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beat and groove

Discussion in 'Forum Archives' started by Lloyd Barre, Nov 29, 2003.

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  1. Lloyd Barre

    Lloyd Barre Guest Thread Starter

    I wanted to pass on a musical tip that has help me greatly. It concerns producing different grooves by playing against the beat in different ways.

    Basically, we have three options--to play on the beat, to play ahead of the beat or to play behind the beat. The last is commonly referred to as playing "in the pocket." While virtually absent from the local groups I have seen, it is fairly common among top players. But do not make the mistake of thinking that playing in the pocket is applicable to up tempo tunes. For an example of a ballad in which the rhythm section plays in the pocket see Larry Carlton's "Closer to Home." Or see many tunes by Hall and Oates.

    For some reason, it is fairly common for stand up bassists to play ahead of the beat. But for an excellent example of the entire rhythm section playing ahead of the beat, see David Sanborn's "Comin' Home Baby."

    Playing off the beat, either ahead or behind it, generates a good deal of groove energy. This is because the slight interval between the (implied) straight beat and the actual off-the-beat beat creates a dynamic slapback effect. A good non-musical example of the pocket effect can be observed when one throws a baseball into a mitt. What happens here is that the mitt sounds initially when the ball hits the mitt and again when the ball penetrates the pocket completely.

    This is not to say that one should never play on the beat. But you will probably be surprised at how many tunes sound WAY better off the beat. This concept is also applicable to solos! On a personal note, I can recall four times when I applied these principle and evoked amazement from other players.

    So give it a try. You will probably end up scarin' em.

    Lloyd Barre
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