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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 'Offbeat' Foot Tap (phew!)


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/57267

NCnotes - Posted - 11/01/2022:  07:42:18


So I've been learning to "pulse" my bow playing Irish reels, which is fun and I love the sound. However, I then found that my foot tap was "off" because I was used to tapping on beats 1 and 3. It's a weird offset, jaggedy feeling when your foot is going the opposite way of your bow pulse...I feel tilted in my chair or something...:-)



So I reset my foot tap to beats 2 and 4, which feels/sounds right and goes with the bow pulse.



But sometimes I'll slip and go back to tapping on beats 1 and 3...and then I have to stop and reset my foot while playing! I actually never had to think about my foot tap in my entire life, so this is a strange experience. It's funny because the bow pulses are pretty intuitive, but when I get the jaggedy tilted-in-chair feeling, I actually have to think hard to get the foot-tap back to beat 2 and 4 (the way I do it, is to pause foot, wait for a strong ornament and put my foot down with it...that usually resets it...)



I don't know if this comes intuitively to a lot of fiddlers...but phew! :-)

In this short clip, I can't get going because I am telling myself NOT to put my foot down on the downbeat...but finally it gets going...then I think I lost it again at the end :-)


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/01/2022 08:13:46


groundhogpeggy - Posted - 11/01/2022:  08:12:52


Ouch…but at least you CAN tap your foot in some steady fashion. My feet cannot keep any time…they just go random so I have to think to hold them still and tell them to just stay out of it…lol…then when I went to a jam in west va where my favorite old time fiddler was leading…I noticed his feet did the same random weird off beat thing, so I didn’t feel so bad about my awful feet. But anyway, it sounds like your issue is that your feet can keep the beat but they’re just going to the wrong side of the beat than what you want…hopefully they can be taught the new habit if you are patient and kind to the podiatric critters with minds of their own.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 11/01/2022 08:14:12

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 11/01/2022:  08:14:54


I guess podiatric isn’t a word because my computer kept changing it to pediatric…lol

NCnotes - Posted - 11/01/2022:  08:16:00


Ha yes Peggy, my podiatric critters need retraining!

The weirdest thing is that the bow got trained a lot more easily than the feet! I always was terrible at learning dance steps, too :-)


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/01/2022 08:16:26

Old Scratch - Posted - 11/01/2022:  08:48:43


You could always try just not tapping at all - many, though not all, Irish players frown on foot-tapping - so if you can frown and play at the same time, you could try that instead ... !

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  09:31:02


You could always try the alternate double tap - as left/right or as heel/toe

NCnotes - Posted - 11/01/2022:  09:48:36


I hear a lot of solo Irish fiddlers who "accompany" themselves with nothing but the beat (their foot)and it sounds pretty good...



but yea, in the group, maybe not moving my feet at all may be the way to go. If other people's feet are going on 1-3 and I'm going on 2-4, that will be disorienting!



Ah ha, I just tested and toe/heel/toe/heel is much easier than --- /heel/ --- /heel! So, that may be the Way!



And OldScratch, LOL frowning and not tapping feet....will make me feel like I'm playing classical again laugh


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/01/2022 10:00:56

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  11:20:49


In a "Standard" Reel I get get by tapping 1 and 3.



Emphasizing the 1st beat in the 1st bar of a 4 bar phrase with a down bow and maybe playing a drone, double stop, chord, or whatever you want to call it to emphasize it. Then playing off the beat for the remaining 3 bars.....Mostly but not always.



But...If i want to play Fast. All of this off beat stuff has to be evened out, and the first beat of a phrase has to be preempted by a 1/8th note ( or a 1/16th note). like taking a breath  if you where playing a flute or whistle etc. But instead of leaving the note out and taking a breath, just hit the note early and drag it over the barline from the previous measure.



Edit: the fast stuff is a recent discovery that i have confirmed to myself by being able to play along with fast flute players for the first time ever!

 



 


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/01/2022 11:28:21

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  11:23:04


Am reminded of session with Liz Carroll somebody noticed her alternating feet pattern; as notice in this video.



youtu.be/-3kifrrC_gQ



She explained probably due to taking Irish dance lessons as kid. 



Notice in that video, (they must have not got notice about tapping feet frowned upon) - differences of heel, toe or foot lift.

John Doyle also tends to alternate 2 heels, though one is subtle;

Nuala Kennedy has lot of variety, mostly left toe on down beat; but occasionally right is doing double beat; and some stuff. 

Eamon is just solid down beat with toe.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  11:44:04


I don't think it has much to do with whats going on with a players feet. i think it has more to do with what is going on in their head and coming out in their bowing. If the foot thing doesn't happen naturally i reckon it is best left alone to leave the player to concentrate on the rhythm of the tune and the bowing.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 11/01/2022:  11:48:23


Yeah that foot tapping thing. If I am playing rhythm I can tap either on 1/3 or 2/4. If I am playing a melody or break any accurate tapping goes out the window. I finally just gave up and pay attention to the bass and guitar player and hang with them. < sigh R/

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  11:57:13


Would be different if i was trying to play Canadian stuff where the foot thing is an integral part of the playing/tune.


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/01/2022 11:57:40

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  12:05:37


quote:

Originally posted by NCnotes



but yea, in the group, maybe not moving my feet at all may be the way to go. If other people's feet are going on 1-3 and I'm going on 2-4, that will be disorienting!

 






Mostly is meant to be inaudible, so shouldn't matter.



This reminds me of few comments about my foot tapping sometimes. Occasionally, with some types of music/tunes; I naturally inclined to tap the off-beat, or that might seem more visible than my down beat.



Even though it's generally not audible, some folks jokingly complain they get all confused, disoriented, or think I'm confused about down beats (not the case);... perhaps as they were drilled to tap on the metronome down? Maybe relying on using their eyes rather than ears?

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  12:17:13


Most folk don't play the fiddle with their feet. So i think it may be a distraction at least.... Or even a cause of frustration?

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  12:22:00


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

I don't think it has much to do with whats going on with a players feet. i think it has more to do with what is going on in their head and coming out in their bowing. If the foot thing doesn't happen naturally i reckon it is best left alone to leave the player to concentrate on the rhythm of the tune and the bowing.






Maybe. For some, lightly tapping toe as metronome, but bit detached from rest of body movement.



For some folks, it's just a natural reaction to the music, a bit like dancing. With that, there is an aspect how engaging their whole body helps lock into the "feel" of the steady beat/rhythm. Notice on that video, how their whole body moves/sways/bobs. That is, not simply "thinking" (going on in head) about the timing.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  12:30:36


Yeah, "each to their own". At least as "fiddlers" we are "Allowed" to tap or not. It is up to the individual. It would be an amazing performance for an Orchestra if the violin section where all banging away with their feet and moving around rhythmically in their own preferred way.laugh


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/01/2022 12:33:01

NCnotes - Posted - 11/01/2022:  12:55:27


Yea, I think I'm working on this "offbeat" foot tap because it helps me to absorb the rhythm of the reel...and when the tap gets synchronized with the bow pulse, that feels good. Whether anybody hears my foot or not, it somehow feels good that way...



The problem is my feet doing it "the old way" (beats 1,3) but my bow pulsing it "the new way" (beats 2, 4) so then for some reason I feel all off-balance like I'm going to fall out of my chair, heh heh!



And I agree it depends on the reel...some are great with the offbeat, and some are great with a strong beat on 1...so it's not universal? (but don't quote me on that, I'm no Irish set dancer :-)



( Congrats on being able to play with the fast flute players, Pete! Have you taken on the fast whistle players yet? They seem to go even faster!! (pant, pant!) They've got those little finger spaces and no bow to drag around...they leave me in the dust!)


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/01/2022 12:58:04

TuneWeaver - Posted - 11/01/2022:  13:19:32


My quick take is... this is new to you? so just keep with it and you will get it..The solution to the problem is to NOT STOP UNTIL YOU GET THE RESULT YOU ARE AFTER.. If you give up..no.. DON"T give up..just keep working with. Don't let it defeat you.. (Beer may be involved with this commentsmiley)



 

Swing - Posted - 11/01/2022:  13:29:33


If you are having a problem with the 2 and 4 beat, there may be an easy way to conquer this.... Jazz.... a lot of jazz rhythm falls on the 2 and 4 beat...Gypsy Jazz does for sure. there are back up tracks for this.... also you can practice the 2 and 4 beat without your fiddle., just clapping your hands...the University of YouTube has lots of rhythm stuff, just requires a little searching... plus using the Youtube mechanics, you can slow the beats down to where you want them....

Play Happy

Swing

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/01/2022:  14:07:02


quote:

Originally posted by NCnotes

Yea, I think I'm working on this "offbeat" foot tap because it helps me to absorb the rhythm of the reel...and when the tap gets synchronized with the bow pulse, that feels good. Whether anybody hears my foot or not, it somehow feels good that way...



The problem is my feet doing it "the old way" (beats 1,3) but my bow pulsing it "the new way" (beats 2, 4) so then for some reason I feel all off-balance like I'm going to fall out of my chair, heh heh!



And I agree it depends on the reel...some are great with the offbeat, and some are great with a strong beat on 1...so it's not universal? (but don't quote me on that, I'm no Irish set dancer :-)



( Congrats on being able to play with the fast flute players, Pete! Have you taken on the fast whistle players yet? They seem to go even faster!! (pant, pant!) They've got those little finger spaces and no bow to drag around...they leave me in the dust!)






Maybe you are emphasizing the off beat by lengthening the notes,as well as increasing amplitude? rather than only increasing the amplitude. This might throw timing off. i have this problem (amongst innumerable others). My answer to this is to try to straighten things out and then emphasize notes by increasing the amplitude only, not the note length. But i can't tap on the 2 & 4 beats,  i can only tap on the beat...or to my way of thinking, there wouldn't be an off beat?

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  15:21:51


quote:

Originally posted by Swing

If you are having a problem with the 2 and 4 beat, there may be an easy way to conquer this.... Jazz.... a lot of jazz rhythm falls on the 2 and 4 beat...Gypsy Jazz does for sure. there are back up tracks for this.... also you can practice the 2 and 4 beat without your fiddle., just clapping your hands...the University of YouTube has lots of rhythm stuff, just requires a little searching... plus using the Youtube mechanics, you can slow the beats down to where you want them....



Play Happy



Swing






Reminds me of this video Clapping To The Beat: 1 & 3 vs. 2 & 4 that might be of interest for some.



Besides tapping toe or clapping along, lots of folks do the practice with metronome as 2 and 4. 



 



[FWIW, while I understand what OP probably means; most Irish and OT fiddle tunes are only 2 beats to the bar...

what you would tapping to is the "&"  in 1 & 2 & - or 1ee&ah2ee&ah and might find it easier to think about tapping as &]



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/01/2022 15:32:32

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 11/01/2022:  20:29:25


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I guess podiatric isn’t a word because my computer kept changing it to pediatric…lol






Always allow your computer to dumb your posts down. Mediocrity makes us better people. devil

ChickenMan - Posted - 11/02/2022:  05:54:10


I'm not sure why you WANT to tap on the alternates. Most dance music (except maybe reggae) seems to beg for a solid downbeat on the one which makes what you do naturally seem, umm, natural. Maybe you could think of the pulse as lifting the foot.



I've never understood those who tap 4 beats to the standard 2, especially a fast tune. To watch them tap gives me the impression they've had too much coffee laugh or they're nervous/antsy. I suppose it helps them break the tune down to smaller beats in their head?  I personally like to tap, sometimes both feet at once, and find standing while playing feels stiff if I'm not somehow moving to the beat. 


Edited by - ChickenMan on 11/02/2022 05:56:46

NCnotes - Posted - 11/02/2022:  07:13:47


Hmm, I geeked out a bit on this (looked around online, and read some threads at thesession.org)...



re alaskafiddler- Right, so apparently Irish reels are supposed to be 2/2 but often get written out on sheet music as 4/4 (?) so one could describe the offbeat as the "Ands" (1 and 2 and) or as the "2 and 4" (if counting 1 2 3 4). But I think the 2/2 count is supposed to be better for playing(?) so I'll switch to that...



There are some players that use a strong backbeat in their reels and others who don't. I think I personally have a love of a backbeat in reels and admire that way of playing. Some say that emphasizing the offbeat goes well with the dancing, and propels their movement.



But I think consensus is that use of the backbeat steadily throughout a whole reel (or set!) gets musically tedious and it's never supposed to sound mechanical, you are supposed to vary the rhythm a bit to match the phrasing/shape of the tune, which makes total sense to me...



re ChickenMan, as for why I want to learn to tap on the alternates...I guess it's because when I feel the pulse on the backbeat, I want my feet to match, instead of confusing my body? When I tap on the backbeat, it's like the beat gets into my body and comes out better in my playing...



(Liz Carroll's feet in the video are amazing...she's probably one of those people who could dance while fiddling (like, Riverdance :-)

Here's a video of Kevin Burke playing a set of well-known reels...he seems to be tapping on offbeat sometimes...love how he plays these!

youtube.com/watch?v=fjyG3rW_yLA

Old Scratch - Posted - 11/02/2022:  07:50:32


Is Kevin Burke playing an unusually large fiddle or is that just the camera angle or are my eyes unusually small?

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/02/2022:  10:25:55


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

I'm not sure why you WANT to tap on the alternates. Most dance music (except maybe reggae) seems to beg for a solid downbeat on the one which makes what you do naturally seem, umm, natural. Maybe you could think of the pulse as lifting the foot.



I've never understood those who tap 4 beats to the standard 2, especially a fast tune. To watch them tap gives me the impression they've had too much coffee laugh or they're nervous/antsy. I suppose it helps them break the tune down to smaller beats in their head?  I personally like to tap, sometimes both feet at once, and find standing while playing feels stiff if I'm not somehow moving to the beat. 






Lots of dance music has strong up or off beat feel... including popular music many grew up listening to - swing/rock/blues/R&B. Noticeable when emphasized snare pulse; or boom CHUCK, boom CHUCK, feel (drum, guitar).   But I tend to think of trad Irish music as mostly downbeat driven. (A complaint with some guitar or piano players in Irish sessions, is emphasizing that off beat boom CHUCK.)



Will share that there have been comments/discussions/criticisms over past decades, about some traditional (downbeat) fiddling styles, becoming influenced by that... a bit more (or over) hyped upbeat.  



Of course folks can play it how they want, just might want to be aware of others views.



As far as double tap, that kind of confused me... but perhaps has to do with how they learned; to tap with metronome on every beat; and notice that they tend perceive/count 1&2&3&4&; (vs 1ee&ah2ee&ah)?



 



 



 



 



 

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/02/2022:  10:36:13


quote:

Originally posted by NCnotes



Here's a video of Kevin Burke playing a set of well-known reels...he seems to be tapping on offbeat sometimes...love how he plays these!

youtube.com/watch?v=fjyG3rW_yLA






Looks can be deceiving, it's just showing his knee. I think if you view other videos, see Kevin often rocks his foot, to every other beat; taps toe on fist down, then lifts the heel, and heel rolls down on the second down while toe lifts, ready to go down on the first down beat. You can often hear his his toe making sound.

Here's another video. youtu.be/H7_YWCTiIVY


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/02/2022 10:36:51

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/02/2022:  11:02:49


imo. The point is that a player can roll over the bar lines, play off beat, or on the beat, tap their foot or not, or just roll over the whole lot, or do whatever they want to, to put across their interpretation of a tune. There are rules but they are there to be broken or re-enforced at the players discretion.....But you need to be in control. And to do that you have to "Research" and "Practice" until you can change at will. This takes Decades of dedicated learning. And some, (myself included), will never be adept enough to accomplish this. But i can have fun trying.



This ain't Bach...But Bach would definitely help....So would Kevin Burke, and Stuart Duncan ....etc..If i set my sights high enough, i might avoid shooting myself in the foot.

NCnotes - Posted - 11/02/2022:  12:39:56


Yup...after digesting this thread...



I think I've concluded that "offbeat foot tap" can just be a practice technique for me! To help me get some offbeat rhythm into Reels. Because players I admire, often have that rhythm in reels...so I thought everybody was easily tapping their feet on an offbeat or something! 

But that doesn't seem to be the case (based on this thread!) So I won't sweat over it. :-)



Agree that it's just fun to try, and it's fun when you can get a little closer to sounding like what you want to sound like...

don't know where I'm going, or even why I'm doing this! but having fun and meeting nice folks going there.


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/02/2022 12:41:27

ChickenMan - Posted - 11/02/2022:  13:33:38


I wasn't saying there isn't a backbeat. As Alaska pointed out, most popular music has that snare (or a clock or whatever) on the 2 and 4,but without the one, it's up in the air what beat is being emphasized.



I've been workimg on this nifty foot trick. Can do it fine WITHOUT playing laugh??????



For tapping at the beginning of the vid

pete_fiddle - Posted - 11/02/2022:  14:17:39


Great string to add to your bow.If you want to add foot percussion to your playing?



And i think it would definitely have an effect on the way that you would bow a Reel.



is This



what you are talking about?


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/02/2022 14:25:44

banjopaolo - Posted - 11/02/2022:  14:36:51


as David says all jazz players use to tap on the off beat (2 and 4) and when you play a bebop theme is not that easy! but I think it is useful to be able to tap in different ways
For example when you are playing a spare rhythm as 5/8 or 7/8 you can tap on the one of the 12 123 or the 12 12 123, so you have an irregular tapping....

NCnotes - Posted - 11/02/2022:  15:56:27


Paolo and Pete, apparently I have a long way to go with the foot tapping skills.... laugh



Billy, fun video...that fiddler got rhythm! (what are those special pads under his feet, I wonder...is he controlling something?)



As for reels...

an interesting question is, when you play "Drowsy Maggie" where do you tend to tap your foot?

I checked, and I'm always tapping on the offbeat for that one - got no problem at all with that one! 



 



Random drift comment -

Video that came up after the one Pete posted, check out this "fiddle like object"!  (starts at 1:45)

youtube.com/watch?v=2R08E7jPn8Q

ChickenMan - Posted - 11/02/2022:  20:22:42


Okay. Two things.
Pete, exactly like that. I can play a bit while fiddling, about twice through a tune before it starts to feel like my feet are off for a wee sec or two. Probably need to record to see if that's just my perception because I do like to mix a tune up some as far as accents go.

NC, I honestly think that his favorite shoes are just very worn out and it's just duct tape and some padding. I love that band concept, electric piano, electric guitar and fiddle at its core, mom and sons.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 11/03/2022:  11:17:31


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

I wasn't saying there isn't a backbeat. As Alaska pointed out, most popular music has that snare (or a clock or whatever) on the 2 and 4,but without the one, it's up in the air what beat is being emphasized.



I've been workimg on this nifty foot trick. Can do it fine WITHOUT playing laugh??????



For tapping at the beginning of the vid






I think there is some conflation, talking about different things.



Lack of snare (or drums) doesn't meant the emphasis is up in the air; usually not the case... there is a perceived emphasis of which is stronger. The examples of foot percussion are downbeat oriented, emphasis accent is on 1/3. But the 1/3 vs 2/4 is not really about being a drum, making tapping audible. Nor is really about rolling over bar lines, nor if aligned on the metric grid. It's about ryhmic feel not timing. 



Reflecting the physical feel of rhythmic emphasis... switching your perception of emphasis to 2/4... gives a different feel. 



As for reels...

an interesting question is, when you play "Drowsy Maggie" where do you tend to tap your foot?



As with most Irish reels I tend toward strong downbeat oriented... 1/3 emphasis pushing forward. Not ignoring the 2/4, just it's not as dominate focus.



But brings up good example, sing/hum/diddle or just imagine tune in head... and clap along. For most will naturally feel like 1/3. Then switch to emphasis on a 2/4 clap... and the tune just feels different. With that, can affect how you play and articulate; even if stop clapping but still perceiving 2/4 emphasis. (some southern tunes like Shortnin Bread, or gospel tunes... this might be easier to feel than Irish reels).



As mentioned, some styles, like jazz players, the perception of emphasis on 2 and 4 helps give the feel.



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/03/2022 11:19:41

mudmucker - Posted - 11/04/2022:  16:57:41


I have been trying to practice emphasizing beats 2,4 as well. I'm in the northeast and was brought up with an emphasis on 1, 3 beats and a lot of New England contradance and northern roots music and it's so drilled into me. But I really like playing old time and every time I tried pulsing 2,4 I kept migrating back to 1,3. So to focus better I bought a foot tambourine so I could hear my foot tap better and that it was a distinct sound. I said ok, can't get my feet to change so I'll set the metronome and I'm going tap my foot tambourine with it to 1,3 but make a conscious effort to get that bow emphasis in between the foot tap. Basically I said I'm going to do this every day even if it takes more than a year. I'm going to do 15 minutes a day of this until I can do this without thinking. I started in early summer and for the first 2-3 weeks I'd get all messed up and lose it after a couple of minutes. It took about 4 weeks to start to get coordination and hearing down between foot tap on 1,3 and bow pulse on 2,4 but I still couldn't maintain it for too long. It helped a lot at first to vocalize it along with metronome and foot. Da da DITTEN or Daaa DITTEN. Metronome/foot on first da and the bow pulse on DITTEN. So, on through the summer. First on just open strings, then randomly through scales. By early fall it started to get much better and now here in Nov I am able to do much of it without thinking. In fact when I was learning a few oldtime tunes recently the 2,4 bow pulse all of sudden started to appear in my playing. When I recognized what was happening it made me smile.

NCnotes - Posted - 11/04/2022:  20:43:17


@mudmucker Your hard work and practice is inspiring!!

I'll keep working at my bow pulse...

and I found that if I LIFT my heel on beat 1, then I can put my heel DOWN on the offbeat "and" (aka beat 2, depending on how you're counting) and that helps me to get the feel of an offbeat pulse in my body. That's easier for me than just waiting for the offbeat to tap. It still feels awkward sometimes, but it's slowly getting less awkward...


Edited by - NCnotes on 11/04/2022 20:43:53

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