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Old 12-10-2012, 01:46 AM   #1
Gilligan8
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Nearly ZERO Rhythm... help.

Seriously my lack of rhythm is comical. I spent years learning to play the guitar but never even understood the concept of timing or playing with a band. I guess the guys that I played with were just too embarrassed for me, or they assumed I was just bad and knew it. I eventually realized the problem and kind of gave up trying to be a musician and moved into being an audio engineer. Did well with that and toured around a good bit but realized I didn't like the lifestyle and wanted to be home more.

Now years later, I find myself accumulating equipment (small rental company I have) and I also bought an electric drum set a while back. Got married and my wife plays drums. Now that I have all this gear laying around I figured we should have some fun and play.

But I'm REALLY bad with my timing and rhythm.

I've slept with a metronome on for MANY MANY nights... I just don't really have it in me. I mean, it's not so bad that I can't clap to the beat, but say I'm playing around on the electric drum kit to the programmed tracks and the click and I go to do a drum fill. It is unlikely I'll come back on beat... I'll be at LEAST a 1/4 note off. I can find my way back but the wife, and most people, always get a kick out of how bad I am at it. My old band I used to do a lot of background vocals and they were always amazed at how I could sing well and on key, but I just couldn't stay on beat very well at all.

Example, I wanted to play for fun and decided I would play the basic parts on Last Resort by Papa Roach... fun and easy enough, but I was still sloppy as hell. Then I did the vocals for RATM Bulls on Parade and my drummer would have to cue me in with a splash symbol to know when to start (I probably should have counted but I was too busy looking cool ) Then I would have to memorize certain words that had to land on certain beats and make sure to drag (I always rush as most do) and hit those words on that beat. Our singer said it actually sounded kind of cool like I was freestyling it, so at least I got away with it to most of the crowd. LOL To the others that would say something I would gladly say "Yep, I'm sure you could do better than I could, but can you sing 4-5 nights a week for 3 hours? Because that is the reason I'm up here, to give our singer a break."

Anyway... looking for any advice or maybe even songs that are easy enough to play with the wife that aren't too complicated rhythmically. Just looking to have a good time and get the family involved a little, we have an 18 year old that is talented in piano and singing, her boy friend plays bass and my wife's brother is amazingly talented at every instrument and can sing too. So we could have a good deal of fun, but I don't want to drag down the party for everyone.

Any help for me?
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:56 AM   #2
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Can you count out the beats to songs? That would be my first step. Pop music is great for this because it is meant to be danced to so it makes the beat really strong and in your face.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:07 AM   #3
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Yeah, basically. I always attempt to count out odd time signatures (big fan of them ironically).

I used to run lights in night clubs and learned the simple structure to most songs via the uber talented DJ's that I always worked with when I tried to learn to beat mix. 32 beats then change 32 beats change.

But those cats have that internal ability to pay attention to that where for me it has to be VERY conscious and I can't really do much else when I try to divide my attention when it comes to beats. Funny considering that I am very intelligent and can multi-task well in many other facets of life. Example that is still musical is making a band sound good while still chatting it up with friends/fans/waitresses. Can easily focus on minute details of the sound spectrum that I bet no one else noticed I was changing while talking away the entire time.

One of those DJ friends could beat mix 2 beats and ride an acapella track while digging through a crate of records and talking to me at the same time. Insane talent.

I basically try to go off "feel" which is a bad idea for a guy like me.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:10 AM   #4
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I don't believe that you that bad a sense of timing.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:13 AM   #5
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Just play while tapping your foot or with a metronome on or both at the same time. Theres no easy solution other than to practice and cognizant of it while you play.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GoldenGuitar
I don't believe that you that bad a sense of timing.


No one ever does... then they get a pretty good laugh when they see me try and are quite amazed as it has always come so naturally to them.

And it's funny because I once did some moon lighting with another local band on our off nights for some extra cash and the guys in my band were like "so how were they?" and I was like, well... not bad but the drummer seemed to just be a little off, like he was slow then fast a bit. But I could barely tell... just something wasn't right. The thing was that I had only hung out with ROCK solid drummers for so long that I didn't know anything else. Once they finally got a chance to see them for themselves they were like "yep, you were right, his tempo fluctuates." I could only really tell that something wasn't right because our drummer and the other drummer that I had been hanging out with for the years before that were machines (but not stale).

Only relief I have is that my other bro-in-law has down syndrome and he TRULY has ZERO concept of rhythm. He can't even sing along with the song without being all over the place, says lines before they are there or makes sure to say them after they have already been sung... he has to get every line in and has ZERO clue that what he is doing isn't right. It's comical, he is having a blast though. One of his favorite things to do is sing Karaoke, even though it's nearly painful to watch. LOL
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ouchies
Just play while tapping your foot or with a metronome on or both at the same time. Theres no easy solution other than to practice and cognizant of it while you play.



Cognitive is definitely the trick... I didn't even understand the concept of playing WITH the drummer for years. I remember having a friend that played drums and I would just play a riff and he would play along, I was never cognitive of the fact that I should have been listening to him. But he never said anything and would just play along. Obviously this was a disservice to me as I couldn't even work on it because I didn't know my problem existed. Guitar teacher was the same way. I assume they were just trying to be nice and not tell me how bad I was. LOL

Once I became aware of the problem I worked on it, but it just was never going to happen to the level I needed it to happen so I resided to not being a real musician. I just want to be able to jam and have some fun now.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:31 PM   #8
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how much music have you learned by ear? when you're forced to actually immerse yourself in the music, you can derive understanding from instruments beyond your own, as well as getting a very specific break-down of what you're playing without taking visual queues from some guy on the internet who makes tablature in his free time. accents, dynamics, very underappreciated things prior to training your ear and allowing yourself to develop a sense of pridefulness and expression in any number of parameters achievable on your given instrument.

also, TS, are you white can you dance?

Last edited by Hail : 12-10-2012 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:30 PM   #9
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LOL... yep, white... I don't dance. But I was told that I should because it helps build rhythm. I am in "Cajun Country" so we have a lot of waltz type cajun music... I hate it but I mean I get it 1,2,3... boom kack kack, book kack kack. BUT, say to put a triplet over a 4/4 beat I can eventually get it after I attempt it a few times. Not as natural as most guitar players that solo with triplets and stuff on 4/4 beats.

Learning music by ear... I can do it ok, but I always mix up roots for 5ths and stuff and have to have someone check what I think I hear. But I do play from the feel and I listen the song more than I just "read" the song. I pretty much can tell when someone tabbed a song incorrectly that's for sure. It amazes how bad some of these guys can tab a song given how poor my ear is.

Another example of how I hear things, when I sing background vocals I basically match the root note then I push a bit harder and see how that sounds and then if I'm hitting a 3rd and want a 5th I push harder and vice versa. Obviously I do this in my head before I belt it out.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:46 PM   #10
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figure out what key the song resolves to and just play it with that one note and see how you can do. i remember doing this exercise to get down rhythms outside of doing the old clap-and-count thing back in school. you can use this with your hands and a desk/lap to copy drums, too - if you can get an idea what the drummer's doing, it's hard to lose the pulse

i don't have any particular examples or anything, because it's all in what you listen to. if you have a problem with a particular song, you work on that song until you don't. actual music tends to be the best sort of exercise, so i'd just keep learning whatever music you can.

don't think you can't learn a good rhythm at any point, though - just like singing, anyone can hold a tune, even if their tone isn't exactly ear-friendly, and it will at least sound not-bad.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:50 AM   #11
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What if he listens to music like this?

Last edited by GoldenGuitar : 12-11-2012 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:34 AM   #12
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Stop posting novels on every post OP...

Rockingamer is right though, pay attention to the beat. Also, start listening to the snare. It can make a huge difference in feel. Songs that generally have a riff with the snare on the 2nd + 4th beats have a more upbeat feel to them, while riffs with just a snare on the 3rd tend to have a feel of power since the song's downbeat is drawn out.

These are the first things I truely learned from working with a drummer. Listen for it, you'll never be able to unhear it again.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:13 AM   #13
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You feel it, really. It's inside you. I know that's probably the most cliche, zen answer ever.

In a band, listen to the others, and not just yourself. A tip I learnt from college - non verbal communication. Look at the drummer, look at his sticks. Look at the bassist, those two are what hold the rhythm section of a band together...

... although every band member is responsible, really and truly.


Another tip - set a metronome about 70bpm. Clap 4 beats of straight eighths... now clap 4 beats of swung eighths... and back to straight again.

Can you comfortably alternate between straight and swing feels?

Reduce the metronome by 10 bpm. The slower it is, the harder it becomes to find the absolute centre of the beat (when playing straight), and the more you delay the swung eighth, you'll get a real vicious swing. Reduce the speed further, 50, 40...

Try the circular strumming motion that Stevie Ray Vaughn did with his Texas blues shuffles. That's a really good one, actually!

My dear mother teaches Ballet and Tap for a living... and some kids don't have any rhythm. She says "it's a ****ing nightmare". Lol.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bdof
Stop posting novels on every post OP...


He's just answering multiple questions. It's nothing to complain about.

TS. I would suggest you get a few lessons from a drum teacher. Don't buy drums (unless you want to) as it's about the principles of rhythm, or have a look on YouTube for basic lessons on following a beat and follow the beat with a bongo. Basic lessons just focus on understanding rhythm slowly. It might be what you need. If it takes 10, 20 lessons just on the very basics then so be it. But you will get it. This is just a method, tapping your foot is the cheapest way forward.

Music is in us, the primal understanding of rhythm. Pulse, timing. It's what we're all about. We listen to it sub consciously all day and night. You just need to unlock it.

I've taught people who have never been bothered with music to play a 4/4 on their thighs with their hands with just a little bit of practice, and you're into it and willing to learn it.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mephaphil
He's just answering multiple questions. It's nothing to complain about.

TS. I would suggest you get a few lessons from a drum teacher. Don't buy drums (unless you want to) as it's about the principles of rhythm, or have a look on YouTube for basic lessons on following a beat and follow the beat with a bongo. Basic lessons just focus on understanding rhythm slowly. It might be what you need. If it takes 10, 20 lessons just on the very basics then so be it. But you will get it. This is just a method, tapping your foot is the cheapest way forward.

Music is in us, the primal understanding of rhythm. Pulse, timing. It's what we're all about. We listen to it sub consciously all day and night. You just need to unlock it.

I've taught people who have never been bothered with music to play a 4/4 on their thighs with their hands with just a little bit of practice, and you're into it and willing to learn it.


Thank you, though I do go off on example and stories... sorry, I'm a "talker". Isn't it better than not enough info?

I still feel that I'm not properly expressing where I stand on ZERO rhythm like my bro-in-law and sloppy rhythm as I'm somewhere in between.

I have on of the best drummers around as one of my friends, and he runs a music school, I might have to just go take some lessons.

I do have a drum set, I have a Yamaha DTXpress III and my wife has a premier acoustic set (I prefer the electric set).

And that is the thing, I can follow a song on the drums a bit, the DTX has songs built in that you can "jam" to including with or without the metronome and it's on a volume knob of it's own). It's sloppy and I'm kind of all over the place but I'm there. I can even through in a simple fill if I consciously start it on the 3. But say I try to do a long fill for a whole measure, I find myself just kind of rambling around waiting for that down beat to come along and I have to REALLY focus on the click. I'm going to have to take the click away and see if I can follow just the music, but I'm certain I'll get further off (sloppy) than with the click and possibly completely on the wrong beat (down vs up).
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mdc
My dear mother teaches Ballet and Tap for a living... and some kids don't have any rhythm. She says "it's a ****ing nightmare". Lol.



I have seen this. My buddy that I was just talking about puts on this amazing "Rock Camp" every summer and we film it and produce the DVD for the kids to take home. They take BUNCH of kids and divide them into 4 "classes" and then teach each group 3-5 songs. At the end of the week they get up on a huge stage and play for all the parents with a full PA and lights. It's awesome. We are talking 6-10 guitar players, 2-3 bass players, 2-4 singers, and about 10 drummers. It's impressive that they can pull it all off (but they do only mic one drum kit and a few guitar amps of the select players ). They have a rock box for the kids to hop on to take solos and everything.

But where it relates is some of those kids that go have NO business being there... I desperately what to save them years of waste and frustration and say, "I've been there, you just don't get it and never will." But of course they think they are having a good time, who am I to stop them. Those drum instructors will be in their face clicking sticks and they just are playing "blah blah blah" with no concept of what they should be doing. They put those kids in the back.

As for "feeling it"... that is where I am just not sure I have it. I really have to FOCUS on it and even then it's sloppy. I played with some friends at a show playing Smells Like Teen Spirit (this was many years ago), and the bass player looked over at me and shouted "Wow, you REALLY have no rhythm!" and laughed. I just said "Nope!" and kept on rocking out!
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:02 PM   #17
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Sounds like you need to subdivide. Put a metronome on at around 70-75 bpm and count sixteenth notes (1 e + a, or one ee and ah, etc.) for each beat. Now try playing along with it. It doesn't matter what you play, as long as you're within that sixteenth note beat. Once you get into a groove, try to cut out the counting. If you still struggle, go back to counting.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:15 PM   #18
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Gilligan8, can you read music?

Not saying you need to know how to sight read fluently, but it is definitely worth learning the very basics of rhythm notation. Don't worry about the notes on the staff, just the rhythmic values.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:24 PM   #19
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What if he listens to music like this?
Ferneyhough

I'm always surprised by how little I hate Ferneyhough when I hear his music.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:51 PM   #20
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Gilligan8, can you read music?

Not saying you need to know how to sight read fluently, but it is definitely worth learning the very basics of rhythm notation. Don't worry about the notes on the staff, just the rhythmic values.


Yes, I learned piano back in grade school... I think back now and wonder how much of a torture that must have been for the teacher. LOL

But, yes... I even remember dotted notes, ties and rest.

(Oh, that has more impact when you know that that was almost 30 years ago for me. LOL)
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