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Timing simple transitions between chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by schmig, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. schmig


    Nov 30, 2008
    Hi all,

    I'd be really interested in hearing any opinions on this. I have a slightly weird stumbling block!

    Have been playing about 6 or 7 years and have had reasonable success so far..for instance, this weekend I played 7 gigs between Cajun/Bluegrass/Blues/Country bands. I've gotten reasonable enough to do session gigs with relatively well known acts etc (edit: relatively well known in the circles they play within, within the country and sometimes outside).

    Timing isn't a big problem for me. For one example, I did some recording for an EP in the last twelve months, on inspecting my recorded waveform against the drum track, it was bang on to the point I didn't think it was possibly to play that close to the time. One experienced drummer I play with describes me as having "perfect time" (I know this is BS, but relative to some other guys he plays with..). Likewise, I played with another guy at a session lately, he described the way I knew the material by heart and my timing against his as "incredible" (more BS, and probably relative to some other players who do sessions with that outfit).

    So here is my problem. Lets say I'm playing some country and I want to do a short walk from the I to the IV chord, along the lines of root/M2/M3/4.

    Upon trying to do something basic like this, I will have a mental problem, wondering, exactly where am I placing the M2 and M3 timewise? I know - it's just obvious where these sit - I could sing them for you, etc - but for whatever goddamn reason - and I didn't always have this problem, unless my awareness of time has grown - doing something simple like this throws me off. My theory is all in the area of pitches/chords/scales etc so I can't describe time, but say the music is going in 4/4:


    And I want to do:


    I'm sort of fitting 4 notes over 2 beats?

    I'm puzzled as regards this bothering me as I can play a lot of oddly timed things once they aren't "transitions".

    Any comments appreciated.
  2. Understand your problem. With Country it's root-five with a walk to the next chord. So you need to know when you have to start your walk so you land on the new root for the chord change.

    I target the next root note then miss it by X frets. Then leave early and walk to it. How early? Depends on the number of walk notes (melody notes) you will be doing your walk over. If you are taking a three note walk and be on the target root for the chord change you have to leave three beats early.

    It becomes just something you anticipate. If you are new to this mark the lyric word or lyric syllable you are to leave on. On C going to F ...... Sound the C#, D, go up a string and grab the E and land on F for the chord change.

    On F going to G7. Back up one fret -- E, F, F# and land on G. Coming from the G; several ways of doing this I normally would drop down to the 4th string and sound the D#, D, C# and land on C.

    It's a timing thing so decide on the length of your walk and stick with that number so it gets ingrained in your internal clock. You can have a one, two or three note walk, up to you.

    Normally the melody will have one note per lyric syllable, i.e. Ma-ry gets two beats as would lit-tle the words "had" and "a" would get one beat each. This is not cast in stone, but, is a pretty good rule of thumb. So mark, in some way, the lyric syllable you are to leave on. Understand not every chord change needs a walk, i.e. two chords in one measure for example.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  3. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I guarantee you will benefit form learning rhythm notation.
    the problem is a vague rhythmic understanding, more by feel than precision.
    You don't know exactly where in the preceding measure your transitions need to start.
    Depending on distance traveled you'd have to start in different places.

    for what your are doing you need a solid understanding at least down to the eight note level.
    maybe this can help.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Transcribing iconic songs in your favorite genre(s) is never a waste of time. :)
  5. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    Yep, my preferred simple fills are (using your notation sort of blended with tab)
    Ix---x---x---x---I 4-note bar at the end of a passage normal
    Ix---x---x-x-x-x-I 4-note bar at the end of a passage with fill

    just switch from normal timing to twice as fast. Fit your 4 notes into 2 "beats"
  6. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    do you tap your foot?
    I got introduced to the Carole Kaye foot tapping timing method via Roy Vogt's Teach Me Bass Guitar series.

    It comes up as a way to deal with syncopation -- to pay attention to down and up beats by foot action down and up, but if anything it should help you reinforce playing on down beats and working this through. It sounds like you have a great sense of time, so it should come across in your foot tapping.

    That said, I grew up playing drums and if I tap my right foot, it 'thinks' it's playing bass drum and goes off from steady on its own to accents on the very syncopated pieces where it's meant to be helping. So I'm trying to my left (hihat -- 2 & 4) foot, but who knew it could be this hard just to tap your foot?

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