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Author Topic: My playing sounds... rushed  (Read 763 times)

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Boyen

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My playing sounds... rushed
« on: March 26, 2020, 10:06:26 PM »

Hi everyone
Hope you're all in good health in these troubling times.
I'm well underway into my sixth year of box playing and I've been enjoying the ride a lot. I owe all of you my thanks for helping me start out. Currently I'm at a stage where there isn't really anything too difficult to play I'd say. I enjoy tackling tunes even if they are outside my comfort zone. But then.. even though I can play a tune, when I record myself I can tell I miss an essential component in my playing: it sounds rushed. I don't make it sound easy and nice like so many players are capable off. Technically I can make my fingers perform most things I want to achieve but the sounds from my box in a recording just feel off to me.

Recent video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne10ubeoEVc

This one is a bit longer ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72xg5v0SVWQ

So the obvious answer would be to slow down. And I really try, but while I'm playing, it doesn't sound rushed, it sounds perfectly fine in my head. It's also not that it feels like I need to keep up with myself. So I'm not sure what's the best way to go about this/
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boxcall

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 10:22:37 PM »

I say getting the fingers to hit the right notes is half the battle and the other half phrasing, timing rhythm etc.
In your - recent video- ( I’m no expert) I don’t feel the waltz rhythm for some reason?
Label as Emma’s waltz, so maybe rushed as you said. Or I’m off.
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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 10:30:23 PM »

Yes, the obvious answer is to slow down.
I'm exactly the same. Only tonight I put up a video of St Anne's Reel, and when I recorded and played back a few seconds of it to make sure I had the camera set up right I was shocked at how it sounded much faster than I thought I was playing it. So I tried to play it slower...

Playing for real live dancers who need the tempo to be right for them is an excellent training in regular rhythm and steady speed. It works especially well if you are the only musician and not following someone else, so you know the dancers are relying on you as a metronome.
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Dick Rees

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2020, 10:44:09 PM »

When I saw the subject line I immediately had an idea about the most common cause of speeding, but I went to the clips to see if my usual suspicion was verified.  My initial thought was: emphasis on learning the melody first and relegating the LH/comp to secondary status.

Bingo.

For a waltz such as Emma, you can get a better feel for it by knowing how to dance the step.
For the second tune, I'd recommend a metronome for the tempo with the added benefit of improving ensemble technique by listening to "another" while playing.

LH for a sea anchor, metronome for a governor.

Good luck, have fun.

Edit:

I see you have a C#/D box, not really conducive for bassing. 
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 10:50:46 PM by Dick Rees »
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playandteach

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2020, 11:03:37 PM »

Hi Boyen
Noticed the saxes in the video. I was a sax player too. I find the right hand of the melodeon nicely feels like holding a clarinet or a sax - very ergonomic.
Looks like you are asking for advice, so even though I'm fully aware of many of my faults, I'll try to offer advice.
In my experience the rushing usually happens at the easy places. There is a particular difficulty in 3 beats in a bar as it nears the tempo of 1 beat in a bar, if you were trying to conduct to it. I think you'll find that the 3rd crotchet / quarter note has a tendency to cheat us out of a bit of time. This is aggravated if the middle note is the fast partner to a dotted rhythm. We want to exaggerate the energy of the fast note, but there has to be a controlled compromise that the next beat does't pick up the tempo of the overly fast quick note.
This isn't (again, in my experience) a fault of your playing, just a general difficulty on any instrument, by any player that hasn't clocked it.
Hope that makes some sort of sense.
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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2020, 11:26:28 PM »

It also sounds to me like quite a hard tune to play,  there are a lot of notes in some passages!  For a waltz feel the three main beats are not quite equal. You need to lean into the first beat of the bar and very slightly lengthen it by coming in very slightly late on the second.  It’s a very subtle difference but it is what a dancers feet should be doing where the first step is the travelling step and the second two are sort of filling in.  It’s definitely worth learning to dance a waltz if you really want to get an intuitive feel for the rhythm.
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Stiamh

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2020, 12:36:45 AM »

Since others have commented on the waltz, I'll address the second. I don't think it was too fast a tempo particularly. I think the reason it sounds rushed, or less than satisfying if you like, is that you are not paying enough attention to the musicality in your playing. It needs more light and shade.

To take the example of the ascending run GFGA BABc dcde faba, it just sounds as though you are charging upstairs with each note being given the same weight as the next. Try to lay off on the second note in each pair.

Better still, practise lilting the tune. I bet you wouldn't sing it DA-DA-DA-DA DA-DA-DA-DA DA-DA-DA-DA with every note given the same accent and volume.

To take another passage ag fada fada eaca eaca - again all the notes get the same sort of weight. I would want to hear the ds and the c#s in that passage jump out at me a little. (BTW I can't be sure from looking but if you are not playing those c#s on the outer row, it will help if you do so).



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Boyen

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 01:02:48 PM »

Thanks for the thoughts and comments. I very much appreciate it

Quote
To take the example of the ascending run GFGA BABc dcde faba, it just sounds as though you are charging upstairs with each note being given the same weight as the next. Try to lay off on the second note in each pair.
Hm, I find changing bellows pressure when playing, especially at speed incredibly difficult. This is not a matter of not knowing that the tune should be different, I have difficulty with translating the emphasis to my instrument, even moreso at speed.

For Emma's Waltz I think that's probably what is missing as well? I can count the ONE two three, FOUR five six's but I suppose I am not really capable in translating these emphasis notes to my instrument.

I'm going to start with slowing down and see if I can do the above, this has been affecting my playing for long enough.
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malcolmbebb

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2020, 01:11:54 PM »


Hm, I find changing bellows pressure when playing, especially at speed incredibly difficult. This is not a matter of not knowing that the tune should be different, I have difficulty with translating the emphasis to my instrument, even moreso at speed.
Umm - wasn't that rather the point? If you slow down, as you propose, you will have more time to think about bellows pressure. And won't be under such mental pressure to remember the next note so quickly.
From personal experience, you may find that tunes you know well fall apart when you cut the speed right down. Like everything else, you'll get past it.
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Stiamh

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2020, 01:17:23 PM »

Hi Boyen - you'll no doubt be relieved to know that I had to cut short my reply last night because of a phone call.

But here's a thought that came to me this morning.

You could try playing more quietly as well as more slowly. It's much easier to put in light and shade at lower volumes. To put it another way, try to make sure you are singing and not shouting.  :|glug
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george garside

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2020, 01:35:14 PM »

Hi Boyen - you'll no doubt be relieved to know that I had to cut short my reply last night because of a phone call.

But here's a thought that came to me this morning.

You could try playing more quietly as well as more slowly. It's much easier to put in light and shade at lower volumes. To put it another way, try to make sure you are singing and not shouting.  :|glug

Agree very much about qujitly and more slowly.  I would add concentrate on 'playing the gaps rather than the notes'    Not playing the gaps makes a tune sound like the ?musical equivalent of someone reading a page of written word  without using any punctuation or pausing to breath which would be akin to gabbling.   

I would also add that gentle foot tapping the basic rhythm of a tune ( and all tunes have a basic rhythm otherwise they wouldn't be music)  helps to stop what can sometimes become a mad race towards the end of the tune!

george
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Mike Hirst

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2020, 01:58:23 PM »

Not wanting to over complicate the matter I think it is important to say that I agree with the comments which have already been made with regard to rhythmic emphasis, lyricism and musicality. Something that has not been discussed is rhythmic placement. I worked in a band with a conga player who had grown up in Cuba. He spent his teenage years learning from some of the great congueros of the 1970s. I learned from him to understand the notion of playing on the beat (strict tempo), playing ahead of the beat and playing behind the beat. Playing on the beat implies playing each note exactly on it's metrical placement, with strict precision; playing ahead of the beat implies anticipating the metrical beat - it only takes a fraction of a microsecond to introduce a sense of urgency; and finally, playing behind the beat where the split second delay relaxes the rhythm. Non of this changes the tempo. Playing ahead of the beat at 120bpm will feel rushed, whereas playing behind the beat at 120bpm will feel relaxed. I have met drummers who can make these switches at will, shifting emphasis mid song. I cannot. I know that my own playing style is slightly behind the beat. I have musician friends who play ahead of the beat. I find it difficult play with them. Whether this is 'nature' or 'nurture' I don't know, but it manifests itself as an important element of common musical practice.

As an example of what i am describing listen to the shifting rhythmic emphasis on this masterful rendition:
Brothers' Vibe - DUB Plates 3 - "El Congero" - SOM1232c
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 02:19:44 PM by Mike Hirst »
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arty

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2020, 03:02:18 PM »

Sounds to me that you are playing it but you are not feeling it. That means, when you play it back, you feel nothing from the recording and you don't like it.

That is a very common problem, there are many, many musicians out there that play incredibly well, technically, but they leave one cold because their music has no character, no feeling. There are melodeon players who have incredible technique, who leave me cold and there are some, who have very poor technique and often instruments which are just short of being wrecks, yet can bring a lump to my throat because of the strength of feeling in their music.

I think the melodeon is a very difficult instrument to play, with emotion. It is the kind of instrument which is either on or off, unlike say, a cello or a clarinet. Or is it? This is where we have to learn that the most important thing about your instrument is the bellows and the air button. For example, the air button can just be a means of grabbing some air, or losing some, but it can also be a volume control. Try, as you play, just opening the air button a tiny fraction and holding it in that position, (easier to stop playing the basses until you are completely used to this),  while you are playing a phrase - see how, the more you open it, the more the volume drops. Then release it and at the same time, increase the pressure on the bellows until you get full volume. The range from soft and quiet to loud, raucous almost, is surprisingly big!

But, I don't think you can practice getting all this feeling into your music by playing something really fast. I think you should pick a tune which is slow and melodic. A slow air maybe or something easy and tuneful like an O'Carolan piece - Fanny Power, for example but preferably something that you know by heart, something you know really well. Then practice it without your instrument...sing it, sing it in the car, in a space where you are on your own. Try all different ways of singing it, loud bits, quiet bits, play around with the speed and the rhythm. Try it all slurred, try it staccato, try one phrase -  short sharp notes, the next, lengthen the notes. Sing it until you feel it. Then transfer it to your melodeon. Try to imitate your singing with the sound of your accordion...just one phrase at a time. Play it slow, play it soft, play it loud, play it quicker but....all the time ....listen to the sound that you are making. Listen and really, really concentrate. You can do it!

In all the arts, (I am a painter), it is really important to learn a technique but then, when you have learnt it, it becomes the least important thing. The only thing that matters, is what you are trying to say. Music, like painting, is about communication. If you don't communicate, all you have left is technique and that is not enough. You have ample technique.

Good luck - I know you can do it. I know you will do it because you have seen and heard the problem and you have brought it to your conscious.
Next time you play for someone - make them smile, make them want to dance, bring tears to their eyes, anything but make them feel it.

You can do it!



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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2020, 03:44:48 PM »

But, I don't think you can practice getting all this feeling into your music by playing something really fast.

You can do so with this tune.  Play more slowly while working on phrasing/timing/emphasis and communicating, then when you are read to move back towards performance speed the musicality should still be there.

Quote
Next time you play for someone - make them smile, make them want to dance, bring tears to their eyes, anything but make them feel it.

You can do it!

Exactly!
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2020, 03:51:00 PM »

That is a very common problem, there are many, many musicians out there that play incredibly well, technically, but they leave one cold because their music has no character, no feeling. There are melodeon players who have incredible technique, who leave me cold and there are some, who have very poor technique and often instruments which are just short of being wrecks, yet can bring a lump to my throat because of the strength of feeling in their music.

Oh yes that is so true.  I have a vivid memory of a concert I went to not long ago where there were two acts, both led by box players.  Both incredibly gifted technically.  I sat through the first completely untouched by a cascade of elaborate notes and complex arrangements and wondering how long it would go on.  When the second came on they brought a smile to my face while quite unconsciously my foot started tapping. 
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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2020, 03:57:08 PM »

Arty that is a very good analogy!
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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2020, 03:58:14 PM »

That's a great set of skills you have there Boyan. Relax and enjoy, it will evolve. All the Best mory
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Stiamh

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2020, 06:03:26 PM »

Something that has not been discussed is rhythmic placement. ... I know that my own playing style is slightly behind the beat. I have musician friends who play ahead of the beat. I find it difficult play with them.

I think Mike you have touched on a very important part of the puzzle.

I think I tend to play just behind the beat too, and with nearly all my musical friends in the worlds of Irish and québécois music, this seems to work perfectly. But I can think of two people in particular that I have had difficulty playing with. One was an accompanist who constantly seemed to be pushing me - a very uncomfortable feeling. Another was a fiddler who always seemed to get to the next bar or the next section of the tune a millisecond ahead of me. With the result that I would try to get into step with her, but she would then advance again, and we would keep speeding up. For which she blamed me, until I finally figured out what was happening and tuned her out completely.  ;)

So, Boyen, perhaps you naturally play on or ahead of the beat. I wish you luck trying to figure that out, though, because I have found listening to tutorials on the subject and trying to copy what is being shown very difficult, and ultimately uninteresting, since I don't need or want to change my own approach.

Second, I think the term "rhythmic placement" is a much more suitable idea than talking about spaces in between notes or "playing the gaps" - sorry George, this is a bit of a  :neigh: of mine. When you're playing an Irish reel, and not something by Miles Davis, there are basically no gaps to play. Placing the notes, playing on/behind the beat, rhythmic placement - that I can concur with.

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Boyen

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2020, 02:34:33 PM »

Can start off with saying that I do appreciate all the comments encouragements and tips so far! I suppose my problem is not a simple nor an easy-fix. Playing behind the beat, feeling the music, lyricsm, rhythmic placement and musicallity are all things I need to improve on, but they are also elements and concepts that are vague with an unclear path on how to achieve improvement.

Also not all of them are what I'm trying to fix >right now,< I want my music to sound more relaxed I have a ton of other stuff I can be working on but that one for now is the most important. For now I'm okay with less musicality and soul. Just a week ago I had a lesson with Tim Edey and he showed me a ton of stuff that could make my playing more musical, but the way I see it, I'm missing a foundation before I can go there.

I've started with slowing down by a lot and over emphasizing the beat with cuts and increased bellows pressure on every accented note. Will sound awkward at speed by I suppose leaving something out is easier than adding things. That already turns out to be really difficult for me to do so at the very least I've identified a gap in my playing, the ability to accent any note in a sequence. I'm fairly sure I don't want to accent every beat later on but at least the ability to do so should be there.

I'm not sure if this will make the playing more relaxed in the future, but starting from a steadier rhythm incorporated in the melody seems like a good idea right now  :-\
« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 02:38:39 PM by Boyen »
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Theo

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Re: My playing sounds... rushed
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2020, 02:47:21 PM »

All those things about musicality take time, quite a lot of time, so just relax and enjoy the journey.  Listening to good performances of the piece you are learning is a huge help too.  For me I try not to be too analytical when listening,  but I do listen to the same piece over and over and just absorb it.  That way I hope that al least some of what Ive absorbed comes through in my playing.
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