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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Counting - Pro's and Con's


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/394057

From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 11/19/2023:  07:35:47


I was reading an old Banjo Newsletter the other day (boy I miss BNL) and there was an article on counting. It said in 4/4 time to count: 1&2&3&4&.
It said in 2/4 time to count 1 & ee ah 2 & ee ah. It said it will help keep you from getting lost in a song and will help timing.

I was looking for what people thought the pro's and con's of counting are.
thanks,
ken

Texasbanjo - Posted - 11/19/2023:  08:11:59


I think counting is very helpful for new banjo players. It helps keep them in time and in tempo.



There are times when I'm trying to figure out a new song when I still count to be sure I have the right note on the right beat. I also pat my foot and count in my head sometimes while playing.



If beginners aren't counting, then they often tend to forget exactly where they are in the song and it makes it more difficult for them to hear the melody and pick along with the music/beat.



Some people may be able to hear the beat and not need to count, but that usually comes with experience, time, practice and playing with others.



Sometimes trying to count, find the right string/fret and keep in time make it very confusing for a beginner.   Practice, practice, practice will usually take care of that problem.


Edited by - Texasbanjo on 11/19/2023 08:14:37

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 11/19/2023:  08:18:21


I have two great banjo learning books that both asked the student to count until you can hear it in your head. Then both books said to use a metronome while learning new songs and practice. I have also found in lieu of a metronome a bass beat backtrack works and is fun. Jack hatfield suggests to always have a guitarist as your metronome, but assumes all guitarists can keep the beat better ha!

When i DONT do one of these things, I always play too fast and have a harder time learning a new song.

steve davis - Posted - 11/19/2023:  08:19:44


I think it helps a lot when writing tablature or figuring out how tunes with odd timing go.

Culloden - Posted - 11/19/2023:  08:44:45


quote:

Originally posted by NotABanjoYoda

I have two great banjo learning books that both asked the student to count until you can hear it in your head. Then both books said to use a metronome while learning new songs and practice. I have also found in lieu of a metronome a bass beat backtrack works and is fun. Jack hatfield suggests to always have a guitarist as your metronome, but assumes all guitarists can keep the beat better ha!



When i DONT do one of these things, I always play too fast and have a harder time learning a new song.






Jack Hatfield hasn't played with some of the guitar players that I have.



BTW, there are some people who like to count how how many beats each chord is played. I have played with some of them who have gotten a beat off and stayed that way, so that each chord change is out of place, all the way to the end of the song.

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 11/19/2023:  09:40:52


Now thats funny row row row your boat timing. lol

KCJones - Posted - 11/19/2023:  10:45:54


It'd be difficult to keep time without counting a bit. Beginners should probably count out loud, eventually counting in their head, and then eventually it just becomes subconscious.



Of course counting is even more important when you get into things that aren't 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. Good luck learning to play a song in 7/4 or 11/8 time without counting a bit. 



Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the 1. If everyone hits the 1 at the same time every time, it all falls into place. Everything in between is just gravy.


Edited by - KCJones on 11/19/2023 10:52:09

FenderFred - Posted - 11/19/2023:  11:30:37


quote:

Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I was reading an old Banjo Newsletter the other day (boy I miss BNL) and there was an article on counting. It said in 4/4 time to count: 1&2&3&4&.

It said in 2/4 time to count 1 & ee ah 2 & ee ah. It said it will help keep you from getting lost in a song and will help timing.



I was looking for what people thought the pro's and con's of counting are.

thanks,

ken






Hi Ken



I never count, but being ex- military I have an instinctive feel for the beat.



When I was learning to play banjo I bought one of Tony Trischka's DVD's where he discusses timing using the phrases 1&2&3&4&.

and & ee ah 2 & ee ah. And I have to say it confused the hell out of me. That said, it may answer many of your questions and help you if you care to check this out. Alas I cant remember the title of the DVD but I am sure if you dropped Tony an email he'd set you right.



I am not saying that counting is bad, you have to find your meter somehow. Whether it be counting, metronome, drum-machine, bass or guitar. Hope this is of some help.

monstertone - Posted - 11/19/2023:  11:36:49


Don't try to make this counting business any more complex than necessary. 4/4=1&2&3&4&. 2/4=1&2&,1&2&. Tap your foot up, down, up, down, the same for either 2/4 or 4/4. A metronome only knows TikTok, TikTok.

thisoldman - Posted - 11/19/2023:  11:37:16


I counted some when I first started. And still count once in a while. Beginner/easy arrangements sometimes include quarter (or even half) notes. So counting outloud helps you hear the rhythm, especially if you don't have the tune in your head. It seems to me to be the reason why it's a good idea to listen to the tune a number of times before you start working on it. If one is playing straight 8th notes, counting didn't seem to be necessary. But if you throw 16ths in there, counting could help.

steve davis - Posted - 11/19/2023:  12:43:48


I played concert snare from 4th grade to 12th in our school band.
We learned to read drum notation which is all the rhythms from whole notes to 16ths.
Often we would have to count 4-30 measures 1234/2234/3234/4234 ...30 234 and come in on the correct beat.
I like counting and there's no reason to get out of place if one counts correctly.
I saw a Bela Fleck tune that was timed at 17/6 and can't imagine playing that without counting.

Tim Jumper - Posted - 11/20/2023:  06:23:24


When you watch, say, an orchestra tympanist sit for ten or twelve minutes, then stand and begin pounding, right on the conductor's cue -- all that time sitting he's been counting measures a la Steve Davis's description.
Counting is a basic musical skill, and one I often find a necessity for working out a series of syncopated measures.

250gibson - Posted - 11/20/2023:  07:50:47


quote:

Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I was reading an old Banjo Newsletter the other day (boy I miss BNL) and there was an article on counting. It said in 4/4 time to count: 1&2&3&4&.

It said in 2/4 time to count 1 & ee ah 2 & ee ah. It said it will help keep you from getting lost in a song and will help timing.



I was looking for what people thought the pro's and con's of counting are.

thanks,

ken






In 4/4 you would count a measure of 8th notes as, 1&2&3&4&, 2/4 would be the same, except there is half of them per measure, 1&2&.  In 2/2 you would count 8th notes the same way you would count 16th notes in 4/4, ie:  1e&a2e&a, (counted out to 4 beats if 16th notes in 4/4)

NotABanjoYoda - Posted - 11/20/2023:  08:25:43


"I saw a Bela Fleck tune that was timed at 17/6 "

If i ever felt inclined to play such a tune Id listen to it then play the tabs then memorize it. I play some pretty complex things that change timing every measure. I tab them out for my band mates but make no attempt to capture the timing. I just play it for them and off we go to practice practice practice.

The drummer sometimes makes timing notes though.

monstertone - Posted - 11/20/2023:  09:09:30


OK, wise guys, so how does one count "poor" time? Like in Clinch Mountain Back Step, Tennessee Stud, etc? Long melodic run, or a more common example, would be when the vocalist fails to come in on time. Play this stuff long enough & you just develop a feel for it.

Tractor1 - Posted - 11/20/2023:  11:08:34


I like to stomp alternating feet--I get to cheatin -if just stomping one==I always relied on metronomes until I started getting keyboards with drum patterns and drum machineS--I would put a piezo pick up on the metronome and TURN IT UP---the machines etc. usually have waltz ,6/8 and shuffle patterns also

Texasbanjo - Posted - 11/20/2023:  11:20:14


quote:

Originally posted by monstertone

OK, wise guys, so how does one count "poor" time? Like in Clinch Mountain Back Step, Tennessee Stud, etc? Long melodic run, or a more common example, would be when the vocalist fails to come in on time. Play this stuff long enough & you just develop a feel for it.






You have  the right idea.  I've been in jams where the lead singer/picker couldn't count to 4 if he/she had to and you had to try to figure out how to keep up with whatever it was he/she was playing/singing.  It does take time,lots of jammin' and lots of patience.   I've been to jams where the person taking the break decided to add a few extra bars or even leave out a bar, change the chord sequence from what's usual, change the timing and so on.  It happens, you just roll with the punches, figure out how to get back in sync/stay with whatever is happening.



As far as those odd songs that change time for a bar or two, you can learn to count to 2 instead of 4  for a bar or two, or 3 instead of 6 or whatever you need to do.   Knowing the song and knowing where the time change comes in helps keep everything flowing smoothly. If you goof up, stop, figure out where everyone else is and get back in there. 



I've had to ad lib; i.e., add more hot licks, or do whatever was necessary to keep the song from fading away and leaving everyone red faced.  It can and is done all the time.  Singers forget a verse, let their mind wonder for a second and lose time and place.    Managing those difficult times is what makes a person a good musician.  If you can keep it together regardless of what happens, then you've made it to the title of musician.   Many people never get there, many do.

bellf - Posted - 11/20/2023:  11:51:02


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

I played concert snare from 4th grade to 12th in our school band.

We learned to read drum notation which is all the rhythms from whole notes to 16ths.

Often we would have to count 4-30 measures 1234/2234/3234/4234 ...30 234 and come in on the correct beat.

I like counting and there's no reason to get out of place if one counts correctly.

I saw a Bela Fleck tune that was timed at 17/6 and can't imagine playing that without counting.






Hi Steve, Do you know the name of that Bela Fleck tune? I'd like to listen to it. (I assume you meant to write 17/8. I'm not sure what 17/6 is.)

RB-1 - Posted - 11/20/2023:  12:47:29


I'd suspect it must have been a 7/8:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.



I'd count it as 1,2,3,1,2,1,2.

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 11/20/2023:  14:00:04


quote:

Originally posted by bellf

quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

I played concert snare from 4th grade to 12th in our school band.

We learned to read drum notation which is all the rhythms from whole notes to 16ths.

Often we would have to count 4-30 measures 1234/2234/3234/4234 ...30 234 and come in on the correct beat.

I like counting and there's no reason to get out of place if one counts correctly.

I saw a Bela Fleck tune that was timed at 17/6 and can't imagine playing that without counting.






Hi Steve, Do you know the name of that Bela Fleck tune? I'd like to listen to it. (I assume you meant to write 17/8. I'm not sure what 17/6 is.)






Seven by Seven maybe. NGR. 

chuckv97 - Posted - 11/20/2023:  14:44:10


Count?? I can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time !

Tractor1 - Posted - 11/20/2023:  15:20:54


this one has an extra 4 notes in the B part--I Stomp my feet alternating On a fiddle tune the 1 stays put left or right--when the extra note occurs --all of a sudden--the one is on the other foot---a wonderful job here


Edited by - Tractor1 on 11/20/2023 15:21:59

seanray - Posted - 11/20/2023:  17:51:32


I don't know anybody that counts when they're actually jamming. Like Steve said, counting is helpful for working out the tricking bits.

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