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  1. #1
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    Pat Metheny Picking

    With the recent threads on Pat Metheny I was listen to Pat a lot last night and today checking out some of his non-PM Group videos. I still prefer Pat in smaller more organic bands. I was watching a Pat and Jim Hall video and was able to capture this screen shot that shows clearly how Pat holds his pick, can also see his build up of whatever he uses for nails for playing fingerstyle.

    He holds the pick as I've heard basically three fingers, and pointing straight out. The pick end is very rounded so that would explain to me his more softer attack. In another shot you can see he has a row of backup picks tape to the side of his guitar.

    Pat Metheny Picking-patmethenypicking-jpg
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  2. #2
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    The story that I read is that as a kid back in his small town in Missouri, he couldn't find anything but thin picks. To make them less stiffer he held them like that and bent them slightly to make them more resistant to flexing.

    He also talked about the obvious fake nails....saying that "Vietnamese women are the Coltrane of nail styling".

  3. #3
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    Great freeze frame!

    Pat's technique always looks awkward to me, but it works so well for him! That straight-ahead extension of the pick from the fingertips--so unconventional and yet so physiologically, um, logical.

    And all without a pickguard to cheat a little and rest a pinkie on from time to time! He must have really amazing control of his vertical right-hand space to be able to "float" so well!

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    The pick's shoulder rather than the point is being used- it's a standard Fender type pick. I recall reading in an interview that he is very choosy about them, buying them by the box and only finding a few in each box he feels are usable. Pat's picking technique and his left hand technique both look awkward as heck to me but clearly they don't hold him back.

    Interesting that playing through a Roland JC 120 he still sounds pretty much exactly like he does with his PMG rig with delays, a couple of amps and cabs, etc. He could probably simplify his rig a lot and few would hear the difference.

  5. #5
    True he has a strange right hand technique but alot of his sound is in slurring so hhis picking isn't a big focus.

  6. #6
    Even though his hand/arm position is entirely different to Benson, they both use what I call 'reverse angle' picking which gives that really strong positive attack to the string. I think that's a big element for both players in terms of their being in the pocket. The note attack is unambiguous and right on the grid.

    Also, Metheny's one the few guys who can slur really well on an archtop - so much so that's it's not entirely obvious sometimes whether he's picking or slurring. Nick, I think his picking and his slurring are of equal importance - and that strong pick attack he gets makes the subsequent hammer-on sound clear and strong. Anyone know of some really legit transcriptions/tabs of his solos - in terms of picking vs. slurs?

  7. #7
    Looks like his pick in that photo is a Planet Waves Duralin 50mm

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by 3625 View Post
    Also, Metheny's one the few guys who can slur really well on an archtop - so much so that's it's not entirely obvious sometimes whether he's picking or slurring. Nick, I think his picking and his slurring are of equal importance - and that strong pick attack he gets makes the subsequent hammer-on sound clear and strong. Anyone know of some really legit transcriptions/tabs of his solos - in terms of picking vs. slurs?
    I don't know if it is his strong pick attack or his really strong left hand that makes his slurs so clean. I agree that picking is equally important but his slurs are what interests me.

  9. #9
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    If anyone want to see the video I did the screen grab from here it is.

    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

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    Most of the jazz lines I've transcribed from later in his career are about 60% picked and 30% slurred. When he was younger he did much more hammer-on and pull-off stuff, and I've never been a huge fan of that period. Too many ascending hammer-on scale patterns for my taste.

    Sometime in the mid-80s he started picking a lot more. He kind of sounds like a trumpet to me. I think the classic Metheny thing where you pick a note down then up then pull-off to a lower note to create a rapid triplet effect is sort of the guidebook for how you do it. He also tends to pick twice then pull off or hammer on. Also a lot of very chromatic lines where you just drop down the chromatics scale onto your target note. He also uses that descending thirds thing that you hear everyone after Wes do all the time.

    Then there's his weird arpeggio lick that he does, that I guess he's just alt-picking. I always tried to sweep pick it.

    It's incredible how much depth he has as a player. I've never heard him use any of that stuff on his records, and he's clearly put in a significant number of hours on it.

  11. #11
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    I noticed his picking at a show this week.. Reminds me of a if you were trying to make an ostrich head with your hand and when you pick a note it like the bird is pecking at seeds.
    Edit: yeah I dictated that to my phone, and no I'm not going to fix the mistakes.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Really beautiful stuff. It's interesting that he's alt picking everything, even in areas where you'd think you'd use a sweep.

    The only issue I have with the vid as a reference for Metheny is that it doesn't sound anything like how he plays 90% of the time. His jazz language is far more chromatic and slurry. Between 5:30 and 6:00 he does some of his standard stuff.

    Most of the jazz lines I've transcribed from later in his career are about 60% picked and 30% slurred. When he was younger he did much more hammer-on and pull-off stuff, and I've never been a huge fan of that period. Too many ascending hammer-on scale patterns for my taste.

    Sometime in the mid-80s he started picking a lot more. He kind of sounds like a trumpet to me. I think the classic Metheny thing where you pick a note down then up then pull-off to a lower note to create a rapid triplet effect is sort of the guidebook for how you do it. He also tends to pick twice then pull off or hammer on. Also a lot of very chromatic lines where you just drop down the chromatics scale onto your target note. He also uses that descending thirds thing that you hear everyone after Wes do all the time.

    Then there's his weird arpeggio lick that he does, that I guess he's just alt-picking. I always tried to sweep pick it.

    It's incredible how much depth he has as a player. I've never heard him use any of that stuff on his records, and he's clearly put in a significant number of hours on it.
    I have to admit, I've never ever tried to learn any of his lines. I'm interested to see if his technique could be applied to typical bop lines or whether the hammer-on/pull off phrases he uses are his own language - which obviously he can apply over any type of changes, ii V's/modal/etc. Given I already am familiar with the former and not the latter.

    What I like about picking every note is that you can choose exactly how to shape the line without trying to fit in to a particular system of hammer ons/pulloffs, but it would be great to have the option of using slurs in addition to staccato picking - not as a cop out from lack of picking chops, but another colour to use if wanted. Metheny can slur right in the pocket, but a lot of guys can't - I'll have to learn some lines of his and see if I can make sense of it.

  13. #13
    I just stumbled on something that seems to work with slurring swing 8ths - picking on the '&' then slurring the next 8th note. Probably something a thousand guys who work with this tech already know, especially modern players.

    So for: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & , you can pick any of the off-beats and hammer/pull-off onto the on-beat. The reason it sounds better to my ears, is that in swing 8ths there is less of a gap between '& 2' than between '2 &' - so slurring on the smaller gap doesn't sound as weak rhythmically and tonally.

    Any thoughts on this?

    As an aside, this is the kind of thread Rich should participate in, instead of the usual... hint hint

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625 View Post
    I just stumbled on something that seems to work with slurring swing 8ths - picking on the '&' then slurring the next 8th note. Probably something a thousand guys who work with this tech already know, especially modern players.

    So for: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & , you can pick any of the off-beats and hammer/pull-off onto the on-beat. The reason it sounds better to my ears, is that in swing 8ths there is less of a gap between '& 2' than between '2 &' - so slurring on the smaller gap doesn't sound as weak rhythmically and tonally.

    Any thoughts on this?

    As an aside, this is the kind of thread Rich should participate in, instead of the usual... hint hint
    Never thought of it that way. Interesting. Will have to give this a go later today. I tend to slur mainly for positional reasons (-sliding up a fret on the same finger, usually the index, for example.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625 View Post
    I have to admit, I've never ever tried to learn any of his lines. I'm interested to see if his technique could be applied to typical bop lines or whether the hammer-on/pull off phrases he uses are his own language - which obviously he can apply over any type of changes, ii V's/modal/etc. Given I already am familiar with the former and not the latter.

    What I like about picking every note is that you can choose exactly how to shape the line without trying to fit in to a particular system of hammer ons/pulloffs, but it would be great to have the option of using slurs in addition to staccato picking - not as a cop out from lack of picking chops, but another colour to use if wanted. Metheny can slur right in the pocket, but a lot of guys can't - I'll have to learn some lines of his and see if I can make sense of it.
    I was a big Metheny-head in college and learned a lot of his solos. IMO his technique doesn't really work for the traditional sax-bop language that well. His faster stuff is very chromatic compared the language of Charlie Parker or other instrumentalists. That's why it reminds me a lot trumpet players.

    I got away from using it because I wanted to step back and go for a more traditional sound, which I think requires a bigger reliance on alt-picking and other techniques. One of the big positives of Metheny's playing is that it's totally unique. That's also one of the big negatives, because you tend to just sound like you're imitating him when you use it, unlike a lot of other players that share the basic Parker or Coltrane language.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    I was a big Metheny-head in college and learned a lot of his solos. IMO his technique doesn't really work for the traditional sax-bop language that well. His faster stuff is very chromatic compared the language of Charlie Parker or other instrumentalists. That's why it reminds me a lot trumpet players.

    I got away from using it because I wanted to step back and go for a more traditional sound, which I think requires a bigger reliance on alt-picking and other techniques. One of the big positives of Metheny's playing is that it's totally unique. That's also one of the big negatives, because you tend to just sound like you're imitating him when you use it, unlike a lot of other players that share the basic Parker or Coltrane language.
    Metheny comes from a family of trumpet players and started on trumpet, he switched to guitar was part of his teenage rebellion along with listening to the Beatles.
    Last edited by docbop; 11-17-2014 at 02:20 PM.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop View Post
    Just came across this Pat in 1976 playing a standard. Get a peek into the evolution of his style.
    He said in an interview somewhere that his style transitioned to a more heavily articulated sound - fewer slide-based trills, more picking, and less hammer-on passages - when he started using the Roland synth guitar because the tracking at the time wasn't good enough to pick up all the loose slurry stuff he was doing.

    My favorite period of his playing is Secret Story.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    He said in an interview somewhere that his style transitioned to a more heavily articulated sound - fewer slide-based trills, more picking, and less hammer-on passages - when he started using the Roland synth guitar because the tracking at the time wasn't good enough to pick up all the loose slurry stuff he was doing.

    My favorite period of his playing is Secret Story.
    I remember hearing Lee Ritenour talking once about Frank Zappa having same problem with early synth guitars. Zappa had asked Lee to come over to help him and Lee said Zappa synth' was going crazy with Zappa's hammer-ons and other techniques.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin' Brian View Post
    The story that I read is that as a kid back in his small town in Missouri, he couldn't find anything but thin picks. To make them less stiffer he held them like that and bent them slightly to make them more resistant to flexing.

    He also talked about the obvious fake nails....saying that "Vietnamese women are the Coltrane of nail styling".
    I didn't know about the fake nails. For a better attack when plucking strings?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by West LA Jazz View Post
    I didn't know about the fake nails. For a better attack when plucking strings?
    I just saw him live last week and he plays fingerstyle quite a bit on the Pikasso and also nylon string instruments.. And all those metal strings on the Pikasso guitar would wear your natural nails down pretty quickly.

    I play with a hybrid picking sort of thing sometimes and keeping natural nails from splitting and breaking is a big pain.

  21. #21
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    With all the Pat talk been watching his picking a lot on videos last few days. I would say he just goes for it, I don't see a pattern of this type or that type in these situations. I see alternate picking, all down, all up, I didn't notice him sweep seems like he picks everything. I saw him cross strings with all down and also alternate. I'd say he's to the point of confident in his playing and just focuses on his notes.

    I remember Jeff Beck in his pick days used a lot of up picking, and was intrigued to see Pat using it too. Beck seems to use it for more bite on a note. Pat in latest video I watched seem to be using it main on high string(s) when playing a melody or non-fast line to get a fuller sounding note on those string.

    Hadn't listen to a lot of Pat in awhile and really enjoying it, been listening to Day Trip CD a lot.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop View Post
    With all the Pat talk been watching his picking a lot on videos last few days. I would say he just goes for it, I don't see a pattern of this type or that type in these situations. I see alternate picking, all down, all up, I didn't notice him sweep seems like he picks everything. I saw him cross strings with all down and also alternate. I'd say he's to the point of confident in his playing and just focuses on his notes.

    I remember Jeff Beck in his pick days used a lot of up picking, and was intrigued to see Pat using it too. Beck seems to use it for more bite on a note. Pat in latest video I watched seem to be using it main on high string(s) when playing a melody or non-fast line to get a fuller sounding note on those string.

    Hadn't listen to a lot of Pat in awhile and really enjoying it, been listening to Day Trip CD a lot.
    If you hold your pick like he does and use a thin pick, you'll see why he likes the upstrokes on the E and B so much. It gives you a really big "pop" tone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    If you hold your pick like he does and use a thin pick, you'll see why he likes the upstrokes on the E and B so much. It gives you a really big "pop" tone.
    I been experimenting with Metheny picking using a medium which what I thought he uses. I can get it working for awhile on single like stuff, but as soon as I go to chords I'm hosed. I have used thin picks holding them more of a standard way but with three-fingers, then gripping hard and bending them to make them stiff. I learned this for playing acoustic guitar so I could take advantage of the thin pick for big strumming, then grip hard for single line.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

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    Just watched a Chris Potter interview I'm a fan and they started asking him about playing with Pat Metheny. Funny he said Metheny has him playing a little guitar now in the show. But the thing I didn't know is they said Metheny is fanatical about practicing. Potter said it surprised Pat the first time Pat got to the arena early to practice and Chris was already there practicing. Potter said he's like Pat and practices a lot so he goes in early so Pat can have the afternoon.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  25. #25
    Did not read all the post but there is a YouTube video of Pat doing a tv show in Japan in which he explains his technique is horrible. When you watch his approach you wonder how he does it. Cause his right hand plectrum work is crazy. Goes to show how jazz is about lots of different stuff unrelated sometimes to technique.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodite135 View Post
    Did not read all the post but there is a YouTube video of Pat doing a tv show in Japan in which he explains his technique is horrible. When you watch his approach you wonder how he does it. Cause his right hand plectrum work is crazy. Goes to show how jazz is about lots of different stuff unrelated sometimes to technique.
    That's why the bottom line is always what works for you.

    From what I've read Pat pretty much self taught being guitar was his rebellion from his trumpet playing family. Also Pat became obsessed with guitar and his grades got so bad in school his parents took his guitar away for a semester. Which Pat says helped because he just practiced guitar in his head and probably spent even more time thinking about guitar than when he had his physical one.

    I'd like to know more about his time at Berklee, everyone says he went, but no one talks about how he did. Great time to be at Berklee then Metheny, Scofield, Stern, Frissell, Juris, and others all around the same time.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by 3625 View Post

    As an aside, this is the kind of thread Rich should participate in, instead of the usual... hint hint
    here, i think i can fill in adequately

    "blah blah blah REAL PLAYER blah blah blah JAZZ NERDS blah blah blah DOESN'T HAVE GOOD TIME"

  28. #28
    If you transcribe Metheny's solos he uses many of the bop principles just differently. As does Kurt Rosenwinkle. I think his inner voice is just his own. You can learn a lot from his choices about incorporating your own thing inside the bop jazz thing. At the end of the day it's all about that. But I agree if you first want the bop sound you can't really start with Pat. The theory's dead on but the approach is all his own. Same a Kurt. Cats seem to forget you have to crawl before you walk. When I listen to Gilad or Rotem that's what I hear. Same bop principles just a new take. I don't believe you have to start transcribing Charlie Christian first but picking a bop player that sounds like what you "think" is a jazz guitar "sound" then you work out. Cause it isn't effects that makes that sound at it's core. No better example than Kriesburg. Total bop language played though his own experience with the guitar. All the great players have the foundation.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodite135 View Post
    If you transcribe Metheny's solos he uses many of the bop principles just differently. As does Kurt Rosenwinkle. I think his inner voice is just his own. You can learn a lot from his choices about incorporating your own thing inside the bop jazz thing. At the end of the day it's all about that. But I agree if you first want the bop sound you can't really start with Pat. The theory's dead on but the approach is all his own. Same a Kurt. Cats seem to forget you have to crawl before you walk. When I listen to Gilad or Rotem that's what I hear. Same bop principles just a new take. I don't believe you have to start transcribing Charlie Christian first but picking a bop player that sounds like what you "think" is a jazz guitar "sound" then you work out. Cause it isn't effects that makes that sound at it's core. No better example than Kriesburg. Total bop language played though his own experience with the guitar. All the great players have the foundation.
    Agree completely. Have heard others talk about Bop being the school for playing Jazz that lays the ground work to go anywhere else.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  30. #30
    after observing metheny's later work, gotta agree with what someone said, definitely picks more than you would think. Same with Kurt, and believe it or not, with Allan Holdsworth as well (for most his melodic lines, not the obvious uber-shred stuff). It's the balance in their right hand, which allows for them to achieve an even level of tone across the board (corollary, neither of them have a large dynamic range, more compressed tone.)

  31. #31
    Ugly gestures, beatiful music.

  32. #32
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    That ATTYA clip with the metronome bugs me. To my ears it's like he set the metronome to tempo, put it down and then counted something else. I get that a lot with him, where it sounds like he is not in the groove or even paying attention to the drums and bass. I've put it down to my ears being confused by his use of delays and multiple amps and speakers, but there he had just a Roland JC. It's actually distressing to listen to at times. But it must be me because if I was hearing correctly what I think I'm hearing, no one would play with him. It's really weird, I don't have that experience with any other guitarist (and not all the time with him). It's almost like each of my ears is hearing something different at the same time with that clip and many others of his. Is it just me (almost certainly, I suspect)? If not, what the hell is he doing with time that I don't understand?

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    That ATTYA clip with the metronome bugs me. To my ears it's like he set the metronome to tempo, put it down and then counted something else. I get that a lot with him, where it sounds like he is not in the groove or even paying attention to the drums and bass. I've put it down to my ears being confused by his use of delays and multiple amps and speakers, but there he had just a Roland JC. It's actually distressing to listen to at times. But it must be me because if I was hearing correctly what I think I'm hearing, no one would play with him. It's really weird, I don't have that experience with any other guitarist (and not all the time with him). It's almost like each of my ears is hearing something different at the same time with that clip and many others of his. Is it just me (almost certainly, I suspect)? If not, what the hell is he doing with time that I don't understand?
    I don't know if I quite get what you mean, like he's playing out of time or against the time? It could be just not used to hearing different polyrhythms he might use.

  34. #34
    I see what you're saying. I find that depending on what rhythms your inner ear naturally leans towards, you will hear it one way verus another for someone else. It's almost like those popular "trick your mind" drawings where you're either seeing the shadowed part as one shape and the other (negative space) part as another shape.

    The way I hear him playing over this rhythm is this,..
    CLAP (metronome), MELODY NOTE, CLAP (metronome), MELODY NOTE. And then he tries to add swing to cadence of the melody line. Or better yet, he is placing each melody note BEHIND each metronome "click". May sound crazy but try dancing (our bopping your head) to the METRONOME rhythm and it may clear up for you. Those of you who used the old Akai MPC 60 drum machines will recognize this in how Pat is playing with the rhythm.


    That being said, it's quite refreshing to read this / "hear" you say this about Pat's rhythm. I've always thought that pure melody has been Pat's strongest forte by 10 miles and rhythm his least strongest. He's so melodic that when he throws in a blues line I find it slightly jarring and would rather him stick with the silky sweet melody lines he that ooze out of him.

    In a lot of the "accidental" audio that folks have posted online with Pat talking about practicing, rhythm etc he harps on, very strongly about the need to have strong rhythm. And then (by his own admission - there is audio online) there is that awesome Jazz drummer (back in Kansas City) with whom he worked with as a young guitarist who took serious exception to Pat's ability to maintain rock solid rhythms (way back then).

    You can tell Pat has worked hard to try to over come this rhythmic "deficit" so to speak.

    Anytime I've heard him play over a 4/4 groove (@ Baltica Jazz fest with a female vocalist whose name I should remember is one instance), I have come away underwhelmed unlike Scofield who BITES DOWN HARD into those kinds of rhythms. But give Pat his airy /Jazz swing type beats and he'll wail away over those and make you smile - he's that good.

    But to be fair, swing beats are tougher to crack than your contemporary hard "make your head bop" 4/4 grooves. Even Benson who grooves like a bandit, admits in his autobiography that I just finished reading that he confessed to a producer that sometimes "the beat got away" from him. The beats in question were jazz swing beats that he used during his "Boss guitar" days.

    This pat playing on Cantaloupe Island. You hear the difference. Herbie's playing is forceful and drives the song forward.

    Last edited by West LA Jazz; 12-16-2014 at 03:38 AM.

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    I can't figure out what you guys are talking about here. Metheny has rock solid time. Sometimes he doesn't swing, but his time is solid. I'm not sure I get where you're going with the 4/4 thing.

    And Benson has freakishly awesome swing and groove.

    Who would be a guitarist that you guys consider to have good time? I can't even figure out what you're talking about.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    I can't figure out what you guys are talking about here. Metheny has rock solid time. Sometimes he doesn't swing, but his time is solid. I'm not sure I get where you're going with the 4/4 thing.

    And Benson has freakishly awesome swing and groove.

    Who would be a guitarist that you guys consider to have good time? I can't even figure out what you're talking about.

    Pat’s perfect.

    Let me be clear. There is NOTHING wrong with Pat and his fabulous music. ;-)

    I totally understand what CUNAMARA is getting at. There is something about the way he (CUNAMARA’S) ear perceives rhythm that doesn’t jibe with how Pat is playing over the metronome. No biggie!

    IMHO even though we sometimes get competitive with music (pitting one against the other), any music,.. on in this case, Jazz music doesn’t lend itself to “this person’s music is better than that person’s music”. Meaning there are no absolutes in music as in say certain aspects of mathematics.

    Every recorded musician creates music that is intended to put their best foot forward. But that being said, no human being alive – past, present or future has/will have perfect rhythm – even when playing with a mechanized timekeeper such as a metronome or a drum machine.

    What Metheny has done is to create a lushly orchestrated synthesized cocoon that is uniquely his to showcase is playing. There is no guitarist with Metheny’s sound and so there is no one to compare him to. (God Bless Lyle Mays!)


    (Side note ramble

    In my case, I was a drummer before I turned to guitar so I am fascinated by pure rhythms and poly rhythms. I spent many nights listening to the RHYTHM of Pat’s soloing and tried to block out the melody in order to study they way he FELT rhythm. Just like hearing Eminem rap for the first time against a mechanized beat, I was interested in how he (Metheny felt and interpreted rhythm) namely how he MANIPULATED THE RHYTHMIC PLACEMENT OF HIS MELODY LINES. Pat's is doing the same thing in that video where he plays against the metronome.

    When I first heard EM, I was thunderstruck. He skittered over the beat in a very different way… but it totally worked. Some the best rappers (and yes, they are vocal drummers) surf down into the grooves of the beat but EM slithers and slides over the beat. To my ear, Pat does the same thing but in a different way.

    When I listen to Pat solo especially when he “shakes and bakes” (is the best way I can describe it without using an audio sample) reminds me of EMINEM rap over a beat. He does so in the ATTYA video playing against the metronome.

    Or when I first heard Bob Marley’s rhythm section namely ASTON “FAMILYMAN” BARRET on bass playing against his younger brother CARLTON BARRET’S drumming. It was simple but there was something in the syncopation…. I was blown away by how they manipulated the rhythm. It was simple but when you studied it, it was really different.

    So all is well with our beloved Metheny.

    This might well be a case of …To-mah-toe/ To-may-toe.

  37. #37
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    I'm not trying to defend Metheny. He doesn't need my help I'm just trying to figure out what you guys are talking about. Not hearing it on cantaloupe island, and the clip posted of his clinic has no metronome (he's just warming up). Where's an example of Metheny playing oddly over 4/4 that I can listen to and figure out what you guys are saying.

    Hancock is all over that tune, but so is Metheny. They are both absolute geniuses.

    Hancock definitely has a more traditional jazz "swing" groove. Metheny does it a little different. His rhythmic concept is different, but he still lays perfectly in the pocket. I think maybe you're reacting more to his weird vocabulary. He doesn't have a very traditional sound, unlike someone like Hancock who sort of fits in the jazz piano tradition.

    He definitely sounds different. Not sure if that's what you're trying to describe. Metheny almost creates his own groove around his solos. His time isn't as loose (important clarification that "loose" does not mean "not in the pocket" here) as some of the other modern jazz monsters like the Marsalis bros or Hancock.

  38. #38
    That's not it for me at least... I just feel that he often gets out of sync. I.e. at around 2:00 he starts a roll of 8th notes with the high notes landing on the even beats. By the end of his run the high notes are not landing on a beat and it sounds sloppy to my ears. And I actually like the sound of playing a bit off the beat, i.e. chasing it for a tiny bit and then throwing in a triplet to catch up as it can accentuate the rhythm. But when I listen to this video the metronome often ends up sounding like noise rather than part of the beat.

    Also to clarify - I'm not trying to say that he sucks or anything like that Just trying to advance my own understanding by explaining my observations.

  39. #39
    He's playing with time a little bit around 2 minutes, but i really don't hear it as "off."
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    He's playing with time a little bit around 2 minutes, but i really don't hear it as "off."
    I agree just sounds like he dropped to backside of the beat especially considering the lick he's playing. But I listen to a lot of Jim Keltner drumming and see's how far he can drop behind the beat is one of his things.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by soto View Post
    That's not it for me at least... I just feel that he often gets out of sync. I.e. at around 2:00 he starts a roll of 8th notes with the high notes landing on the even beats. By the end of his run the high notes are not landing on a beat and it sounds sloppy to my ears.
    He's displacing the bar line/harmonic rhythm to build tension which resolves when he later realigns. It's pretty tricky thing to do without confusing yourself or your bandmates, your time has to be spot on. And he's a master at it.

    Lot's of people do this, e.g. sonny rollins. If you check out metheny live clips on youtube you'll hear that he does this also on the heads of his tunes, presumably to keep them fresh.
    Last edited by pkirk; 12-18-2014 at 07:56 PM.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richb View Post
    ECJ, I think the reaction is more to Metheny's rhythmic subtlety. It is a modern conception - It may be that listeners that can't appreciate his total mastery in the time/groove aspect just haven't yet developed the aural discrimination to be able to "hear" what he is doing. No biggie. It can take time to "grok" this stuff.
    Maybe. I've only listened to Metheny since 1980 or so, I may not have cottoned on to his playing yet.

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    Maybe. I've only listened to Metheny since 1980 or so, I may not have cottoned on to his playing yet.
    Note - To be taken with a deep sense of humor:

    My dearest Cunamara,

    The season for sharing and caring is at hand. But I must warn you for at the risk of peril and the loss of life itself, we cannot voice personal tastes (to the contrary) about geniuses who "belong to select group of 'elite connoissieurs' " in an open forum.

    But you my friend are a self effacing person. And to be self effacing, is a virtue deserving of the loftiest rewards in this life. That being said,.. run of your life!!! You cannot and must not dare voice contrary motion (thank you John Scofield for hipping me to that term), I mean you cannot - NOT dig certain aspects of the genius in discussion... and dare stand your ground! That my dear friend…. is sheer Folly! :-)

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!

    We learn from every single one of you….

    Love You ALL!!!! ;-)

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by West LA Jazz View Post
    Note - To be taken with a deep sense of humor:

    My dearest Cunamara,

    The season for sharing and caring is at hand. But I must warn you for at the risk of peril and the loss of life itself, we cannot voice personal tastes (to the contrary) about geniuses who "belong to select group of 'elite connoissieurs' " in an open forum.

    But you my friend are a self effacing person. And to be self effacing, is a virtue deserving of the loftiest rewards in this life. That being said,.. run of your life!!! You cannot and must not dare voice contrary motion (thank you John Scofield for hipping me to that term), I mean you cannot - NOT dig certain aspects of the genius in discussion... and dare stand your ground! That my dear friend…. is sheer Folly! :-)

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!

    We learn from every single one of you….

    Love You ALL!!!! ;-)
    There's a difference between saying that you don't like Pat Methany's playing, and saying that Pat Metheny plays out of time. The former is an opinion, and totally fine. The latter is a statement of fact and is demonstrably false.

    Saying that Metheny sucks or that he's not a good player is just ridiculous. He's obviously one of the greats whether you like him or not.

  45. #45
    I hear a lot of talk of players playing "loose", "free" or "out of time" when it's obvious that the commentor isn't hearing accurately the underlying rhythmic framework. Whether you're talking Billie Holliday or players like Methany, they're not simply playing "not on the beat". There's a very purposeful underlying rhythmic structure there, and they're very deliberately working subdivisions of the beat which are hard for some listeners hear. But the listener's lack of ability to hear it doesn't somehow make the performance sloppy. (There's a "tree falling in the woods" thing there somewhere I guess.)

  46. #46
    That's a rather circular argument though. It can also be argued that listeners with an exceptional sense of rhythm are the ones finding fault.

    I actually don't have a problem with his playing on any of the recordings I have. But in the video posted it doesn't sound like he's grooving with the beat. And if you're used to playing with a strong rhythm section and all of a sudden you're with a dinky metronome in a room full of echo - well that's understandable. I think it is pretty obvious from his live performances that he really uses his emotions to fuel his playing and that aspect was missing as well, so I don't think that performance was characteristic of him.

    In the end the only real truth is what our ears tell us. If something sounds bad it doesn't matter if it's deliberate and it doesn't make the listener inferior for not liking it. It just means there is a subjective disagreement in taste. On top of that tastes change and opinions change with time as well. That's what makes life too short

  47. #47
    If they had a excellent sense of rhythm they'd hear him using a common "play" that's been used in jazz since Louis Armstrong.

    I'm all for calling bs on idol worship, but pat is freaking ON in that vid. For chrissakes, he makes PLAYING WITH A METRONOME compelling!
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    That ATTYA clip with the metronome bugs me. To my ears it's like he set the metronome to tempo, put it down and then counted something else. I get that a lot with him, where it sounds like he is not in the groove or even paying attention to the drums and bass. I've put it down to my ears being confused by his use of delays and multiple amps and speakers, but there he had just a Roland JC. It's actually distressing to listen to at times. But it must be me because if I was hearing correctly what I think I'm hearing, no one would play with him. It's really weird, I don't have that experience with any other guitarist (and not all the time with him). It's almost like each of my ears is hearing something different at the same time with that clip and many others of his. Is it just me (almost certainly, I suspect)? If not, what the hell is he doing with time that I don't understand?
    OK. Sorry. I was looking at one of the many other videos.

    As Mr. B alluded to, he's putting the click on the back beat (2 & 4). At that tempo, it's a admittedly a little hard to lock into if you don't know what you're supposed to be listening for.

    1 2 3 4 ...

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    If they had a excellent sense of rhythm they'd hear him using a common "play" that's been used in jazz since Louis Armstrong.

    I'm all for calling bs on idol worship, but pat is freaking ON in that vid. For chrissakes, he makes PLAYING WITH A METRONOME compelling!
    I guess perception is everything. Someone like Holdsworth is very loose with time yet never sounds sloppy to me as there is a sense of purpose that I just don't hear in this youtube clip. I don't normally have that issue with Metheny's playing either. I would have been ok with doing the 8ths at 2-3bpm faster than tempo if there was additional emphasis in the attack to suggest the departure.

    This reminds me of an argument I had with some buddies of mine ages ago about a Malmsteen album where I thought his playing was terrible. Of course everyone told me I suck and that I can't play half as good (not entirely true - at the time I couldn't play 10% as good). Years later I read an interview with him saying he hates that recording because he got too drunk and his playing was too sloppy.

    It's also possible I haven't listened to enough of Metheny's playing to have the context for it to sound great. Or maybe I just don't like his music so I want him to sound bad. Who knows! We are all slaves to our perceptions which unfortunately are doomed to be biased in one way or another.

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by soto View Post
    I guess perception is everything.
    AMEN!!!! Thank you for saying that. You must be an OG in here! ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by soto View Post
    Someone like Holdsworth is very loose with time yet never sounds sloppy to me as there is a sense of purpose that I just don't hear in this youtube clip. I don't normally have that issue with Metheny's playing either. I would have been ok with doing the 8ths at 2-3bpm faster than tempo if there was additional emphasis in the attack to suggest the departure.

    This reminds me of an argument I had with some buddies of mine ages ago about a Malmsteen album where I thought his playing was terrible. Of course everyone told me I suck and that I can't play half as good (not entirely true - at the time I couldn't play 10% as good). Years later I read an interview with him saying he hates that recording because he got too drunk and his playing was too sloppy.

    It's also possible I haven't listened to enough of Metheny's playing to have the context for it to sound great. Or maybe I just don't like his music so I want him to sound bad. Who knows! We are all slaves to our perceptions which unfortunately are doomed to be biased in one way or another.
    Soto - Thanks again for expressing this way better than I could.

    In response to another poster… (forgive me for not drilling down into the posts to find the name)

    I honestly don’t understand why is it such a sin for one of our beloved members to dare to opine that PARTS OF Pat’s playing against a metronome doesn’t jibe with his ear?

    I understand Pat is a demi god to many in here.

    That being said, I’m sure I am younger than some of you here. I grew up using computers in music for recording (another sin to many) as well as playing in bands without the aid of computers.

    Popular modern music (including SOME jazz) has a dirty secret. Time clock sequencing.

    But unless we are NOT talking about ABSOLUTES if you put ANY human made track on a computer (which I have done many many many times – Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase etc etc) and map it to an internal click track/time clock, you will find out that no human being has absolute rock solid time. A lack of absolute rock solid time doesn't mean that 4 people with different rhythm sensibilities can spark a groove to make a whole nation tap their feet and/or dance! :-)

    The need for ROCK SOLID TIME is why world class drummer DAVID WECKYL occasionally plays with an ear piece which pipes in a “click track” to help him, a world class rhythm keeper stay tight on the Elektric band stuff which yes,.. is sequenced.

    It’s the man’s ear. No one is putting Pat down. It doesn’t jibe with his ear that’s all.

    Happy Holidays!

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