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What does "Good Time" mean?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by IamGroot, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    What is "Good Time"? Several TBers have mentioned having it usually in conjunction with discussions of metronomes.

    To me, "GoodTime" is a rhythmic skill that has the following characteristics:

    1) The player can hold a steady tempo without a drummer, drum machine or metronome. No Russian or dragon. Really good players can do this at fast and slow tempos. The player that starts off at 120 BPM and is down to 115 in a few measures - not good time.

    The notes land precisely within a given tolerance. If its quarter notes, they are accurate to at least a sixteenth. This includes syncopated notes.

    The player can work in the more common time signatures like 4/4, 3/4, 12/8 with the correct feel.

    Player can do both swing and straight feel.

    Are these fair definitions of Good Time"?

    Or do I need to call Jenny at 867-5309?
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
    12BitSlab, TomB, sqrat51 and 9 others like this.
  2. The last line of your post. Just be back for the next set. :smug: Good time means having the ability to keep the rhythm from going over the cliff. Good Times was a '70's sitcom that was Dy-No-Mite!!! Try not to confuse the two.
  3. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I think there are 3 basic dimensions or contexts to good time:
    1. Ablility to hold strict or metronomic time against a strict reference, which is more about an ability to count and place notes accurately;
    2. Ability to ebb and flow without screwing up the form when playing solo. An advance on 1 where, without the reference, allows for deep interpretation and intimacy in performance, and;
    3. Ability to listen closely and integrate with an ensemble. An advance on 2 that requires cooperation, discipline and flexibility.
  4. Good time. You lock with the drummer's kick. He gets his beat from the vocalist or rhythm guitar, i.e. everyone locks in with each other. No one steps on toes.

    Pay attention to the time signature this song will use, i.e. 3/4, 4/4, etc. then maintain that beat through out the song. When your head starts moving to the beat your locking in.
    jamro217 likes this.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    This is pretty much all that matters. Steps 1 and 2 are learning processes that get you to step 3.
    Time is not being a robot. Time is making a song sound good with other people.
    It requires constant non-verbal communication and constant micro-adjustment.

    And if you're playing in a genre like jazz, where the kick is used for accents, not establishing the beat?

    Your drummer may follow the rhythm guitar or vocal but that's not how it usually works. Drummers, or drum and bass together set the beat in most bands. Having good time means everyone negotiates it together to consensus without speaking.
    Standalone, Pacman, TomB and 7 others like this.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Context 1, maybe, but not 2. 2 is a thing in it's own right and, arguably, requires more discipline than 3. Doing 3 can actually help develop 2 as it raises self-awareness, IME.
    Need Gigs likes this.
  7. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    Elkhart, IN
    If you've got it you know it. If you're not sure then you probably don't.
    Guiseppe, IamGroot, Bodeanly and 2 others like this.
  8. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    It's a phrase used by bar girls in Thailand.
  9. It's what Fat Albert sung about having on Saturday mornings back in the 70s.
    jamro217, alaskaleftybass and Artman like this.

  10. Bonus points for beating KilledbyDeath to that answer.
  11. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    There's also the ability to remember and set an appropriate tempo for a given song.

    The typical mistake is to play everything much too fast when you're nervous or excited.

    (My solution: if I'm responsible for starting things off, I try to take a few deep breaths and sing the melody in my head first.)
    jamro217, sqrat51 and HolmeBass like this.
  12. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    Elkhart, IN
    Good time, happy finish. You likey, soldja boy?
    Russell L, alaskaleftybass and 2tonic like this.
  13. Ability to drag everyone back to the rhythm, or when they ignore you, to adapt to what they're doing.
    IamGroot and ThinCrappyTone like this.
  14. Inara

    Inara Fretless Femme Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I personally would consider quarter notes being +/- a 16th note to be incredibly "poor time."
    12BitSlab, Pacman, TomB and 11 others like this.
  15. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Unless I misunderstand what you mean here, I'd say that wouldn't be very good time at all! A 16th off? That's pretty darn off in my book.
    jonathanhughes, SteveCS and Inara like this.
  16. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan

    Mar 25, 2018
    Six beers, a fishing pole and plenty of bait.
  17. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    Yeah Jenny for sure... What was the question? :roflmao:
    2tonic likes this.
  18. Inara

    Inara Fretless Femme Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Going back to the "quarter notes within a 16th note tolerance" thing ... Early on, before I addressed my tendency to push the beat, I was fired from a session for my quarter notes being ahead of what the producer wanted by about 3-5 milliseconds, at 60 BPM. A 16th note at that tempo is 0.25 seconds. 3-5 milliseconds is 0.003 to 0.005 seconds.

    Thanks to @RocknRay for correcting my math! Edited above.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  19. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Yeah, and I understand the impulse to draw some clear line here, but I think trying to quantify exactly how off is too far off would be really hard, I'm sure it depends on the tempo and musical style and instrument and a zillion other things.
  20. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Wow! Sounds like (literal?) micromanaging to me.

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