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Anticipating the beat

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:25 pm

I'm just musing here, basically. Our former local symphony pro, since retired and moved to Hawaii, clearly anticipated the beat, especially noticeable if you were playing with him (we were jamming once with me on fiddle and I kept trying to catch up with him but the more I tried to catch him the faster we went......) But out in the audience, even sitting in the first row for the symphony brass quintet, it sounded "just right." He was very amenable to playing with the amateur groups who asked him to fill in....one concert I was playing something else (horn or euph?) and there were two tubas, this guy and a local reasonably good amateur. They were never, ever together because the pro guy anticipated the beat and the amateur guy was always an echo more or less.

The other local pro I have played fiddle with, did not anticipate the beat.

How many of you anticipate the beat?
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby scottw » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:30 pm

It's a pretty narrow window from playing "on top of the beat" to rushing the beat. Our job as bass players-string or tuba- is to play on top, but not get carried away, either. :D
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Donn » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:20 pm

MaryAnn wrote:especially noticeable if you were playing with him (we were jamming once with me on fiddle and I kept trying to catch up with him but the more I tried to catch him the faster we went......) But out in the audience, even sitting in the first row for the symphony brass quintet, it sounded "just right."
...
The other local pro I have played fiddle with, did not anticipate the beat.


"Fiddle" is a clue that we may have switched style of music here, from the typical brass quintet fare? That makes a difference. I wouldn't ever play ahead of the beat for any kind of music I know, but would play more up on it for some than others. A bass who isn't way into the particular style could play farther up on the beat than you're used to.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby jeopardymaster » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:08 pm

I might be able to get away with anticipating if I were the only tuba player, but NEVER in a section. That's just rude. As rude as playing behind. I try to stay right on top, same as scottw. It's sort of like telling the truth - it's easier to keep your story straight that way.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby ren » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:16 am

If it sounds wrong on stage its wrong.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby timothy42b » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:27 am

When I direct, ictus and beat coincide.

This is not true for many, especially choral and orchestral conductors. When I play or sing for one of them, I tend to be ahead of the beat until I realize and adjust. I sing for a very fine choral director whose beat is long past ictus, and I'll be accused of rushing if I watch him too closely.

Just another complication.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Jay Bertolet » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:28 am

Funny story:

Many years ago, I was in an orchestra and we were auditioning assistant conductors. We did this at a pops concert and the music director ended up sitting right behind our section to watch the candidates and evaluate them. We did typical outdoor pops fare. Some Leroy Anderson, 1812, other typical Americana pops concert music. After the first half of the program, the music director came up to us and said that he was amazed at how far ahead of the beat we played. He really couldn't fathom how we played absolutely together and so far ahead of the beat and, further, that it always sounded right out front.

If you spend enough time together as a section, you definitely get a sense of exactly where that thin line is. I used to practice that at home by playing with a metronome and really focusing on exactly where I articulated notes compared to exactly when the metronome clicked. There is definitely a front side and a back side. Knowing that you're in the back row and the sound has to travel, the reality become obvious.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby windshieldbug » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:18 am

It's what the ensemble wants, sort of like the delayed Ormandy beat of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
God help the sub who followed the tip of the baton and came in.
Now no longer the norm, but it's the director/ensemble culture...

You do what is expected, and you'd better know before you get there!
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Donn » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:30 am

Jay Bertolet wrote:There is definitely a front side and a back side. Knowing that you're in the back row and the sound has to travel, the reality become obvious.


The way I see it, the travel time would be on the order of 1/50 of a second, does that sound right? Elapsed time between players who are about 8 yards apart. A little less than the duration of a 16th note at q=120.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Doc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:06 am

ren wrote:If it sounds wrong on stage its wrong.


Experience says otherwise. If it sounds like you're behind to the conductor or the audience, that's when you are "wrong."

Jay Bertolet wrote:Knowing that you're in the back row and the sound has to travel, the reality become obvious.


Some halls require the back row to really play on the front of the beat for the sound to reach the front "in time." If you have never experienced this, it's easy to talk in absolutes about right and wrong, but physics remain the same (low frequencies from longer distances, differing acoustics...). Experience this a time or two, and you'll understand.

scottw wrote:It's a pretty narrow window from playing "on top of the beat" to rushing the beat. Our job as bass players-string or tuba- is to play on top, but not get carried away, either.


jeopardymaster wrote:I might be able to get away with anticipating if I were the only tuba player, but NEVER in a section. That's just rude. As rude as playing behind. I try to stay right on top, same as scottw. It's sort of like telling the truth - it's easier to keep your story straight that way.


No need to get carried away, unless the circumstances require you to be on the front half of the beat. We don't need to rush in a way that increases tempo. But if your story is consistently late to the paying folks out front, it's a sad, poorly-told story. It needs to sound together out front, regardless of what you have to do in the back row to make it so. Maybe some players don't have those experiences in which you have to play somewhere forward of the middle to make it work out front. That's fine, but don't presume all situations are that way.

Among the different styles of music/bands/gigs I play, one is in a German brass band. My partner and I have to consistently play on the front of the beat to make it work for the circumstances (band configuration, keep the drummer straight, needs to sound together out front). We do it together as a section without any difficulty, and the audience hears it out front as being together. Back when I was playing orchestra gigs and other union work, I played a couple of different halls that consistently required the back row to play near the front of the beat. By the time the sound made it to the conductor and first row, we sounded together. It's not rocket science, but laws of physics certainly are involved.

windshieldbug wrote:
You do what is expected, and you'd better know before you get there!


If you're like me, and you like getting paid (and getting called again), you better be prepared. It really doesn't matter what YOU want or YOU think. Keep the boss happy, and the check will show up. That may involve you having to give up some of your absolutes about many things, not just timing. I had good advice about this early on that helped keep me working.

My other life is playing western swing, classic country, and big band music on upright bass. I don't consciously decide to play on the front of the beat, but I find that I do on certain tunes because the music (hard driving swing or shuffles) require it. It occurs subconsciously, because it sounds good, particularly out front. It has a natural drive that way. It's not so far ahead that it's out of time, but it's not on that "sacred" top of the beat. Ballads require different treatment with timing, articulation, etc. than the driving tunes. But wait! That must be wrong since the rules of music are the same for all types of music and all situations all the time, right?

I guess I shouldn't try to explain that it's ok and natural for swing or jazz to be laid back or behind the beat. I shouldn't try to explain that on easy swing and ballads, I play on top of the beat, yet sing behind/laid back. And, dear Lord little baby infant Jesus, I don't dare I explode heads by trying to explain the dichotomy of playing bass forward but singing laid back and behind the beat on driving swing, shuffles, etc.

And to think that many of us simply try to do what the music requires (including the part of the beat on which you play), what the venue requires, what the ensemble requires, and whatever actually causes the music to sound good to the audience... Gee, Wally... What were we thinking? :roll:
Last edited by Doc on Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:15 am

Answer: Yes I anticipate. In my community orchestra, there are differences between sections as to where the beat is. The Bass/low ww/trombones almost always agree. It took a long time to figure out exactly what worked. In professional ensembles - there is no question in my mind what fits in, and everyone in the section agrees on it - regardless of how long we may have played together. Its quite fantastic.

This past weekend I performed with Novus NY on 3 works - in various different placement to the conductor.
Copeland Fanfare - sitting in the back,
an choral work for brass quintet, chior , organ, and percussion - positioned close to the conductor with the chorus placed in a balcony FAR behind
another orchestra work in the back row.

All of the work in the back row was easy to integrate with my coleagues, but when moved up to the front row, with the choir in aproximate same position to us, I had to readjust, as my normal playing put me a good bit ahead of the beat. Quite nerve racking!

Here is a link to the video of the concert. 0m copeland. ~18m for the quintet work. - end for the last work.
https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/video ... tein-100-7" target="_blank
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Doc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:16 am

MaryAnn wrote:They were never, ever together because the pro guy anticipated the beat and the amateur guy was always an echo more or less.


The difference in Pro and Amateur may explain the difference.

How many of you anticipate the beat?


Only when the music/situation requires it. (See: previous explanation and sarcastic rant)
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Donn » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:22 am

According to Cal Tjader, in an interview I heard on the radio back in the '70s so this is only a fuzzy recollection, but he found it almost impossible to use jazz bass players on his Latin stuff, because they play too far back.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby bloke » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:27 pm

When youtube (and other video/audio tracks of ensembles) began to emerge on the web quite a few years ago, I suspected that I was probably about as guilty as anyone, and (without bothering to figure out whether I was guilty, as I just assumed that I was) decided to do something about it.

Fairly quickly, I realized that "anticipation" didn't work. Anticipation is the opposite of reaction, and - as most tuba players react and play late - anticipation can bring about playing early (and can also lead to rushing).

:arrow: The strategy that I adopted is one I refer to as the "Courage Method".

You have to have the ~courage~ to play WITHOUT first hearing someone else play (WITHOUT first hearing a drum stick hit a drum head and/or WITHOUT first hearing a trumpet guy make a sound and even WITHOUT first hearing a violinist begin to slowly move their bow with a pianissimo sneak-in...an example here: Eine Faust Overture).

The "Courage Method", I would more compare to (TUNING-wise, not TIME-wise) learning to play in tune via continuously listening for tuning (as opposed to - when comparing to TUNING strategies...the "I'm going to lip this pitch up/down with a 'Small/Medium/Large Lipping-up Effort', because I know this pitch to be a 'Slightly/Somewhat/Very-Flat/Sharp Pitch'),whereas (with TIME) the "anticipation" method is more of a mechanical or even visual (and less based on auditory, as music is auditory) method of not playing late, whereas the "Courage Method" (though - well - requiring more courage) is more reliable, and doesn't lead to overdoing anything...

...so above, I tried to make a (difficult, but real) analogy between "really listening to play in tune vs. a mechanical non-listening-based lipping up-or-down this list of known-to-be-out-of-tune pitches" ~AS COMPARED TO~ "really listening and playing in time WITH the music ("dancing with your partners") vs. a mechanical non-listening based playing-slightly-ahead-in-order-to-play-on-the-spot method".

One pair of methods compensates for shortcomings - and tend to be inflexible, whereas the other pair of methods strive to eliminate the shortcomings and are more flexible.

After a while, the "Courage Method" requires less and less "courage", and (sometimes) compliments are even offered by colleagues such as "hey, thanks for 'driving the bus' on Fill-In-The-Blank tune." ...in other words, others might begin to lean on the TUBA PLAYER'S time, rather than (with the typical tuba player) the tuba play CHASING AFTER (or - again - "anticipating") the ENSEMBLE'S TIME.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Doc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:57 pm

bloke wrote:When youtube (and other video/audio tracks of ensembles) began to emerge on the web quite a few years ago, I suspected that I was probably about as guilty as anyone, and (without bothering to figure out whether I was guilty, as I just assumed that I was) decided to do something about it.

Fairly quickly, I realized that "anticipation" didn't work. Anticipation is the opposite of reaction, and - as most tuba players react and play late - anticipation can bring about playing early (and can also lead to rushing).

:arrow: The strategy that I adopted is one I refer to as the "Courage Method".

You have to have the ~courage~ to play WITHOUT first hearing someone else play (WITHOUT first hearing a drum stick hit a drum head and/or WITHOUT first hearing a trumpet guy make a sound and even WITHOUT first hearing a violinist begin to slowly move their bow with a pianissimo sneak-in...an example here: Eine Faust Overture).

The "Courage Method", I would more compare to (TUNING-wise, not TIME-wise) learning to play in tune via continuously listening for tuning (as opposed to - when comparing to TUNING strategies...the "I'm going to lip this pitch up/down with a 'Small/Medium/Large Lipping-up Effort', because I know this pitch to be a 'Slightly/Somewhat/Very-Flat/Sharp Pitch'),whereas (with TIME) the "anticipation" method is more of a mechanical or even visual (and less based on auditory, as music is auditory) method of not playing late, whereas the "Courage Method" (though - well - requiring more courage) is more reliable, and doesn't lead to overdoing anything...

...so above, I tried to make a (difficult, but real) analogy between "really listening to play in tune vs. a mechanical non-listening-based lipping up-or-down this list of known-to-be-out-of-tune pitches" ~AS COMPARED TO~ "really listening and playing in time WITH the music ("dancing with your partners") vs. a mechanical non-listening based playing-slightly-ahead-in-order-to-play-on-the-spot method".

One pair of methods compensates for shortcomings - and tend to be inflexible, whereas the other pair of methods strive to eliminate the shortcomings and are more flexible.

After a while, the "Courage Method" requires less and less "courage", and (sometimes) compliments are even offered by colleagues such as "hey, thanks for 'driving the bus' on Fill-In-The-Blank tune." ...in other words, others might begin to lean on the TUBA PLAYER'S time, rather than (with the typical tuba player) the tuba play CHASING AFTER (or - again - "anticipating") the ENSEMBLE'S TIME.


A+++
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby paulver » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:53 pm

Boy!!!! Am I glad that someone brought this up!!!

There is a tuba player in our community band who suddenly decided to take the tempos into his own hands. He started to rush the tempos, regardless of what the conductor was doing. The old band director in me kicked into gear and I demonstratively played slower..... just to slow him down. I even stopped playing to conduct right in front of him. Neither effort worked. It got progressively worse for the remaining rehearsals, and he po'd the rest of the tuba section. His opinion was that the rest of the section was dragging. He literally ruined at least three pieces in our concert, and later, in a conversation with one of the other players, blamed the rest of the section for the problem.

The lady in charge of the group is an incredibly nice person, who does not single out anyone for mistakes or problems. She just makes a general statement that an issue needs to be worked on. Not wanting to cause a "member" issue, my wife begged me to keep my mouth shut and not cause a problem!! So I did. But playing alongside someone who is purposely trying to control the group with their playing is unbelievably frustrating.

I'm not sure what I'll do when we start rehearsals again, but one thing is for sure........ if he does this again....... I will not keep my mouth shut! I'm not going to go through an entire season with that level of frustration.

As has been mentioned previously, there is a fine line between a slight anticipation of the beat, and downright rushing. One keeps the tempo on track and the other ruins everything. There is a time to anticipate, within the confines of the tempo, rhythm, and type of piece you're playing. There is never a time to play in direct opposition of the rest of the group.... whether it be with a conductor or without.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Donn » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:57 pm

paulver wrote:One keeps the tempo on track and the other ruins everything.


It might even mean laying back a hair. Buses come with brakes for a reason. I've seen bass drum players take off like that, with the same "you're all dragging" story. The protests came from the off beat section, i.e. horns/trombones etc. They hate that s.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby Doc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:06 pm

paulver wrote:Boy!!!! Am I glad that someone brought this up!!!

There is a tuba player in our community band who suddenly decided to take the tempos into his own hands. He started to rush the tempos, regardless of what the conductor was doing. The old band director in me kicked into gear and I demonstratively played slower..... just to slow him down. I even stopped playing to conduct right in front of him. Neither effort worked. It got progressively worse for the remaining rehearsals, and he po'd the rest of the tuba section. His opinion was that the rest of the section was dragging. He literally ruined at least three pieces in our concert, and later, in a conversation with one of the other players, blamed the rest of the section for the problem...



Man, that is a real... drag. Sorry! :mrgreen:

This kind of situation is unacceptable. It does not serve the music, the section, the ensemble, the venue, the audience, or anything else except this know-it-all’s self-righteous ego. It makes for an incredibly dissatisfying and frustrating situation for everyone involved.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby paulver » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:12 pm

Donn... agreed. I was a percussionist in high school and college, and when I was on bass drum, I could control the group in just about any way I wanted. But, it had to be done with some thought, and a with a definite purpose in mind. I would pick my spots within the music to speed up or slow down, if it need it, and I did it in such a way that the others could easily and clearly pick up on it. The job of the percussion section in a conductorless ensemble is to maintain and/or correct the tempos. Sometime easily done by switching to a rhythm that lends itself to a desired tempo. When the others hear that difference, they just naturally fall into line with it, as they feel it more easily.
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Re: Anticipating the beat

Postby bloke » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:14 pm

"multiple tuba players"...

...sometimes, can be a joy...other times (even when guy #2 is hired to play Berlioz/Stravinsky/etc.) ...can be (well...) a "drag"...or - intonation-wise - imitate a B-52. :lol: :mrgreen:

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