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hotnuts
10-05-2008, 11:12 AM
So I took the plunge, ordered a flea and am now spending most of my days looking at uke videos on the net while I wait for the package to arrive. I would like to have your opinion on something that has kind of annoyed me when watching a lot of those videos.

It seems that the dreaded unsteady-rhythm problem is especially acute in the ukulele community. I have seen countless videos and heard a number of sound samples in which people just randomly accelerate and decelerate the beat of their playing to the point where it really gets annoying to listen to. The music loses a lot of its impact because the flow is really affected. This seems to not only be true of random uke players on youtube, but also of accomplished players.

Edited

Exhibit B:
Sorry, no sample here, but if you watch the dvd The Joy of Uke, there is a guest appearance of Travis Harrelson who plays an amazing couple of songs. Same thing though, he doesn’t seem to care about keeping a steady beat.

So here are the explanatory hypotheses I would like you to help me appraise:

1- The Uke comes from an informal music tradition in the context of which little emphasis has been placed on the structural constraints usually imposed on music of other styles such as classical or even rock music.

2- The uke is not an intimidating instrument which means it attracts players who have little formal musical background and are likely to learn by themselves (not being coached to keep the beat).

3- Most uke players play alone and therefore have no need to be keep a steady beat to ensure they play in sync with others at jams.

4- I am too stuck up for such a laid-back instrument.

5- Any other ideas?

What do you all make of this?

Vincent

Kanaka916
10-05-2008, 11:55 AM
Methinks you're too over analytical and over diagnosing playing a uke. Just go with the flow and enjoy. My $.02 . . .

sukie
10-05-2008, 11:57 AM
Your package will come. Just hang on. I am waiting too and am just about to go nuts it's taking so long. When you get it you'll have lots of fun.

As for your other part of the post. Well, I know what you're saying, but.....

What I try to do is concentrate on my own playing. Don't like what other players do? Don't worry about it. You'll be so busy trying to learn yourself that you don't need to concern yourself with the "problems" of others. That is just my opinion. :)

Why not check out all the sites and print out some tabs or songs for strumming to keep you busy. Explore the top 50 ukulele sites. You will learn a lot and maybe find some fun uke stuff to purchase -- and to wait for. MGM has a wonderful e-bay store. Look at all the pretty ukuleles for sale. If the videos make you crazy, do some other ukulele busywork until your flea comes. I have a flea and it's a lot of fun. Enjoy

freedive135
10-05-2008, 12:07 PM
Yes I will admit it,
I to am sometimes subject to WMS (white mans syndrome) otherwise know and NO Rhythm, but with me it comes and goes like a bad rash.....

upskydowncloud
10-05-2008, 12:42 PM
It seems that the dreaded unsteady-rhythm problem is especially acute in the ukulele community. I have seen countless videos and heard a number of sound samples in which people just randomly accelerate and decelerate the beat of their playing to the point where it really gets annoying to listen to.

I have this problem too. I don't think it's specifically related to the ukulele community though, I think it just affects uke players more because they tend to be self taught and may not play with others and probably won't begin by learning music from sheet music with timing annotation. I know most tab is completely void of any time signature. It takes quite a naturally musical person to be able to play with the correct rhythm without being taught, or it just comes with tonnes of practice.

Like Kanaka916 says, just go with the flow, uke playing is more about having fun than being spot in perfect in the way you play it. I think the lack of perfection is quite charming. Although I do wish I was as good as the likes of Aldrine sometimes!

deach
10-05-2008, 02:48 PM
Wow! I can't wait until you get your uke and show the ukulele community how it's done maestro.

uke142464
10-05-2008, 03:16 PM
i think it might be on purpose, its just the feeling of the song. some people enjoy the loose feeling of it, while others (you) enjoy a strong feeling of a steady beat. to me its the difference between an abstract painting and a life-like painting . my $0.02

uke142464
10-05-2008, 03:17 PM
Wow! I can't wait until you get your uke and show the ukulele community how it's done maestro.

deach lol...... lol

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 03:21 PM
Wow! I can't wait until you get your uke and show the ukulele community how it's done maestro.

Yeah, I can see how that might have come through as slightly arrogant. But notice I don't say anywhere I'll do better. I'm a crappy guitar player and I'm sure i'll be crappy at the uke too. The worse might not be my playing though. I have a vocal range of about two notes (C and then something halfway between C and C#). Doesn't matter if I have fun right.

Still, I thought it was a legitimate observation. But upskydowncloud must be right. Maybe I should just watch more guitar/mandolin/banjo videos on youtube to convince myself the uke community is not an outlier. I just might do that tonight.


I think the lack of perfection is quite charming.

So true!


Methinks you're too over analytical
And one vote for option 4... :rolleyes:

I see some of you have experienced the wait. It's tough but it should arrive soon.

Vincent

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 03:22 PM
i think it might be on purpose, its just the feeling of the song. some people enjoy the loose feeling of it, while others (you) enjoy a strong feeling of a steady beat. to me its the difference between an abstract painting and a life-like painting . my $0.02

I like the analogy. Quite perceptive.

deach
10-05-2008, 03:32 PM
Yeah, I can see how that might have come through as slightly arrogant. But notice I don't say anywhere I'll do better. I'm a crappy guitar player and I'm sure i'll be crappy at the uke too. The worse might not be my playing though. I have a vocal range of about two notes (C and then something halfway between C and C#). Doesn't matter if I have fun right.

Still, I thought it was a legitimate observation.

Well you did give us Option 4....

It's one thing to say "did you ever notice that uke players don't always have the perfect rhythm" but it's another thing to point out someone's playing. The guy is on the internet - if you don't like his lesson, ask him for your money back.

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 03:36 PM
Well you did give us Option 4....

It's one thing to say "did you ever notice that uke players don't always have the perfect rhythm" but it's another thing to point out someone's playing. The guy is on the internet - if you don't like his lesson, ask him for your money back.

You are right. my disclaimer and compliments were insufficient. I edited the original post.

seeso
10-05-2008, 04:15 PM
I am horrible at keeping time. When I listen back to some of my stuff, I cringe. It's something I need to get better at, and I continue to work on it. For me, It's really tough to play with feel yet keep consistent time.

I tend to get really emotional when I play, so this problem is especially difficult for me.

However, when other people are playing with inconsistent time, it doesn't bother me... as long as they're playing with emotion. I'd much rather listen to faulty meter with emotion than robotic paint-by-numbers music bereft of passion.

Far be it for me to tell you how to listen to music, but I'd like to echo Kanaka916's wise words. Just go with the flow.

UkeNinja
10-05-2008, 04:26 PM
I like the analogy. Quite perceptive.
Perceptive, but nonetheless flawed. Abstract art has nothing to do with keeping to a framework or "keeping rhythm", quite the opposite in many cases. In the same way, there are plenty of cases where the life-like painting is actually just walking the walk (looking real) but not artistic, and in fact an uncreative carbon copy of everyday forms more easy to relate to for most people. The evoked image of square lines versus lifelike flowing lines in this comparison is a mere stereotype. Said analogy is a quicky with surface appeal, but hard to keep up when push comes to shove.

That said, push does not have to come to shove here and keeping rhythm is very hard. Try holding a metronome to your own playing and all but the talented/experienced will fail sadly. I did and cried.

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 04:28 PM
Oups, double post, sorry.

Mod: please delete this post. thanks

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 04:29 PM
I've read a lot of comments on guitar forums suggesting to practice with a metronome. It's never worked for me though. A. Too boring. B. makes me sound mechanical like you say.

Maybe when doing scales and such...

Does anyone ever use a metronome?

hotnuts
10-05-2008, 04:32 PM
Perceptive, but nonetheless flawed. Abstract art has nothing to do with keeping to a framework or "keeping rhythm", .

I understood it the other way. Abstract painting as free from the constraints imposed by the canons of classical-life like painting/free from the constraints of the metronome.

seeso
10-05-2008, 04:35 PM
Big words make seeso's head hurt.

Aldrine Guerrero
10-05-2008, 04:41 PM
I'm going to have to agree with Seeso on this one. Emotion plays a big role in how the rhythm is gonna be for a song. Especially if a person is playing the ukulele as a solo. Actually any instrument played solo is extremely difficult to play perfectly in time.

Although I do practice with a metronome also. Whenever I play music with other people, I wanna play clean and follow the rhythm that was set. So I must also separate notes cleanly. The metronome does indeed help in that case.

Due to the ukulele's small size, it's possible to do a lot of intricate strumming patterns which enhances the rhythm. Some players have amazing control over their rhythmic strumming (i.e. James Hill)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO7spLjad3k

So yes, we uke players have a lotta rhythm :music:

Kanaka916
10-05-2008, 04:46 PM
. . . Does anyone ever use a metronome?
Same question asked in this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5012) . . .

uke142464
10-05-2008, 04:47 PM
aww man I thought I had some good stuff goin there......:D
I guess emotional is a better way to put it (seeso, aldrine)

UkeNinja
10-05-2008, 04:55 PM
I understood it the other way. Abstract painting as free from the constraints imposed by the canons of classical-life like painting/free from the constraints of the metronome.
Boing! Aha---!

Apparently I was in over my ninja mask. Good point.

Did I hurt seeso's head? I hope you're OK, buddy. Try to think in short sentences to relieve the pain, we don't want you to go green and start smashin' :D

Howlin Hobbit
10-05-2008, 05:19 PM
K... I'm not going to go back through the thread and do the lil' quote thing, I'll just respond to a few things that caught my eye.

First... time signature is one thing, good rhythm is another. You can be hideously off or completely on rhythm in any signature.

Second... I find the straight tick, tick, tick of a metronome to be pretty robotic myself. So, what to do?

Download any number of midi drum programs (for all platforms... they are ubiquitous) and then lay out a simple drum part in whatever signature (and genre... i.e. rock, samba, whatever) you're trying to work with.

I've often had a hella bad time trying to lay down a track while sticking to a click track, but put the most basic drum part to it and suddenly I'm swingin' like a gate.

Last, but not least... as regarding playing with emotion: unless you're wildly seesawing back and forth... a) your average audience isn't going to notice, especially if you're putting your heart into it and, most importantly, b) your average audience is on your side. They want to be entertained and they'll give you all sorts of "benefit of the doubt" stuff as long as they see you're cranking it as hard as you can.

Trust me on this one. Nobody will ever accuse me of being a fabulous technical player. But audiences dig what I put out. Just enjoy it and that'll set up that wonderful feedback loop:

musician is having a good time and communicates that to the audience
audience responds by having a good time and communicates that back to the musician
musician responds by playing even better
audiences responds and...
musician has an even better time and communicates that to the audience...
start again at step 1

So, sure. Practice to get better and steadier in the rhythm department (the journey is the goal in music) but don't get all be-sweated and/or beat yourself up about minor hiccups.