#1
Hi!

I've been exploring the Interwebz for a while now in order to figure out what the f**k is wrong with me, but I couldn't find any useful suggestions so I try here.

The problem: When I'm playing lead I always mess up the timing. It only happens after shorter/longer breaks in the guitar part. Once the guitar part starts I can keep the rhythm fairly accurate. The faster the song, the easier it gets. But when it comes to slower parts with "feel", I just can't get it down.

My current frustration is the lead part in Orion by Metallica starting at around 4:15. I'm either too early or too late. I've listened to that part without actually playing, just trying to hear it in my head, but still mess it up.

What's the secret to actually "feel" the rhythm of a song like that? Are there any techniques like counting? And if so, how? Any help is appreciated, thanks!

Edit: Oh, and please, if you're going to reply "Metronome!", also explain it how to implement it on songs. Cheers!
Last edited by MetalMullet at Feb 20, 2014,
#2
listen to the song more carefully. the cymbals often provide a small enough subdivision of the beat to allow you to lock in to the tempo better.
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#3
Try this: put a piece of music on and then start tapping your foot to the beat. Now have a think about how you are able to do this, how do you know where the beat is? Basically we all have some degree of intuitive ability to feel the beat in music. This ability, like everything in music, can be developed further with practice. It is developed via moving your body in time to a well defined (read accurate) beat, such as laid down by a metronome or drum machine (see my signature). What you need to be doing as part of your daily practice is playing something you are quite comfortable with in time with the drum machine/metronome. While you are doing this your focus is on feeling the beat and moving your body in time with it. The body movement is critical. You can't make small movements, such as wiggling your big toe up and down. At a minimum you need to be tapping your foot. There is a degree of self consciousness that needs to be overcome sometimes (certainly was for me!).

Sounds like some sort of cosmic cowboy weirdness, but in fact the rhythmic aspect of music directly affects our bodies. Have a ponder on this: when someone puts a catchy piece of music on why do some people start tapping their foot or grooving with it in some way or another? Why can't they just sit still? It's because rhythm affects us bodily. As such we develop our ability to feel time by moving. The stronger your ability to feel time the easier it will be to solo at any tempo.
#4
Thanks for the advice!

I'm having some issues with tapping my foot though. I can't play and tap my foot at the same time. Are there any ways to practice how "feel" the rhythm of a song besides just listening to it carefully?
#5
Quote by MetalMullet
Thanks for the advice!

I'm having some issues with tapping my foot though. I can't play and tap my foot at the same time. Are there any ways to practice how "feel" the rhythm of a song besides just listening to it carefully?


What Andrew said is money. About not being able to play and tap your foot at the same time, try it on absolutely the most simple thing you know, or even better make up something even simpler like a single power chord played in quarter notes (one per beat). The idea is to get it down on something super simple, which establishes a kind of beach head that you can build on from there, by working on getting it on incrementally more complex things. Good luck, and give this one lots of love - good timing is one of the biggest keys to what makes a good musician.
#6
Quote by se012101
About not being able to play and tap your foot at the same time, try it on absolutely the most simple thing you know, or even better make up something even simpler like a single power chord played in quarter notes (one per beat). The idea is to get it down on something super simple, which establishes a kind of beach head that you can build on from there, by working on getting it on incrementally more complex things. Good luck, and give this one lots of love - good timing is one of the biggest keys to what makes a good musician.

se012101 is bang on here, and I apologise for not mentioning this. It actually takes practice to be able to tap your foot and play. We have a limited ability to attend to the things around us. That is, our concentration has limits, or a capacity, to it. For instance, if we have 3 people talking to us at once we actually take in very little: our ability to focus is exceeded. If what we are playing takes a fair bit of this capacity to focus and we need to concentrate to tap our foot we run into this limit again, and the whole thing falls apart. The solution, as noted by se012101, is to play something so simple it takes very little concentration. When learning years (and years...) ago I found tapping my foot really hard: it took me a while to train myself to do this. Once you get it though it is absolute gold as it really enhances your whole experience of music. It's kind of like you feel music more. Hence well worth the effort.
Last edited by andrew_k at Feb 22, 2014,
#8
This is a great question and I'll echo the advice above about regularly practicing with a metronome or drum machine. There are a million very affordable metronome/rhythm devices or apps to help you with your timing. And contrary to what some believe, rhythm isn't something that you "have" or "don't have" - it's absolutely something that can be learned and improved upon.
#9
i think what se012101 is pretty spot on. Just to add though playing with a metronome and "being aware" of how accurately you are playing the notes to it is an art in itself. Many players can play along to a metronome for years without realising that they are playing slightly before or after the beat. A great tool to develop your metronome accuracy is "Rock Prodigy". This tells you if you hit the note accurately on the beat or if you were ahead / behind. Best of luck
#10
The answer is simple, assuming you don't have a an inherent internal clock problem :

Practice with a metronome and do the following:

Set your metronome to a decent speed that you can tap your foot to ( 90 bpm for instance). Tap your foot and count to 4 on a cycle ( 4 clicks per bar). Then start percussively strumming muted strings with quarter notes ( i.e. 1 strum per click), eight notes ( two strums per click), then triplets ( three strums per click). Once you can do this pretty well, try practicing your scales that way. You'll eventually interiorise these subdivisions to the point where you will have a more natural grasp of time and you will understand where you are in relation to a song's beat.

If you don't buckle down and practice that, you'll never be on beat. If you happen to be one of the rare people who have an internal clock problem, then I don't know of any solution for that. I've known musicians who have that issue, and they're still playing off beat after years of practice.
Last edited by reverb66 at Mar 5, 2014,
#11
100% you can improve it with practice and just thinking about that aspect of your playing a lot. Be prepared, it can take months for any improvement to become really noticeable.

I never used to be able to double track my guitars because the fact my timing was so bad was even more noticeable when you have two tracks. Double tracking solos was in the realm of the impossible. Now I do it all the time.

Listen to yourself. Record your playing. This will help you hear any improvement you make.

Listen to music without your guitar in your hands and focus on the beat. Try to get the beat in your head. Next step is to translate that into hand / body movements.