[LAU] tool practice rhythm

Ken Restivo ken at restivo.org
Sun Apr 20 16:10:03 EDT 2008

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 11:05:48AM +1000, Loki Davison wrote:
> On 4/20/08, Burkhard Woelfel <versuchsanstalt at gmx.de> wrote:
> > Am Samstag, 19. April 2008 18:44 schrieb Peter Hartmann:
> > > Sure,  get a record and play along with it.  You can't learn things
> > > like how to swing from a metronome.  Learning a tempo to me is like
> > > learning a key that you're not familiar with.  Different people
> > > instinctively 'know' different tempos than you do.  Playing with other
> > > people can open you up to this.
> >
> > A metronome that doesnt whip you on the one and three but clicks on 2 and 4
> > can also be very helpful. It will rather indicate that you are ahead or
> > behind than force you to be on time.
> >
> > Not easy in the beginning, but I found it to be very helpful.

I've found that practicing WITHOUT a metronome or drum machine is actively harmful to my sense of time.

I usually jam along to Hydrogen's variable velocity and timing, which is good for avoiding the "drill through the skull" monotony.

The most important thing about rhythm practicing, I've found, is maintaining the discipline to keep an ostinato going for a LONG time. Playing with other guys is one great way to do that, since I have to keep up with everyone else. Kind of like it's easier to stay motivated when playing a team sport: if you're just going to the gym by yourself you can blow it off too easily, but if you're a member of a team then you don't want to let everyone down or risk losing the game by flaking out or slacking off. I also jam on the beach occasionally with some persussion players too. Regular rehersals with other musicians has worked the best for me, personally, so far, in keeping strong rhythm.

In the old days of 4-track tape, I'd have to spend hours playing ostinatos in order to lay down tracks. When I was using Rosegarden last year, I'd do it that old-skool way. Now that I'm using loopers it's too easy to just play 4 bars and then let it repeat. Even when I use seq24, my "loops" are often 16-32 bars long.

Or just being very self-disciplined works too. A friend of mine is classicaly-trained, and for many years he got up at 5am to get in an hour or two of practicing to a metronome before going to work. Nowadays he takes his guitar and a little Zoom headphone amp-simulator that has a metronome, on the train with him to work every day. His time is solid like a rock.

Finally, if you can't stand the monotony of playing the same thing over and over again, reggae musicians make use of a certain not-entirely-legal-even-in-California "herbal remedy" that helps them do that for long periods of time. One of the reasons I can't play reggae convincingly is because I don't use the stuff; I can't imagine anyone being able to play "plink.... plink.... plink... plink" on the 2 and 4 for hours on end without it. :-)


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