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Gypsy Rhythm & faster tempos

WowBobWowWowBobWow Another Time & SpaceNew
edited February 2008 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 221
Hi Michael,

I love the book. Do you have any tips in regards to playing rhythm at faster tempos? (tempos around 250 and beyond)

I can understand upstrokes at medium and up swing tempos, but for faster tempos it seems impossible for me to add. Are upstrokes thrown out when playing faster? Perhaps it's just my ears, but it seems the upstrokes are either minimal or nonexistent in the faster Gypsy Project recordings (Festival 48, Babik, Swing 42, and so forth)

It seems the faster a tune, the motion of the right hand playing rhythm must become quite minimal to accomplish a quicker swing, right? Yet personally there is a point where I must omit the upstroke of gypsy rhythm playing to just do downstrokes at a faster tempo, am I just cheating or is this what g-rhythm players do?

Thanks,
«1

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  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,969
    WowBobWow wrote:

    I love the book. Do you have any tips in regards to playing rhythm at faster tempos? (tempos around 250 and beyond)

    Lot's of practice with a metronome...there's not much more then just repetition. Of course, the motion gets smaller, but you have to keep the accents strong and the feel steady. I'd recommend learning to play as quietly as you can, but still keep it swinging and exciting. Only the best rhythm players can do that.

    Fapy always says he tells his band to play faster, and they just play louder. And then tells them to play slower and they just play quieter...ha ha.



    I can understand upstrokes at medium and up swing tempos, but for faster tempos it seems impossible for me to add. Are upstrokes thrown out when playing faster?

    You should be able to do the upstrokes at 300 bmp and above. You can drop them at faster tempos if you want, but it's a different sound. Nous'che definitely uses them at those tempos. Save for the recent Roots CD were he actually doesn't use them on a few tunes, which is interesting.


    Perhaps it's just my ears, but it seems the upstrokes are either minimal or nonexistent in the faster Gypsy Project recordings (Festival 48, Babik, Swing 42, and so forth)

    They're there....
    It seems the faster a tune, the motion of the right hand playing rhythm must become quite minimal to accomplish a quicker swing, right? Yet personally there is a point where I must omit the upstroke of gypsy rhythm playing to just do downstrokes at a faster tempo, am I just cheating or is this what g-rhythm players do?

    As stated previously, you should be able to get the upstrokes happening at the super fast tempos. Just keep them subtle and fast, and it'll be no problem.


    Good luck!


    -Michael
  • WowBobWowWowBobWow Another Time & SpaceNew
    Posts: 221
    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the tips and information. I'll keep at it and try playing quietly when at faster tempos.

    On a note about playing softly, I saw Lagrene play unamped in a restaurant jam a few years ago (during the Move tour). I was absolutely amazed at how quietly he played. Even though I was about ten feet from him, you had to strain and lean in to be able able to hear him while he soloed brillantly. I deducted that by playing so relaxed he is able to play so fast and play with dynamics in his phrases.

    Thanks for your time and I'll get back to practice!

    ~Alex
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    it's really hard to play rhythm at such fast tempo, everyone i've seen slows down big time at such speed, i've seen maybe only a handful of people keep up with the rhythm at that tempo, those happen to be the people who are regularly hired as rhythm players...

    i even noticed some good players (soloists) do great rhythm but then when it's too fast, they just stop lol

    so don't feel discouraged, it is insanely hard!!!!
  • DiggerDigger New
    Posts: 77
    dennis wrote:
    it's really hard to play rhythm at such fast tempo, i even noticed some good players (soloists) do great rhythm but then when it's too fast, they just stop
    I am heartened by this. Does it mean that now when I get hopelessly lost, out of time and just stop people will just assume I'm a good soloist? :D
  • WowBobWowWowBobWow Another Time & SpaceNew
    Posts: 221
    Thanks Dennis,

    I think it's smart to stop playing if it's too fast. I have seen De Barre at a concert also signal to his rhythm player that the speed was too fast by easing his posture back as if he was trying to pull the reigns of a race horse (the fun thing was the rhythm player was not looking him, just staring at the floor---the tune was La Gitane at a killer break neck speed and Debarre was nailing it perfectly regardless of the tempo).

    Personally at fast tempos I play it safe and do a lot of quarter note (or half note) triplets over measures rather than attempt eighth notes. I also would just stick to the pentatonic scale of the key. It is good safety net and keeps things simple and musical.

    Thanks and cheers,

    Alex
  • WitchTiplerWitchTipler Montreal,QCNew
    Posts: 13
    Digger wrote:
    dennis wrote:
    it's really hard to play rhythm at such fast tempo, i even noticed some good players (soloists) do great rhythm but then when it's too fast, they just stop
    I am heartened by this. Does it mean that now when I get hopelessly lost, out of time and just stop people will just assume I'm a good soloist? :D


    hahaha

    i'm hoping the same, maybe we can spread a rumour!
  • Tom LandmanTom Landman Brooklyn, NY✭✭✭✭ 6 strings
    Posts: 93
    One of the keys to playing good sounding rhythm is to always make sure that your picking hand (including your wrist, arm and shoulder) is relaxed and remains so. Its very easy to start out relaxed, but then to gradually and unconsciously allow the muscles to become tense. This tension may result in a poorer tone, as well as larger and stiffer motions that cause you to play louder and will eventually cause muscle fatigue. When practicing, pay close attention to any tension in your arm or hand...if you feel tension, try to relax (but this is difficult to do, so if the tension continues, stop playing and relax for a moment, and then resume again.) Relaxation is difficult to practice on a gig (ie, you can't suddenly stop playing), but it is something that is very important to be conscious of during practice. Playing rhythm at fast tempos can only be maintained when you are able to stay completely relaxed.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,136
    Not to oversimplify the issue, but whether one uses 'upstrokes' or not, the right hand still has to move up and down so adding brushing the strings on the upstrokes is not necessarily a huge adjustment, especially if the upstroke is quick and light. It definietly is harder at fast tempos but what seems to help me lately is trying to keep the upstroke as light and quiet as possible which I think helps the overall effect (i.e. doesn't sound so...lopey, if that's a word) and also makes the resistance less on the pick. I think it also helps to turn the pick a bit for that swooshy sound and remember to keep the amount of time between the upstroke and the next down to be as short as possible.

    Speaking of upstrokes, I seem to have trouble with the pick rotating between my fingers when playing bossa rhythm at higher tempos. I am using a thick Wegen pick. Any suggestions?
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Bones,
    If you have trouble with your pick rotating try gluing a small piece of sandpaper to the part of the surface where you grip it.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,136
    Harry,

    I've been using one of the Wegens with the little grooves so I don't know what my problem is. It must be something wrong with my technique. I guess I'll just keep at it and hopefully something will work out.

    Thanks
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