CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
I've just been listening to an extended recording of me playing, and at first I didn't hear the rhythm problems, then someone else pointed it out and it became clearer.
So, wondering how others of you deal with rhythm problems. Drum Machines? Metronomes? Just play with others? Set your hair on fire and run around looking for something to beat it out with, but in time with the rhythm?
I have used a drum machine for practice, especially early on. They are WAY more fun than a metronome! I had to program in a simple waltz and zydeco double clutch beat, as they were not among the pre-programmed patterns. Programming a drum machine is an annoying task, but once it's done, it's done.
I have a yamaha keyboard that has a number of
preset drum rhythms including a waltz and two step.
I can adjust the tempo. I don't use it as much as
a should...it does help me find the rough spots. When
I am working on a song, playing by myself...without the drum machine...its easy to speed up and slow down depending on the difficulty of the part. The drum machine forces you to play it at a constant tempo or
it really falls apart. Over time you can also speed up
the tempo to push your abilities.
Overall its a good thing...
I just hate the even electronic sound of the drum machine..that sound is the antithesis of why I like this music.
A couple methods: (1) For two-steps, set a metronome to play the 2 and 4 (what the snare would play) instead of all 4 beats of a two-step; (2) Using Audacity or a similar program, take a small audio segment of a drum beat you can work with and loop it (or copy and paste it several times) to the desired length. Using the tempo change option, you end up with a two-step or waltz beat you can use when practicing at any tempo. I find these especially helpful when practcing zydeco music, but it'll work with Cajun songs, too. It may be easier to find a loopable measure or two of drum beats from a zydeco breakdown than from a Cajun recording. Anyone who finds a good sample of this could upload same to the files section of the Yahoo accordion licks website.
What speeds do you all play at? I can't help but play anywhere from 190 to 205 on two steps and about 135-145 on waltzes. That is less speedy than some traditional recordings I've heard!
I have recently gotten into using my Casio keyboard for waltzes and twosteps. There are so many beats you can use to help you keep time (although half of them would sound rediculous live or recorded).
I'm playing about 190 max on two steps, and 125 to 130 on waltzes and shuffles.
I think someone posted this link awhile back, but
I figured I would send it again.
You tap a key on your keyboard
to the music to find out the average beats per minute.
you can find out just how fast clifton is playing
hot tamale baby.
i've got a little korg metronome that does the same thing. However, it seems to take the distance between two distinct beats rather than averaging over a few. Makes it a little hard to zero in.
I use a drum machine on live performances.
When we play with just the three of us ( accordion, fiddle, guitar ) we use the drum machine.
Any recommendations on a simple to use, inexpensive drum machine that will allow easy programming of waltz & 2-step beats? We have an old Boss 505 that is so complex to program that it sits in a cabinet drawer unused....
I practice a lot with a drum machine and have also used it playing out with the Bluegrass Band when we do some cajun and Zydeco. First, it will really help you improve and cleanup any timing problems. Secondly, if I can program a Boss 505 believe me anyone can. Just work your way through the instructions and keep it simple. I put in a double clutch Zydeco beat and a waltz and use them all the time. I put in the double kick and the snare and it works fine to practice Zydeco. Same with the waltz; just a bass on the one and snare on two and three. Very simple and sparse but that's all you need.
Drum machines and metronomes a very valuable tools; but the one thing -- the *one* thing -- that will improve your timing is your left hand. (Assuming all of us play right-handed; yes, Lil Guyland Leday is excused ;) Play them frogs. Play 'em till you get 'em down pat. When you do, the right hand will fall into place and accelerate your learning. I'm still trying to get 'em down. It ain't easy and it can be frustrating. Don't give up.