View Full Version : Who is the time keeper?

11-10-2003, 02:13 AM
I just had a jam session with a bassist,
a guitarist and a drummer.

We are having some timing problem, so I said
I follow the beat of the drum. But bassist
said we should follow the bass because the drum follow
the bass. And some say they follow the guitar rhythm.

So who should be the time keeper where all the others
follow? I had always thought it should be the drummer.

11-10-2003, 02:36 AM
The drummer should be the time keeper, he's probably got better rhythm than the bass player anyway :P

Kidding aside, the drummer makes a great timekeeper because depending on your venue you can't always hear the bass player (ie if his amp is facing away from you etc.) the drummer sends sound out omnidirectionally and so is easy for all band members to lock in on. This was the consesus I've come to with a few local musicians, your mileage may vary.


11-10-2003, 02:37 AM
I always tend to follow the drummer. Its what I can hear. The hi-hat cymbals are a blessing from God becuase their high freq really can cut through and usually the drummer keeps the 4's 8's and 16's on them

11-10-2003, 03:06 AM
drummer. i dont think the bassist ever sets the rhythm, and the guitarist definitly doesn't. The bass may follow the guitar riffs, but the guitar is following the drums then or whatever. I really have no idea on timing, as I have only been playing with people for maybe a year now. Or about 15 times combined, but at the same time, the rhythm just clicked. I dont consciously think about playing between the bass and snare drums or anything like that, you just "know" and feel the groove because of the drums. Once you get into polyrhythms and odd times then knowing it probably becomes important, but eventually you should just pick up on it and be able to jump in for typical rock and blues anyways.

11-10-2003, 06:17 AM
Follow the drummer, that's what they are there for! ;)

The bass player should lock onto the bass drum.

11-10-2003, 03:20 PM
The drums should be the time keeper.
I have played in a few bands where the drummer had problems playing in time.
As soon as the drummer got nervous he played faster :)

I've read that in Rolling Stones Keith Richards is the time keeper and everyone else follows him. That is definitely unusual.

11-10-2003, 03:55 PM
The normal thing to do is to follow the drummer, although in a jazz/funk ensemble i play ocassionally with we all tend to follow the bass, hes a great player with great talent so he comes up with all these fun things to play so i guess we all have fun trailing in there.

B A Stone
11-11-2003, 01:48 AM
The drummer and the bass player ARE the rhythm section. They are the "home" you come back to.

If a drummer and bass player are solid, then the rest of the band can really cook.

11-11-2003, 02:34 AM
I guess we have all concluded that you should follow the drummer :D

11-11-2003, 03:07 AM
YOU GUYS HAVE DRUMMERS, DAMN!! i musta missed the line to get one of those. oh well

11-11-2003, 03:49 AM
yes that's quite what I expect - follow the drummer. Because it's most obvious to me as the beat of the music.

But I guess that's just a general rule. Probably we listen to everybody in the band as well for better co-ordination while the drummer is the main time keeper.

Thanks to everybody's reponse!

11-13-2003, 04:05 AM
Timing is essential to playing ANY instrument, that is true for guitarists, bassists,vocalists, keyboards, and drummers.

Admittedly, a guitarist playing a single note lead will have a hard time steering the tempo if he is fighting the drummer. A bass player can though provided you can lay down a quarter note line here and there that can make everything clear to the drummer. Really a guitar player could do this too, but it is easier with a bass.

Recognize it with the band, practice,practice,practice until you get it right, individually and in the group. That is about all you can do. You will see, after a while it will all fall into place.

Just to re-iterate though, guitarists are just as responsible to learn how to play in time, and to learn rhythm, and should understand just as well as a drummer. A drummer that can't keep time is just more noticeable (but there are some greats with tempo control problems).

If all else fails, buy an old used peice O' junk drum machine with a earphone out and have your drummer listen to a click track. There is no shame in that.

11-13-2003, 09:24 PM
usually, I fallow the drummer. but I think I remember james Hetfield saying he was ocassionally the time keeper, so I guess it's whatever works for you. 999 times out of 1000 though, I would say the drummer. they should focus on Rhythm. they don't have worry about any of the melody and harmony stuff.:)

11-14-2003, 02:30 AM
what if it is a guitar/bass duet?

11-14-2003, 03:54 AM
Then you just follow each other, get a balance in there maybe. If youre jamming any one of the two might want to try a tempo change which the other should follow.