Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Count or Ooooooooo Scary

Actually, this post is not about this Count ( although I have no doubt he'd be a fine bandleader ).

Rather, it's about the count in or the count off, depending on your use of terminology
An interesting discussion opened up on social media recently regarding bandleaders who change tempos DURING THE COUNT OFF! I have been this place more than once, and it can be truly painful. Mind you, I'm not talking about the odd time when this happens, but a chronic situation. I was surprised by how many people used terms like " let it flow' or " don't be a metronome " during this discussion. I'm certainly in favour of letting the music breathe, but people who habitually move the tempo they're counting off while it's in progress, are really demonstrating a lack of consistency and control. The tune starts from the count off, and everyone needs to be committed to that tempo. I heard thirdhand from a person that worked with Dizzy Gillespie that Dizzy spent a long time on his count offs so everyone in the band was very aware of the tempo.

Closely related to the above mentioned is the problem of people who count in a consistent tempo, but then realize it's not the tempo they wanted so then try to get the band to speed up or slow down to where they really wanted it. Again, unprofessional, to say the least. If you want to seriously annoy your drummer, this is a very effective way of doing it!

Also, there's the person who counts in the tune far outside it's practical tempo zone. Yes, playing tunes at extreme tempos is good for concentration etc., but in a performance setting it's amazing how difficult it makes them to play. Speaking of Dizzy, I once played " Groovin' High" at a medium slow tempo because of bad band leading, and I was flabbergasted at how silly the melody sounded at that speed! ( Maybe this happened to Dizzy too, and that's why later he was so aware of his count ins! )

Finally, a lot of problems are caused during the count off when it's NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I bust my students on this all the time, and I'm sitting only a couple of feet from them. How is somebody on the other side of a big band going to hear them?  I often have the the count ins delegated to me, simply because I do it so loudly!

So, if you can, talk to your bandleader about letting someone else count the tunes in, or of them being a little more aware of the tempo. Of course, if they are going to take offence to this and fire you, then it's probably best to grin and bear it.

Of course, none of this applies when Dee Dee Ramone is counting the song off.....

Happy Halloween, and I hope the ratio of of tricks to treats is to your liking......

No comments:

Post a Comment