Friday, June 07, 2024

Pulse memory

From one of the better YouTube channels, for bassists, here's a video on the subject of time, in which the guy works through practicing with a slow click— which I highly recommend, practicing with the click on the 1 only, or on the 1 every two measures. Or every four measures, at fast tempos. 

The basic idea there is sound, I don't agree with the word choices: “groove automation”, the idea of feeling the time. “Pulse memory.” It don't work that way, in my opinion. I think they attached some buzzwords to a partially formed concept, to promote the video. 

Partially formed concepts are not bad, they're most of how the fine points of music are taught. Somebody gives you a clue about how things work, and you're left alone to figure it out through your practicing and playing. Some people do that correctly and use the clues effectively, others struggle with them because they were misled by the choice of words. They drew a wrong implication from it, and wasted a lot of time trying to develop something that doesn't work. Probably most of us have done it, one one topic or another. 

Like saying groove automation makes it sound like a background process— a subroutine, while we're using techy language— as if the goal is to not think about it. The same way people talk about an “internal clock”— suggesting a mechanism that gives you perfect time without you knowing anything about it. The goal is the opposite of that, time/groove awareness

“Pulse memory” is also misleading— the hardest thing to memorize is a naked pulse, as you get it from a metronome. It's one dimensional. Maybe someone can do it well enough to have functionally good time, but it's more natural to use memorized sound— the actual sound of a recorded piece of music, or of someone counting off a tune, or of a rhythm, counted or played. Those are complex structures, we have a better, more precise memory for them. 

And feeling time; time feelings are easily influenced by your other physical and emotional feelings. Feeling is extremely unreliable. Instead, we want to be able to conceptualize time. That's what using the the slow click is all about: you're forced to subdivide, which is a conceptualizing process.  

I've written more about all of this here. Like I said, this is basically a good video. If somebody just started working with a slow click all the time, they'd get their time together to a satisfactory level. 

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