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Thread: Timing issues

  1. #26
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    I think the music sells better if it’s more uniform, people know what to expect and are happy when they get what they do expect.
    And thankfully, from the musician’s point of view people mostly don’t expect too much!

    I think it’s easier to play this style with the singing voice because most people have a reasonable idea of what the last word in a specific phrase will be, and therefore they will know when the chord change arrives, and the chorus begins even if it’s on 5/8 or 7/8 or whatever. It’s like beginning the song at the end of each phrase.

    It’s going to be a bit harder to judge where the turn point is if someone’s doing a solo on mandolin. Most solos resolve to something at the end, especially if it’s a recurring theme in the tune or a recurring style of the player.

    For impro it’s probably one player at a time though.

    And playing like this seems like it would be pretty tiring though because you’d have to really listen to each soloist to be able to come in at the ‘right’ time.
    Irregular call and response between two soloists could be really exciting to hear though.
    Simon, in Hello Stranger it was the irregular call and response of the vocalists that threw me. From the very first “put your lovin hand in mind”, it seemed to me that the second singer was coming in each time at an odd beat. If there was a pattern, I didn’t figure it out. Love the song, respect the tradition but can’t do it that way when I play with others. Originally, in this thread, I was really just wondering what the second singer was doing when she came in at the time she came in with her singing. Was it a pattern of coming in early, random or what? I find it fascinating that folks can play together so smoothly with such “crooked timing”.
    Songs like “Uncle John’s Band” I get. I hear the switch in timing and I see the pattern. I can feel how it’s going. This version of Hello Stranger does knock me for a loop though. I can’t get in the second singer’s head and understand what she’s doing or how that odd timing doesn’t throw off the guitar playing. I truly appreciate the song, I just wish I understood better what was going on.

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  3. #27

    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunnyf View Post
    Simon, in Hello Stranger it was the irregular call and response of the vocalists that threw me. From the very first “put your lovin hand in mind”, it seemed to me that the second singer was coming in each time at an odd beat. If there was a pattern, I didn’t figure it out. Love the song, respect the tradition but can’t do it that way when I play with others. Originally, in this thread, I was really just wondering what the second singer was doing when she came in at the time she came in with her singing. Was it a pattern of coming in early, random or what? I find it fascinating that folks can play together so smoothly with such “crooked timing”.
    Songs like “Uncle John’s Band” I get. I hear the switch in timing and I see the pattern. I can feel how it’s going. This version of Hello Stranger does knock me for a loop though. I can’t get in the second singer’s head and understand what she’s doing or how that odd timing doesn’t throw off the guitar playing. I truly appreciate the song, I just wish I understood better what was going on.
    Don't beat yourself up over this 'Timing Issue' Bunny. Getting into the singer's head is a tall order. Timing that comes naturally to family members who have heard and sung a song a certain way for "eons" may never come naturally to you or me. It ain't wrong, it's just different.

    Maybe it would help to think of it this way... When I was a kid, I listened to some of the same records over and over. Some of them skipped. I got so accustomed to the skip, I always knew when it was coming and exactly how it altered the beat. If I heard the song on the radio, it would surprise me when there was no skip. You can get used to some strange timing, but it has to be drilled into your head for a long time.
    Last edited by FLATROCK HILL; Aug-26-2020 at 8:43am.
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  5. #28
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunnyf View Post

    Songs like “Uncle John’s Band” I get. I hear the switch in timing and I see the pattern. I can feel how it’s going. This version of Hello Stranger does knock me for a loop though. I can’t get in the second singer’s head and understand what she’s doing or how that odd timing doesn’t throw off the guitar playing. I truly appreciate the song, I just wish I understood better what was going on.

    The 2nd singer and the guitarist are the same person, Maybelle Carter.

  6. #29
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    The 2nd singer and the guitarist are the same person, Maybelle Carter.
    Get outta town. I did no know that. I have only seen the stills and heard the recording. I assumed that either Maybelle sang the lead and Sara backup or the other way around. It always sounded to my ear that a different singer, with a different sense of timing was coming in as that “second” voice. Wow!

  7. #30
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunnyf View Post
    Originally, in this thread, I was really just wondering what the second singer was doing when she came in at the time she came in with her singing.
    We do get carried away here. Sometimes a response is also a comment on other issues that have come up on the thread. As I said, I'm enjoying the discussion.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  8. #31
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    We do get carried away here. Sometimes a response is also a comment on other issues that have come up on the thread. As I said, I'm enjoying the discussion.
    I am enjoying all the responses too. I am not one to mind some drift in a thread. My original post was to try to understand unusual timing and my clarifications were to say that I appreciate original folk tradition, even if I can’t follow it.

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  10. #32
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Has nothing to do with your ears; the Carter Family were notorious for adding or subtracting beats. I've been looking for other examples that are as obvious as Hello Stranger, but my memory doesn't conjure one up right now. I would suggest listening to My Dixie Darling, The Winding Stream, or My Clinch Mountain Home to hear examples of "free" rhythms, with different numbers of beats per measure.

    Depending on viewpoint, you can consider it examples of musicians without formal training ignoring the proper rules, or of the wonderful idiosyncratic stylings possible in orally-transmitted "folk" music. I sorta prefer the latter, and feel that the Carters' sometimes-irregular rhythm is part of their charm.
    That's great Allen, I appreciate you putting this into words better than I could have... And I agree about the Carter charm in that respect.

    Sometimes, but not always, a person can follow the vocal part better than the instrumental part. As someone who plays instruments but doesn't sing (due to asthma), it's really easy for me to listen more carefully to the instrumental backup and get confused by what the singers are doing -- in my lack of singing experience I'm not getting what the singers are trying to accomplish. So in those cases if I take the time to listen carefully to the vocal parts that are being done, I can follow the song better instrumentally. This often helps me follow some of the off-count vocal parts that the Carters and others did, and that are sometimes done by new artists today.

    But, not always... My wife can confuse me too, but in the opposite way. She often will extend vocal phrases in verses intentionally for emphasis and style, but she plays rhythm guitar straight on like a locomotive. If I follow her vocals, which I like to do because they are good, she'll catch me sometimes as she extends a word or phrase into the next measure, but the minute I focus on her guitar I'm back on track.

    So there isn't a specific rule, but it's often worth it to try focusing on the song both ways to see what works best.

    Oh, and this is another excellent reason to watch the body language of your band mates and jam mates. Keep your eyes on them, not on your instrument or on your books. Body language is the written music of improvisation.
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  12. #33

    Default Re: Timing issues

    Ha, ha, another thing that we as mandolinists sometimes forget is that we’re very aware of all the notes in the melody and the harmony and the rhythm and how it all fits together. 32 bars.
    It may be that we overestimate what singers are thinking!

    If their guitarist is just playing a non accented rhythm with bass power chords, like 1,5 for the root, 1,4 for fourth and 1,5 for fifth chords then they may only hear the 1 all the way through the song! And if they’re thinking more about words and complex feelings then...

    If the song has about 64 beats total it’s cool, they’re happy. Maybe they don’t count or even hear measures at all, they are just suddenly aware that their fellow singer has stopped singing!


    Quick, time to jump in.
    -one of the reasons it’s such a cool song.

  13. #34

    Default Re: Timing issues

    It seems like they are fairly consistent on the verses and Maybelle's solos with 3 bars of 4 counts then one bar of two counts and eight bars of four counts. That one short bar gives the funny timing quality to the singing. At the end of the verses they are inconsistent when they start the next verse sometimes adding two counts sometimes four and sometimes going right into it.

    Jimmy Martin is another one that always seemed to have odd timing on his vocals though he is known as a great rhythm guitarist.

    I have backed singers onstage with odd timing quite a bit. It can be challenging. One singer/autoharp player I declined to play with any more because her timing was all over the map and totally unpredictable. Others that followed somewhat of a predictable pattern, usually subtracting beats or adding at the end of certain lines could be adjusted to. Church singers usually streeeetch out some words and add lots of beats unless they play an instrument.

  14. #35
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    I have been playing old time music for decades and it is always exciting for me to play crooked tunes. I also play Québécois tunes which are often crooked, sometime quite so. It is just another way to add some spice and beauty to music. I think all genres of music occasionally will have variants in rhythms and extra beats. Cajun music, jazz and blues are also quite entrancing when they stretch the rhythms.

    Many years ago I attended a Québécois dance in a small town. The musicians played some pretty crooked tunes for the dancers who had no problems dancing along. I assume they were used to the irregular beats and had no problems.

    I know that there are some New England contradancers who will shoot musicians who play an extra beat in a tune. So it goes.
    Jim

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  16. #36
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    That's great Allen, I appreciate you putting this into words better than I could have... And I agree about the Carter charm in that respect...
    Thanx for the compliment. If you read Jim G's post above, it mentions a whole other genre of irregular-rhythm music: "crooked" fiddle tunes. There's a gazillion of 'em; probably a lot of us on Cafe play Cherokee Shuffle, one of the more common ones. Here's a list I found on-line -- don't ask me to vouch for its accuracy. Usually the "crookedness" comes from adding a "short" measure at the end of a melody line; surprisingly, most times they're played for dances, the dancers negotiate the rhythm just fine. French-Canadian fiddlers are mentioned as playing a lot of "crooked" tunes.

    Here's one of my favorite irregular-rhythm songs, I'm Going To the West. It gets sourced back to a late-19th-century collection, Folk Songs of Alabama, where the rhythmic anomaly was written out in standard music notation. Let's speculate that it originally was sung in "straight" rhythm, but was collected by the compiler from a single singer who sang it with the "short" measures, and then notated that way. I think it works amazingly better the way it is now...

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  18. #37
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Alan, I had not heard that song before, so I listened to several other versions after I listened to the one you posted. What interesting timing in many traditional versions.I would find it so challenging.

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  20. #38
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Deleting a mysterious double posting.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
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    Stradolin Vega banjolin
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  21. #39
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    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Have I ever mentioned that I love Carter Brothers & Son?* And "crooked" fiddle tunes? Try playing back-up to this'un...



    *Ozark fiddlers, no relation to the VA-based Carter Family, far as I know...

    AACK! Lemme see if I can clean up the double post.
    Allen Hopkins
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  23. #40

    Default Re: Timing issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ...The musicians played some pretty crooked tunes for the dancers who had no problems dancing along. I assume they were used to the irregular beats and had no problems..
    I was at a dance once where they were teaching these different moves and at one stage I heard I woman shout, ‘thank you!’ smiling.

    During the break I asked her what she meant, and she explained that the move we had done took 1 1/2 measures and that for a dancer it’s nice to swing straight into the next move without having to wait 1/2 a measure.

    The musicians -her husband was one of them, had chopped the measure in half!
    She said it was fun for the musicians too.

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