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Counting tips on a looonnnggg groove

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  • Counting tips on a looonnnggg groove

    Well, I'm new and have started a training regimin that incorporates the following.

    1) "A Fresh Approach to the Snare Drum" by Mark Wessels (DVD/CD/Book)

    This is giving me a nice structured weekly lesson 'plan' focussing on the core drumming elements like rudiments, form, etc. I need structure!

    2) "Groove Essentials" by Tommy Igoe (DVD/CD/Book)

    This is giving me some grooves to learn and allowing me to start playing - rather than just doing exercises. A nice counter balance to number 1.

    3) First hand instruction / feedback from my brother. He's got a degree in music teaching, some experience applying that to 7th graders (like me ), and plays trombone regularly in the National Guard band.

    Given all that, I think my training program is fairly comprehensive. That leads me to my question given that none of the 3 options above gave me the 'magic bullet' to solve my problem.

    The very first groove you learn in Groove Essentials is a simple 4/4 rock beat - 8th notes on the closed HH, kick drum on 1 & 3, snare drum on 2 & 4. The mechanics are not an issue. I still need to work on my consistency and nuance in this groove but I've got the gist of the groove down solid. Where I'm struggling, and the reason for this long winded post is the following:

    How do I keep track of the count in a 64 bar groove with little to no variation in the other parts of the music? I'm playing it along with the accompanied CD and I am really struggling on understanding where I'm at in the song. I usually end up 1 to 3 bars off by the time I get to the end and I'm just wondering if there is anyone with some tips on counting through a song with a long, steady groove.

    My brother has suggested, based on his experience in wind ensambles / orchestra, is to listen through the music and find a cue that I can then count off of. (i.e. after the guitar solo ends it's 6 bars to the end) So far that hasn't solved my problem in this particular groove, but I'm going to try that again today. Any other suggestions?
    "...regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going ..." - Wes Montgomery

  • #2
    OK. That didn't take long. Helps when you actually LISTEN and don't play. (My little bro knows his stuff - but I ain't telling thim that... ) I figured it out on this one but wondering if there are any other tips for future issues.
    "...regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going ..." - Wes Montgomery


    • #3
      I'm a newbie like you (One year since I started off with very little weekly practice) And I have encounter the same problem. You brother's tip is the way to go. try to find that cue in the other instruments and that will ease your counting. I was struggling to count off the very long bridge in Take It On The Run by REO Speed Wagon and it was a pain because the guy make some fills every 8 bars and I always ended up putting the fill a bar earlier or later. Lucky for me, this is song we are covering in a all-amateaurs-band that I managed to put together, to add even more to my luck the rest of the guys are not as amateurs as me and they actually have gotten formal music education at some point in their lives. So when I asked the guitarrist to cue me in with a head signal he just told me, I repeat this melody 4 times, then I realized that indeed there was a repetitive pattern very easy to follow by simply listening and that ease my counting to only 4 times. Besides the fills were dropped every two repeats of the melody. And that was it.

      Now going back to listening while playing. If you are still not able to do it, it means you have not internalized the groove yet, so my suggestion is play it until exhaustion (be careful not to get hurt) so that it becomes second nature, and then try again to play it and listening to the music, you will see you will nail it. One thing I usually do when I'm learning a new groove is at first play it 10 times continuously at a very slow pace until I can make it all 10 times without mistake, then I increase the tempo in 5 or 10bpm (depending on how hard the groove is), and work up that ladder until I get to a tempo I cannnot manage phisically. Then I stop. Afterwards I repeat the excersise but this time dropping fills every other bar, at the end, at the middle, a little accent here and there. If I'm able to do it perfectly again all 10 times and through all the tempo ladder, then it means I have internalized it.

      Hope it helps.

      Roland TD6-KW+VEX's


      • #4
        Originally posted by Makomachine View Post

        How do I keep track of the count in a 64 bar groove with little to no variation in the other parts of the music?
        The good news is that as you improve you'll be focussing less on playing the groove and more on the song and making it feel good.

        The bad news is that it's YOUR job as a drummer to know where you are, other band members will be looking at you to give THEM cues. So try adding something small like an open hi hat every 8 bars, or maybe a crash every other 8 bars if it fits the song. That way you've only got to count to 8. It'll give the other band members confidence in what they're doing and improve the overall sound no end.

        Also, when playing with a live band keep an eye on each other, you'll get visual cues as to where you are. It's actually harder playing along to a prerecorded track than with a live band.


        • #5
          It's been my experience that you'll continue to get the feel of it as you play more and more. My brain just sort of listens in 8 bar sections now (part of that could be contributed to being a club DJ for years and years). It's rare that I have to count something. I think you just begin to feel certain phrases and their lengths.


          • #6
            you could try count like this:

            1, 2, 3, 4

            2, 2, 3, 4

            3, 2, 3, 4

            4, 2, 3, 4

            5, 2, 3, 4

            6, 2 ,3,4


            64, 2, 3, 4

            just a thought...


            • #7
              I have had to use the counting method thatdrummer mentioned. Anyone who has ever played percussion with an orchestra knows about the dreaded 128 bar rests.

              I find that with experience you can take your cues form the song. But when you can't, I like to think of it as chunks of 4 bars. I silently say the number of the chunk as I start it. When you get to 16, you will finish up 64 bars.