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Playing Behind the Beat

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Postby Taso » September 8th, 2009, 9:01 pm

What does this mean? I have my own preconceived notions, but I imagine they are incorrect, so I'm asking for other ideas.

So first, what does it mean, and secondly, when it is appropriate?
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Postby greybeard » September 8th, 2009, 10:11 pm

Try here.
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Postby Steve-0 » September 8th, 2009, 11:02 pm

I had always thought playing behind or ahead of the beat was actually speeding up or slowing down while the rest of the music stays the same, but this makes alot more sense.

So it's really more of a phrasing issue, whether or not you're playing on beat 1 or playing a beat early or late.
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Postby greybeard » September 8th, 2009, 11:08 pm

Steve-0 wrote:I had always thought playing behind or ahead of the beat was actually speeding up or slowing down while the rest of the music stays the same, but this makes alot more sense.

So it's really more of a phrasing issue, whether or not you're playing on beat 1 or playing a beat early or late.

You can only play ahead/behind the beat if the other players stay "on beat" - so your understanding was correct.
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Postby KR2 » September 8th, 2009, 11:17 pm

Would this be correct to say?
Everyone is playing the same bpm . . .
and playing ahead of the beat means you SHIFT your beat in front of them (slightly - not a full beat necessarily)
while everyone maintains that same bpm.

And then playing behind the beat means your shifting your note playing slightly after their note (or chord) playing while keeping the same overall bpm.

Especially and most noticeably on the first beat.
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Postby Taso » September 9th, 2009, 1:04 am

I was told tonight that it isn't the first beat, but whichever beat is dominate.

So for blues, for example, the 2 and 4 beats are dominant, so playing behind the beat would be playing a hair behind the 2nd or 4th beat.


Is this correct?
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Postby dhodge » September 9th, 2009, 4:16 am

That is correct, Taso, but it can also be done with the non-stressed beats as well.

Playing behind the beat isn't something you want to do all the time. Rather it is a phrasing tool that creates interest and dynamics in soloing and can be used in rhythm playing as well. A good way to think about it is to imagine you're playing a song (without charts or any directions) that you've never heard before but one that the people you're playing with know by heart. The smartest way to do that is to let them make the chord changes while you lag slightly behind to hear them and then play your fills accordingly.

That's not the greatest explanation in the world but I hope it helps!

The other thing to remember is that while part of what you're playing is "behind the beat," you still have to know where the beat is. A lot of soloing, particularly in blues, is starting behind the beat and then ending slightly before a beat. For example, you might start a two-measure phrase on the second half of the first beat but then end it on the second half of the third beat of the second measure.

Since you read music, it might be better to not even think about it as "behind" or "ahead" of the beat and instead take a look at some blues solos or riffs written out in notation in any book. Look where in a measure they start and end and that will help you out a lot.

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Postby Taso » September 9th, 2009, 10:40 am

David,

Is this playing "behind the beat"?

http://files.dmusic.com/58000470.bbbd34 ... hebeat.mp3
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Postby dhodge » September 9th, 2009, 11:05 am

I'd say that was a pretty good example of doing so. By the way (and you may not be consciously aware of this), you've also got a spot in there where you're playing quarter note triplets, resulting in a "three against two" feel for a little while (those of you wanting a more detailed explanation of that can look at the Seven Nation Army lesson). Very cool.

But if you weren't aware that that's what you were doing, it's easy to confuse a "three against two" with "almost but not quite playing behind the beat." :wink:

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Postby Taso » September 9th, 2009, 11:20 am

dhodge wrote:I'd say that was a pretty good example of doing so. By the way (and you may not be consciously aware of this), you've also got a spot in there where you're playing quarter note triplets, resulting in a "three against two" feel for a little while (those of you wanting a more detailed explanation of that can look at the Seven Nation Army lesson). Very cool.

But if you weren't aware that that's what you were doing, it's easy to confuse a "three against two" with "almost but not quite playing behind the beat." :wink:

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David, would you mind clarifying where the "three against two" feel is?

Thanks
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Postby dhodge » September 9th, 2009, 12:44 pm

It just may be the way I'm hearing it, but in the :26 - :28 section it sounds like there is more of a quarter note triplet feel. It's not just simply behind the beat, it's got more of an even spread of the triplets (even though one is bent and one is held) over the span of two beats.

But it may be just me. It's been a long week (actually few weeks) and I'm pretty tired... :wink:

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Postby Taso » September 9th, 2009, 2:32 pm

rhythm talk is crazyyyy. thanks for clarifying david.

Alright, so, I was playing behind the beat in that clip I linked.

Big whoop? I don't see what's so darn special about it. I don't think that clip sounds better than other things I've posted when I'm playing on the beat. Yet playing behind the beat is always given lots of praise.

And if I were to listen to the clip I posted, without any foreknowledge, I wouldn't think it was any different than a dozen other blues improvs I've posted.

Thoughts?
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Postby dhodge » September 9th, 2009, 6:14 pm

Personally, I think that playing behind the beat is just part of playing and don't usually give too much thought about it.

BUT (and you knew that was coming, right? :wink: )

I also think that a lot of beginners (or, if you prefer, people taking their first steps in soloing) tend to make their solos very even in terms of rhythm and dynamics. To be fair, that's usually how one starts to make the move from playing scales to playing solos. So the concept of being able to play behind the beat or to use rhythm as a textural soloing tool is good for someone to develop and while a lot of people can hear it, they can't always play it.

And I hope to heaven you know that I'm not talking about you in this case! Having heard quite a few examples of your playing, I think that you have a good command of phrasing and that this isn't something you need worry about in the least. As you noted, it's a lot like your other blues improvs, which I've enjoyed immensely, by the way.

I'm not really sure why it was originally that big of a deal in the first place, either. But then again, I'm usually the last to know what's going on!

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Postby jason brann » September 10th, 2009, 2:22 am

it's playing ahead or behind or on the one, not necessarily ahead or behind every beat, correct?
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Postby dhodge » September 10th, 2009, 2:50 am

Or the two, etc.,

But you're right it's not playing behind every beat. Sorry for not making that clear.

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