Is it just me?

Discussion in 'BBG Questions' started by sausage fingers, Jan 5, 2022.

  1. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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    I've been playing for a few years and have alot of fun but taking this course has shown me I know nothing about counting For me it seems impossible. Its like trying to sing and play or playing a thump and trying to play licks. I know counting is important, but what happens when your are playing fast licks? I can barely say 1,2,3,4, let alone 1 and a 2 and a 3 etc!
    Is it possible to keep the timing naturally?
    Thanks
     
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  2. WilliaJahn

    WilliaJahn Blues Newbie

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    I have never posted before, but I had to here. I gave up the beginners course for this exact reason. I grew up with 3 chord rockers, played rhythm in a 70s rock band as a kid. Everything was 1 2,3 4. I tried and tried to count 1 and a. My brain just could not connect. Gave up for almost a year. I then started Griff's strumming course. For what ever reason I started to slowly get it. Maybe the hand motion? Don't know, but I went back to beginners blues course and could finally do it, really slowly at 1st. I had to actually write under the notes, 1 and a. It was painful. Finally I could count out loud and play along with Griff on the slow versions But full speed I could play along but not count at the same time, I thought the same thing this is never gonna happen! I swear, it was only the other day, I found myself counting and playing full speed with out even noticing it happened! That's my story, maybe will help? The strumming book that is. (BTW didnt even finish that book before I went back to beginner blues). Hang in there, it can happen.
     
  3. snarf

    snarf making guitars wish they were still trees

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    2 things. First, you get better with counting the more you do it, so you can count more complicated rhythms (like triplets and 1/16th notes). Second, until you can play it, you play it slow enough that you can count it.

    You're where a lot of us were when we discovered Griff. True story. I thought I had a good handle on time when I started BGU, but I couldn't count and play to save my life. I could tap my foot and count. Or I could play. But put them together and I was a mess. The other night I was in my little music room playing along to a jam track, and I realized that not only was I playing a lick I had just learned, but I was counting triplets out loud and tapping one foot on the 1 and 3 and the other foot on 2 and 4. When I started with Griff, I thought that doing something like that only happened to those that play in the rarified air that's way above my skill level (like Griff). Turns out we all can (and should) do it, but it's very much a learned skill.

    Keep working it, and eventually you'll realize that you're counting those triplets and not even realize you're doing it.
     
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  4. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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    Thanks for the reply’s. I’m almost 60 years old. I have no intention on ever being in a band and never will do the guitar for more than occasional pleasure. I play “on the porch” (I have his lessons on that, and I seem to do fine learning that slowly but my cadence has always been a mimic of the lick I hear. I understand if I was following tab on a song without hearing it, timing and counting would be critical, but I’m just repeating what I hear. I just wonder how necessary it is for a casual player with no serious intentions to play? I could never play drums, I just can’t seem to disconnect my fingers from my lacking brain!
     
  5. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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    I dedicated 2 hours tonight to do just the first four bars of sitting easy blues. I memorized Griffs pace and the tabs and sounded descent. Then I did the counting at the same time and I slowed down at least ten times. It took so much more effort to play the notes on the AND and on the A, especially bar 4 with the 1/8 notes! It was there that I found the trip-a-la blues cadence that I've heard Marty Schwartz talk about. I just dont know how it will be possible to speed this up trying to remember everything. I have to play it on the slow setting at 1/2 speed on the speed control and I still cant keep up even though its in slow motion! This is beyond frustrating
     
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  6. JohnHurley

    JohnHurley Rock and Roll

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    First off guitar playing needs to be fun. Do whatever you need to do to still keep having fun.

    If it aint fun you will stop doing it.

    Play some of the songs you love full speed and butcher them maybe as needed and have fun!

    The older we are I think when we start playing "semi" serious guitar if we did not start playing and counting when young the longer it is going to take to program your brain to do the counting. Build in some "off fun" time to work on the counting. You can do the counting exercises listening along to songs and counting them not necessarily playing guitar.

    Mike S has a saying that you need to count until you dont need to count. At some point it does become automatic in your brain but it takes a very long time for some of us to get there. The counting is work not so much fun but it is programming your brain and is building new connections and mapping things somewhere up there. Your brain can do it ha ha but it aint easy ...

    You will know when you have the counting down when you can "stay off the 1" and you can switch between alternating triplets and sixteenth note runs ( thats my experience ). If you are doing 16th notes or fast triplets yeah it is hard maybe impossible depending on the song and how fast it is to count them out verbally maybe your throat and lips etc cant go that fast ... so in that case count it out mentally in your brain?

    Best luck man ... the counting does help eventually but its like you are lost in a dark woods at night its hard to get there from here.
     
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  7. MikeS

    MikeS Allen, TX
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    Most of us have been on that same frustrating road. I find that there are two types of people. The ones that stick with it and learn to play and the ones that give up when they are right at the edge of learning it. Which are you?

    Also remember that at this point, the cadence is not important (Each note does NOT have to be played for the correct duration). The main thing that matters is that if the tabs says play a note on the & of 2, be sure that that's where you play it (no matter how slow or Jerky you have to play).
    If it come out as 1.....&a........2.....&......a.... 3&a. Regardless of the space between notes, as long as you play the notes when the music shows it to be played, you are doing great for now. The rest will come fairly quickly.
     
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  8. MarcV

    MarcV Blues Junior

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    @sausage fingers
    Just to repeat. The key thing is to have fun. You mentioned working on something for two hours and still not "getting it". That is sure fire way to want to just give up, especially with the counting. For anything complicated limit the counting aspect of your practice to set period of time, 15 to 20 minutes then work on something fun.
    I have a little different take as I have been working with Griff and his materials for a little over two years, working on the counting thing and I still don't have it down. There have been improvements but I still struggle with anything that has complicated timing.
    I have tackled some of the more complicated solos in BGU unleashed gotten them to where they sound pretty good and in time with the music, to the point that I am really satisfied with the result, but I still can't count them perfectly.

    My point being, yes good counting is the gold standard as everyone is saying, but don't let the inability to count something prevent you from playing it, if that makes any sense.

    One more recommendation if you are All Access Pass member.
    Check out rhythm figure sessions Griff did in November. There are two of them and found this to be great way to practice counting. You can actually practice things without even having the guitar in your hands
     
    #8 MarcV, Jan 6, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
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  9. BraylonJennings

    BraylonJennings Tearing it up at the campfire

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    You can get away with a lot of inconsistencies when you play solo but not when you join anyone else or use backing tracks. I put off serious counting way too long. I'm working at it and seeing some improvement. Last night the power was off so I spent an hour on the long ascending lick in solo 6 which has been a problem smoothing out. On an acoustic, going very slow, I was finally able to start seeing the triplet feel all through the lick, instead of just trying to cram all the notes in before it ends. For me going slow and counting is vital for learning. Once I start putting licks in songs, the timing becomes more natural provided I've got the basic work done. I've got a long way to go before I can find the subtleties of being before or after the beat. Just trying to find the beat now without rushing.
     
  10. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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    Thanks so much guys for the response and encouragement. This forum is great. Your right. I had to stop a few times and play a song or two I know along with YouTube to keep my sanity. This is my old untrained brain fighting to learn. Hopefully things will come to me. I looked up Howlin Wolfs Smokestack lightning because I loved the riff. I watched the Instructer do the “simple” thumb bass beat and play the song. I then tried it and screamed impossible trying it for a day. Then it finally sank in and I was able to keep time and play the song hitting the notes on the off beat. I guess persistence and practice is key.
    I have a question that is probably lame but I’ll ask it anyway. If you are listening to a slow jam track and you just play a blues scale in key, making up notes, aren’t you keeping time to the space between chord changes and not counting out individual notes? If I make something up it’s more of a sense to how long I can play the lick adding notes or holding them based on the basic timing between the chords. Essentially do you guys use the 1&a2&a when playing licks even when you make it up? I finally see how it’s necessary for a musician looking at a sheet to know if notes are 1/4 1/8 etc and rests. Without a counting system there would be no melody, but when you improvise a melody in your head is it still that necessary when you are going off feel?
    If that makes sense, ha
     
  11. JohnHurley

    JohnHurley Rock and Roll

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    Yeah the counting takes a long long time to sync and I am much better ... but it will always deserve time and attention and practice.

    Im more like at the three years now into counting and its worth investing it.

    Im really boring and so I try to make up some fun counting drills and mix them up? Its not all glam and bright lights shocking as that may be to some of my many fans.
     
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  12. JohnHurley

    JohnHurley Rock and Roll

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    Sometimes totally yes you should go off the reservation turn off any attempts to count and play free. Sometimes ...

    But for me working on getting better ... ( stay off the one right ) ... so yeah practice it ...

    Counting at least mentally 1 and ah <== PLAY NOTHING aka right hand hits no strings

    2 and ah <== Sure start something maybe start higher in a box and go down

    3 <= Sit on the three count it out but ONLY play 3 it becomes a quarter note

    4 and ah <== Maybe go back up the box you are on?

    Next measure maybe ... Stay off the one ( so count and dont play it )

    2 <== make it a half note hold it all the way through 2 and 3

    4 and ah <== whatever you want ...

    Its not too many licks that you want to keep playing triplets the whole measure but sometimes you do it 2 measures in a row all triplets?
     
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  13. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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    Thanks Again
    Im going to get this whole song memorized over the next week. Then before going any further in the course I will keep practicing it at least till I can get up to his SLOW speed. But without a doubt I will keep playing my other songs as well to keep the enthusiasm up!
     
  14. sausage fingers

    sausage fingers Blues Newbie

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  15. JonathanJowers

    JonathanJowers j2 "J Squared"

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    Thanks for posting. Exact scenario for me. I've been ignoring the discipline required to count well. I recently joined and I'm focused. The responses are helpful and reinforcing. Again, Thanks.
     
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  16. JonathanJowers

    JonathanJowers j2 "J Squared"

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    Good tips. Thanks
     
  17. Miles

    Miles Blues Newbie

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    Hello, This subject come up all the time. Easy answer is - No, it is not just you. In fact it is almost everyone. People who learn musical instruments in a classical way always learn how to count time. It seems guitarists think themselves immune. This is a shame because music is all about what notes and when to play them.

    I also used to think that I'll learn the notes and then get the timing right later. As @Griff always says, this is not the right way to go. It may seem strange but it is easier to learn a piece of music with the correct timing. The correct timing makes it more memorable. Having said that; if you are not used to learning complete solos (for example) the first few will be very slow. Like most things practice makes things easier (or "Practice makes permanent" as Justin says - www.justinguitar.com).

    I used to find all of this quite confusing until I took the advice to heart. I have attached a pdf file of a solo of Griff's from BGU which I have added some annotations. The rests are in red the notes are in green. The count here is a straight feel so it is basically a 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + count for each bar. Some of the bends are a bit quicker - 16th notes. Here the count would be 1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a, but since these are only occasionally used I just use the 'e' and 'a' where appropriate.

    If the rhythm was a shuffle feel using triplets I would use 1 + u 2 + u 3 + u 4+ u. If it was shuffle feel 8th notes then 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +.The scribblings take a little time the first time out but you soon get used to the different time values of the notes. When practicing you do not need to count in time; just make sure when you say the count-number you are playing the right thing. Gaps in the time-line are not important when you are starting out on a piece or starting to learn it. Once the notes and count are known you can practice to play it all in the correct time with a metronome or jam track.

    This is all stuff that @MikeS, @Paleo and @Griff (and others) keep saying. And it's true.

    Keep at it - it does get easier the more you do it. Remember how long it took to get your first few chords under your fingers and the age it took to change between them.

    Good luck.

    Miles.
     

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  18. JonathanJowers

    JonathanJowers j2 "J Squared"

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    Miles,
    Excellent advice and recommendation. Thanks for the.pdf with annotations. I'm on it!!! j2
     
  19. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    This is everything good and right in the world to me :Beer:
     
  20. JohnHurley

    JohnHurley Rock and Roll

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    Im still waiting for the T shirt Griff owes me!

    Struggling to overcome the perceived evils of counting …