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Old 11-23-2017, 06:50 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Musicians' Inside Baseball stuff: working on the "and" of 4

Was listening to a year-or-more old podcast called No Guitar is Safe, featuring an hour-plus interview with Charlie Hunter.

If you know him, you respect him. He's innovated a 7-string guitar/bass hybrid, which he plays fingerstyle to hold down both roles while he plays jazz, funk and blues: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0HJQJzUwRMk

Obviously a smart, technique focused player. During the interview, he shares that he started as a drummer and still tries to drum every day. And that for a recent, rare open gap in his touring/recording schedule, he played every day for a couple of hours. He was mostly "working on the 'and' of 4".

If you read my music posts, I am *not* technical at all, but I have to say, I got that immediately. You're coming to the end of a 4 count measure, and maybe there's a chord transition on the next 1 beat, or the music is going through a big swell-up. 1 and 2 and 3 and4and 1 and... You get mushed together in your playing - You start thinking both about the change AND deciding if you should/ then executing a little "fill bit" - a flourish or accent lead to punctuate and sell the change.

He talked about how we - esp guitarists - rush the 'and' of four as "shown" above because our brains get full doing what is mean to be a brain-less channeling of music, so he was working on getting more brain-less in grooving through his 4-counts.

I can't believe I get all that and dig it. So I thought I'd check in - have you worked on the 'and' of 4, or, on reading this OP, have a flicker of recognition as a player?

ETA: sigh. Didn't realize my autocorrect had double apostrophe'd the Title word "Musician's' ".

Last edited by Ellen Cherry; 11-23-2017 at 08:54 AM.
  #2  
Old 11-23-2017, 10:24 AM
scabpicker scabpicker is offline
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Yeah, I can say that I'm all over the place when it comes to that part of the count. In my infinite wisdom, I wrote a song where the main riff starts on the "and" of the four. First it's usually rushed, then it migrates late. Hopefully, I hit it smoothly on the fifth bar. I never wreck the train, but it can be sketchy at first.

It's not the kind of thing I practice often, and I guess it shows when we're playing that one.
  #3  
Old 11-23-2017, 11:14 AM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Hey WordMan. If you're talking about what I think you're talking about, putting the emphasis on the and of 4 instead of 1 of the next measure, then yeah, it's groovy stuff and definitely something you want to have in your back pocket.

For a good example of it, check out "Take It Easy" (the Eagles' version). The intro seems like it starts on 1, but if you count it out like that, you'll be messed up when the drums come in. It's actually starting on the and of 4, and all the chord changes/accents happen on the and of 4 as well.

It'll bend your brain into a pretzel if you don't know what's going on!
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:49 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy View Post
For a good example of it, check out "Take It Easy" (the Eagles' version). The intro seems like it starts on 1, but if you count it out like that, you'll be messed up when the drums come in. It's actually starting on the and of 4, and all the chord changes/accents happen on the and of 4 as well.

It'll bend your brain into a pretzel if you don't know what's going on!
Holy crap. I never noticed it that. I always just parsed that as a 4/4, with a bar of 9/8 (as 2+2+2+3/8) before the drums come in (or, actually, the first three snare hits come before the one, so that third snare hit would be the extra 1/8 I'm thinking of. I count it as "ONE-and-TWO-and-THREE-and-ONETWOTHREE" and into the normal four-four beat. I see it's just notated as standard 4/4, though, with the chords all landing on the "and" of four in the intro. Damn, I find it tricky to count it that way. I really hear those chords as "ones." Took me about four tries to count it as "AND-one-and-two-and-three-and-four-AND-one-and-two-and-three-and-four-AND." I guess the lack of any other metrical context in the beginning of the song really makes it feel like a one, even with the strumming pattern, hence my count which just appends an eighth note to the 4/4 count.

Last edited by pulykamell; 11-23-2017 at 11:51 AM.
  #5  
Old 11-23-2017, 01:07 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Holy crap. I never noticed it that. I always just parsed that as a 4/4, with a bar of 9/8 (as 2+2+2+3/8) before the drums come in (or, actually, the first three snare hits come before the one, so that third snare hit would be the extra 1/8 I'm thinking of. I count it as "ONE-and-TWO-and-THREE-and-ONETWOTHREE" and into the normal four-four beat. I see it's just notated as standard 4/4, though, with the chords all landing on the "and" of four in the intro. Damn, I find it tricky to count it that way. I really hear those chords as "ones." Took me about four tries to count it as "AND-one-and-two-and-three-and-four-AND-one-and-two-and-three-and-four-AND." I guess the lack of any other metrical context in the beginning of the song really makes it feel like a one, even with the strumming pattern, hence my count which just appends an eighth note to the 4/4 count.
I know, I used to think it was a bar of 9/8 too, mostly because they're hitting the hell out of those accents. And, I mean, I guess you could argue that it could be, since obviously things can be notated many different ways, but check this out and it will make a lot more sense. After all, whoever heard of a 9/8 bar in rock music?
  #6  
Old 11-23-2017, 01:41 PM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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We're talking about grace notes here?
  #7  
Old 11-23-2017, 01:44 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy View Post
I know, I used to think it was a bar of 9/8 too, mostly because they're hitting the hell out of those accents. And, I mean, I guess you could argue that it could be, since obviously things can be notated many different ways, but check this out and it will make a lot more sense. After all, whoever heard of a 9/8 bar in rock music?
See, with the click track, it all makes sense and is not unusual. (Anticipating the one like that is fairly common.) Without the rhythmic reference, though, it just short circuits my brain.
  #8  
Old 11-23-2017, 01:48 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Originally Posted by Ranger Jeff View Post
We're talking about grace notes here?
No. I actually think the discussion is supposed to be more about practicing the second half of the fourth beat, as there is a tendency to slightly rush it in anticipation of the one. Iíve never really thought about it, but I suspect thatís true in my case. I definitely have a tendency to get on the one a hair early when I record to a click track and have to concentrate not to rush it. Iíve never thought about specifically practicing the AND of four to help counteract this tendency.

The Eagles thing is, I think, a tangential discussion if I understand the OP correctly.
  #9  
Old 11-23-2017, 02:29 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Oh, sorry, WordMan, I reread your OP and see now that I misunderstood what you were saying. Yes, don't anticipate the downbeat if you're not supposed to.

But no, Ranger Jeff, grace notes are something entirely different. In modern music, grace notes are little embellishments that don't really have time of their own. Little "flicks" that come right before the "main" note, to add an extra color, if you will.
  #10  
Old 11-23-2017, 04:00 PM
jerez jerez is offline
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If you haven't already seen it, this Victor Wooten video might give you some ideas.
  #11  
Old 11-24-2017, 06:22 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
No. I actually think the discussion is supposed to be more about practicing the second half of the fourth beat, as there is a tendency to slightly rush it in anticipation of the one. I’ve never really thought about it, but I suspect that’s true in my case. I definitely have a tendency to get on the one a hair early when I record to a click track and have to concentrate not to rush it. I’ve never thought about specifically practicing the AND of four to help counteract this tendency.

The Eagles thing is, I think, a tangential discussion if I understand the OP correctly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy
Oh, sorry, WordMan, I reread your OP and see now that I misunderstood what you were saying. Yes, don't anticipate the downbeat if you're not supposed to.
Yes, that's what I mean. Puly your comment echoes the point to the thread: hmm, never thought about it, but yeah. DooWah, you state it plainly, as in "yes, don't walk into traffic." As a more formally-trained musician, do you feel this has been schooled out of you? I definitely isolate my parts where I am approaching the 1 and work on getting them clean.

It was just interesting to hear a player like Hunter - who, before he is anything, is a master of time, rhythm and groove - discussing working on the and of 4, and identifying that in my playing, if at a less sophisticated level .

He talks about "woodshedding" - as in, that's one thing I can do, man: 'shed. Just go away, put my head down and work on my shit. At some level, there is also, as alluded to in the thread title, an inside-baseball coolness to the concept. "Yeah, man, I spent two months 'shedding - playing drums, my hobby instrument - working on the and of 4." and having the absolute, balls-out chops and musicality to make it clear he was serious, and that it added value to his art.

Who do you picture saying that? I'll go with Keanu Reeves.

ETA: jerez, yeah, that type of exercise lesson by Wooten would be part of grounding my time better.

Last edited by WordMan; 11-24-2017 at 06:24 AM.
  #12  
Old 11-24-2017, 11:15 AM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
As a more formally-trained musician, do you feel this has been schooled out of you?
I'm flattered you assumed I was formally trained, haha, but I'm self-taught like you are. Never took lessons, didn't go to college. It's alllll about the shedding. Just like you become a better writer the more you do it (and the more you read, the musical metaphor being the more you listen to the masters), the more time you spend practicing has a direct correlation on how good you get. It's actually very rewarding that way.

Just remember that every note (and rest) deserves its full time value. To shorten any of them robs them of their importance, and more importantly, their power.
  #13  
Old 11-24-2017, 03:48 PM
Small Clanger Small Clanger is offline
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Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick here but isn't this about pushing the beat?

Some bands - off the top of my head I hear Thin Lizzy and the Sex Pistols (not often cited for musical reasons) as bands that always play the "four and -> one" beat early.

Zeppelin (Page), AC/DC and most hard rock bands always hit bang on the "one".
  #14  
Old 11-25-2017, 06:40 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy View Post
I'm flattered you assumed I was formally trained, haha, but I'm self-taught like you are. Never took lessons, didn't go to college. It's alllll about the shedding. Just like you become a better writer the more you do it (and the more you read, the musical metaphor being the more you listen to the masters), the more time you spend practicing has a direct correlation on how good you get. It's actually very rewarding that way.

Just remember that every note (and rest) deserves its full time value. To shorten any of them robs them of their importance, and more importantly, their power.
I've heard your playing via recording. It's has such a classic sound - chords and melodies from, hmm, maybe the American songbook/ Broadway types of approach?? - those types of harmonic structures sound like they require formal training. Impressive - and from the sound of it, the result of a lot of 'shedding!

I get the intent - every note deserves its value - it's just weeding that out of my playing and not losing the spontenaity I care about. Hunter also talks about some great funk tracks and how they end up faster by the end of the song, and being okay with that because the band was so together. Managing time is a balance.

For me, rather than a metronome, I use "juggling grooves" for want of a better name. A groove where I can deliver the chords of the song, a couple of bassline notes, and have space to add leads and fills. Could be because I am playing fingerstyle, so I am doing finger-and-thumb counterpoint; it could be that the groove Is structured that way, like a Stevie Ray Pride and Joy or Joe Walsh Funk #49 groove.

The point is: I have a lot of shit going on and I'm using bits of each part to suggest the whole part and create a sense of the full space of the song, only with bits of it.

To get those parts to work together, I *have* to respect the space each occupies. I have said this in the past here, but it's like juggling: you can't toss one ball too high, low, left, right, and expect to keep the parts meshing correctly. In music, each beat's time is my toss. When I get each going together, I groove past the the last beat of the measure and into the next one much more mindlessly-in-the-right-way simply because, well hey, I'm in the groove

Small Clanger - no, not about pushing the beat. That's in the correct time, but the group all agreeing to "sell" that beat as a big deal - hitting it hard, right on beat, like tossing an extra strum into a chord right when the main riff starts again. I'm talking about playing to fast and rushing the down beat.

I agree, I hear Thin Lizzy's Boys are Back in Town, and they push the beat a lot (e.g., right after the song title in each chorus) while keeping correct time and not rushing it.

ETA: I will say, however, when good drummers I have worked with started to introduce pushes to help sell certain changes, or just because the song requires it, like Thin Lizzy, I would screw it up. Just thinking too much and anticipating. So, yeah, same problem, bit for a different part of a beat if that makes sense.

Last edited by WordMan; 11-25-2017 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 11-25-2017, 02:19 PM
erysichthon erysichthon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy View Post
For a good example of it, check out "Take It Easy" (the Eagles' version). The intro seems like it starts on 1, but if you count it out like that, you'll be messed up when the drums come in. It's actually starting on the and of 4, and all the chord changes/accents happen on the and of 4 as well.
My favorite example is the Twilight Zone theme. Most people sing the iconic "dee-dee-dee-dee" as if it's starting on a downbeat, but it actually begins on the and of 4.
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Old 11-25-2017, 03:04 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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My favorite example is the Twilight Zone theme. Most people sing the iconic "dee-dee-dee-dee" as if it's starting on a downbeat, but it actually begins on the and of 4.
Nice, I never caught that before!
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Old 11-27-2017, 11:04 AM
Mixolydian Mixolydian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erysichthon View Post
My favorite example is the Twilight Zone theme. Most people sing the iconic "dee-dee-dee-dee" as if it's starting on a downbeat, but it actually begins on the and of 4.
That's all well and good, but without a good anchor (like a downbeat kickdrum on the one) following the intro, there's no point of reference for where the ONE is. I have a good sense of rhythm (IMHO) but I can't get my brain to hear the first note on the AND of four.

I can't stand the tune, but the beginning of Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" throws me off the same way, until the drums come in.

As another aside to this thread, as a musician, I've lately succumbed to counting "one-e-and-a-two-e-and-a" in my head in an attempt to play 16th notes instead of triplets, especially over a shuffle.
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