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Discussion Starter #1
This might be an embarrassingly elementary question, but though I've been playing for years I constantly screw up the count in for tunes that have pick-ups and also sometimes for tunes where we are giving tunes a double time feel or even a ballad where the time is very slow.

The pick-up is the main question, Usually I get stuck counting in two measures and then i get behind on my own count and come in late.
My piano player told me to say to the band " I'll give you a three measure count - then > One, Two, One, Two, Three, Four at which point we are at the beginning of the bar where the pickup happens. This works great & solves my problem but it sounds odd to me. I don't recall anyone counting in be saying " I'll give you a 3 measure count"

What is the standard "lingo" for doing this. I seem to think I'm supposed to say something like "two for nothing" indicating a two bar count in so would it be "three for nothing" - or am I making the "two for nothing" phrase up altogether.

Similarly say you have a tune like "Chan's song" written in four but the feeling is much slower, almost like the 1/4 notes are 1/2 notes. The count would sound fast but the feeling isn't. (Maybe the drummer is playing a normal 4 here though).

Also say you are speeding up the feel on something like Misty giving it a double time feel but keeping the changes at a slower tempo.

If you snap your fingers to get the feel set do you need to do it on 2 & 4, or is 1 & 3 OK?

Any advice in general for counting in properly would be appreciated.
 

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For tunes that start on something other than the downbeat, or just a single pickup, it's better IMHO for that tune to have an intro that DOES start on the downbeat.

However, if you must do it without an intro, I wouldn't count off more than two measures. So, if you normally go a-one a-two a-one two three four, and the tune starts on the and of three, then I go a-one a-two, a-one two (silent three, come in on on second half of three).

To communicate the tempo, I usually use the fist in a circle, then start the count. I recently saw Ernie Watts, he just used a 'hand puppet' (fingers meeting thumb) to count off tunes.

YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter #3
hakukani said:
For tunes that start on something other than the downbeat, or just a single pickup, it's better IMHO for that tune to have an intro that DOES start on the downbeat.
Single pick-up notes aren't a problem. I'm thinking of tunes that have a say a phrase as the pick-up sometimes written say in quarter notes as early as the 2, (though i may actually bend that tempo to bring them in quicker after the 3).

When i count in as you suggest I often find myself without enough time to prepare to play the horn, and and also intuitively waiting for a later "one" to get the feeling right. (Does that make sense?)

Maybe I just need to retrain my brain. The three bar thing is immediately intuitive & works easily for me, but if it confuses the band its worthless.
 

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If you need to play the pickups, breathe (semi-audiblly and in time) on the downbeat immediately preceding the pickup. If it's slow enough you could also cue your entrance by moving your horn from a raised position to a lower position. This sort of stuff is standard practice in classical chamber music.

a quarter note pickup could be

1 2 | 1 2 [huuuh] :line0:
 

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That's why I suggested having the rhythm section play an intro for tunes that start like that. Tunes like Billie's Bounce, for example, are much easier to start with an intro like Bird uses in the Savoy recording or tunes like Scrapple from the apple, that starts on the and of 1.
 

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The important thing is that the band understands the count. I do it exactly as hakukani suggests: Count one bar with a 2-count, then a 4-count on the next bar, up to where the pick up is. If I'm counting and have to come in on the horn, I usually nod or "huuuh" the last count or two, as awholley says.

If you have a regular drummer who knows the tunes (hopefully!), it is usually easiest for the drummer to count in. But only if you trust the drummer to count it at the tempo you want.
 
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