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The image kind of says it all! NOW have a listen to the masterful Oz Noy Trio and check that GROOVE!!
Of course it never hurts to have a machine like Keith Carlock on the drums layin in something that tight!
Where am I going with this you ask? Well over my years of teaching, there is an observation I have made. THE one principle aspect to many people's playing that divides the good from the bad OR the good from the VERY good - is GROOVE. Some call it pocket, tempo, timing they all essentially mean the same thing: One's sense of rhythm. Typically many players are weak in this area without being aware of it. How can this be?
- Many people are (sad to say) just born with it - an over-abundance OR lack thereof. (I'll expand on this in a minute)
- Much of the time many devote to practicing is typically devoted to harmony*. Internet forums are full of chatter about musical theory and what scale goes with what chord etc.
- Music magazines seldom cover the topic of rhythm. The topic apparently lacks the sizzle to move magazines off the shelf.
Which brings us to the reason for this post. What can you do to improve this area?
These are in no set order but ALL have impacted my funk-meter to the positive:
- LEARN TO DRUM!!! Hands down the simple most effective thing you can do - and FUN! You don't need the 20 piece Neil Peart kit (including gong and tubular bells). You can start the process with a hand drum. I do however believe the most effective is using a full kit though - as it gets all the limbs into the process. Rhythm is a full body experience.
- Record yourself - this is a HUGE way to hear yourself as others do. Listen to your phrases... are they landing right where they should be? Make them.
- Practice with a metronome a LOT. When it is clicking away you will know when you are landing in the right spot because the click disappears. Test yourself and see how many clicks in a row you can make vanish. Or imagine the clicks are on 1 & 3 of the beat... or 2 & 4 if you want some swing.
- Use jam tracks - these are like karaoke tracks for the guitar. It is the songs without the guitar track. Just google jam tracks - there are many sites with these available - like this one
- Listen to some funk!! James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Red Hot Chili Peppers whatever your taste. Listen to how the apply the phrases - then play along.
- Move your body to the music. Whether it is dancing or just putting on a set of headphones and going for a walk. Walk in TIME. Stay on the beat. You can fix your "issue" you just need to reset the internal clock.
- Awareness - this is honestly the most important thing of all. If you are aware you have an issue with anything (in life and guitar) that is the first step towards fixing it. Record yourself - listen back and be honest. Don't get discouraged but constructively critical. Learning to play well isn't something that happens overnight. There are no shortcuts so learn to enjoy the process.
(Insert James Brown splits here)
* In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. (source: wikipedia)