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> Importance Of Time Keeping
Bogdan Radovic
post Feb 2 2015, 12:41 AM
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Hey everyone, I'd like to discuss with you the topic of time keeping skills. I have noticed a tendency along with guitarists and other musicians in bands to think that drummers are the only time keepers in the band and that their role is to essentially be a machine - metronome. Drummer=metronome. I found this utterly wrong? As a bass player primarily, I have always considered time keeping as one of important skills a bass player should posses. To define time keeping: being able to keep a steady time/tempo on your own.

Now here are the problems I see: drummers can't become a metronome. Metronome is a machine that keeps time perfectly. Drummer is a live being and even though his role is primarily rhythm, groove and time keeping - I never met a drummer who plays perfectly as a metronome live, on his own without click track or something. I don't think it is impossible but a sort of illusive skill to assign to drummers "by default".

Where I'm going with this? It is possible for guitarists and other instrumentalists to become too comfortable with the thought that "drummer=metronome" so that they completely disregard their own time keeping skills. Where this manifests? For example in acoustic gigs without drums, when jamming with fellow guitar friends or even during recording when playing along click tracks. My thoughts are that when band is playing live, it is a job of EVERY band member to keep time as if some performers in the band are bad at time keeping, they will start "dragging" in this or that direction. Here the pressure on drummer mounts up as he is both trying to play "as part of the band" and blend in with other live performers, but also to keep tempo and time - so it is a paradox smile.gif Drummer in this instance needs to practically ignore the players who are not keeping time well and playing loose in timing so just keep going his own way. This is tricky as the band might not sound good as a whole in this case.

What I'd suggest is : practice your own time keeping skills as there is in reality no shortcut or excuse to leave time keeping to something else (drummer/metronome or some other 3rd party).

How to practice time keeping? There are lots of cool exercises. My favorite one would be to practice playing along with metronome and/or drum tracks whenever possible so that music you practice is in time and keeps nice time. Then try to turn off the metronome for a few bars and then turn it back on. You can do this with drum tracks by muting a few bars of drum track in the DAW and let it randomly get muted/played. This way when the metronome/drum track stops - you keep going on, ON YOUR OWN. Just try to keep the beat as good as you can and with practice you'll surely improve your accuracy.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this or cool time keeping exercises to share? wink.gif

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