1. #1

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    Dear community,

    I want to dedicate some summer hours to beat placement (and in general more rhythmic language!). Playing on the beat, behind and on front of it. As many, especially in pressure situations (hard tunes/fast tunes, ballads, one solo the whole night in a big band setting) I tend to rush. Sometimes it even feels ok or natural for me - it is basically how I still hear rhythm or syncopation. I am in a jazz major program and quite creative regarding lines and harmonically advanced. But rhythmic-wise a little bit illiterate. For many years I have neglected this "issue" - probably the first time someone told me this about my playing was 4-5 years ago. I somehow neglected it, like many guitarists, working on harmony, melody, composition and really reached something there.

    I am practicing with the Syncopation Book, having just one click on the 1 for 5/4 and 7/4 time (mainly own compositions), will attack off-beat phrasing and accenting as well. In those topics I can see that I am progressing.

    But for beat placement I cannot check on myself how I am doing. Right now I try to take one motiv (simple) and play it repeatedly over a blues etc. and try to pull it back as far as possible and stay there and go back and forth between on the beat and behind it. When I am with my teacher or a drummer, they can check on me, but If I am alone, how can I be sure that I am behind the beat (or on front/on it), but evenly? Should I record myself and examine? How would you practice playing behind, especially in a jazz/bepob setting (funk&hip hop is sick, too)?

    Open to many new ideas. Hope you're all good.



    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Hi Horszt,
    Rhythm is an excellent element for most/all of us to be practicing!

    Check out this discussion of Mick Goodrick's rhythm book, and consider buying Jerry Bergonzi's rhythm book, as well.

    I would probably start with 4/4 and 3/4 before anything else, and you sort of answered your own questions: have your teacher/peers critique you, and record and critique yourself!

    Go ahead and post a video here, too, if you want additional feedback.

    Have fun!


  4. #3

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    I'd suggest this as a way of checking your beat placement.

    Buy IRealPro for $10 or so. Pick a tune. Save the tune in MIDI format.

    Import the MIDI into Reaper (free to evaluate, $60 to buy). You'll need an audio interface, like a Focusrite 2i2 (about $110).

    Do this by setting the IRealPro tempo in Reaper before you import (although, with MIDI maybe it doesn't matter). Set the Reaper metronome to click, nice and loud, with the IRealPro track. I can 't recall exactly, but if the clicks don't line up, you may have to snip some milliseconds from the beginning of the MIDI tracks.

    Then play along with the track. The screen will show the click as vertical lines -- and you'll hear it too. You can see exactly where (actually, when) you're playing. You can also slide the wave form left or right to hear what the same thing would sound like ahead or behind the beat.

    Caveat: it's a long story I've posted before, but the moral of the story is not to take the wave form analysis too seriously. I think it's worth doing, but, in the end, music has to be done by ear. Apparently, there is no displacement of the beat in milliseconds that guarantees the music will groove. Apparently, there are more subtle issues with variations in feel that can't be easily quantified. It certainly depends on tempo, and probably in a nonlinear way. If I'm wrong about that, I hope somebody will explain it.

  5. #4

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    ^ That's what I've found. It's good to practice your time, how well you stay with the tempo, and feel, the relationship of the placement of your notes, to something measurable like what you explained. But in the end the goal has to be a good performance with intuitively good time and feel, which will necessarily have variations and won't be perfect.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 08-06-2021 at 11:25 PM.

  6. #5

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    Get a programable rhythm machine or metronome. You can program on a higher end (or even a cheap Korg Mini like I have) rhythms to play against. Slow the tempo down---I mean DOWN---and play quarter note triplets. Try the straight 8th settings to practice THAT feel. Set up polyrhythms to study and play off.

    But remember: machines will keep you honest time and groove-wise but they're NOT people. You have to turn on a dime; listen and adjust to each group situation. Forget the metronome now---people don't play in a straight line, they do people things and the tempos may rush or drag some, but if the FEELING'S good no machine can give you that.

    Study the African and African diaspora rhythms. They can get pretty complicated and contrapuntal. Zero in on the rhythms of the many Caribbean basin countries, which are more sophisticated than ours b/c the slaveowners let the slaves keep their hand drums.

    Good luck!...