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  • Timing

    I thought I'd post this here, since it's about technique...

    I am recording some of my practicing on the V's. While listening to it, I notice that my timing is often slightly ahead of the count. It sounds like I'm always in a rush

    However, when I'm playing, I don't notice this. My intention to play ON the count. I've tried to play with the metronome and this helps a bit, but not enough.

    I understand that timing is a personal thing and that if every note were spot on, it would make you sound like a computer.

    Are some of you also struggling with timing? Do you have any suggestions to improve ones timing?

    Thanks a bunch!

  • #2
    Dear Pleiadian,

    I think it is great that you are recording and listening to your playing!

    Everybody, to some extent, has problems with their timing, even if only for certain songs, speeds, or signatures.

    Your post also expressed concern about the "feel" of your playing - always slightly ahead of the beat. For many songs this is a perfect feel, so not to worry!

    OTOH, many songs profit from a laid back feel, slightly behind the beat. Try playing this way consciously while recording and see is you like the results.

    Of course, it is difficult to deliberately play with these feels unless you know where the time really is! Nothing, I think, will develop that skill except to continue to play along with a metronome -- in our case, along with the patterns in the V-drums.

    For myself, and boy, did I need work here (!), I found that a couple of things really helped.

    First, I found that I needed to play a simple pulse on the H_H or ride, quarter notes or eighths, and really work and concentrate on making that timekeeping really precise. I have more difficulty playing sticking patterns between snare and,say, hat which are as crisp.

    Second, you can take your V-drum patterns and set them up so that they cycle between playing the pattern and then going silent for a measure or two, so you can see if you are able to keep the time stable on your own.

    Third, doing this and incorporating fills is really instructive, at least for me! It sounds prosaic, but I found that keeping the H_H a/or kick going on the beat helped a lot while doing fills. Sounds pretty basic, but record yourself and see if you do it - I wasn't consistant!

    Anyway, I am very happy to hear from someone else who doesn't have perfect time - thanks!

    Anybody else out there secure in their manhood?

    Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


    • #3
      I think that timing is the most impotant thing a drummer should have. I don't care if you have all the great fills or great sounds, if you can't stay on beat and keep the tempo, you are worthless to a band. (not trying to sound harsh here).
      I remember reading an article about a year or so ago, about the old drummer for Marilyn Manson who got fired because he could not play with a click track or keep the tempo.
      I would recomend playing with a click track. Pratice and pratice with it. Get your snare to hit the click over and over. If you are playing with a song, add a click track. The better your timing gets, the better drummer you will be.

      [This message has been edited by Jgel (edited June 27, 2001).]


      • #4

        Thanks for your helpful reply.

        I always find it difficult to listen to myself playing the drums. It's like hearing your voice on a recording or looking at pictures of yourself. It can be really confronting!

        But at the same time, it's very, very helpful. It gives you a more objective view of yourself.

        I don't have much of a problem playing the same tempo throughout a song. Only when playing fills, I tend to finish too early. Maybe I get too excited... don't say anything to my girl, though!

        The problem is that within a given tempo, I will play a steady continuous beat, but still tend to be ahead of the beat. Does this make sense? Although I play the same tempo, it has a rushed feel to it.

        I very much like your suggestions. I think I need to go back to basics in some areas. My goal is to be able to use the different types of feel at will. At the moment I am still too much a victim of it. I will continue to practice and listen ...


        • #5
          Wow, great topic Pleiadian!
          Yeah, I think I have the exact same problem as you! ( I even hate to admit it!)
          I'm just hoping that as I practice more to the patterns and metronome it might cure itself. But it's really bizzarre how I can tape myself playing to a pattern and everything sounds fine (or even "great!") while I play, but when I listen to it played back I sound a lot more uneven than I'd like.
          It's easy to speed up on fills. I am actually very frustrated since I have some good chops, but without solid meter it don't mean a thing!
          Maybe it is similar to hearing youself speak on a tape, since nearly everyone hates the souond of their own voice that way, too.

          I have a friend who is an accomplished "groove" drummer, and he claims that this is mostly a case of playing just behind the beat, while keeping steady meter.

          Not only that, but the other thing I notice is that my dynamics vary a lot too! I met somebody yesterday who mentioned that e. drums are harder than acoustic ones to play since they are much more sensitive to that, which I hadn't thought of but makes sense.

          But, yeah, some good responses above, and if anybody else can suggest some specific exercises to help make your meter more solid, me and Pleiadian are all ears!!



          • #6
            Ok, I'll put in my $.02

            I actually like to play with a click. We use one occasionally at practice at church when we are having a problem with a particular song wanting to rush or drag, or at least feeling that way. It's a great help in trying to nail down where we are likely to have problems. I just said the other night, "I love the click...it's like a security blanket". I KNOW that I'm in time, and I never have to hear about it being MY fault that the timing is drifting...when another player slips off the beat, I just continue plugging along "in time" and you can hear who is likely to be rushing or dragging the tune when the click is turned off, so we can concentrate on that instrument part, and get them to "feel" it better -sometimes we even suggest that they watch my stick hit the hi-hat/ride for a "metronome" if they aren't hearing/feeling it. Whatever works.

            One thing that helps me is physical posture. Sometimes there is a tune that I feel like is at too fast a tempo to get the right feel, it seems like it is rushed as I play and I feel like I'm adding to that "rush". This usually happens when I'm in one of my "tempo holes" - the places I don't like to play. To make it "feel" more laid back without changing the tempo, I simply relax a bit more, imagine that I'm ready to dose off, simplify the part a bit (or change the sticking pattern), and literally lean back a little bit on the seat. It really helps me not "attack" the drums so much...the song then feels better but is at the tempo desired by the band leader.

            Also...to add something...being DEAD ON the click does not mean it will sound robotic if your dynamics are right...Such a skill to be able to do this...wish I could all the time...There are obvious times when the tempo has to change, but in most tunes, you can get away with a strict click and just make sure that you have good dynamic playing...it will FEEL much better, but the timing will be exact (within human error, of course...like a few milliseconds here and there).

            My Updated Website: https://blades.technology


            • #7
              Originally posted by vDrumber:
              ...I have a friend who is an accomplished "groove" drummer...
              A little off thread but just wondering if I could have a little input on this word 'groove'.

              I've never used it in conversation because I think it means different things to different people.

              To me, if I was 'in the groove' or 'grooving' I would mean that I really 'felt' the piece that I was playing, that the sound I was giving was really relaxed and 'interesting' with a nice laid back flow.

              What do YOU mean by groove (anyone!)

              TD-20, Pair of JBL-Eon15 G2's & Sub

              Check out the demo tracks to hear my V's at



              • #8
                the few times that has happened to me is that I got so excited into the song that before I knew it I was not on the same planet it seemed as if I was hogh or something . But I think it is basically paying attention to what you are doing will keep your timing right on the mark.


                • #9
                  That's an interesting point about groove drummers playing behind the beat. I assume this means playing the beat a little later than the click?? I have read somewhere that this is so, that Drummers with good groove tend to play behind a little... now I can tell my friend who's recording my drums that I am a groove player because my notes seem later than the click..


                  TD8 with PD7's, 2 KD7's (From previous TD7)
                  Tama Rockstar with mix of Sabian, Zildjian and Paiste.


                  • #10
                    While in the studio a few months ago (for my 3rd time) and playing w/ a click, I was also slightly ahead of it. Our engineer said that it was common for people not used to playing w/ the click to be a little in front. You might not be far off in regular playing, but w/ a click you try to avoid really hearing it so the tendency is to be a little early. Sounds like you are on the right track and everyones suggestions are great. Practice makes.......


                    • #11
                      Timing is one of those area that will get a lot of comments. When playing with a sequenced pattern it's relatively easy to get very tight with the pattern. When playing live with real human beings there is a natural ebb and flow of timing (within reason)and not many playbacks could be matched to a click track and hold up. That being said, being able to play along with the sequencer patterns will hone your timing skills a great deal.

                      Hooking up your portable CD player to the Mix input and playing along is a great tool also.