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Do you count when you play?

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i played drums  for a profit, before i switch on bass..and i can tell you that sense of time is a personal thing.

But that thing stands out the great musicians from the rest.Time is much more important than the choice of notes

So ..do your best...For start, count fours with your foot as you play grooves and phrases....dont ever stop counting..and dont relay to the drummer for assistance...work on your internal time

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When it comes to playing, I don't consciously count much. Sometimes there will be a passage where counting can be a help, particularly with lots of rests or syncopation, but I'm not constantly running 1 2 3 4 or whatever through my head. Instead, I rely more on moving a bit to keep my inline with the pulse of the song. However, I can tell you where the one... and the two and the four and anything else is, so I think the counting is still going on further back in my head.

The place that gets worked in - and what I think Westenra was getting at in the original post - was the practise room, where you are learning your skills. There I think counting is essential. Over time you start to recognise patterns and it goes towards the back of the brain but you can stop at any point and check that you're nailing a rhythm. It is more obvious if you are working from dots than learning by ear but if you can't count something out, you probably don't know it as well as you think you do.

The crucial thing about counting is that it lets you break free from the tyranny of speed. If I'm struggling, I'll count something out slower and repeat it and then work it up to (possibly even a little above) the speed I think I need to be able to play it. That way you can zoom in to get things just right before zooming out again and seeing the piece at regular speed. There are higher levels to reach for - a good sight reader will sound a lot better than a 'perfect' computer rendition of the dots because they can add the nuances that make the line breathe - but, to begin with, slowly and accurately is the way to go in the practise room.


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8 hours ago, bazzbass said:

I only count at gigs... one hotty... two hotties...

I  learn the songs sufficiently well that any counting is automatic, or at least subconscious. I don't count the hotties either, I just allow my eyes to assist their charms in their exalted progress to and fro across the room. Which sounds a bit eighteenth-century, but it's really all about a rude, smelly old man in farty trousers ogling fragrant young women. Sorry.

Edited by discreet

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Until just recently I spent 16 years as a pro musician working on cruise ships etc. where everyone could read to a fairly high standard. Counting was never an issue except for long rests (always my downfall, on a tune which is unfamiliar). Still loving the bass I have started gigging with local bands. What I have found playing with guys who have no idea about reading music is that they don't always know about song keys but they also have no idea where the one is in a simple 4/4 bar. Case in point the band I was playing with recently covered AC/DC "Shoot To Thrill" which starts with guitar.  Some nights he would start on the downbeat and others he would start on the up. I found the only way to come in correctly was to count out loud to the drummer.

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On 14/11/2017 at 11:42, Twigman said:


How is my experience limited ?

I've been playing nearly 40years, I've toured Europe and USA, I've played on 9 albums.....how is that limited experience?


thats AWESOME experience ! Do tell us more....intrigued now.

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