1. #1

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    Hi guys,

    I'm a newbie here, please feel free to tell me if this post is in the wrong section.

    I'm working on an uptown Jazzy Blues number along the lines of Robben Ford/BB. I'm responsible for the drums, bass and guitars.

    I'm trying to improve the feel of the tune and my understanding around who/what plays on the beat and who/what is behind. I understand that it can vary as per the tune but hoping to get some feedback on a work in progress

    My understanding is you need to have something straightening up the beat so that others can play behind. In this case I've got the bass straightening it up, and drums rhy and lead guitars behind.

    Here's the work in progress. What are peoples thoughts?


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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  4. #3

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    Sounds pretty good to me as is. What other instrumentation are you adding?

  5. #4

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    Bass on the front, drums in the middle, and the rest behind, especially the soloist or singer
    , IMO.

  6. #5

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    Aha, welcome to a big can of worms. Basically I agree with rintincop.

    I’ll be a bit more specific when I’ve listened to your track. This is all general things from my own experience and learning.

    So there’s how scientists have measured it (well a couple of physicists in their lunch break) and how musicians feel it, and the latter is probably more relevant.

    The best bits of advice I’ve got as a *soloist* over the years are:
    - don’t worry about swing
    - play even
    - lay back against the beat
    - feel/accent the upbeats

    While the last is not the last word, most of us struggle feeling the upbeats as strongly as downbeats and locking with the drummers ‘ching ching-A-ching’ skip note while at the same time playing nice and even is a good way to develop a better swing feel quick - works great for students.

    In fact I now am much better at playing cool sounding swung upbeat accented 8ths than accurate quarter notes lol

    (However while in many bop 8th note lines the upbeats are accented but this is not always true. When the beat is accented that should lock in. And there’s nice effects like locking with the downbeat and playing straight 8s over swing that you hear Grant Green and Wes doing often. It’s not the be all and end all. But it’s a good start.)

    This has worked well for me I think to the point where I often get complements on my feel; while I know that my objective time is far from being as good as I want it to be and my feel is not as consistent as I would like it to be. That said, I know I am on the right track and the various bits of advice I've had over the years are starting to snap together into something like a general set of things to be highly conscious of and work on carefully, which is great because there's often a bit of a mystique around this type of thing. It's also changed the way I hear music.

    The big takeaway for me is that while soloists sometimes can have uneven 8ths due to their technique or instrument or something, all their important notes are in time. The aim as I hear it, is not to make every 8th note sit exactly on the ride cymbal exactly (although some players exemplify this) but to focus on bringing out the accents in a line and placing them exactly and clearly.

    For rhythm section players, bass and drums in particular, you often have a controlled push on the downbeats. This is more pronounced in my experience with NYC bass players, and specialists in straightahead jazz and swing.

    For guitar it varies. Freddie Green style Rhythm guitar feels good with a push. Comping can be more relaxed, although I would advice compers to spend some serious time learning to hook up this ‘ands’ with the drums; think of a Red Garland push comp or a Charleston or something and you’ll get the picture. Once that’s dialled in you can be more improvisational with your rhythms. But a lot depends on context.

    my favourite dramatisation of this is how Paul Chambers changes his placement as he goes from the role of melody instrument in the head to playing walking bass in ‘So What’

    Anyway best advice general advice I can give is play with records, aim to lock in your accents with records, Drumgenius etc, play even. And aim to have good ‘grid’ time (and I have loads of exercises for working on this). It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a good basis for introducing the microrhythmic spice.
    Last edited by christianm77; 03-14-2021 at 06:12 AM.

  7. #6

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    Soundcloiud doesn't work for me!

  8. #7

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    I'll recount an experience I may have recounted before.

    I did a Covid-era track with a top pro on drums. The rest of us don't have quite such exalted resumes.

    We spent some time sliding tracks around in Reaper, as an exercise. The drummer indicated that where he played with respect to the click depended on the nature of the music. Advanced jazz is more ahead of the click than more standard commercial sorts of recordings.

    This was a straight samba. when we did the track-sliding, we ended up liking the bass right on the click an the drums slightly ahead -- we settled on 17ms. Piano and guitar were both closer to the click. The drummer played even further ahead than that.

    I've heard others say that the bass should be ahead of the drums. Well, there isn't just one way to play music.

    Pet peeve: "On top of the beat" is a phrase I've heard a lot. Some people seem to mean right on the click but others use the same language to describe being ahead of the click.