ART OF TIM­ING

Guitar Techniques - - TALK BACK -

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

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