Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:49 pm
by allanh • 4 Posts

I've been practicing the picking exercises as highlighted in Module 1 of the Daily Practice Plan.
Something I have noticed, is when either the tempo is increased or the number of notes on each string
is increased, I find it very difficult to actually keep up and count the notes in my head.
One approach I have looked at, is thinking about each group of notes played on each string as a pattern. For example, if playing 5 notes per string there will be two patterns, one beginning with a downstroke and the other an upstroke. Another approach is to just count either the downstrokes or upstrokes which effectively slows the counting down whilst allowing you to play at the same tempo. As an example, for 5 notes per string, I could just count 3 downstrokes.

I'd be intersted in finding out how other people approach this.

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RE: Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:05 pm
by uderoche (deleted)

I think more important than actually counting the notes as you play...let's say 5 on each string...would be to not focus on the counting but the feeling. 5 notes per beat feels a certain way. You should play it very slowly with a metronome until this 5 notes per beat "feeling" becomes more natural for you. The feeling of the 5 notes against the beat is the key. Once you add notes to this feeling...then you are going to achieve the desired effect. For now, just practice very slowly and really try to feel the pulse of the 5 notes without counting them in your head or worrying about which notes are upstrokes and which notes are downstrokes. Try to allow yourself to feel it at a slow tempo and the playing will follow.


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RE: Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:55 am
by allanh • 4 Posts

Thanks for that. Your suggestion of feeling the notes makes a lot of sense, so I'll do that from now on.

Last edited Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:57 am | Scroll up


RE: Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:12 am
by AsylumOfGlass • 1 Post

This gets a little bit off the specific topic of counting notes in X notes per string in Pebber`s syllabus. I decided to break the ice on this forum by sharing the different counting methods I`ve encountered.

With regard to having trouble counting the notes at high tempo, I have the same problem occurs if I try to vocalize the words "One, two, three...etc" in my head. Especially when you hit the 2 syllable "Seven". This is even worse when saying it aloud. I am pretty bad with tongue-twisters which does not help! I always end up focusing on not-screwing-up-my-count and not on what I`m playing.

When I practice, say, 5 notes per string at low tempos, I just think (or say) the name of the number. I accent the "One" in each count. Once the tempo is higher I just think of a single syllable (such as Tick) and accent the first note that syncs up with the beat. After that I might focus on the pick hitting alternating between Up and Down on the beat. Taping alternating hands on a table slowly and focusing on which hand hits on the beat is a good way to get in tune with alternating your pick stroke and not worrying about how many notes you are hitting per beat, once you get a feel for the tempo.

My old teacher used to tell me to think of the word "University" when playing 5 notes per beat. "You-nee-ver-seh-tee". That sometimes helps me get the ball rolling quickly if switching from another X notes per beat exercise. You have to make sure you don`t add that extra note at the end!

When I did music in grade school we always counted rhythm with sounds based around the syllable Tick. I`ve kept that in my head, although I`m terrible at sight reading with that method (I`m just plain terrible at sight reading).

Basically we would end up saying stuff like `"Tick-ah-tick-ah Tick-ah-tee Tick-ah-tee Tah". This is a measure of rhythm in 4/4. The "Tick-ah Tick-ah" is Sixteenth Notes. They have the same length as each "Tick-ah-tee", which are two Sixteenth followed by an Eighth Note (tee). The "Tah" is a full quarter note. I find this faster to pronounce both in my head and with my mouth for some reason. You just accent the syllables for syncopation by changing the tone. For 5 notes per string I would probably say `Tee tick-ah tick-ah Tee tick-ah tick-ah" or "Tick-ah-tee tick-ah Tick-ah-tee ticka", only accenting the first syllable.

Personally, I wish I was good at actually counting! I think that, for me, it would more useful for figuring out Syncopation quickly than it it would be for getting a feel for X notes per string. Counting is great for getting the feel at low tempo but eventually I simply can`t pronounce the numbers at high tempo.

Also, say you are walking down the street and you have a rhythm in your head, or hear a cool rhythm in a song. It is useful to be able to count rhythms while clapping, not just when playing guitar. Even with my guitar teacher rhythm was usually first taught by clapping and later applied to guitar playing.

We never got into 32nd notes, but for quarter notes it was always "One, two, three, four...", for eight notes it was always "One and two and three and four" with each "and" being your off-beat, and for sixteenth notes it was always "One ah and ah two ah and ah three ah and ah four ah and ah" with your "and" remaining as the off beat and the "ah" sounds for the sixteens notes between the eighth notes.

Last edited Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:39 am | Scroll up


RE: Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:47 am
by jimiclaptoncarl • 117 Posts

Welcome to the forum!

The whole point of practicing counting is to be able to perform different rhythms when sight-reading AND playing.

I'm pretty sure you don't really need to count at a high tempo.. because if I have trouble with a rhythm I slow it down and count it, then I've got the rhythm in my head and I don't need to count anymore. The point is you need to understand how the rhythm is counted.

Your counting methods are not the best..it's no wonder you have trouble pronouncing the syllables at a high tempo.

Here's the counting method I use:

Whole notes: 1234

Half notes: 12 34

Quarter notes: 1 2 3 4

Eighth notes: 1& 2& 3& 4&

Eighth note triplets: 1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let OR 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a. There are numerous ways for these.

Sixteenth notes: 1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&a (spoken as: one E and uh two E and uh, etc..)

Sixteenth note triplets: 1-trip-let-and-trip-let 2-trip-let-and-trip-let 3-trip-let-and-trip-let 4-trip-let-and-trip-let
Thirty-second notes: I don't count these, just count 16ths and play 2 notes for each 16th.

Your syllable university for playing 5s is cool, another one you could use is hippopotamus.

When we sight-read rhythms at college, we speak them using the syllable "ta". When we clap them, we count them how I mentioned above.

"Let's face it, you SUCK; now what are you going to do about it?" - Dick Grove

Practice not just until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong.

Stay fit and eat healthy; die anyways. :p

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RE: Counting the notes

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:49 pm
by pebberbrown • 926 Posts

5's can be counted at a slower tempo
there exists a lot of different syllabic methods.
but the solution is to practice them for a long time
until the "sound of FIVE" is clearly engrained and embedded
in your tonal memory.
Now, you guys know what I mean by a LONG TIME.
I spent from 1975 to 1985 practicing 5's and 7's before
they took form. Try it.

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