this - meaning that I don't believe metronome practicing as such will improve your timing. A metronome provides a time reference, a framework to which you can compare your playing and more easily become aware when your timing is off. But to at all realise that you're off requires that you already have a sense of timing! So if you don't have it in you, you can practice with the 'nome until the day you die, your timing will still suck. If you can't hear a difference between dotted 8th + dotted 8th + 8th and a quarter note triplet BEFORE picking up a metronome, I doubt that a device can help you with that!

    And given that no musician's timing is perfect, interaction between musicians is, as I see it, more important than interaction between musician and machine. Of course, this depends on how you work - if all you do is playing to drum machines, learning how to play to a drum machine is essential. On the other hand, if all you do is playing with people, learning how to play with them is essential! In a perfect (??) world there wouldn't be a difference, but IMO there is.

    I believe that practicing with a metronome, as such, only makes you better at playing to a metronome. That's not saying there isn't anything else to gain from it though, but it depends on how you look at practicing as a whole. I think that if you focus on the part of practice that is "discipline", a concept I admit is much broader and abstract than "timing" ;), you can learn a lot. And I think that is what many people see in metronome practicing is just that, an exercise in discipline. But you can practice discipline in many different musical contexts, the perfect timing of a metronome being only one of them. If the metronome is your "disciplinary tool" of choice, then go for it. But if you use it while watching TV, you're doing it wrong! ;)
  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.

    I agree 100%, Oysterman.

    Music recorded to a click track just doesn't "breathe" (for lack of a better word) like music that has some feeling to the timing.

    IMHO, a metronome is fine to check your timing with but unless you intend to perform with a drum machine or metronome on stage, I'm not sure that a 'nome is that much help.

    Don't everyone turn on the flame throwers at once. THE ABOVE STATEMENT IS ONLY MY PERSONAL OPINION! IF YOU DISAGREE, JUST IGNORE MY POST. Capitalization is for emphasis only.

    I still remember the last time this subject came up. It was like WWII for a while. :)

    Harrell S.
  9. Now that I think about it, I don't know how I picked up my ability to keep time. Before I started playing bass, I couldnt even beat my hands on the table in time. But after I started, it just kind of came naturally. I guess only time and practicing with a metronome can help you keep time.
  10. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Transcribe, transcribe, and transcribe some more. Take some players you like and try to copy the feel they are using. Once you get the notes down, really pay attention to where they are putting the notes, and how long they're letting them ring etc...

    Start with simple stuff...that's good for learning good timeekeeping. You don't have to go transcribe every Rocco Prestia tune if you're not at that level yet. Start simple and work up to the harder stuff.

    If you have something that can loop 2,4,8,16 bar phrases with that can be helpful. Then you can really isolate a section of a tune and have it loop over and over in time, and really lock in with the feel of whatever it is you're copping. The Pandora box from Korg is what I use, but there are computer based ones as well. Sometimes I'll just grab two or three different licks from a tune and work with them this way. It's not so much to "learn" the song..but to soak up whatever it is the bass player is doing so that it becomes ingrained in my playing and then comes out in my improv later on.

    Then, as others have said, play with people. If you copy the feel of other players you admire that have good timekeeping, you'll start to soak it up and it will come out in your playing when you do it on your own live. At least this is what worked best for me.
  11. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I would say that and listening to recordings of bass players and music in general with great timing. I really feel the music is at least 50% listening.
  12. True...learn to "find" the drum beat in the song and whats keeping time...Also,tapping the ol' foot helps :)
  13. Please don't develope the attitude that "drummers" have good time. Their time is as suspect as bass players.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    How 'bout-
    Play with as many GOOD drummers as you can?

  15. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Play with a drummer, that plays along with a metrnome while playing together with you. My drummer wears a metronome at all times since he just started drumming 15 months ago. He has good hands an decent feet but his timming was all over the place. Stuck a metronome in his ear, he adjusts the BPM to the tune we are doing and we go. It allows me to completely lock into the drummer with perfect timming ;)
  16. Thats a good idea...but isn't that kind of like tab under sheet music in a sight reading gig? :confused:

    Good idea though.
  17. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    For a rookie drummer it puts him in the pocket instantly. Only the drummer has this tool. The live vibe is still very much there trust me. I just don't have to chase him around anymore and it allows me to lock in. Down the road a year or so when he is more consistant he won't need it anymore. Just a tool to help you and your drummer lock in on eachother and stay in the pocket. So the drummer has headphones, they call them monitors these days, it's the Linkin Park look. This doens't have to be done during the show but we do it helps!
  18. Yeah...I'm sure it's a good idea. However,i dunno what it feels like to "chase" any drummer for I have yet to 'jam' with one. :crying:
  19. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    That's what it's all about brother! You will find out when you do, it's a whole new ballgame when that happens.
  20. Lewk


    Oct 19, 2003
    I've been doing a lot of metronome practice lately because i'm going to be doing a lot of work with whoever my next new drummer will be with click tracks as we're combining our live music with electronic backing tracks, and other exciting things, that all needs to be sync'd up. I would agree on the whole "doesn't make music breath" thing. I wish someone would make a tap tempo pad for a drummers hi-hat, and then electro backing tracks would be in time with the drummer, not the other way around. the drummer would still have a click, but for reference only. This way i think the music would have a more human and better feel. this would be excellent :)