ART OF TIMING
I’ve just put the latest issue (GT275) down after perusing Milton Mermikides’ brilliant article on timing. Obviously I’d heard about playing before, on or behind the beat, but never seen this and so much more explained in such depth and detail. I never realised that you could dissect timing or groove to such an extent and highlight what’s actually going on. I’ve only just got the issue so have read it but not tried Milton’s examples. I do have a tendency (which I hate and which GT is always talking about) to rush things, so I’m hoping that, having digested what Dr Mermikides says, I’ll be more able to tame the ‘greyhound out of the trap’ thing that besets everything I do. Will Baron Timing is one of those things that many musicians struggle with. I sometimes hear myself rushing, and absolutely deplore it. Playing ahead of the beat sounds nervy, unprofessional and unconfident, and I believe audiences can subliminally hear it and that nerviness rubs off. I remember Guthrie saying that he likes to hear playing that’s as far behind the beat as possible, but before it sounds ‘wrong’. Nerves, tension, or not fully knowing a piece can all contribute to that tendency for guitarists (especially) to rush. As a breed we are noted for it. I even heard a story of a well-known bassist in a top London show, writing on a certain tricky section in his music chart for any dep bassist to read, ‘Watch out for rushing guitarists’. Milton’s was such an in-depth piece and focused on way more than just rushing or laying back on the beat, that it was tantamount to being an encyclopaedia on timing, feel and groove, and something perhaps we should all keep close by for reference.
Dr Milton Mermikides