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Author Topic:  Good rhythm exercises?
Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 9 May 2017 6:32 pm     Reply with quote

Does anyone here have any good rhythm exercises?

For doing the fast licks or creating my own, I've found that you really have to nail the rhythm to make something that sounds fresh and powerful. I struggle with that sometimes. There's so much going on in playing a complicated part that my rhythm suffers... and some of the licks require a ton of skill at feeling the rhythm inside your head. You can't tap your foot or snap your fingers while playing steel guitar Very Happy .

For me, it helps to do noodling to warm up. Usually it's just something quick and easy like nifty little picking patterns while rocking the A+B pedals up and down the scale (which coincidentally involves a 1-4-5 progression as well as the circle of fifths). That's just something I do because it doesn't require any thought.

Are there better exercises?
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Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post Posted 9 May 2017 9:00 pm     Reply with quote

Virtually all of your practicing should be done with a metronome, or good backing tracks with steady tempos.

You have limited ability to tap your foot, and your hands are pretty much out of the question, but you can bounce your head in time to the music/metronome. I used to think that looked stupid. But what's more stupid is not doing whatever is necessary to play with good tempo.

I also find it helpful to make a conscious effort to really listen for the snare drum when playing with bands. In other words, don't listen so much to yourself. You have to make an effort to listen to the rest of the band, even when trying to play hard passages. It's easier said then done, but it helps me.

My tempos are far from perfect, but all of the above is my plan of action regarding tempos.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 10 May 2017 4:49 am     Reply with quote

Rhythm is everything! If I can't play a complicated phrase with real rhythmic phrasing I don't play it at all. It's just like intonation. If you can't play it in tune then skip it. It is the difference between $50 and $500 gigs.

For practice I spend the first hour of my daily practice routine playing along with a metronome or biab/ iReal tracks. I play a simple picking pattern or even a single note very slow. I make sure it is perfect as possible then move up the tempo very slowly until I get to my target for the day. Playing playing a scale in quarter notes (try whole notes if you can stand it ) at 60 bpm and making every attack hit at the right time while sounding smooth is really freakin difficult. If I don't spend time focusing like that every day I play all sorts of worthless crap when I am on the bandstand.

If you really want to screw your head up slow down some of those blazing Charleton licks and just listen to the rhythm. He not only absolutely nails it , he leans on each 16th note in a different way creating a perfect swing within every beat.
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Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 10 May 2017 6:20 am     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
Rhythm is everything! If I can't play a complicated phrase with real rhythmic phrasing I don't play it at all. It's just like intonation.

If you really want to screw your head up slow down some of those blazing Charleton licks and just listen to the rhythm. He not only absolutely nails it , he leans on each 16th note in a different way creating a perfect swing within every beat.


Bob, I think you and I are on the same wavelength. I'm surprised people don't discuss rhythm more often on this forum. Is there a faster form of your exercise that I could do to get myself in the right headspace before playing? Is it as simple as focusing on getting the rhythm perfect and then progressively speeding up?

What I'd like is to be able to "internalize" all the different rhythm combinations that exist, even up to 16th notes, and be able to physically coordinate myself with them so that I don't have to concentrate on it. For me, concentrating too hard on the rhythm for a nuanced part is a good way to get close, but not exact... which is irritating. I've also found that it's a day-to-day kind of thing for me. Some days I have decent internal rhythm and some days I don't. If I can find a short exercise that I can do to warm up which will activate my internal rhythm, I'll be a happy camper.

One of my ultimate goals for steel guitar is to be able to play the way that Willie Nelson sings.... but with better tone.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 10 May 2017 8:04 am     Reply with quote

Curt,
To my way of thinking you practice slow and fully concentrated so that you don't need to concentrate when you play fast.

I tend to have problems with rythmic phrasing when I record , in particular short overdubbed phrases. A great bass player showed me how he gets his time together:

Set the metronome at its slowest setting.
Play whole notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play half notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play quarter notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play quarter note triplet along to it on one note only.
then
Play eighth notes along to it on one note only.

variations I added were playing the same note on different strings and playing quintuplets after the quarter note triplets. Once I get the quintuplets even and smooth I play scales in quintuplets.

It has improved my internal clock a ton and also given me a place to draw from when the pressure is on while recording.

I know it seems like a weird excersize but it got me over a couple big humps.

Do that stuff for a while in your home practice and I'm sure you will come up with a warm up, refresher version for yourself.

BTW: I learned about this because it was how a bass player I was touring with warmed up. I heard him playing and asked him what in the heck he was doing.
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Len Amaral


From:
Rehoboth,MA 02769
Post Posted 10 May 2017 3:23 pm     Reply with quote

I have been using a $29 cheapo drum machine as a metronome for many years. No programming just spin the dial to Bosa Nova, Rock or whatever style you like and adjust the tempo up or down. I have the earphone output of the drum machine going into a small amp. I also use a looper that a friend programmed with a bunch of rhythm tracks.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 11 May 2017 4:24 pm     Reply with quote

Curt Trisko wrote:
What I'd like is to be able to "internalize" all the different rhythm combinations that exist . . .


My suggestion: Get a copy of Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer (under $10 via Amazon) and/or Elementary Training for Musicians by Paul Hindemith, and work your way through the exercises.

Learning how rhythm is represented in standard notation, and practicing the exercises away from your instrument (clapping, tapping, singing and/or conducting) will give a very clear conceptual time framework that should enhance music-making in a number of ways.

In the application of rhythm you have not only the timing of the attack but also the timing of the release of each note, plus rests, tied and syncopated notes, shifting between duple, triple, quintuple etc. subdivisions of time values and so forth. Either of the two books would provide a solid foundation on all these things.

Another suggestion: Watch this short video (8 min.) by Adam Neely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIfD7ZN5FYI
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Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 12 May 2017 6:08 pm     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:

Set the metronome at its slowest setting.
Play whole notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play half notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play quarter notes along to it on one note only.
then
Play quarter note triplet along to it on one note only.
then
Play eighth notes along to it on one note only.

variations I added were playing the same note on different strings and playing quintuplets after the quarter note triplets. Once I get the quintuplets even and smooth I play scales in quintuplets.


I gave this a try earlier this evening. Like you suggested, I set my metronome to its slowest setting. It turns out that it's 30bpm. That's so slow that I don't think you can fairly call it a rhythm. Smile

It was hard! That's one beat every two seconds. I don't think my attention span is even that long. Laughing Maybe I should start at 60bpm until I get better at it?
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post Posted 13 May 2017 6:37 am     Reply with quote

Well, looking back at your original post I can' tell if your problem is with the rhythm, or timing.

Everyone seems to have jumped on the timing bandwagon by referring to a metronome, so I'll jump in as well, since this just happens to be a recent issue with my own playing.

Practicing licks, figuring out fingerings, etc is only a part of the picture. Once you do that, then you need to get everything in sync.

Using a drum machine as a metronome is a great idea (not just because that's also what I use). You don't need a fancy schamncy drum machine. The cheapest old non-programmable preset rhythm pattern thing will do just fine.

The metronome thing is a great idea that I endorse.
But, RECORDING yourself is the true test.

A while back I started work on recording a few acoustic guitar solo fingerpicking things. When I listened back to them I was stunned. I always thought my timing was pretty good.

The thing is, the average person may not notice. But I did, and I don't aspire to be average. Also, playing with any kind of background, even a click track, seems to sometimes "hide" things. If it's another instrument or two, they can sometimes meld together and cover for each other.

If you have a multitrack, record a click track. Do those exercises and record yourself. Then, listen back to yourself without the click track. Hopefully you won't be surprised like I was.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 8:13 am     Reply with quote

Quintuplets? Now there's a rhythmic pattern I almost never use. I go from triplets to straight 16ths when I practice. Of course, nobody's ever accused me of having a unique sense of rhythmic phrasing either.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 13 May 2017 4:26 pm     Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:
Quintuplets? Now there's a rhythmic pattern I almost never use. I go from triplets to straight 16ths when I practice. Of course, nobody's ever accused me of having a unique sense of rhythmic phrasing either.


Fred, I hardly ever use them either. But practicing them really helps my normal phrasing. Its super hard so I rarely have the patience to work on them.

Curt, I start at 60bpm but the bass player who showed me was playing for about half an hour with the metronome at 30 and nailing it.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 15 May 2017 1:11 am     Re: Good rhythm exercises? Reply with quote

Curt Trisko wrote:
Does anyone here have any good rhythm exercises?


Yes, below are some rhythmic phrases that you can use in practicing scales and arpeggios, to learn to shift back and forth between triplets and straight eighth and sixteenth notes. I wrote these for myself ten or fifteen years ago, and it took me a little work to learn to play them accurately with a metronome once I had written them down, but it was well worth the trouble.

Each line is a separate 5/4 phrase, and you can easily see how each quarter note beat within the phrase is divided up into a group of notes/rests. (Sorry I didn't think to put double bars at the end of each phrase, but each line is intended to be played separately from the others.) Set the metronome to the quarter note and play these so that all the subdivisions come out evenly.

If these phrases are too complicated at first, you can work separately on any of the components that make up the quarter note groupings (ignoring the ties between them). For example, shifting back and forth just between the eighth note pair and triplet that make up the first two quarter notes of the first phrase might be a good exercise to start with. Also learning to tap the rhythms might be a good first step before trying to play scales or arpeggios over them.

In using these with a scale (for example), you will generally find that the end of the scale (whether you've played it over one, two or three octaves) does not synchronize with the end of the phrase. What I would do is just restart the phrase whenever it ends, no matter where you are in the scale, and if you reach the top of the scale in the middle of a phrase, just continue the phrase as you come back down the scale. By your going up and down the scale in this manner the phrase will shift in relation to the scale, which means that the rhythmic shifts continue to fall in different parts of the scale. This can help to iron out any technical weaknesses you have in executing the scale.

Learning rhythmic phrases like these can help greatly to improve improvisation, technical facility and reading. More importantly, if you have learned the notation, you can easily invent or copy down your own vocabulary of rhythmic patterns that serve your own uses better than these.

The two books I mentioned in my previous post in this thread provide a much more complete and systematic approach to learning rhythms.

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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 15 May 2017 10:46 am     Reply with quote

This looks like something from the Tommy Tedesco book.

I would find it difficult to play a scale using even one beat worth of those phrases. Two together at the most. And that is exactly how I would start using an exercise schedule like this.

For example, I couldn't play the 3rd note of a triplet tied to the 1st of four 16ths if my life depended on it. So playing all the way through that first line is out of the question. But playing the last note of a triplet or a quadruplet tied to the first of another would be a good starting point.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 16 May 2017 11:45 pm     Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:
Two together at the most. And that is exactly how I would start using an exercise schedule like this.


I agree - that's the kind of approach I would take, and have taken. As Jim Palenscar explained to me about learning to play, "It's like building a brick wall - one brick at a time."

Probably for many people the key skill to learn for playing these example phrases would be the ability to smoothly shift between the first three of the quarter-note length units given in the first line (without the ties), i.e., the ability to shift smoothly between groups of eighth notes, triplets and sixteenth notes without disturbing the tempo.

The way I had a student learn to do this is as follows: Play eighth notes against a quarter note metronome pulse until you are comfortably in the groove, with every other note synchronized with the metronome, and then without stopping, shift to triplets. If you don't immediately have the triplets even and every third triplet lined up with the metronome, then without stopping make whatever adjustments are necessary to get the triplets synchronized with the metronome, and when you have that keep it going for a while, and then again without stopping shift back to eighths and go through the same process, then shift back to triplets etc.

In doing this, going back and forth between eighths and eighth note triplets, your brain eventually learns the differentiation between subdividing in 2 or 3, to the point where you can begin to go directly from one to the other confidently and with immediate synchronization. When you have that, then do the same procedure with triplets and groups of four sixteenth notes.

After that it should be pretty easy to tackle one at a time the ties, rests and and other problems found in the phrases, and the whole thing should unravel fairly quickly.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 17 May 2017 1:32 am     Reply with quote

this can't' be said enough, and it's been said several times already above.

S L O W

and patience

You can't play fast if you can't play slow.

It's all muscle control and muscle training, just like when we learned how to walk for the first time.

I have been working on descending Banjo licks resolving in Fiddle phrases for the last couple of months. The natural desire is to play them fast as thats where they sound great. The discipline to play SLOWLY each and every time is very hard.

Can I play them ? Yep, Can I play them clean every time, ? Nope.

30 days of playing them slowly each day will train the right hand .

Speed pickin' is a like drum rudiments, it's all about the timing and execution in meter , the notes are secondary but when we execute properly it seems like it's all about the notes !

GO SLOW each day, the same exact thing, 5 or 10 min a day at meter, VERY SLOW METER.

In 30 days you will be amazed at how polished the execution is.
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