April 01, 2007

#153: Developing the Groove

Bill writes:

I've looked all over your site to find information about developing a groove or flow but I can't find it. I play with a group here and sometimes we have it, sometimes we don't. What are some pointers when playing with others to develop this feeling? What are the roles of the different instruments such as banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass that create this?

Bill,

This is a wonderful question, but I'm at a loss for how to put an answer into words.

Everyone has to feel the beat, and feel it the same way, so that when everyone hits it, there is a real feeling of pulse. Needn't be hard hitting, but well-linked, comfortable and confident.

If anyone is struggling, it usually violates the beat and the feel enough to be disruptive.

Listening hard to each other is always good.

If anyone has a tendency to rush or drag, they are well advised to use a metronome or drum machine when they practice at home, and note places where they tend to rush or drag, and fix them.

If you record yourselves, sometimes various disruptive tendencies can be detected, blame assigned, and culprit corrected.

If you record with a Pro Tools setup, it's possible to analyze visually even, who's ahead or behind.

Most of all, everyone needs to be concerned about group timing, and listening to each other.

Hope that helps!

Pete Wernick