The Woodshed

Yo Tub, you think this will help me?

1

Geez the Woodshed has been quiet of late. Four months since there was a post? You'd think our respective woodsheds would be hoppin', given the long pause in the busy busy busyness of the the world.

I like Joe Shadid. He likes Cory Wong, who is so rhythmically precise he sometimes sounds like math funk. (Good thing his tone ain' no icepick serenade.)

(And why is it that sometimes "funky" means rhythmically precise in particular syncopated ways, and sometimes means smelly, sloppy, and ad hoc?)

AnyWAY, the exercises proffered herein are not exclusive to aspiring fonkists, but should be useful for any of us who just may not be: A, equally adept in all keys, with full fretboard command of the primary scalar notes; and 2, rhythmically precise enough in our chosen genre.

This asks us to discriminate to 16ths, and then control the pulse through that timing chain.

And I barely have a timing chain at all. Despite the strong 8th-note engine which seems to run through most of my guitar instincts, I'm lucky to land reliably in quarter note buckets, and 8ths are mostly a way to generate a sort of loping but insistent forward motion. Where they actually land on a strict grid, who knows?

It's one thing to be able to play around with the rhythmic grid puposely, dropping this or that sub-division slightly fore or aft of the mechanical tick - it's a whole nother kettle of (smellier) fish to flail about (however ecstatically) and do it randomly.

I think I'll give these exercises a shot.

https://reverb.com/news/vid...

2

Well Protelicious, I think that’s a very cool, somewhat drumcentric(!) actually, approach to playing chank rhythm. As soon as he mentioned his drum line days, I knew exactly what rhythmic exercises he was gonna play, shifting the accents 1 16th later each bar, then halving everything, then finally halving it again.

When yer chankin’, what’s glued it all together for me personally has been to focus on your downstrokes when you’re having shaky moments. The downstrokes, as you know, are 8th notes and the ups are the 16th’s in between. So as long as your downward 8th notes are tight, the ups can’t help but be, also. Since you mentioned that your engine resolves to 8th’s, you’re a slam dunk when it comes to nailing those kinda grooves. Don’t even hafta be CONSCIOUS about the upstrokes. Usually, if a guy focuses on the drummer’s hihat to lock his downstrokes to (coz more often than not, a funk drummer’s gonna be playing lots of 8th-notes on his/her hihat), the rest can’t help but fall into place.

(Just in case I missed the boat about what you were talking about previously, and I just offered nothing of which you weren’t already aware as a result, please accept my deepest, sincere apology.)

3

Nono, you understood what I's goin' on about, of course.

And this is an interesting insight into your skill set, and that of other really good drummers. (And y'know...give the total number of drummers I've worked with, an unusually large percentage have been good...as in musical. Lucky for me.)

what’s glued it all together for me personally has been to focus on your downstrokes when you’re having shaky moments. The downstrokes, as you know, are 8th notes and the ups are the 16th’s in between. So as long as your downward 8th notes are tight, the ups can’t help but be, also. Since you mentioned that your engine resolves to 8th’s, you’re a slam dunk when it comes to nailing those kinda grooves. Don’t even hafta be CONSCIOUS about the upstrokes. Usually, if a guy focuses on the drummer’s hihat to lock his downstrokes to (coz more often than not, a funk drummer’s gonna be playing lots of 8th-notes on his/her hihat), the rest can’t help but fall into place.

The view from your perspective explains (but, of course, doesn't teach) one of the ways in which good drummers pull other musicians together and make everyone sound better. You/they are conscious of other players' habits and foibles, and somehow squirm the beat around in a way that both accommodates those variances, and gradually locks them into a better agreed-upon groove. That'ere's a kind of voodoo.

I should think this service on the drummer's part gets exponentially more challenging with each additional rhythmic cripple added to the mix. And I suppose at some point, it does become impossible and you have to go ahead and have the train wreck - or, what, decide just to stop taking the worst cripple's rhythmic soupçon out of the equation, ignore him, and let it become obvious that not only can he not find the beat, he's not even aware there is one?

Having to work this rhythmic compromise-and-herd legerdemain must be tiring, and drain a bit of the fun out of the musical experience. But we (that is, I) sure do appreciate sounding better when I play with drummers who have this skill, and apologize on behalf of all of us (I'll flatter myself I'm not the only one) who lack fine timing discrimination.

I can only say I'll try to do better.

4

Well I'd first have to learn arpeggios.

I get what he's doing and it seems a great exercise. The whole 16th's thing at @ 7:00 is more useful to me then the first part but heck, I don't even have time for that.

As well, I get what Sir Protean is saying about having a more than decent drummer behind you. I only ever got one real good chance to play along with you at a roundup but it was an experience I wont forget. What you did kept me in the groove better than any drummer I've ever sat in with and heck, you're a darned good guitarist too. So I guess that last part helps in your skill-set as a drummer.

5

You guys are too kind. Thank you very much for saying such nice things. How I love ya.

To say that what I try to do is some kinda inborn voodoo would be disingenuous, because I’m here to tell ya, in my case it was developed out of desperation! Lo’ those many eons ago (starting in 1969), I did what most other li’l bastids with toy drumkits did, i.e., played along with records. Different rules applied to playing along with records than playing the exact same parts a cappella, I quickly learned. If you didn’t LISTEN as the records were playing, your notes themselves would be right but their placement was in another zip code. It was then that I figured out for myself that what I was HEARING was actually GRACING ME WITH A MAP to let me know exactly where I had to adjust the placement of my own notes so that MY part would sit exactly where it needed to, if I wanted it to sound like it actually belonged there.

I’d love to be able to say that it transformed overnight but I’d be a damn lie. It took a discipline to KEEP the necessary vigilance from the beginning of the song all the way out to not stray from the festivities. And I did NOT have it initially. At first, about 16 bars in, my li’l ego’d say, “ OK, I’m in the groove” and go on autopilot. I WAS WRONG, train wreck! With ego sufficiently humbled, the needle went back to the top and the battle against my ego and ADD began again. It was such a relief to eventually find that as long I was paying attention, my suction was minimized. “WHEW! Found the key”.

Fast forward to 1980, beginning to do sessions and introduction to the click track. Not much different from playing along with records. YAY! You could FEEL where the click was, just like you could FEEL the drum (and all the other) parts after awhile on records as you played to them.

Finally, my biggest and most valuable assbeatin’ of ‘em all... playing live drums all night in a MIDI cheeseball duo where EVERY song was along with a sequencer. Under those circumstances, the drums are not, repeat NOT, the source of the time, like normal. And it’s absolutely merciless in that there’s no bobbing and weaving. You’re either dead-nuts in the groove or you’re totally suckin’. So a fella works out the most precise references within a given sequence in which to focus upon and there’s your “magic map”. One reason why that experience was the most valuable for me is because it taught me how to listen for the external clues needed so I’d know where to place my parts in exactly the same way that non-drummers do (just like playing along with records) but THEY do it by listening to the drums, when functioning in a band.

The result is that now when I’m playing guitar or bass or (gulp) keyboards, I just listen for the drummer, the keeper of the “Magic map” in that instance. I love it coz now as a non-drummer in the band, I don’t feel the pressure, just grab onto wherever the drummer’s puttin’ it. Seemple, maing!

And lastly (you’re welcome), when I AM the drummer, it gave me an added sympathy and understanding for what the other guys are dealing with. That $#!+‘s HARD! So you just keep shifting around within the time until you can establish the most amicable medium as your own contribution to having everything sit as comfy as y’all can get it. Under ideal circumstances, everybody else is listening for the time from the drummer, too.

But it was all born out of desperation, a deep desire to at least TRY to sound like I knew what I was doing.

A groove is such a magical, delicate thing and one of my biggest joys on this flat earth.

That is all. Thanks again.


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