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Keeping Time Archives

Developing Your Microtime
Ask Damian Erskine

Developing Your Microtime

A reader asked Damian for advice on the subject of “microtime” this week. Damian offers advice on learning different time-feels in this column.

Understanding Time-Feel Terminology
Ask Damian Erskine

Understanding Time-Feel Terminology

A reader sent Damian a question about the terms that apply to meter and pulse, and the confusion he’s having around this topic. Damian offers up his perspective in this “Ask” column.

The Lightbulb Moment: Keeping Time In The Studio
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Keeping Time In The Studio

I pledge allegiance to the time… set by the drummer? By the click? Somewhere in between? These days, almost all recordings are done to a click track. And why not? It forces everyone to be aware of the desired tempo and to be responsible for their own sense of good time-keeping. It eliminates huge fluctuations, assuring that the adrenaline rush...

The Lightbulb Moment: Turn Signals
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Turn Signals

Today’s column is brought to you by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. My usual route to and from downtown involves quite a bit of highway driving and every few days; the TDOT message boards provide a less-than-clever quote to inspire better driving habits. Apparently, plenty of drivers have been neglecting their turn signal, and the government has decided to do...

How Do I Stop Playing Ahead of the Beat?
Ask Damian Erskine

How Do I Stop Playing Ahead of the Beat?

Q: I’m finding it really hard not to play ahead of the beat. I can play on the click with a metronome or other rhythm exercises, but when I put a playback, I’m starting the beat most of the time! It is something to do with too much thinking about the notes I’m playing. Also as we have to think...

Playing Ahead or Behind the Beat
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Ahead or Behind the Beat

Q: I hear people talk about playing “behind the beat” of “ahead of the beat”. How can I work on that? A: I call this micro-timing. I think that phrase helps because many students I have tend to overdo it when they play intentionally behind or ahead of the beat. It is a very subtle difference, and you have to...

Keeping Time in Jazz
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Keeping Time in Jazz

I love a good bass solo as much, or probably more, than the next person. In the band, however, our most important job is to “keeping time.” Below are a few things we can do in the practice room to help improve our “time” before we get to the gig. Pick a tune you know well, i.e. by memory, and...

Writing Bass Lines in Odd Time Signatures
Ask Damian Erskine

Writing Bass Lines in Odd Time Signatures

Q: I have been playing bass for a while now and have recently started a jazz-fusion project where we are creating original material. At our last rehearsal, I was handed a lead sheet for a song written in 5/4. The member then explained that the song wasn’t in two three or three two, but in four one. How do you...

Exercises for Improving Time
Ask Damian Erskine

Exercises for Improving Time

Q: What are some good exercises or practice routines to develop a strong sense of time? A: When I want to work on time, rhythm or technique, I think “What would a drummer do”? There are any number of ways to develop that internal clock. Here are a few ideas for you: 1. Playing Along. One of the most fun...

Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy

As important as playing with good intonation is, it is even more important to play with good time and rhythmic accuracy. Most of us know that counting, subdividing and practicing with a metronome can help. However, there are things we can do beyond these initial steps. Below are a few suggestions, and a few games, for taking your rhythmic accuracy...