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Discussions => Teaching and Learning => Topic started by: Eshed on June 05, 2018, 09:01:12 AM

Title: Foot tapping
Post by: Eshed on June 05, 2018, 09:01:12 AM
I often find my rhythm lacking, sometimes I hear it during playing and sometimes in recordings.
Many posts in this forum recommend foot tapping, so I've made some attempts which ended in catastrophic failure.
I can easily tap my foot when listening to music, but when on the box the brain tries to tap according to the beats I play even though it should be the other way round and I don't have enough free brainpower to fix this as playing already puts me in a semi-catatonic state. Cue unraveling of tune and a very confused foot.

Did foot tapping come naturally to you? Did anyone hit similar difficulties?
Did you give up foot tapping altogether and used a metronome/your biological clock/divine intervention to keep a steady rhythm?
How do I make the music slave to the foot rather than the other way round?
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on June 05, 2018, 09:17:39 AM
Foot tapping happened without thinking about it once I learned to play with a good steady pulse.  For me it would not work to try to do it the other way round. You said you haven't any spare brain capacity, and I would have been in the same predicament earlier in the learning road.  I think it's much better to just keep practicing at a steady pace, and don't try to learn too many tunes.  Even now after playing for more years than I care to remember I usually only have one new tune that I'm learning at any one time.  Relax in your playing, and do whatever you need to do to avoid tension.  That might mean playing only one tune for a week or two, and always play it slower than the maximum speed you think you can play at.  Give it time, you can't rush it.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 05, 2018, 09:19:58 AM
I have always foot tapped and have never given it any real thought.  Perhaps its because I play mostly  dance music  with a strong rhythm and have also danced.   

If you are playing bass chord lead music  the rhythm my not be so obvious but every tune ,slow or fast, has a rhythm or identifyable series of beats  ( hence time signature on written music eg 3/4, 4/4, 6/8 or whatever. If it didn't have identifyable beats it wouldn't be music.  The time signature does not indicate the speed a tune shuld be played   and  , eg  a 3/4 ( in dance terms a waltz) can be played at  anything from slow smoochy to fast whirly!  The foot tapping to a 3/4  is foot down on the beat (UM) followed by foot up up  i.e um pa pa.

for eg a 4/4 (eg a reel) it is um pa, um pa = foot down on the beat and up on the off beat. 

It may help to listen to some jigs , reels, hornpipes, on youtube and  foot tap along. better still if it I a vid with dancers dancing,

If you are already playing for dancers try synchronising you foot to that of  the best dancer on the floor. This makes you and the dancers as of one.

I see foot tapping as a sort of built in metronome

george

Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Mike Carney on June 05, 2018, 09:37:56 AM
Really good question, Eshed. No, foot tapping did not come naturally to me, even though I was already a musician when I started learning the box (- been in bands as a guitar player so very tuned in to rhythm.)
I think it is related to how far on with your melodeon playing you are. I am at about the 8 year mark of a fairly determined effort with the melodeon. I have only just started to really feel the benefits to the rhythm when I tap my foot. People advised me to do it years ago, but I found it hard, so didn’t really try that much as I was already attempting to get all the other aspects to work together which I found hard enough!
Having said that, one benefit of using foot tapping when launching into a tune e.g. in a session is to avoid starting it too fast. I advised a friend to think of a speed, then visualize  a speed slower than that. Once you have that you can get the tapping started to launch you into the piece even if you don’t keep it up.
Your comments about brain space are spot on in my view. The best way I can describe the value of the tapped foot is that it connects you with the tune as it lives in your head, which is then followed by your fingers playing along with the tune, rather than the tune being just the actual thing that your fingers make (!)
On the question of using a metronome I would recommend everyone using one at some stage to help learn timing, but you probably don’t need it after a certain point. Recording and listening to yourself is also extremely valuable for getting an honest view of where you need to concentrate.
M

Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Calum on June 05, 2018, 12:35:52 PM
There are benefits to getting the foot going.  Music learning is basically a process of automating lower level elements of your playing so that you can focus on higher level issues.  The brain being a lazy sod is highly resistant to this (which is why we all practice the easy bits and not the hard bits), so any trick which pushes this along helps.

Of course when you start doing it there are some things you just can't do it to.

Here are some things you could try doing to steady foot tap:

* Hitting a single button on the beat
* Playing the same note push and draw alternately on the beat (ie going between rows).
* Play a simple arpeggio on the row
* Play a one octave scale on the row
* Play a one octave scale across the rows

And so on.  Each one of these might well take a few goes to actually accomplish, and you should keep on doing them until they feel effortless. 

At a certain point it starts to "click" and the step-by-step thing is not so important.

It's also worth mentioning that there are two distinct modes of foot-tapping.  One is where your foot taps a steady beat and you try to play to it.  The other is where you play steadily and your foot taps along with it.  Mentally flipping between these is an interesting exercise.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Jesse Smith on June 05, 2018, 02:06:03 PM
I think it's almost just another thing to learn and practice. Just like we learn to play the left and right hands independently in time, you can learn to keep the beat constant while playing independently over it.

I keep meaning to practice standing up more often. I watch people like John Kirkpatrick and John Spiers playing standing and they are essentially dancing on the spot while playing, swaying and letting the beat flow through them. I'll need a shorter strap for that, though, and it seems like a pain adjusting it back and forth.

The music is not slave to the foot; the playing of the instrument and the tapping of the foot are two manifestations of the same music that is flowing through you. (This is all sounding a bit Yoda, isn't it?)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 05, 2018, 02:55:40 PM
If you are already playing for dancers try synchronising you foot to that of  the best dancer on the floor. This makes you and the dancers as of one.

Spot on George.
And, the best dancers will have at least half an eye on the music man.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 05, 2018, 03:09:40 PM
I
 . I'll need a shorter strap for that, though, and it seems like a pain adjusting it back and forth.

 

no need whatsoever  for back and forth adjustments  of the straps . Just  use two properly adjusted straps  for playing seated or standing.  I ply sitting and standing in about equal measures   and the only time I make adjustments is either when a box is new (to me) or if replacing the straps.

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: baz parkes on June 05, 2018, 03:14:35 PM

I keep meaning to practice standing up more often. I watch people like John Kirkpatrick and John Spiers playing standing and they are essentially dancing on the spot while playing, swaying and letting the beat flow through them.

Whilst nowhere near their standard I find I tend to sway from one foot to the other. It's not a pretty sight...
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Henry Piper on June 05, 2018, 03:30:29 PM
Fortunately Ive never had a problem coordinating my right and left side body parts !!   when I started playing I was advised by an experienced player not to try to treat the two ends as separate entities, and right from the start always learned the bass and treble parts together rather than trying to fit one to the other at a later stage, which seems to be the advice novice players are given these days, admittedly I don't go for elaborate bass parts, playing as I do very much for Country Dance or Morris where a good simple uncluttered bass is important and helpful to the dancers.
I also sometimes play Hi Hat and Bass drum along with the melodeon on Barn dance Gigs where we choose not use a drummer, either for reasons of space or economy, and have no trouble coordinating the two feet along with bass and treble ends of the melodeon.
 When I first started doing this I was actually  surprised that many people thought this was remarkable, but its something I've always found easy. I do also play Drums in a "trad" jazz band, so this may have helped me to coordinate all four limbs without too much trouble !!
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 05, 2018, 03:40:58 PM
...I keep meaning to practice standing up more often. I watch people like John Kirkpatrick and John Spiers playing standing and they are essentially dancing on the spot while playing, swaying and letting the beat flow through them. I'll need a shorter strap for that, though, and it seems like a pain adjusting it back and forth.

I use two straps, worn rather long. Standing up it's one over each shoulder (and your right about dancing on the spot). Sitting down I put both straps over my right shoulder and that works fine for me.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Maggie on June 05, 2018, 06:35:06 PM
Good topic, Eshed.  I am trying to get my foot tapping but not finding it easy.  My best results come with tunes I know really well, otherwise trying to tap my foot interferes with my ability to play the tune.

My teacher assures me that it will come naturally if I keep at it.......

Maggie :|||:
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Brimley on June 05, 2018, 06:54:30 PM
For me, I look at this the other way round - foot tapping is utterly essential - it's the foundation of rhythmic music, and works for most musicians (OK, mebbe not church organists!).  And it's equally important for slow tunes and faster dance tunes. If you listen to any recorded music, a strict tempo is almost always there, and the concept of 'mastering' uses that all the time.  A box player is likely to have a lead role in a band of setting rhythm, because of their close dynamic relationship with dancing, so we players need to find ways of defining it.  I don't find keeping a right foot rhythm going at all confusing, it's actually really helpful in telling me when to finger the buttons and work the bellows, and I think it's worth learning how to dissociate the two and giving rhythm priority to that foot.  I've tried using a left foot, because that would be potentially easier technically, but I didn't find it quite so easy.  When we listen to rhythmic music, we tend to tap our feet.  But actually, probably just the right foot.

Some musicians would say that drummers should define the rhythm.  Actually I agree, but I've also found that drummers find a lead musician's foot tap gives them a perfect indication of how to play, and that makes the whole thing work for them.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 05, 2018, 08:21:42 PM
...Some musicians would say that drummers should define the rhythm.  Actually I agree, but I've also found that drummers find a lead musician's foot tap gives them a perfect indication of how to play, and that makes the whole thing work for them.

Good point.
Having mulled this over, I've realised that I don't try and and play in time with my foot tapping, or body motions, what I do is tap my foot or make rather primitive dancey (just think dad  dancing without your arms free) type movements in time with the  beat that is our (the dancer's and my) focus while we dance. It's an interactive thing.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 05, 2018, 10:11:52 PM
foot tapping is not complicated or difficult  if you think in terms of um pa, um pa on the bass.  The um is played on the beat and the pa is played on the off beat. In dance terms the dancers land on the um (the beat) and take off on the  pa  (the off beat),  The important bit is the off beat  which propels the dancers whereas they automatically land on the beat as the buggers cant hover!

All that is required is to mimick this prosess with the musicians foot

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: busbox on June 05, 2018, 10:43:03 PM
I take the jig doll buskjig. It has a foot pedak and so I fund the foot tapping helpful all round,
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: baz parkes on June 06, 2018, 09:52:48 AM
And of course with Quebecois music the feet are part of the instrument...

 :|glug
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Larry Powers on June 06, 2018, 12:44:06 PM
Here you go, extreme foot tapping and no straps by Éric Gagné:  https://youtu.be/_uYEfQEY7AQ   I am having troubles just picking out a simple tune with the melodeon sitting quietly in my lap.  Éric is playing a fast reel with the instrument dancing all over.  I should live long enough to get this good.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Brimley on June 06, 2018, 01:04:18 PM
That is a wonderful bit of box and foot playing!  I feel he desperately needs a backing band more in tune with his rhythmic skills, though.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Winston Smith on June 06, 2018, 01:07:09 PM
Some musical performances just brighten your day, don't they!
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 06, 2018, 01:56:14 PM
That is a wonderful bit of box and foot playing!  I feel he desperately needs a backing band more in tune with his rhythmic skills, though.

Don't know. The band makes a great backdrop for his playing. Lets it shine through.
I didn't know you could dance sat down. Great piece.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Jesse Smith on June 06, 2018, 02:18:04 PM
That is a wonderful bit of box and foot playing!  I feel he desperately needs a backing band more in tune with his rhythmic skills, though.
I think I agree - the band isn't really adding much of anything to the box playing.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: boxer on June 06, 2018, 09:17:08 PM
George's comment about following the best dancer has a lot of resonance for me.

I'm not a deliberate foot-tapper, but I'm confident that my playing does all that's needed for people to dance to, including keeping time and providing a strong pulse.  I also know that my left foot taps unprompted, as I play. 

Treacherously, my left foot re-processes the regular beat of my playing and inserts its own degree of randomness.  I discovered this when a stand-in musician (a lady of considerable musical gifts and experience who was substituting for a missing fiddler) playing on a noisy stage with no monitors, mistakenly followed the movements of my foot rather than the movement of the dancers.  The result was temporary chaos. 

Some people seem to drive their playing with their foot, whilst others manage very well without any foot movement at all.  There's probably a doctorate to be had for anyone with the patience to work out why. 
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 07, 2018, 01:06:47 AM
Our band has some pretty good musicians in it and some ...improvers. Tonight we had a practice night. Ostensibly, A dance practice but a musician's practice night too. While I can't do the cajun thing, I , very consciously, used foot tapping and dad dancing to  to see if it would help the ...improvers, to follow the subtleties, exaggerating the moves to make sure the tempo was obvious. The musicians loved it. The ...improvers didn't notice. Just carried on doing their own thing. I'm feeling a bit frustrated.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Eshed on June 07, 2018, 06:46:47 PM
Melnet strikes again with 10 answers containing 20 contradicting opinions for the same question  >:E
Thanks all, I have a lot to think about now  (:)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Ryall on June 08, 2018, 09:42:36 AM
Been told off repeatedly for foot tapping in improvisation sessions in France.   

Seems … not quite in resonance with what I'm doing musically.  But personally its totally unconscious.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 08, 2018, 09:48:39 AM
 an advantage of ffoot tapping in morris & ceilidh bands is that the leader can glance along the row of musicians to check that all feet are tapping in exact synch.   If the leader is in synch with the dancers or the best dancer  so should the rest of the band be  Anyone out of synch can be given  the dirty look!

george ;)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 08, 2018, 05:05:09 PM
an advantage of ffoot tapping in morris & ceilidh bands is that the leader can glance along the row of musicians to check that all feet are tapping in exact synch.   If the leader is in synch with the dancers or the best dancer  so should the rest of the band be  Anyone out of synch can be given  the dirty look!

george ;)

So, what do you do if he feet look like a mexican wave?
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on June 08, 2018, 05:11:23 PM
It should be the other way round.  The band members should all be watching and following the leaders foot tapping.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: malcolmbebb on June 08, 2018, 05:40:42 PM
an advantage of ffoot tapping in morris & ceilidh bands is that the leader can glance along the row of musicians to check that all feet are tapping in exact synch. 

What makes you think the musicians are any better at holding a straight line than the dancers are?  :||: :|||: :||: :|||: :M :M :M
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 08, 2018, 08:51:32 PM
It should be the other way round.  The band members should all be watching and following the leaders foot tapping.

Too true, I think he meant, look and see if they are  (:)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Stotty on June 08, 2018, 10:01:46 PM
an advantage of ffoot tapping in morris & ceilidh bands is that the leader can glance along the row of musicians to check that all feet are tapping in exact synch. 

What makes you think the musicians are any better at holding a straight line than the dancers are?  :||: :|||: :||: :|||: :M :M :M

So many races start with the contestants in a line  >:E
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 08, 2018, 10:30:38 PM
It should be the other way round.  The band members should all be watching and following the leaders foot tapping.

Too true, I think he meant, look and see if they are  (:)


indeed!
g
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Barlow on June 09, 2018, 12:36:32 PM
an advantage of ffoot tapping in morris & ceilidh bands is that the leader can glance along the row of musicians to check that all feet are tapping in exact synch.   If the leader is in synch with the dancers or the best dancer  so should the rest of the band be  Anyone out of synch can be given  the dirty look!

george ;)

So, what do you do if he feet look like a mexican wave?

A different genre of course but such as brass bands discourage foot-tapping. The beat and rhythm are set by the conductor, or perhaps a soloists, not (as with a session near us) the guy with the biggest feet (some might say smallest brain.)

So should beginners be encouraged to foot tap or should they train using metronome and their own internal rhythm?
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 09, 2018, 01:47:43 PM
 

if playing for dancers foot tapping helps musicians and dancers become as one


ceilid bands, morris bands etc etc don't have a conductor  to 'keep time'  and foot tapping in usison by all band members  helps to keep everybody in time with each other

Yes I would advocate  foot tapping for beginners  as it effectively helps then to identify the beat and the off beat.  ( foot down on the beat foot up on the offbeat)

this helps begginers to get away from the   varying speed  right notes in the right order  ?playing  that is not uncommon  among begginers  often with the easy bit played faster and the tricky bits slower!

With a bit of seriarse practice  the foot can  perform the function of a metronome   by programming the brain (no need to listen to any tick tocking)  to send the right rhythm down the arm  so to speak.

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Eshed on June 09, 2018, 02:24:37 PM
this helps begginers to get away from the   varying speed  right notes in the right order  ?playing  that is not uncommon  among begginers  often with the easy bit played faster and the tricky bits slower!
The funny thing is that my issue is usually the opposite, I can play slow and steady in the easy bits, but once I get to a hard bit, I can find myself speeding up considerably.
I think it's due to my brain being afraid of getting stuck during the bit and my fingers trying to be helpful by rushing to wherever they're needed with no regard to timing.

I also suspect that my brain sometimes thinks that playing is typing, where the exact moment you hit a button doesn't matter at all, just the order and the average speed.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: baz parkes on June 09, 2018, 02:44:49 PM
an advantage of ffoot tapping

Is that for when you play the Welsh tunes George?  :|glug
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: MarioP on June 09, 2018, 02:45:07 PM
Try the Heel-toe technique ? there's many ways to tap :D if tapping is messing you up do so standing up and bend your knees instead of tapping or move your hip hells bang your head if that will help <-- doesn't help me :D I wish one day i can headbang to the jingle :D
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on June 09, 2018, 03:33:58 PM
this helps begginers to get away from the   varying speed  right notes in the right order  ?playing  that is not uncommon  among begginers  often with the easy bit played faster and the tricky bits slower!
The funny thing is that my issue is usually the opposite, I can play slow and steady in the easy bits, but once I get to a hard bit, I can find myself speeding up considerably.
I think it's due to my brain being afraid of getting stuck during the bit and my fingers trying to be helpful by rushing to wherever they're needed with no regard to timing.

I also suspect that my brain sometimes thinks that playing is typing, where the exact moment you hit a button doesn't matter at all, just the order and the average speed.

I don't think foot tapping is relevant here.  The problem you describe happens to almost everyone.   

The answer is to practice the hard bits very slowly, and I mean very, very slowly.  Then play the whole thing at a speed where you can play the hard bits with confidence and without speeding up. You might also find it helpful to use the "stop motion" technique to begin with where you stop briefly after each note and only play the next note when you know which finger, on which button and which bellows direction.  That will allow your brain time to learn the fingering, and with time and practice you will be able to play the sequence of notes with confidence and with good timing.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 09, 2018, 04:10:35 PM
Try the Heel-toe technique ? there's many ways to tap :D if tapping is messing you up do so standing up and bend your knees instead of tapping or move your hip hells bang your head if that will help <-- doesn't help me :D I wish one day i can headbang to the jingle :D

at least you are not suggesting  doing anything with ones private parts!

g
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Brimley on June 11, 2018, 12:06:05 PM
The way you give yourself a rhythm largely depends on what's the best way for you and the band, IMO.  If you are learning a piece of music using dots or abc, and you want to try out your rhythm, I found it's very useful to put into some sort of score software such as MuseScore, and then turn on the metronome function as it plays it back for you to practice along with.  Listen closely to where you are drifting from the beat, and try to work out why.  There's very good reasons why musicians tap their feet, and it's to do with giving the fingers a framework to play to.  You may find the exercise surprising - you think you're playing something perfectly, but the bloomin' metronome says otherwise! We tend to learn a lot of things subconsciously when we're rehearsing, and one of the things is the tempo of a passage.  So perhaps we don't always get that right.  I know a few musicians who are incredibly good at tempo, and I think they have one thing in common - they get into the rhythm 'groove' and listen out for it all the time, making it the centre of their performance.  You often notice drummers and rhythm guitarists who have developed slight, almost internal, body movements, and they are great to watch - the performance that results is often brilliant, and when performers get in that groove, the audience inevitably relax, smile, and tap their feet.  In a group it is necessary for someone to determine tempo on a long-term basis, and also variations in tempo, as part of the piece of music.  However within that framework, the individual musicians need to develop their 'grooves', and somehow relax into them, so even if someone is determining the overall tempo, it's still worthwhile tapping your foot in time with them, to translate their rhythm into your fingers.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 11, 2018, 03:40:35 PM
as Chris has said it not just foot tapping but also other body movements  sort of 'connect'  the musician to the rhythm of a tune.  eg genrly swaying slightly form side to side  while playing a waltz,or perhaps shoulder movement to go with a march etc etc.

Another sign that you have got the rhythm right is  if those not dancing hare tapping their feet and this an apply to  those sitting out  at a ceilidh, those stood watching a morris side or indeed a seated audience.

However whilst the absolute precision of  playing to a metronome can be a useful aid to those  having difficulty holding a rhythm  in the real world  particularly of  dance music  it can be advantageos to make slight aadjustments by watching the dancers

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tufty on June 11, 2018, 04:05:34 PM
When I am playing for a dance team I try to spare a few moments to watch the audience, it is good to see them foot tapping. (Always surprised to watch other dance musicians with their nose buried in sheet music instead of watching the dancers  >:E).
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 11, 2018, 06:01:43 PM
Quote from: Tufty link=topic= . (Always surprised to watch other dance musicians with their nose buried in sheet music instead of watching the dancers  >:E).
[/quote


ear ear !

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: ProperTing on June 11, 2018, 06:35:36 PM
The answer is to practice the hard bits very slowly, and I mean very, very slowly.  Then play the whole thing at a speed where you can play the hard bits with confidence and without speeding up. You might also find it helpful to use the "stop motion" technique to begin with where you stop briefly after each note and only play the next note when you know which finger, on which button and which bellows direction.  That will allow your brain time to learn the fingering, and with time and practice you will be able to play the sequence of notes with confidence and with good timing.

100%. The trick is a metronome and playing as slow as you possibly can while still "feeling" the melody. Gradually increase the tempo when you are able to play it flawlessly. This technique will allow you to improve much quicker and decrease your playing from muscle memory. Oddly enough, it's the very same technique used by many heavy metal guitarists.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Rob2Hook on June 12, 2018, 10:30:51 AM
I must admit that I don't usually tap my foot whilst playing, much as I don't "dance" at discos!  Worse yet, I have been known after a few sherbets to indulge in a wild session of both feet going whilst seated - one step short of Quebec style (and often whilst playing a 4-stop).  I am aware that when I was leader of the morris band, this was a shortcoming from the perspective of the other players as they couldn't synchronise with any body movements.  I overcame this by playing a BLOODY LOUD box.

However internally I am actually dancing, the muscles flexing rhythmically in sync with the actual dancers.  I'm guessing that many do not.  Since my job makes me a rare visitor to the morris outings  I have obviously been replaced as band leader and the new incumbent does an excellent job of running the show - putting up with all the carp from other members and smiling sweetly when the dancers stare expectantly, having not said what dance they are hoping to do...

I obviously don't feel that all players need to tap a foot or sway, etc for their own benefit.  If you've got rhythm you've got rhythm. But from the new perspective of playing "second fiddle" I particularly notice that many players tend to skip over rests.  Now that shortens the length of the bar and the dancers have to hustle to catch up, so the musos think they've got to match that and the familiar cycle begins with the music and the dancers alternately speeding up a notch.  This is where I see the most benefit of foot tapping, etc. maintaining strict tempo just like a metronome.  Funny how so many players can't relax and enjoy a moment's silence!

Rob.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 12, 2018, 10:57:06 AM
[ do...

 .  Funny how so many players can't relax and enjoy a moment's silence!

Rob.
[/quote]

that's because they don't understand that phrasing is absolutely part of good musicianship.  In other words they play without the musical equvelent of punctuation  .

To me the way the gaps between notes are played is every bit as important as the way the notes are played

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 12, 2018, 11:15:04 AM
I particularly notice that many players tend to skip over rests.  Now that shortens the length of the bar and the dancers have to hustle to catch up, so the musos think they've got to match that and the familiar cycle begins with the music and the dancers alternately speeding up a notch.  This is where I see the most benefit of foot tapping, etc. maintaining strict tempo just like a metronome.  Funny how so many players can't relax and enjoy a moment's silence!
Rob.
Quote
that's because they don't understand that phrasing is absolutely part of good musicianship.  In other words they play without the musical equvelent of punctuation  .

To me the way the gaps between notes are played is every bit as important as the way the notes are played

You two put this very clearly. It describes a familiar situation. It's a bit odd because they are, mostly, more experienced than me, used to playing for dance,  but not used to playing for morris.

How do you convey this to musicians with fragile egos, who haven't quite grasped this?
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: malcolmbebb on June 12, 2018, 11:24:06 AM
Don't think it's necessarily an ego thing, I think it's confidence. Musos tend to speed up, and close gaps, if they are nervous.

Both in dancing and playing, "doing nothing" and waiting for the opportune moment needs a fair amount of confidence.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 12, 2018, 11:59:27 AM
Fragile ego=low self confidence=easily put off=not as thick skinned as I am, these days.

I have three new musicians. To my ear, we are starting to gell as a band but chopping the "turn arounds" short is an issue. I'm playing the lead in note and they're into the next bar. And it is punctuation. Good description.

I really don't want to put them off, but tactfulness tends to be more in my intention than my actions. In terms of strict adherence to a metronome they may well be right but I am going to have them playing my way without upsetting anyone. Just not quite sure how...

Current action I'm taking is actually almost on topic: I stamp my foot in time with what I what them to realise is The Beat (not their beat).

Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on June 12, 2018, 12:27:13 PM
Quite a good way of doing it is to make no mention of what you are hearing as a fault,  just say something like:   "I have an idea to improve this bit.  Can we all try to play it like this."   And then demonstrate what you want, possibly exaggerating the point, and then just go over the problem section quite a few times, and then ask the others what they think.   Using that sort of wording should mean that everyone feels they are contributing to a positive development of the way you all play. 
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 12, 2018, 02:02:56 PM
I like that. Something new, not something wrong.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on June 12, 2018, 02:41:22 PM
I like that. Something new, not something wrong.

Exactly.  Something I learned from a very good band leader and folk educator.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Gena Crisman on June 12, 2018, 04:02:32 PM
Being a band leader of a (reasonably?) large morris band is quite hard, I've found; socially, logistically and acoustically. We see usually from 10 people (almost always fine) to like 15 showing up (sometimes has problems). It's a little bit of a 'straw that breaks the camel's back' sort of situation:

The less consistently present musicians tend to be the least practiced. Having more players means a bigger pile of kit we have to have somewhere. And, having so many people means it's easier for them to be far enough away from eg the big drum or the musical Leaders that they're able to form their own little island of being out of sync with the rest of the band, but perhaps in sync with one another, and maybe start pulling other people in with them (including the dancers, I think we've had a 14 strong cuckoo's nest at least once!)

Sometimes we've had sync problems I haven't even been able to hear due to band spread, and lord help us if we can't stack up in at least 2 deep. One thing I try to keep on top of is watching our Tempo (I have my phone suction cupped to the top of my box with a tempo monitor (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DanielBach.liveBPM&hl=en_GB) app running) and I think that's been paying dividends, since we have a variety of skill level in dancers, too, and it helps me massage our speed as needed.

Veering rapidly back on topic: I was thinking to post about 'perhaps try using a tempo monitor app on your phone or whatever' in this thread, by the way. I find them a very helpful tool in identifying if my rhythm is going wrong or if I'm changing speed without realising while playing a tune. I do though tend to move with the tune I'm playing, and it's that physical momentum that helps me get back/keep in time with where a listener would thinks the tune should be, rather than where my brain thinks it should be after it has a momentary short circuit while playing. Sometimes I've made a recording that I think I got right or feel like 'yeah, saved that one!' when I almost missed a note, and discover that it's super obvious when listening back to it. So, Body movement, I find, helps with that aspect, while an app gives me a better idea of how my playing is going in a grander scheme.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Rob2Hook on June 12, 2018, 06:32:59 PM
Ah yes, the long line of musos with built in transmission delays...  There are some bands (particularly Border) who successfully overcome the problem by all stepping as they play - think Witchmen.  Even that doesn't always work for beginners.  I know of one dancer who I used as my visual metronome before he retired to the band.  Somehow he can't make his fingers dance like his feet did and he's so caught up with playing the right notes that he's sometimes half a beat out.  Strange isn't it that every morris side has a weekly practice but no-one accepts that the band should be allowed to use it to practice.  The foreman would ask me to shut up if I dared to speak to the band about their playing during their practice.

Before my term of office, the leader did indeed tap his foot.  He dipped so much it was almost genuflecting ( never asked if he were Catholic).  We might have disagreed about his chosen speed, but once we started it was strict tempo, including rests.

We have had separate band practices, but these get weighed down with beginners wanting note-by-note, push/pull teaching of the tunes they are struggling with and seem to end with a consensus that we should drop the "difficult" ones.  More enjoyable are the "sessions" in the local where we ensure we run through all the morris tunes but it's not a teaching environment and would require a saintly disposition to point out possible improvements.  "Don't talk to me about a bum note, Joshua"

 What I'm saying is that there is possibly greater benefit in foot tapping in a group unless it comes naturally.

Rob.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Jesse Smith on June 12, 2018, 07:00:56 PM
Worse yet, I have been known after a few sherbets to indulge in a wild session of both feet going whilst seated

Rob, talk about being separated by a common language! First I thought you meant a few ice cream-like desserts, then I remembered "Oh wait, in Britain sherbet is that fizzy sugar powder." But that still seemed weird to me! And only today while looking up something completely unrelated on Wikipedia I found myself reading that sherbet is UK slang for a beer (usage dating back to 1890!) and now it all makes much more sense. ;D
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Jesse Smith on June 12, 2018, 07:02:48 PM
Duplicate posting removed.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 12, 2018, 07:47:02 PM
me thinks that Jesse may have been at the sherbet, otherwise known as 'fall over juice' posting the same thing twice!

In my morris days  I felt the dancers and musicians performed   somewhat better  when we   played  at country pubs  particularly  if provided with an adequate supply  of aforementioned  liquid refreshment   on the house!

happy days!

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: boxer on June 12, 2018, 07:51:10 PM
factionalists, prima donnas, randomised foot-tappers and the other kinds of band members that create headaches sometimes respond positively when a recording of a performance they've contributed to is played back to them.  If they become embarrassed by what they hear, there's probably hope for them.  If they can't understand why the matter's been raised, they've no hope at all.   
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Eshed on June 12, 2018, 08:17:34 PM
Note to self: Never play in a band, might be shown my recordings  :P
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 12, 2018, 08:47:47 PM
Note to self: Never play in a band, might be shown my recordings  :P

I'm reckon you're self critical enough to make your self a great band player.

There's a lot of good sense being posted here.

My next comment may sound off topic. but is really quite relevant. On Saturday we did a big show (Royal Cornwall). Lots of punters, lots of noise. The band went electric together for the first time. Turns out that they could hear my melodeon playing clearly for the first time (:) Went like a dream. I did plenty of dad dancing (aka "stepping as I play") but I did it because I like to, not because I had to. Considering doing this for every gig...and practice.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Jesse Smith on June 12, 2018, 09:33:28 PM
me thinks that Jesse may have been at the sherbet, otherwise known as 'fall over juice' posting the same thing twice!

Ha! I was trying to edit my post and it looks like I hit Quote instead. :|bl
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: vof on June 12, 2018, 11:08:16 PM
In my morris days  I felt the dancers and musicians performed   somewhat better  when we   played  at country pubs  particularly  if provided with an adequate supply  of aforementioned  liquid refreshment   on the house!
george
...which cross-links neatly to another current thread: Jimbo's wonderful example of May Reel in the June tune of the Month!  :|glug
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIpZYznP1CY
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: MarioP on June 13, 2018, 10:19:03 AM
Try the Heel-toe technique ? there's many ways to tap :D if tapping is messing you up do so standing up and bend your knees instead of tapping or move your hip hells bang your head if that will help <-- doesn't help me :D I wish one day i can headbang to the jingle :D

at least you are not suggesting  doing anything with ones private parts!

g
that's what it all boils down to :D
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Stotty on June 22, 2018, 11:27:33 PM

Sometimes we've had sync problems I haven't even been able to hear due to band spread, and lord help us if we can't stack up in at least 2 deep. One thing I try to keep on top of is watching our Tempo (I have my phone suction cupped to the top of my box with a tempo monitor (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DanielBach.liveBPM&hl=en_GB) app running) and I think that's been paying dividends, since we have a variety of skill level in dancers, too, and it helps me massage our speed as needed.


A great tip - thanks very much.
We have tried the app on a phone visible to 2 or 3 players while playing at team practices and found it a great help in keeping the speed constant. It is so much better than a metronome because you don't have to concentrate on watching or listening, and trying to synchronise to the metronome beat.  I guess a metronome may be better for players who find it harder to tap their feet.
 Any recommendations on the sucker/holder to stick on melodeons please?
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Gena Crisman on June 23, 2018, 01:18:34 AM
Well, I tripped over this one from Primark: https://m.primark.com/en/product/black-suction-pad-car-cradle,D35397119160776 - it was near their tills, along with a much much longer goose neck one (https://m.primark.com/en/product/lazy-arm-phone-holder,r35397119020711) that a friend of mine now uses to clips to a wheeled trolly thing to hold... something I don't think he puts his phone in it.

Anyway, very similar mounts are available on amazon/ebay. However, I can't in good conscience really recommend the one I got, or possibly any at all:


So, some of those problems could easily have seen my phone dropped onto a hard road surface from at least 4ft up, which would be really, really bad. Additionally it prevents you from using the top clasp to get your bellows strap thing out of the way - the goose neck one above has a metal ball joint instead so it's a bit stronger, but realistically these are designed for going into a car, so, maybe your phone falls down 3 inches and slides down your dash board into your lap.

Some other phone mount solutions use magnets to hold the phone, which could work well, but I worried it might rotate around while I played. Many of them expect you to hold the phone in a portrait orientation. Almost none of them are sold based on the size of their 'suction cup', which will likely only secure onto a polished smooth surface. However, I have had probably a dozen people pick me out at festivals, entirely because I have my phone stuck to my melodeon, and ask me quite a few questions about it - almost all of them have asked about using it to show sheet music/tabs etc. A good solution that doesn't see people's multi-hundred-pound electronic devices being at risk of being destroyed would be well received I think, but right now I'm not sure what that is and surely it will vary box to box. I should probably make a thread about my experiences with it.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 23, 2018, 09:53:19 AM
I can't see the point of using electronic gadgets  to keep to a tempo instead of foot tapping.  The advantage of foot tapping  is that it enables musicians to ssynghronise with the feet of the dancers (whatever veriety thereof)  and rather than playing a bland metronomic beat make , often very small, adjustments  but to do so in absolute unison of dancers and musicians.

a good example of a foot tapping bandl  (see youtube) is the dartmoor pixies with jason rice, ed rennie et al all foot tapping in synch. Also youtubes of many good Scottish dance bands  all foot tapping

There must be sosme value in it  and I for one am  a firm believer in its benefits to both musicians and dancers

just a thought but perhaps some of those who find it difficult need to relax  /enjoy and become one with their  music rather than concentrating on getting every note spot on.  In many ways its the overall effect that matters >:E ;)

george ( who hasn't worn his foot out in 60 years a tapping!)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Pete Dunk on June 23, 2018, 10:38:04 AM
I can't see the point of using electronic gadgets  to keep to a tempo instead of foot tapping.

You would if you went into a recording studio George.  ;D I was weaned out of the habit by a BBC sound engineer many years ago. When seated I extend my leg a little and with my heel on the floor my foot paddles away silently, it's the rhythmic action that keeps the tempo not the annoying tap, tap, tap. Harder to do when standing as you have to keep shifting your weight from one leg to t'other and not everyone can keep time with either foot it would seem.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 23, 2018, 10:50:22 AM
fair point!.  the foot tapping I refer to is not so much tapping in the literal noise making sense but more like moving the foot up and down  rhythmically , perhaps with a very light 'tap' on the floor rather than a loud rhythmic bang.  For those who prefer absolute silence the simple 'cure' is to put a small cushion or bit of foam rubber under the offending foot. In other words its the rhythmic movement in unison that helps.

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Daniel McPhee on June 23, 2018, 02:20:45 PM
It’s not a thing I like to do , although I did for years.
Quite a hard habit to break , I think every musician has their mannerisms  :|||:
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Gena Crisman on June 23, 2018, 04:51:57 PM
I can't see the point of using electronic gadgets  to keep to a tempo instead of foot tapping.  The advantage of foot tapping  is that it enables musicians to ssynghronise with the feet of the dancers (whatever veriety thereof)  and rather than playing a bland metronomic beat make , often very small, adjustments  but to do so in absolute unison of dancers and musicians.

In this case, it's less about telling you when to play, but showing you information about how you played. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of it all, it's harder to make correct judgments about how things are going - when everyone is more experienced, I imagine it is easier to be sure and say 'yes that went well', but, I've only been doing this for a short amount of time, and we've been very fortunate to get new dancers and musicians each year, so everyone has varying ability and all of that feeds into itself into a bit of, let's say, fluffyness.

We only have so much time to practice, so, for me, it's a tool that can be more objective than I am in those moments - it was paying attention and has perfect recollection of the last 3+ minutes and can let me see if eg we've been getting faster in the B music each time, or of our speed is creeping up as time goes on - even if everyone is in sync the whole time (something it wouldn't know). It's not telling me 'oh you played that last note too fast!' or telling me if we played a rest too short, so, it's not a true substitute for foot tapping or swaying, but it is something I've found useful for giving a different perspective every so often. I glance at it every so often, and it helps me make decisions confidently, to the benefit of the overall performance.

Realistically, I can see that it is probably a bit of a crutch for me, though. When the mount broke in my hand, we were at a nice warm Chippenham festival going into our last 2 spots after the procession; I was a bit out of sorts without the bpm monitor, and not 100% confident with the speed: I would, obviously, like to be able to not feel like I needed the reassurance. But, also consider that people with a sprained ankle move a lot faster with a crutch than without one. I've already been in situations where it was just me playing, so me being able to confidently and consistently perform can make a big difference. I think it's something that's helped me accomplish things sooner + better than I might have otherwise, and I thought it might be something that could help people, hence the suggestion in the thread.

So, in summary: doesn't replace foot tapping, and physically involving yourself in some way + watching + listening to other people are all pretty important to playing in band, which is basically the best thing. If, though, you think you're having problems with tempo drift over the course of a tune, having a tool to more objectively show you that can be helpful, both in solo and band play, especially because it's something you can keep an eye while you play and fix any problems before they take their toll.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on June 23, 2018, 06:50:52 PM
Must admit, I' not looking (listening?) for a rigidly constant tempo. I will vary it according to loads of factors. Some dance have parts that go at different tempos. Tempo varies with dancers up for a set. Sometimes  I will vary the tempos the dance progresses if I feel there is a need for it.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on June 23, 2018, 09:40:34 PM
I agree totally with Greg.  Playing for dancers is all about playing for dancers!  This entales watching the feet of the dancers  and as greg has said .  as an example of O am playing for a ceilidh or barn dance where the bulk of the dancers are ancient like me I won't try to speed the overall thoing up but will settle for a rhyhtmic tempo that gives them time to get round. On the other hand with a mostly younger more energetic floorfull  I will s[eed things up whilst maintaining a good steady rhythm.  In both these extremes  I will also vary the temp slightly during a dance where this is needed from observing what is going on on the floor. 


same goes for morris eg if playing for rapper it can help to slow down a bit to prevent the music getting ahead of the dancers if eg on a reare occasion they are struggling with the lock.  Whilst I can understand Gina getting attached to the electronic device she is right in seeing it as 'a bit of a crutch'   which by definition is best got rid of at the earliest opportunity - otherwise  it is easy to become dependant on the crutch to the detriment of playing without it.

Surely in any 'band'  there should be a leader whose function is to  encourage and coach band members into a cohesive whole rather than the all to common motley collection of sometimes ? musicians doing their own thing!   If the regular leader is unable to be there  another player should be appointed by common consent  to  whom the other band members should stick to like glue.

In a really  cohesive and well practiced ceilidh or other 'folk dance' band if the leader makes a mistake the rest of the band should follow suite so it comes over as a slightly different arrangement!

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Stotty on June 23, 2018, 11:45:07 PM
I have never found metronomes any help: a) Because I can, and always do, tap my feet, b) because without a rigid beat you can vary the speed as George suggests to fit the dance (for example sword dancers going over swords sometimes need more time, or the floor may be too slippery for normal speed), and c) simply because I just can't match playing/foot tapping to the metronomes!

The tempo app Gina suggested acts like a speedo in a car - you (and importantly other players) can see how fast you are playing, but you still have complete control about what speed you are playing. For a couple of quid it seems worthwhile downloading and having a play about.

I don't see the tempo app as a crutch, but possibly something which can help with getting a good, even speed for dancers. 
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Emily Peabody on July 25, 2018, 08:06:20 AM
I can't seem to tap my foot while I'm playing -- can't seem to maintain the rhythm with my feet and my hands at the same time, which is weird because it ought to be the same rhythm. I'd keep trying, but nothing undermines your confidence like toppling over in middle of a tune.

But when I'm trying to follow another box player, watching their shoulders seems to work just as well as watching their feet. The rhythm's all in the upper body.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on July 25, 2018, 09:36:05 AM
I suppose the  rhythm  can be in the upper body ,the feet ( or even the bottom as in jiving etc)  or in any other of ones 'parts'  .  Is it that foot tapping comes more naturally to dancers/musicians or is it that it comes more naturally to self taught 'folkies' than to those who have had a dollop of classical training wh;ere I understand it is frowned on?

There is perhaps also some comfusion between light and almost silent foot 'tapping'  and  loud foot banging sometimes even using the knee as well as the ankle? With the former there is no danger of getting too enthusiastic and 'falling over'!


To me light foot tapping helps the player to synchronise with the dancers, be it ceilidh, morris, old tyme  , jazz or whatever in much the same way as   accompanying a singer can be aided by watching the singers face to help  getting the phrasing of musician and singer synchronised.

There are of course those who  presume that  dancers or singers will follow what they the ,? ,musicians are playing

george

Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 25, 2018, 09:43:30 AM
I can't seem to tap my foot while I'm playing -- can't seem to maintain the rhythm with my feet and my hands at the same time, which is weird because it ought to be the same rhythm. I'd keep trying, but nothing undermines your confidence like toppling over in middle of a tune.

But when I'm trying to follow another box player, watching their shoulders seems to work just as well as watching their feet. The rhythm's all in the upper body.

Then don't tap your feet. There are no rules which say you have to do it. As you have hinted, there are other ways of expressing rhythm with your body. But even that is not compulsory. So long as the music is rhythmical and steady*, that's all that matters.

* If that's what's needed. Some music needs to be flexible - slow airs or song accompaniment, for example.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on July 25, 2018, 11:15:05 AM
I can't seem to tap my foot while I'm playing -- can't seem to maintain the rhythm with my feet and my hands at the same time, which is weird because it ought to be the same rhythm. I'd keep trying, but nothing undermines your confidence like toppling over in middle of a tune.

But when I'm trying to follow another box player, watching their shoulders seems to work just as well as watching their feet. The rhythm's all in the upper body.

What Steve says. If it feels right, do it, if it doesn't feel right it's not compulsory. I don't, normally, make a habit of browsing through videos of myself playing, but I have seen a few recently, for various reasons, it has struck me that the foot tapping thing is pretty much subconscious, for me. Some times I'm tramping away like a good 'un, but, lots of others, I'm engrossed in the music and fairly still. Circumstances make a lot of difference. Playing out for dancing I can't keep still for long. Recording something for ToTM, or to show a tune to a friend, I am far more static.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Rayner on July 25, 2018, 12:17:45 PM
I think one of the Rolling Stones said he took the beat from Mick Jagger’s ärse.  There’s just so many parts of the body available.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on July 25, 2018, 12:38:13 PM
For me this is the ultimate example of a player moving to the music.  Every part of Pascale is involved in the music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpAqVJL23I0
I'm sure that sort of rhythmic involvement doesn't come from consciously tapping a foot, but from simply internalising the music and allowing the body movement to happen.   Same with dancing, when you have to count in your head you can dance but it is likely to be a bit mechanical.  Once you have really learned the dance you forget about numbers.    Same with foot tapping, at some point your playing will develop so that you don't have to consciously think about what you are playing, and you may just find your foot is tapping, apparently without your help.  How to get to that point?  I think two things are vital. First listen to lots of really good playing so that you know what you want to achieve.  Second - lots of practice.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: playandteach on July 25, 2018, 01:17:42 PM
I agree entirely. Pascale is not moving in order to stay in time. She is at the point where the expression of the music is organic. Movement as a device to stop rushing is rarely successful. It's a bit like trying to cover up B.O. with Lynx.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: arty on July 25, 2018, 01:41:51 PM
It's a bit like trying to cover up B.O. with Lynx.

Ha ha ha! That’s the funniest thing I have heard in ages!!!
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on July 25, 2018, 02:15:19 PM
I totally agree that foot tapping should be a natural reaction  ,as should other body movements, to the music you are playing.  When you are playing well and rhythmically - and yes even slow aires  have a rhythm - the body movement, anything from a gentle swaying to  foot tapping  or indeed waggling ones arse or whatever  should come naturally.  However developing rhythmic playing can be helped in the first instance by eg  consciously foot tapping 

What worries me is  that in some quarters foot tapping is seen as a no go area  that could well inhibit the  unconscious development of 'moving' with your music  instead of relying on counting etc.

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 25, 2018, 04:58:08 PM
... What worries me is  that in some quarters foot tapping is seen as a no go area  that could well inhibit the  unconscious development of 'moving' with your music  instead of relying on counting etc....
When playing the sort of music normally discussed on this forum - i.e. 'traditional' (whatever that might be) music, especially when used for dancing, I see no reason not to tap feet. I do it myself when playing for dancing.

However, (and I think this might be what George is referring to), in the classical music world, e.g. when playing in an orchestral or chamber group, it is true that foot tapping is generally frowned upon; it's unprofessional and downright annoying. The reason is that the player who is foot tapping is in their own little rhythmic world and therefore not properly listening to the other players or watching the conductor.

To illustrate this further: in my orchestra, there is one player who sits near me and is a notorious foot-tapper. On a wooden-floored stage, the vibrations of his tapping reverberate through my chair and feet, so I get them regardless. It is very off-putting when his foot tapping does not synchronise with the conductor and/or the other players in the section. Sometimes we have to resort to a hissed reminder "stop tapping your f*****g feet!" which works for a bit, until the next time. Grrr!  >:( 
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Theo on July 25, 2018, 05:12:48 PM
But Steve that's not a problem with foot tapping so much as a problem musician who is not paying attention to those around him/her.   Exactly the same thing does happen in folk and dance bands.  It's also quite frequent in sessions.  And I can also think of a player or two who never taps feet and is not in sync with neighbours.  So it's poor musicianship rather than foot tapping that's the problem. The foot tapping is just a symptom.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: malcolmbebb on July 25, 2018, 05:24:34 PM
It is very off-putting when his foot tapping does not synchronise with the conductor and/or the other players in the section ... Grrr!  >:(
Promote him to conductor. Sorted.  :|glug :|glug
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Mike Carney on July 25, 2018, 05:51:41 PM
So it's poor musicianship rather than foot tapping that's the problem.
Hallelujah!
M
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 25, 2018, 07:43:58 PM
But Steve that's not a problem with foot tapping so much as a problem musician who is not paying attention to those around him/her.   Exactly the same thing does happen in folk and dance bands.  It's also quite frequent in sessions.  And I can also think of a player or two who never taps feet and is not in sync with neighbours.  So it's poor musicianship rather than foot tapping that's the problem. The foot tapping is just a symptom.

Yes - you're right in that it is one aspect of poor musicianship. But in an orchestral setting, even with fine musicians, the foot tapping is definitely a no-no. Playing together in that sort of setting relies on all sorts of cues, and not just watching the conductor's beat. There is listening to each other of course, and in the case of wind/brass players, being aware of each other's breathing. Also there are subtle visual cues: watching the body movements of other players (shoulder movements are good) or watching the bows of string players.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Chris Brimley on July 25, 2018, 07:46:45 PM
Foot tapping performs a number of functions, it seems to me - it helps the lead or rhythm lead musician get into the 'groove', which in a dance band means tempo can be adjusted to follow the dancers, it allows other band members to see what that musician is trying to do and keep in the same time, it is the easiest way of keeping the lead musician to a constant tempo, it helps their fingers work in a strict tempo fashion, and it allows this musician to control things visually when others are speeding up or slowing down.  'Groove' is to me a very useful idea - if I'm not in it, I play the wrong notes, and I find that by concentrating on the overall 'feel' of a piece of music, it is a lot easier to play the right ones.  Pascal is clearly in a 'groove' in her video, but notice that she is basically tapping her foot, as well as moving with the feel of the piece she is playing.

Playing to a constant tempo is very difficult for anyone, as anyone who's tried recording with a click track will know.  Drummers are of course trained to do just that, which is why playing box with a good one is such a relaxing and enjoyable experience.  I'd have thought that if you're playing in an orchestra, the conductor is setting the rhythm for everyone, and obviously foot-tapping would potentially cut right across that tempo, so I can see why it's frowned upon.  Unfortunately baton movements can be pretty imprecise, compared with the 'attack' of a metronome or a foot.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on July 25, 2018, 08:44:49 PM
quite!
g
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: playandteach on July 25, 2018, 11:03:40 PM

Playing to a constant tempo is very difficult for anyone, as anyone who's tried recording with a click track will know. 

 I'd have thought that if you're playing in an orchestra, the conductor is setting the rhythm for everyone,

 Unfortunately baton movements can be pretty imprecise, compared with the 'attack' of a metronome or a foot.
Point one is spot on. I've played on quite a lot of films, early ones (in my career) were done 'wild' - and the conductor's job was to make the hit points. Later ones, everything is organised to a complicated click track, including tempo changes. They do save time and money, but if there's time at the end of a week of film sessions, many of these are re-recorded to add some life.

2nd point about the conductor - with good orchestras no one needs to be kept in time. It's more about musical direction (which way the phrase is going, and where to release tension etc.) and balancing instruments.

3rd point - poor conductors try to make their beat precise, but that's like turning the light on and off - you only get glimpses of the intention. Good conductors are fluid and it is clear where the next beat will fall ages in advance.
It is also possible that great musicians are terrible at the mechanics of conducting (such as Ashkenazy) but orchestras so respect them that they look for the musical direction beyond the technique. He's an extreme example - partly he developed a poor technique because he's short, and orchestras in the early years of his conducting career kept saying they couldn't see the baton, so he learnt to conduct way too high for control. Great man, and very kind to my wife at a difficult time. A rare example of keeping the megalomania at bay.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: MarioP on July 26, 2018, 04:14:39 AM
i'm sure speed is a big factor in the body movements if not check out this Hohner experts watching a guy playing a modified colombian Corona III and they're moving their heads in no time to the speedy tempo ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bz7desJug0 (Speed to 3:40 if you don't wanna watch the whole 6min)
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on July 26, 2018, 09:15:35 AM
I think of hitting exactly the right tempo and rhythm as 'floatation speed''  - the point at which everything feels easier and relaxed ( irrespective of the tunes actual speed)
and  at which you make natural gentle bodily movements in time with the music without  making any attempt so to do. tdoesn't always happen but when it does it feels great!.  Even greater is a small group eg ceilidh band or morris band  manage to achieve it collectively and simultaneously.  It can include anything from a foot tapping reel or jig  to a gentle shoulder swaying slow air  . It can happen with non folky stuff such as jiving, quick steps,  song accompaniment etc etc. It dpoesn't always happen but when it does it feels effortless!


On the subgect of which bits of the body to move  I was once asked at a ceilidh when the caller didn't turn up to play something they could jive to.  After initial utter panic , never having played such stuff, I set off with a travesty of lone donegans putting on the style ( sweet sixteen)  I watched the floorfull of moving arses and adjusted the rhythm until I achieved maximum bum activity.  That was the only 'jive(ish) tune I could think of so I then went into ken john peel, road to the isles etc etc for most of the evening, just intersperced with a few smoochy waltzes and the hokey coky. There were very few sitting out and it was obviously the rhythm that did the trick rather than my rather odd choice of tunes,

george


Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on July 27, 2018, 10:05:28 AM
While we're on the subject of moving with the music, I love this. It is the ultimate in expressiveness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qt-ohf6jUo
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: playandteach on July 27, 2018, 01:49:30 PM
For me - and this is not a dig at the playing - there is a little too much awareness of the camera for this to be as natural as Pascale. On another thread talking about why we might not listen all the way through, the disconnect between the seeming acoustics of the image (curtain etc) and the reverb on the audio is also unnatural.
I hope you understand that I'm not trying in any way to suggest that you are wrong to admire this clip.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Anahata on July 27, 2018, 02:06:11 PM
That video does nothing for me. The pained expression and head shaking are far too melodramatic, and if I listen without looking it actually sounds surprisingly mechanical and lifeless. And it's supposed to be a Schottische, but I feel no urge to dance.

Also I agree the reverb is too much on that recording, and though I do use some on mine, it's usually far less than that.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on July 27, 2018, 02:10:53 PM
Ah well, there's no accounting for taste. Guess mine's a bit different.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Anahata on July 27, 2018, 02:12:23 PM
PS - my above post in distinct contrast to Pascale Reubens' video posted earlier
- her body movements indicate to me that she knows and is almost doing the dance.
- compare her use of basses with Dominic's...
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on July 27, 2018, 02:20:52 PM
PS - my above post in distinct contrast to Pascale Reubens' video posted earlier
- her body movements indicate to me that she knows and is almost doing the dance.
- compare her use of basses with Dominic's...

I agree she's dancing in her chair but what she's playing and the way she's playing it, don't do a lot for me. Taste's vary.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Julian S on July 27, 2018, 03:08:00 PM
While we're on the subject of moving with the music, I love this. It is the ultimate in expressiveness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qt-ohf6jUo


Hmm. Doesn't quite hit the spot for me, personally.
I've always wanted to see a film of Frederic Paris playing his classic tune - it would be great to see how much expression, feeling and danceability he would put in. I agree with Anahata - for me Pascale's playing just makes me want to get up and dance.

J
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Eshed on February 03, 2019, 12:59:10 PM
I wanted give an update here, as I very recently (the past month or so) began tapping my foot while playing.
I suspect that it was two things:
1) Getting more comfortable with the box freed up brainpower.
2) I played with recordings and with a metronome a few times, then I played with a metronome while foot tapping and then I removed the metronome.

The moment I could do it with a single tune, I suddenly could do it with other tunes as well. I still find it a bit difficult with jigs, but I'll get there.
Since I've done so, two different people told me (of their own accord!) that my playing significantly improved, namely my rhythm. I still mess up every now and then, of course, but the overall is much more steady.  :||:
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: playandteach on February 03, 2019, 02:18:06 PM
If it works that's great. The thing to be aware of in playing with others (it sounds like you're doing well in this regard) is to make sure that your personal tempo is the same as the group. I have found that in some contexts the foot tapper is locked into their own world. Not you though and a noticeable improvement is always worth a pat on the back.
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on February 03, 2019, 02:26:31 PM
If it works that's great. The thing to be aware of in playing with others (it sounds like you're doing well in this regard) is to make sure that your personal tempo is the same as the group. I have found that in some contexts the foot tapper is locked into their own world. Not you though and a noticeable improvement is always worth a pat on the back.

its very simple. In a session, a band or whatever 'group' of players everybody's foot should be 'up downing' at precisely the same time and if there are any dancers the band members foot tapping should coincide precisely with the movement of the dancers feet.  The 'message' through the brain to the foot as to when to tap should be inherent in the rhythm with which a tune is being played i.e. the rhythm inherent in the way the melody rather than the bass is being played.  If the treble /melody rhythm isn't right  the noise/thumps or whatever made with the bass OR THE FOOT will be wide of the mark
george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Andrew Kennedy on February 06, 2019, 10:18:04 AM
As some have suggested, it should depend on the musical context, not the musician. Playing for step or clog I would follow the dancer, and foot-tapping would suggest it was all about me rather than them.  It's an entirely different matter playing for rapper in a crowded pub where the audience start clapping along and invariably speed up (especially if egged on by some Tommies I could name).
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: george garside on February 06, 2019, 01:27:02 PM
When I played regularly for rapper I did exactly the same as for any type of dancing - I played to the dancers feet and speeded up or down with them which could eg be required if they needed a wee bit more time to get the lock up etc.  I always ,on purpose, played for rapper as a single musician  and geerally used a Lilly playing treble only  as a sort of imitiation fiddle!  This worked well  and avoided the possibility of it going mushy which with several musicians can happen , unless of course they are very jexperienced at playing together for a particular rapper  side

george
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Andrew Kennedy on February 09, 2019, 07:11:54 AM
I too prefer a Lilly for rapper, and see a big difference between playing for rapper and playing some gorgeous music while some people dance rapper (there's a lot of that about).
Title: Re: Foot tapping
Post by: Stotty on February 11, 2019, 10:08:21 PM
I too prefer a Lilly for rapper, and see a big difference between playing for rapper and playing some gorgeous music while some people dance rapper (there's a lot of that about).

I agree entirely.  The "test" I have when I watch rapper is to imagine I'm dancing and get out of step, and then to see if there is enough definition in the music to allow me to pick up the beat and get back into step again.  All to often I think it is too difficult.  It isn't just when you lose your step that you need a well defined tune and beat, it is also when a figure finishes early or late and you have to get back onto the right foot and into step at the "wrong" time in the tune.  Some of the "jigs" you hear played for rapper don't even seem to have a clearly defined start and end to each 8 bars.  I often wonder if the judges in rapper competitions ever put themselves in the place of the dancers.

Years ago when I was learning to dance and play for rapper I listened to a Letchworth Morris men cassette with rapper tunes and interviews and I think that there are some really strong jigs in that collection, especially from Jo Bennett (Earsdon) and Jim Catterall (Newcastle Morris men I believe).  I see the same recordings are now on a CD at the Morris Shop.

I always tap my foot when I'm playing, but when you get a really good/noisey wooden floor and strong rapper stepping it is very difficult to avoid getting into a race with the foot tapping  >:E