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mathhag

Rhythm

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I have been playing since late September. On my own alas.

I have been practicing many tunes using Gary Coovers books , abc notation,some tunes that Doug Barr gave me and OAIM . I think I am making progress BUT

I am pretty sure I need to work on rhythm or cadence or whatever we want to call it.

If I really know a tune I might be alright but I want to really develop a solid understanding.

Any recommendations? I am trying to use a metronome . It is difficult but I will stick with it if that is the best way.

This is my first instrument and I do not really read music.

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Is this a perception problem, like you don't know what to play from the notation, or a playing problem? If it's a playing problem, be sure to keep the metronome slow enough that you can keep up with it flawlessly. Speed comes with practice, once you get the notes and rhythm ground deeply into your head and fingers.

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Is this a perception problem, like you don't know what to play from the notation, or a playing problem? If it's a playing problem, be sure to keep the metronome slow enough that you can keep up with it flawlessly. Speed comes with practice, once you get the notes and rhythm ground deeply into your head and fingers.

I think it is some of both. I really don’t understand the beat notation and I probably need to play slower until I get it down pat.

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Posted (edited)

My piano teacher suggested that I forget playing and clap the rhythm when I was having problems. There's a whole book based on that method, but maybe you should try it on the tunes until you figure them out. It's always best to strip problems down to their essentials rather than having to do other things (fingering notes) at the same time.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Studying-Rhythm-Anne-Carothers-Hall/dp/0136145205/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1524577292&sr=1-2&keywords=studying+rhythm+hall

Edited by mdarnton

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Posted (edited)

Actually, keeping a rock steady and secure rhythm is one of the positively non negotiable and most elementary skills of any musician but in particular for the kind of music most of us practice (because most make music for dancers, and dancers will forgive everything BUT rhythmic problems).

So it's very wise of you to spend thoughts about the issue. I definitely advise in favor of a metronome or a rhythm computer. I almost always use a metronome as soon as I have remembered a tune well enough but in any case whenever I make a recording.

Yes, it is difficult for the brain to incorporate this additional disturbance. It's a skill that is somewhat independent of the skill of playing a piece undisturbed, so it must be practiced separately (the expected reaction of the brain when you first try is is "WHAT? I can't make sense of this. Stop it. Shutdown."). However, very similar to where you first learnt a tune for yourself (one step at a time), playing alongside a metronome is a one step at a time process, and you'll gradually become better at it as you do it. Remember how you learnt to ride a bicycle; you'd find the pedal position to enter the bike, then roll a wheel's turn or two until you almost lost it, then jump off and keep doing it. Same thing with the metronome. Learn to identify the "1" beat, play the corresponding note of the first phrase. In the beginning that'll be the end and you'll get thrown off, but if you know your tune well enough, you'll be able to add the second note in a while, so find another "1" beat, play the "1" note again and try to add the second note in the right place. Keep repetaing that until you have a complete phrase and go on from there. VERY satisfying once that works.

There are at least two added benefits of falling into the habit of playing alongside a metronome: First, it'll objectively tell you where in any given place in any tune you have deficiencies (either in memorizing what note comes next or motorically reaching the next note), and second, it'll make it easier for you to play in a session or a band context (because it's a similar challenge playing alongside other musicians).

Alternatively, you can try playing alongside a recording (a UT video or a sound file) to accomplish a similar effect, but using a metronome is somewhat easier for beginners because the metronome allows you to pick up lost threads at any time or loop difficult pieces. When you play against a recording, you don't have the freedom because the tune will simply go on without you (as it will once you're in a session).

Edited by RAc

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I'm a fan of playing along with recordings to get the hang of a tune. Metronomes are fine for helping you maintain a steady pace, but they don't have much to offer when it comes to capturing the phrasing and the "lift" of an ITM tune. They don't phrase; they don't "lift." If you get a good quality computer playback program designed for musicians (Amazing Slow Downer or Anytune Pro + to name a couple), you can put up a recording of your favorite player, loop any part of the tune you want, and slow it down a lot while keeping the pitch.

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I'm a fan of playing along with recordings to get the hang of a tune. Metronomes are fine for helping you maintain a steady pace, but they don't have much to offer when it comes to capturing the phrasing and the "lift" of an ITM tune. They don't phrase; they don't "lift." If you get a good quality computer playback program designed for musicians (Amazing Slow Downer or Anytune Pro + to name a couple), you can put up a recording of your favorite player, loop any part of the tune you want, and slow it down a lot while keeping the pitch.

 

Won't disagree with you. The two are not mutually exclusive; there's a place, time and arguments for and against each.

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Do you dance at all yourself, by chance? Way back in my youth I used to play clarinet, and always found it a bit tricky to really get the rhythm. But then over the last several years, before I picked up the concertina, I started going to contra dances, and it's done so much to improve my sense of rhythm. Now when I sit down to play a jig or a reel, I just imagine that I'm dancing to my own music, and everything just kind of falls into place - my feet know where the beats need to be, and they communicate it to my hands.

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Do you dance at all yourself, by chance? Way back in my youth I used to play clarinet, and always found it a bit tricky to really get the rhythm. But then over the last several years, before I picked up the concertina, I started going to contra dances, and it's done so much to improve my sense of rhythm. Now when I sit down to play a jig or a reel, I just imagine that I'm dancing to my own music, and everything just kind of falls into place - my feet know where the beats need to be, and they communicate it to my hands.

Dancing is my soul. I love it and do it daily. Seems like it should help

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Excellent comments all about rhythm - it's probably the hardest thing to learn, and usually comes after getting the mechanicals all sorted out to the point of mindless familiarity. Once you're past the point of worrying about which button and which direction, then you can start to really breathe some life into the tune.

 

For me it's really important to listen obsessively to live and recorded versions of the tune, even if on different instruments. A good friend of mine was an absolutely dreadful fiddler if you just listened to the notes and intonation, but he had that old time rhythm and energy thing goin' on strong.

 

At one of the workshops at the Old Palestine Concertina Weekend a few years ago, Bertram Levy actually had one of the students get up and step, or dance, the feeling of a particular phrase arm-in arm with him. I love English Morris tunes for their quirkiness, and having been a Morris dancer for many years it has really helped my playing by knowing what dance steps are likely occurring during various phrases, and taking to heart the excellent advice about using the music to help lift the dancers feet off the ground.

 

So, perhaps, like the Fayre Four Sisters before you (and many other music hall performers), you will someday learn to dance and play at the same time!

 

 

Gary

 

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Are we talking about beat (that to which you can tap your foot or clap along with) or rhythm (the duration of notes and rests measured as fractions and/or multiples of a beat duration)?

 

Most of the answers so far seem to be addressing beat, but I suspect that the original question may have been more about rhythm. Beat comes first because rhythm is measured in beats, but controlling rhythm is a distinct exercise.

 

When learning a new piece I usually count (1, 2, 3-e-an-a, 4) it out slowly while tapping my foot on the beats, not the notes. I have tried using Kodaly rhythm symbols and the Takadimi system, but I keep returning to simple counting. I find the rhythm of long rests, a dotted whole note rest for example, really challenging.

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A good starting point for developing a basic understanding of common rhythms is to find tunes or songs that you know in each of the various time signatures, then sing/hum/play them and pay attention to how the rhythm works. You should not cont the individual notes, but the individual beats, and the groups of beats that make up each bar.

 

For example, Nelly the Elephant is in 6/8 time.

 

Another way is to walk down the road at a reasonably brisk pace, counting your paces. This works well for:

2/4 (or 2/2) time which is a march.

4/4 time.

3/4 time (waltzes. The song, "Wild Rover".

 

6/8 time should be thought of as equivalent to 2/4 time, but with each of the two beats a "diddly" (triplet).

 

9/8 is 3 beats of "diddly".

 

Drummers count rhythms as follows

1 2 | 1 2 | 1 & 2 & | 1 & 2 & | 1 e & a 2 e & a | 1 e & a 2 e & a |

 

Each of those bars is the same length.

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