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Thread: Help with Timing

  1. #1

    Default Help with Timing

    Sorry posted this elsewhere buit didn't get any responses;

    Guys and Gals, I understand that the Mandolin in Bluegrass is on the 2 & 4. But then is it the same when playing say Country or Swing or Irish tunes?

    Thanks in advance!!

    Learning! and near 70 years young

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    I'll be foolish enough to take a stab at a brief answer, which is what you're probably expecting, keeping in mind that a truly VALID answer would require several volumes of analyzing the dozen or more types of music encompassed in your question. Here goes:

    You asked, "But then is it the same when playing say...":

    Country: Yes, some, maybe even most, of the time.

    Swing: No. Those "older" types of music more often chord "on" the beat, or may syncopate imaginatively.

    Irish: Definitely not. (Well, maybe a bit for "popular-ish" Clancy. Bros.-type stuff.) In ITM, or Irish Traditional Music, which is sort of fiddle-tune based, MOST instruments play the melody in unison. If there is a guitar playing chords, they're often improvised on the spot and may change from verse to verse. Having more than one guitar, much less a mandolin, playing chords is almost impossible unless you're well-rehearsed beforehand. But that means you're not really improvising at all, so not really ITM.

    Some opinions will vary, and some will want to mock me - hey, that's okay!

    (There!! THAT oughtta get some responses!)
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Sep-12-2019 at 9:28pm.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    I'll be foolish enough to take a stab at a brief answer, which is what you're probably expecting, keeping in mind that a truly VALID answer would require several volumes of analyzing the dozen or more types of music encompassed in your question. Here goes:

    You asked, "But then is it the same when playing say...":

    Country: Yes, some, maybe even most, of the time.

    Swing: No. Those "older" types of music more often chord "on" the beat, or may syncopate imaginatively.

    “Irish: Definitely not. (Well, maybe a bit for "popular-ish" Clancy. Bros.-type stuff.) In ITM, or Irish Traditional Music, which is sort of fiddle-tune based, MOST instruments play the melody in unison. If there is a guitar playing chords, they're often improvised on the spot and may change from verse to verse. Having more than one guitar, much less a mandolin, playing chords is almost impossible unless you're well-rehearsed beforehand. But that means you're not really improvising at all, so not really ITM.

    Some opinions will vary, and some will want to mock me - hey, that's okay!

    (There!! THAT oughtta get some responses!)

    With regard to ITM I think you’re right on.
    '06 Collings MT
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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    But that means you're not really improvising at all, so not really ITM.
    That there's no generally-agreed-upon set of chord changes for 99% of the tunes doesn't mean that guitarists are improvising their parts.

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    That there's no generally-agreed-upon set of chord changes for 99% of the tunes doesn't mean that guitarists are improvising their parts.
    I would argue that it does mean that in the general sense. Each guitar player in Irish trad backing is essentially making up their own arrangement of each tune accompaniment. Sometimes even doing it "on the fly" for a tune they're not very familiar with.

    A melody may strongly suggest a certain chord, but in many cases the choice for harmony is ambiguous because the tune is shifting modes, or uses a gapped scale. A guitar or bouzouki backer is basically on their own in figuring out what to do in those cases; whether to make a stronger harmonic statement or back off and avoid using the third in a chord to keep things ambiguous. There are no rules for that, no fixed chord choices.

    When I'm backing ITM on guitar, I don't always know what chords I'll be using, even for a tune I know fairly well. It's just an instinct for following the implied harmony -- or lack of it, dropping the thirds -- in each tune as it comes along. I think it's fair to call that improvised backing. It's why many ITM pub sessions request only one guitar player at a time, because improvised chord choices can clash and be distracting.

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    It's why many ITM pub sessions request only one guitar player at a time, because improvised chord choices can clash and be distracting.
    Agreed.

    What's customary for sessions, however, is not customary for ITM bands, and certainly not conventional for the genre to the point where if you're not really improvising, it's not really ITM.

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Agreed.

    What's customary for sessions, however, is not customary for ITM bands, and certainly not conventional for the genre to the point where if you're not really improvising, it's not really ITM.
    Oh sure, bands are a different situation. The accompaniment is usually rehearsed enough that it isn't going to change once you get on stage.

    I don't think of improvised accompaniment as a necessary feature of the style, just something important to understand, because the first exposure for beginners (like the OP) is typically an amateur local session and not a band. And it helps to explain why jams in Americana styles like Bluegrass, Blues, Country, and (to a certain extent) OldTime can support a Guitar Army banging away on common chords, and that doesn't work in an ITM session.

    Or I should say most ITM sessions, because there are always exceptions and local variants. I've been in sessions where two guitar players or a guitar and bouzouki player manage to weave around each other's harmony and make it work. It isn't common though. Usually more than one guitar player is a train wreck.

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    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Every style of music has its own 'rules of the road.' My youth was spent in the percussion section which leads to horrors in the eyes of my bluegrass bandmates when I fall back onto my internal sense of rhythm. They are expecting a solid 2-4 chop beat and my heart is hearing John Bonham triplets.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by trodgers View Post
    Every style of music has its own 'rules of the road.' My youth was spent in the percussion section which leads to horrors in the eyes of my bluegrass bandmates when I fall back onto my internal sense of rhythm. They are expecting a solid 2-4 chop beat and my heart is hearing John Bonham triplets.
    I can relate. I was a Rock drummer in garage bands in my misspent teenage years. And yeah, if you're in that Bonham mode of playing just a hair behind the beat to make it sound earth-shaking heavy, when your Bluegrass mates want you to play a hair ahead of the beat for "drive," then you'll be in trouble. Monroe wouldn't approve.

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    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I can relate. I was a Rock drummer in garage bands in my misspent teenage years. And yeah, if you're in that Bonham mode of playing just a hair behind the beat to make it sound earth-shaking heavy, when your Bluegrass mates want you to play a hair ahead of the beat for "drive," then you'll be in trouble. Monroe wouldn't approve.
    Ginger Baker ain't no part of nothin'.
    One of my favorite places to be is on the "and" 8th note behind the 4th beat of the measure. I get a lot of side eye.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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    Default Re: Help with Timing

    Quote Originally Posted by prairieschooner View Post
    Sorry posted this elsewhere buit didn't get any responses;

    Guys and Gals, I understand that the Mandolin in Bluegrass is on the 2 & 4. But then is it the same when playing say Country or Swing or Irish tunes?

    Thanks in advance!!

    Learning! and near 70 years young
    I di post this in your other thread:

    From what I understand the Bluegrass chop is a chord on beats 2 and 4, usually a closed fingering one.

    Country could have chords on 2 and 4, the "backbeats", but could have other strums depending on the song - like a waltz in 3/4.

    Swing music MAY at times like some styles of Dixieland be in 2-beat feel, but most jazz and swing is in 4 beat, so one would play all 4 beats, 1-2-3-4.

    In ITM you may play some chords, but mandolin is typically more of a melody instrument and plays what the fiddle, pipes, whistles and button boxes play.

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