The Woodshed

Playing In The Pocket” Completely EXPLAINED!

26

First you have to agree on a definition. Without that you're never going to get beyond vague. - Jetrow

Well, I see that such a definition remains elusive as always, though there are some fine attempts to quantify or denote one. Including Jetrow's. This is pretty much to be expected given our topic. Still, it's obvious to me that we can agree on at least one or two things. First, that the concept or the capacity for it actually does exist. Second, that it's an ability that is very personal and unique to the individual(s) attempting to create it. And, perhaps most importantly, it's emotional impact both on the listener and creator(s) is crucial to the way in which we judge whether a piece of (performed) music is perceived as worthy or not. A natural and necessary barometer.

I'm not sure that it can be quantified or taught, but if someone figures out a class for it, I have a list of people that I'd buy it for. - Dinks

Now that would be a course worthy of it's tuition! Though, as the many great examples of groove cited here point out, we've many fine specialists who've done and continue to do just that. Now, how does that organ riff to "Green Onions" go again?

– General_Lee

I don't agree with your second point "that it's an ability that is very personal and unique to the individual(s) attempting to create it." Sure, the personality of the player will come through in their playing but to get a whole band to play together in the pocket requires everyone to be on the same page performing as one unit. If the bass player wants to play on top of the beat it will sound better if the drummer adjusts his playing to match. If the drummer wants to lay back it will sound more cohesive if the rhythm section adjusts their playing to match. It may also depend on the songwriter communicating what they are trying to get across emotionally and the mood they are trying to achieve with the particular song. For years as a drummer playing in a cover band I was laying back Stevie Ray Vaughn songs because the music is blues. What I discovered once I really dissected what was going on was that Double Trouble rarely plays behind the beat. The bass player and drummer are usually right on the beat, not ahead or behind. It's probably one of the reasons why their version of the blues sounds unique.

I believe that The Police most likely fought as much as they did and ended up breaking up because Sting wanted to lay back but Stewart Copeland wanted to push the beat. Each of them thought they were right when in fact they are both amazing players who interpreted their music differently.

27

Wonderfully stated Buddy. Still, I believe you've actually just proven my second point "that it's an ability that is very personal and unique to the individual(s) attempting to create it." By individual(s), I mean one or more players (band) describing the pocket through concerted effort and an agreed (often tacit and intuited) identification of where that pocket is. At least for the performance of the moment. In any case, I'm in complete accord with your personal clarification...

28

OK. I misunderstood your point then. Thanks for clarifying!

29

The pocket is :

When the spaces between notes are not so consistent as to feel mechanical, and not so inconsistent as to introduce perceivable lateness or earliness. The pocket does not require computer like tempo .... but it can not be perceivably decreasing or increasing... unless it is intentional, and smoothly executed :)

there's my Dictionary definition.

30

The pocket is :

When the spaces between notes are not so consistent as to feel mechanical, and not so inconsistent as to introduce perceivable lateness or earliness. The pocket does not require computer like tempo .... but it can not be perceivably decreasing or increasing... unless it is intentional, and smoothly executed :)

there's my Dictionary definition.

– variantboy

Nice try. It's a start. And better than I could certainly do with my ramblings above.

31

I think this guy knows what he's talking about.

32

As far as an accepted definition of the "pocket" -- after all, it'd be tough to play "in" the pocket if one doesn't know exactly what the pocket actually is -- here's a nice little written supplement to what Dennis Chambers describes in the video posted above in reference to Steve Gadd's left hand snare playing: Link.


Register Sign in to join the conversation