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May 17, 2022 - 3:46:33 PM
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2197 posts since 8/27/2008

The most uncomfortable jams can be ones where somebody in it can't keep time. Sometimes it causes a chain reaction through the rest of the players. Strangely, not knowing a tune well enough to play it up to speed causes some people to rush certain parts, causing no groove, no flow, and no shared place for all the players. It is most often newer players with the problem. If something needs to be said I tell them that timing should be emphasized over notes.

I think once new players get past the early stage of learning the rudiments of their instrument, when they reach a point they can play a semblance of a melody, the emphasis should be on timing. Through the rest of their playing days timing will always be more important than notes. Bad notes pass quickly, flaws in the fabric maybe, forgivable but still musical. Bad timing really isn't musical.

I'm an inclusive host for occasional jams and I welcome beginners, but dealing with bad timing is a chore. I've even been using Strum Machine as a background time keeper for small groups, but it's made me realize that some people need to learn how to listen, which I guess is the real key to playing with others.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/17/2022 15:47:13

May 17, 2022 - 4:01:23 PM
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Swing

USA

2136 posts since 6/26/2007

Timing is an issue that many of us have had to deal with... especially me.... fortunately I had good people around me who would work with me when I was first starting....I have used metronome, drum machines, click tracks, foot taps etc... what it came down to was listening internally to what I was playing. Chris Howes, great jazz musician said on one of his YouTube videos that you can be forgiven for wrong notes and phrases as long as you keep the rhythm.... recently I wrote a swing/foxtrot tune with some complex chords, there are two places in the tune that really required very good timing... it took me a week to get the parts correct.... I once heard a very senior fiddler play and his timing wasn't all that good, I asked a friend of his what happened... I was told that he hadn't played out in a long time and playing by himself, his timing suffered

Play Happy

Swing

May 17, 2022 - 9:39:06 PM

2651 posts since 10/22/2007

A bow isn't a pick. Picked notes have a nice sharp attack. Whereas a bowed note can get smudgie or smeary. I agree that it can come from a half baked, not fully polished or realized effort.

There are few things as mentally laborious as playing with someone having bad timing. It seems simple, but there's lots of ways to get it wrong.

I just got done playing with a 1sr or 2nd grader. I handed him some drumsticks and pointed to a cardboard box. First he tried drumming with the sides of the sticks. But I showed him how to strike with the tips. He was off and running. It was unbelievable. He even held interest plus the beat for 4 or 5 minutes at a stretch. Much longer than I ever predicted. I don't think I could have done as well. Does my old emfeebled brain have too much baggage? I wonder?

May 18, 2022 - 4:03:11 AM

5958 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Swing

Timing is an issue   ...he hadn't played out in a long time and playing by himself, his timing suffered

Play Happy

Swing


I have found through the years that accompanying a singer / songwriter is usually the hardest folks to accompany.

And I have noticed that a lot of old recordings of singer songwriters - had their sense of timing based on how they sang the song, and not based on a regular steady beat. 

May 18, 2022 - 5:37:40 AM
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2431 posts since 10/1/2008

IMO there are two bottom line skills that are needed to play an instrument. Now, with electronic tuners, instruments are "usually" in tune. But hearing the difference between one pitch and another ..... it is a must. Some people just can't. The second is timing. Some people can't seem to express the timing in a song or tune. I am not writing about the occasional whoops. But "that" person that has shown over and over that they just don't have it. Those just starting out with their instrument get a pass, of course. I usually just put my instrument down and get some coffee when a player that has no real connection with the timing starts up. I try to playing fill, but sometimes I just can't. Ahhh jamming adventures . . . . . . Anybody want to play Wagon Wheel ...... R/

May 18, 2022 - 7:31:24 AM
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408 posts since 7/30/2021

I was the designated intro fiddler for Wagon Wheel, so yes laugh 

I am pretty tolerant and easygoing, but I draw the line at people who can't tune their instruments! One time, although I showed up with fiddle, somebody was complaining about their guitar sounding bad and I said, "Hand it over" and I tuned it for them. I also tuned somebody's violin for them...sigh. As much as I love meeting people and making music, I believe that if you show up to play in a group setting, you should be at the level where you can tune your instrument!  (probably I needed to give referral to electronic clip on tuner, looking back on it)

Edited by - NCnotes on 05/18/2022 07:33:02

May 18, 2022 - 2:56:04 PM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

The only thing worse than the bad habit of bad timing is when it has been brought to a musicians attention that they NEED to work on their timing... and they don't get it done,.. year after year after year..Excused are those who just don't know what they are doing.. but at some point, good grief, you'd think it would sink in!! I'm sort of tolerant because it took me a loooong time to get a grip on timing (saved by a metronome)...Eventually I heard enough people refer to my bad sense of timing and due to embarrassment, tackled it.. Best thing I've ever done..

May 18, 2022 - 3:34:51 PM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

Just the other night at a jam it was my turn and I chose the tune Grand Picnic.. From YEARS of experience with these musicians I KNEW that they would want to speed up a certain phrase in the second part of the tune.. To be polite, and to avoid being hopelessly frustrated, before I started the tune I reminded the musicians that speeding up was something I hoped they would watch out for.. As we got to the 'part'.... I could just hear a little discordance.. and only once did someone speed up enough such that they got lost ... At least they tried.. "Friends. Can't live with them... Can't live without them."

May 19, 2022 - 3:19:06 PM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

Having been a musician who struggled with timing, I felt a LITTLE vindicated when I watched a documentary about Woodstock. In it, one of the guys who had performed many years ago at that festival was heard saying," My main thought before getting up there on that stage was, "God, don't let me speed up".." That took a little of the pressure off but It also impressed upon me the need to be able to keep good TIME...

May 20, 2022 - 8:43:31 AM
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2197 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

The only thing worse than the bad habit of bad timing is when it has been brought to a musicians attention that they NEED to work on their timing... and they don't get it done,.. year after year after year..Excused are those who just don't know what they are doing.. but at some point, good grief, you'd think it would sink in!! I'm sort of tolerant because it took me a loooong time to get a grip on timing (saved by a metronome)...Eventually I heard enough people refer to my bad sense of timing and due to embarrassment, tackled it.. Best thing I've ever done..


I know you're a good player so I'm surprised to know you had to work so hard at timing. I'm fortunate to have an internal clock and it just feels like everybody else should have one too. Your point is right, we have to get a grip on our shortcomings to be better fiddlers and I have other things I work at all the time. I wouldn't consider bad timing a habit though. It's not like smoking where you start on purpose and then can't stop. It's more like something overlooked. Some people just seem no good at it and really have to work hard to overcome the issue, if they ever do. I really do think it should be dealt with first thing when learning to play because if it's not, well, maybe it does become a habit. A habit of disregard.

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May 20, 2022 - 12:28:46 PM
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2048 posts since 12/11/2008

Jams are jams. You just gotta let them happen and adjust tempos and licks on the fly. You gotta keep your ears open. Whoever the leader is or however that leader winds up the leader (charisma? volume level?), it's good to try and let them lead. ...At least until their leadership takes the jam over the proverbial cliff.

May 20, 2022 - 1:43:26 PM
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2197 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Jams are jams. You just gotta let them happen and adjust tempos and licks on the fly. You gotta keep your ears open. Whoever the leader is or however that leader winds up the leader (charisma? volume level?), it's good to try and let them lead. ...At least until their leadership takes the jam over the proverbial cliff.


To the extent I agree with that it is the part about following the leader of the tune. If you and everybody else can listen and follow there isn't as much problem. Personally I don't enjoy adjusting tempos on the fly. I consider it undisciplined and a distraction.

May 20, 2022 - 2:50:52 PM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

The only thing worse than the bad habit of bad timing is when it has been brought to a musicians attention that they NEED to work on their timing... and they don't get it done,.. year after year after year..Excused are those who just don't know what they are doing.. but at some point, good grief, you'd think it would sink in!! I'm sort of tolerant because it took me a loooong time to get a grip on timing (saved by a metronome)...Eventually I heard enough people refer to my bad sense of timing and due to embarrassment, tackled it.. Best thing I've ever done..


I know you're a good player so I'm surprised to know you had to work so hard at timing. I'm fortunate to have an internal clock and it just feels like everybody else should have one too. Your point is right, we have to get a grip on our shortcomings to be better fiddlers and I have other things I work at all the time. I wouldn't consider bad timing a habit though. It's not like smoking where you start on purpose and then can't stop. It's more like something overlooked. Some people just seem no good at it and really have to work hard to overcome the issue, if they ever do. I really do think it should be dealt with first thing when learning to play because if it's not, well, maybe it does become a habit. A habit of disregard.


I'm purdy good NOW, but the first 15 years or so... not so good..!

May 20, 2022 - 3:08:11 PM
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1882 posts since 4/6/2014

Zooming in on what some folk may dismiss as minutiae has helped me a bit. i think. Trying to learn some intricate rhythms pushing and pulling the beat, practicing in my head, and experimenting with them on the fiddle seems to help my general/average sense of timing /groove/feel/tactus (i like that word, learned it here). Seems the more i zoom in when practicing the better my average gets when i zoom out again.

May 20, 2022 - 3:31:44 PM
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2197 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Zooming in on what some folk may dismiss as minutiae has helped me a bit. i think. Trying to learn some intricate rhythms pushing and pulling the beat, practicing in my head, and experimenting with them on the fiddle seems to help my general/average sense of timing /groove/feel/tactus (i like that word, learned it here). Seems the more i zoom in when practicing the better my average gets when i zoom out again.


There is the issue of playing a solo with a swing, syncopations, etc. that can throw people off. I always try to play simpler when I notice someone is having trouble with tempo. I was in a band once that played well together in general. I was the only real soloist and when I was feeling wild sometimes I'd go out there a bit. Even when I got lost I knew where to land. I always knew where I was beat-wise but they weren't always so sure and I had to be careful not to derail the tune.

May 20, 2022 - 3:32:47 PM
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2197 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

The only thing worse than the bad habit of bad timing is when it has been brought to a musicians attention that they NEED to work on their timing... and they don't get it done,.. year after year after year..Excused are those who just don't know what they are doing.. but at some point, good grief, you'd think it would sink in!! I'm sort of tolerant because it took me a loooong time to get a grip on timing (saved by a metronome)...Eventually I heard enough people refer to my bad sense of timing and due to embarrassment, tackled it.. Best thing I've ever done..


I know you're a good player so I'm surprised to know you had to work so hard at timing. I'm fortunate to have an internal clock and it just feels like everybody else should have one too. Your point is right, we have to get a grip on our shortcomings to be better fiddlers and I have other things I work at all the time. I wouldn't consider bad timing a habit though. It's not like smoking where you start on purpose and then can't stop. It's more like something overlooked. Some people just seem no good at it and really have to work hard to overcome the issue, if they ever do. I really do think it should be dealt with first thing when learning to play because if it's not, well, maybe it does become a habit. A habit of disregard.


I'm purdy good NOW, but the first 15 years or so... not so good..!


I'm right behind you.

May 21, 2022 - 4:21:15 AM
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10186 posts since 3/19/2009

One thing about timing in beginners, especially for those who play alone.. is that they don't even KNOW that their timing is off.....

May 26, 2022 - 5:03:06 PM
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23 posts since 9/20/2007

A good guitar player is the most important musician at a jam

May 27, 2022 - 8:39:32 AM

4338 posts since 6/23/2007

Strum Machine is fine for individual. But for a group, a bass player or drum machine works best. A drum machine does not deviate from the designated BPM. If somebody is not keeping time, and a drum machine is playing, they can't avoid being aware of their timing problem.

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