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Author Topic: Foot tapping  (Read 4903 times)

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Eshed

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Foot tapping
« 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?
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Theo

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #1 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.
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george garside

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #2 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

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Mike Carney

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #3 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

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Calum

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #4 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.
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #5 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?)
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 02:57:11 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Greg Smith
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george garside

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #7 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
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baz parkes

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #8 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...
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Henry Piper

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #9 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 !!
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #10 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.
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Greg Smith
Is not the space between Heaven and Earth like a bellows?
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The more it moves, the more comes out of it.
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Maggie

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #11 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 :|||:
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #12 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.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #13 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.
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Greg Smith
Is not the space between Heaven and Earth like a bellows?
It is empty, but lacks nothing.
The more it moves, the more comes out of it.
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george garside

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #14 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
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busbox

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #15 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,
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baz parkes

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2018, 09:52:48 AM »

And of course with Quebecois music the feet are part of the instrument...

 :|glug
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Larry Powers

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #17 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.
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #18 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.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Foot tapping
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2018, 01:07:09 PM »

Some musical performances just brighten your day, don't they!
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