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Who counts?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by glocke1, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    Been curious about this for awhile...

    I don't really count during a song...Meaning if a passage is 4 bars or 8 bars I don't stand there and count them off while I am playing, I've always been able to "feel" the changes....

    This past weekend I was playing with some people and looked over at the guitar player and noticed that he was actually counting off the number of times that we were playing a certain passage that never seems to come off correctly with this group of people.

    With another group of players who are a little better, and don't count, this passage comes off as slick as butter..
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I never count. For some reason, I have always been able to feel the changes as well. I have played with people who count all the time. It doesn't matter to me as long as the song sounds good.
  3. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I'm always "counting", it's just not a conscious, deliberate thing. I don't have to say 1, 2, 3, 4 in my head to keep time, but somewhere in the back of my brain that IS happening, even if I'm not consciously aware of it. It's like muscle memory.
  4. i think you are talking about the same "feel" for this. i dont think it is subconscious counting but when you hear the same 4,8,16 etc structure all the time you get accustomed to. i dont think iwas counting to 16 bars when istarted playing and i still felt i t.

    @op i never count. i know when you have to change or come back to something etc. most of the time its 8/16/32 etc but sometimes it can happen to be 12 bars or 6 bars. and i dont even know until someone asks me how many bars it is and i say "16" but then he counts and says "no man its 12"
  5. jabsys


    Mar 30, 2011
    I don't sit and count 1&2&3 etc throughout the song but sometimes I'll count the riffs so I don't miss the changes and I'll count the bits where the bass stops for a few bars, but it's all in my head so nobody would even notice.
  6. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    I don't count, but I know a guitarist that I play with does; when we are in practice, he will try to explain the song to me using his riff counting, "play this three times, then two of these with four of those..." It usually ends up getting me frustrated and telling him, "Just play the song! I'll figure it out!"
  7. MrM


    Dec 18, 2010
    SF Bay Area
  8. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Same here, I don't count specific numbers of measures, the last time I did was when I was recording an original in the studio and had to lay down every track separately by myself. I'm not even sure how much I did then.

    After a while, you just know how long phrases are, and know how many rotations there are. You know you've got a song if you can play bass over the guitar solo section of a song without listening to the song. I can play Rush's Leave That Thing Alone completely unaccompanied. I can actually do that with almost every Rush song. Of course it's slightly different if you're playing an original or a jam-oriented song, but that's still more communication and less counting.

    Although the counting must be internalized somehow, how many of you wouldn't count off "1, 2, 3, HIT IT!"?
  9. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    Most of the time I don't need to count, but I do play some more difficult material that requires counting. For example, one song has a section in 7/8 and the hits are on the 2,3,4,5 and 6 beats. Gotta count it! other things that change time signature mid-song or has an odd number of times through a particular section, I'll need to count.
  10. Yes you can feel something, but I count during our instrumental number. There are riffs that play 16 times over again. Not counting is a good way to get lost. Especially when the songs are close to 8-9 minutes each

    Now, I don't stand there and mime the count or anything like that. You wouldn't know I was counting to watch me play. But, I got other things to remember, like the lyrics. Counting on a riff like I mentioned above just helps me to be on the same page. My methods work for me. If we didn't have such long songs...lol.

    We are a fairly new group. We have never played together as a unit before, but I imagine as we continue to jam, we'll be able to almost predict what the other is going to do. We are all seasoned players, just some passages can be a bit tricky when you play droning riffs over and over again. Challenging, but in a different way.
  11. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    This as well.
    And to quote the great Buddy Rich; "Do you know where the f***ing one is? Well...do ya?" :D
  12. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Got a drummer that never counts ,,,, it shows
  13. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I count. "Feeling" it won't do in many situation. I was the kind of player who "felt" it until the day I had to play to a click/metronome and it showd me that I was off.

    Then playing classical music, you don't always play so you have to count to enter at the right time or to do punch at the right moment.

    Also playing music that isn't in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8, 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 just show how much you have to count to get it.

    I played a lot of a guitarist that told me "this riff is like 2 times, then this 3 times and back to riff one but only 1 time then this ..." etc ... you have to count and those riff were like in wierd tempo or sometimes just one chords isn't the same etc ...
  14. I can count or I can play. What I can't do is both at once. I do tap my foot most of the time..
  15. sokolasty


    Dec 11, 2006
    I do count when we build the song. When it is finished with lyrics and so on, I don't count, because I remember whole song.
  16. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I count everything as well as cue the band. Bass players who count can be more effective as rhythmic parts of the sound along with the drums and tend to tighten the overall sound up. I don't know of any guitar players who count.

    My drummer and I always joke that we both have human metronomes built into our heads.
  17. Depends on the complexity of the piece. Most western pop (rock, blues, r&b) music have predictable forms, so strict counting isn't necessary, especially when you come to know it. "Feeling it" also comes from the predictable fills and phrasing from the other musicians.

    However, jazz, big band, orchestral, etc. is another animal all together. Think of a 16 measure passage (out of 200+ measures) and your first note is bar 14 on the and-of-3. The rest of the band is not playing "on one" and the drummer is not marking a strict one either, think Dave Weckl. Oh, and by the way, the music was just put in front of you. You better get your finger and toes out! Just be thankful they didn't change meter in the middle of that passage.:help:
  18. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I also do this. It's like I have a background click in my head while playing, then if there's a break or an unusual rhythm part, the clicks will move to the foreground of my attention as actual counting.

    The same thing goes for counting measures. I usually feel the changes, but if there's a long stretch of the same chord or a variation in the pattern, I'll count the measures. I also count the parts of the song, as in, "verse x2, chorus, verse, chorus x2, outro..." or whatever.

    Not that you asked, but while we're talking about numbers...

    I tend to think of numbers of notes rather than actual note names when I play. So I'm thinking about root, 5th, minor 7th, etc. I find it hard to use numbers for counting at the same time, though. I think that this has something to do with why I have a pulse while playing, but actually count the beats during the breaks. I have a hard time using numbers for both at the same time. Kind of like the way I cannot read a book and have talking going on around me at the same time.

    FWIW, I find it very difficult to type words to describe my thought process while playing. My "playing brain" doesn't translate to words very well.
  19. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Normally I don't count, as I sense the rhythm. I find counting very distracting. I only (try to) count if it keeps going wrong at the same passage during rehearsal.
  20. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    I will count when initially trying to figure out the song but as soon as I figure out what I am doing I go by feel.