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 Back to the Tempo Dispatch Archives  

ISSUE #16___\__\__\__\__\__________/__/__/__/__/ APRIL, 1998

     ___________________________________________________

                        TABLE OF CONTENTS
                     What is in this issue?
             Contents:
               1. Feature Article: Feeling The Backbeat
               2. Bass Player Joke


     ________________________________________________________

LEARNING TO HEAR AND FEEL THE BACKBEATS:

The BACKBEAT is the key to everything rhythmic in
music! My experience with thousands of young beginning
drummers has taught me one thing. Some students seem to
possess a natural feel for the backbeat while others must
be trained to feel it.


VERY IMPORTANT!
The ability to feel the backbeat of a song is crucial
to becoming a drummer. If you feel the backbeat strongly
enough, it is possible to become a drummer without formal
instructions and lessons. Without a special sensitivity for
the backbeat flow in a song, you may never become a drummer,
no matter how many lessons you may take.


If you know what I am talking about and and if you possess
this feel for the backbeat already, then this lesson may not
be for you.

This very special lesson is for those of you who do not
know what I am talking about.

WHAT IS THE 'BACKBEAT'?
The backbeat in a song is usually the dominant repeating
snare sound that flows through the music. In all forms
of 4/4 the backbeats are on the counts of 2 & 4 in each bar.

The secret to 'feeling' the backbeat is in developing PATIENT
LISTENING HABITS . . .

DO THIS, NOW . . .
Learn to 'feel' the backbeat . . .


ˇ 1. Let a 4/4 tune play on your stereo system or radio.
(Almost every song you may hear will be in some form of 4/4.)
Find something with a moderate tempo . . . Get a song with a
solid but simple drum part . . . at a medium tempo (not too
fast and not too slow.)

..........................................................
NOTE:
ABOUT 99% OF ALL THE MUSIC PLAYING RIGHT NOW
ON YOUR RADIO IS IN SOME FORM OF 4/4 . . .
..........................................................

ˇ 2. Get one ear into the speaker system or headphones.
ˇ 3. Pick out the dominant, repeating, accented snare sound
in the music. In some complex songs, you may hear additional
snare notes that are falling around the backbeat. Ignore those!

Just listen for the strongest, loudest accented snare notes.
Now clap your hands in-time with these 'BACKBEATS' as the
drummer plays the song. YOU HAVE FOUND IT! Virtually every
song you'll hear will be held together by this 'flowing'
backbeat. The other musicians in the group tend to rely on
the drummers backbeat to get their tempo and timing correct.

Our job (when we do it correctly) is to maintain this 'backbeat'
with 'swiss-watch' precision. If we can't hold it steady . . .
the band usually disintegrates and we get a thumbs down,
'raspberry', haha. (BAD DRUMMER!) But IF we can hold a SOLID
backbeat through out ALL songs . . . we are considered a
WINNER and a candidate for MUCH praise & worship, haha.

REMEMBER THIS, ALWAYS!
It really doesn't matter to the other band members how
FANCY we play! They usually don't give a hoot about that.
They want us to HELP THEM 'FEEL' THE BACKBEATS, while THEY
impress and 'wow' the the world with their own ingenious
and masterful musical techniques. ;>)

So . . . the DRUMMER IN DEMAND is the one who can lay
that backbeat in there with no mistake . . . consistently . . .
throughout EVERY piece of music.

HOW TO 'FEEL' THE BACKBEAT . . .
How do we acquire this indisputable perfection with our
time measurement and 'feel' for the backbeat?
Practice, Practice, Practice (with recorded music!)

Memorize ALL the BASIC 4/4 Dancebeats first (in a future
lesson), then Jam with every conceivable type of recorded
song. Listen for the recorded drummer, ALWAYS. Strive to
acquire an indisputable 'feel' for tempo and a solid 'backbeat',
no matter how softly we may be required to play. This can
prove to be a contradiction at times, with 'some' forms of soft,
laid-back, music.

Anyway, the secret to ALL drumming is buried in this backbeat
concept. The 'backbeat' IS the quintessential 'BACKBONE' of
the music . . . ALL MUSIC. If we feel the backbeat strongly,
and learn to lay it in there dominantly . . . we can BE THE
BEST!

EVERYTHING . . . and I mean EVERYTHING in music is based
around that backbeat flow of the song . . . This includes
fancy fills, complex syncopations and all of the intricate
jazz techniques that a drummer might play. Those other
incidental intricacies just CAN'T HAPPEN until the backbeat
has been established in a commanding way . . . (usually by
the drummer.)


. . . BUT, * NOT ONLY * THE DRUMMER!
The other (rhythm) instruments in the band are normally
working as a team WITH the drummer, to help establish a
solid backbeat flow.

The rhythm guitarist will usually play a 'chucking' rhythm
sound on the backbeats . . . Pianists and keyboard players
will usually compliment the backbeats throughout a song with
repetitious notes (normally played in the higher register)
on the counts of 2 & 4 in 4/4 time . . . ACCENTING
the 'backbeats'.

NOTE:
*  3/4 time usually consists of 2 backbeats per bar on the
counts of 2 & 3.

*  5/4 and other odd time signatures usually
contain 3 or more backbeats per bar. These 'lop-sided' signatures
are only used rarely in jazz and other complex music styles . . .

It is best to stick with common 4/4 music styles in the beginning
until that unique 'feel' for the backbeat has been developed, then
move into 3/4 grooves before progressing on to the really complex
signatures.

ENCOURAGING NEWS!
ˇ We can miss cymbal notes . . . No problem!
ˇ We can blow it with our fancy bass drum licks . . . NO PROBLEM!
ˇ We can omit most of the intricate rhythmic variations! That's OK too.
ˇ The BACKBEAT is the important thing! If we lay it down
PERFECTLY, we are OK! If we don't? Well, we had better enjoy slinging
burgers or pumping gas!

You will find the above to be true in ALL professional
situations. Remember it always!

            ............................................

     ________________________________________________________
    |__________________HUMOROUS STORY________________________|
                      Bass Player Joke

Near-Death Experience
     A bass player had a near death experience that has
changed life his forever.
     The other day, he went horseback riding. Everything
was going fine until the horse started bouncing out of control.
He tried with all his might to hang on, but was thrown off.

     Just when things could not possibly get worse, his foot
got caught in the stirrup. When this happened, he fell head
first to the ground. His head continued to bounce harder as
the horse did not stop or even slow down.

     Just as he was giving up hope and losing consciousness,
the Wal-Mart manager came out and unplugged it.

        ..........................................

     Thanks, Keith (of Keith's Korner).

   Your future career may LITERALLY depend on  THIS IDEA.

                  END OF TEMPO DISPATCH #16  APRIL, 1998

Copyright Bill Powelson 1994 all rights reserved.