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Al Dimeola on Rhythm   You are logged in as Guest
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Ricardo

Posts: 13342
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

Al Dimeola on Rhythm 

Pulled this quote from an on-line interview. I know a lot of folks don't like Dimeola, but he does have cool rhythms. He is talking about playing with his new group at the time, "World Sinfonia". His point is made very directly,and seems harsh, but I think what he is saying is very important for playing any kind of rhythmic music with an ensemble (you plus at least one other person), especially when accompanying flamenco for dance/singer where compas is so important.

Ricardo

quote:


Musicians must understand rhythm and syncopation in order to do this kind of music. It’s not really a philosophy, but just an understanding of the rhythmic concept I have and it sometimes needs to be drilled a lot. I think we’re getting close to it. The concept is playing off the quarter note. It’s also understanding that when you play syncopations off the quarter note that no matter how complex it may seem, the quarter note never ever sways one hair unless it’s intentionally meant to.

Generally, if we’re all playing together and one guy is feeling the quarter note in another place, it’s really apparent to me. It may not be for the listener, although I think the listener will feel something is awkward subconsciously. Understanding how to play off the quarter note without the quarter note ever moving is something that’s rare for musicians to really get. It’s not something you can really learn. You’re born with it. It’s in you and I have to get it out of them. But sometimes it’s not in them. Then you’ve got a problem.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:07:43

ToddK

 

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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

I agree. Very clearly stated.

I'll take the 5th on the "Born with it" statement.

But the decription of playing off of the quarter note is absolutely dead on.

TK

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:42:04
 
duende

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From: Sweden

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

agree...more or less

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This is hard stuff!
Don't give up...
And don't make it a race.
Enjoy the ray of sunshine that comes with every new step in knowledge.

RON
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:43:38
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Yeah the "born with it " is kind of like him saying that he gives up trying to teach it. I think anyone can learn it, if they practice correctly with a metronome and play with others often. It is just that some need to do more work on it than others,

Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:45:05
 
Escribano

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From: England, living in Italy

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

The DiMeola/McGlaughlin set with PdL makes me squirm. PdL wipes the floor with them and McGlaughlin bending the neck of his Ovation? Sheesh! A couple of smug "musos" outclassed IMHO

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:49:15
 
Cloth Ears

 

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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Escribano

I have to agree with Simon, the other two only use one pick each (Paco has 5!) and its all scale runs, nothing inspiring.

bOO!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 18:57:27
 
XXX

Posts: 4400
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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Cloth Ears

quote:

ORIGINAL: Cloth Ears

the other two only use one pick each (Paco has 5!)


i keep hearing this, but never understood it.

I even heard the statement: "With fingerplaying you can be 5 times faster coz you have 5 finger instead of 1 pick"

Ps: i always learn from your posts, Escribano; in this one i had to look up "squirm" and "smug". Its nice!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 19:22:38
 
sorin popovici

 

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From: Iasi, Romania

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Hmm ....usually I think it's harder to be faster playing fingerstyle but I'm guessing
that it all pays off eventually.Seen Nunez doing a fast alzapua on one string....scary stuff.
I believe that arpeggios work better with fingers, but I understood that the arpeggios from
the beyound the mirage of al di meola ,is hard stuff for fingers too....so probably it all
depends on how much do u practice.

what's squirm and smug (smug ...i think I know ...smugler(there is a word like that right?))
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 19:44:57
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
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From: Scotland

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to sorin popovici

I think the conversation is getting diluted a little from Ricardo's original post, which emphisised the importance of the quarter note, something that Todd agreed wholeheartedly with.
Ricardo has often gone on about this, and I think this is a point that can do everyone here a lot more good rather than what kind of guitar they play or strings they use, or how they file their nails.
I'm not a musician, so I've got to think about this...but I play a bit and I instinctively know what he's talking about.
A valuable piece of information and wisdom here IMO, and I will certainly think about it much more.

cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 20:03:32
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

All comments welcome guys, but the point was more about rhythm and playing together than about who is better Paco or Al etc. I knew I should not have put Dimeola's name on this thread! Paco would never have played with those guys if they did not have the rhythmic feeling he likes. I think it is cool when guitarists at high levels (and different styles) can put aside their egos, and play and compose music together. Now imagine if they had a top classical guitarist in the group. Would not have worked the same would it?

Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 20:07:27
 
XXX

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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Well, i actually didnt like the "Youre born with it", coz if thats true then i cannot learn "it", coz i definately dont have "it"...

Anyway i have to admit that i didnt 100% understood what hes actually trying to say. All i got is like "try to play more complex rythms and play less quarters, or syncopate more often"... what can i say? agree of course.

Then hes using words like "subconsciousness" in order to prove his theory, but hes getting more and more into trouble to do so. Hes kind of "digged" too much in his theory IMO. The word is inflationaryly used in these days, without thinking of its real meaning.

Whatever, can somenone give an example what "play off the quarter note without the quarter note ever moving" does mean?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 20:40:18
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13342
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From: Washington DC

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Phrygus, you don't really get what he meant amigo. Imagine you are playing to a metronome tick, and you play synchopated rhythms against it. Well for you the player, and the outside listener, you both hear that click as a reference, or the steady quarter note pulse. But when you play with another person, and you don't have the metronome ticking, you both have to feel it inside, in order to stay together, not speeding up or slowing down and being "tight". That is what it means to have a groove. So his point is that a lot of muscians don't always take care about feeling the steady, un moving beat, especially when they hear only synchoptated melodies. They lose track of the beat and end up speeding up or slowing down, or worse, lose their place in the song all together.

When I play flamenco for a dancer there are 3 elements that must be tight, the guitar, the palmas and the dancer's feet. If just one of the 3 feels the quarter note pulse just slightly wrong, the whole group sounds sloppy. Everyone needs to feel the same internal pulse, or else there is no groove happening. When I play for a sloppy footed dancer, or a palmero who is not real steady, I have to ignore them and play to my own tempo, and that does not feel so good. When there is an INTENTIONAL movement of the quarter note (speed up or slow down) everyone needs to be on their toes and pay attention to who is leading the speed up, and when it has reached it's plateau (new tempo groove) so it stays tight. When there is cante, again, there are synchopations in the singer's melody that the guitarist must not be fooled into feeling as a moving quarter note. The singer needs to feel a solid accompaniment to sing comfortably too.

That is the flamenco perspective, and it goes the same for all ensemble music IMO.

And also, about being "born" with it, he was trying to say at first that some musicians have it but are not aware so he needs to "bring it out" of them in the rehearsals. Over time they get used to the synchopations and hold the tempo well. I think that is the case with everyone at first. You have to learn to use the inate ability to keep time. Later he says that some folks just don't have it, but I think they just need a different approach.

Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 22:02:35
 
koella

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Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Thank you for bringing this up Ricardo. Helps a lot !
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 22:09:29
 
XXX

Posts: 4400
Joined: Apr. 14 2005
 

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Yes that was a pretty tight explanation. Thx.

Ps: I can understand Escribanos reservation on Al and McL. One year ago i would higly disagree, but as time goes by im approaching more to his kind of view...

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 22 2005 22:27:43
 
GUITARMANR

 

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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

I like all three of them equally. Each in his own way is a wonderful musician. Together they are awesome!

Of the three John M. is the most versatile, he can and has played almost all styles of music better than most people ever hope to play just one.

Al D. has the ability to get your energy going and your mind into another realm. He is the fastest and smoothest of the three.

Paco DL is the most soulful of the three and the most traditional. His ability to play with those guys and hold his own just shows how good he really is.

It is much more difficult to play single note lines at that speed with the fingers then it is with a pick. On the other hand [pun] haha, it is more easy to play from string to string with speed using fingers then it is with a pick. This is why you do not see flamenco players using them, or classical players either.

If single line speed is your thing then the pick is the way to go. If playing on more than one string is your style the fingers have it.

Ok speed aside, to me it is always more fun to use the fingers as the possibilities for chording are there in a way that pick players just can not match.
Ever go into a music store and hear a rock player playing his high speed pick lines alone? Dose it sound like a full musical statement? Not to me. To me it sounds like a practice session, not a song! You need a full band to make that type of playing valid, as there are no harmonies for the melody to soar over.

But on the other hand, how many are there?, if you hear a classical or flamenco guitarist playing finger style and doing a piece on his own, it is a complete musical statement and a joy to listen to.

I love all styles of music, if they are played well.

It is the sound of a nylon stringed guitar that makes me shiver!

Take care all,

Rich
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 23 2005 0:36:16
 
Miguel de Maria

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From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Al's statement is both profound and very challenging, imo. How true that you all have to be on the same page, quarter-note-wise (what a terrible word I just made up), or else it just sounds bad. I have played with people with bad rhythm and like Ricardo said it doesn't feel good. It's kind of like walking hand in hand with someone who walks too slow or keeps changing speeds. This just happened to me tonight with my wife and it was very annoying and caused a fight.

What I wonder is..what exactly is this quality of sensing a pulse? Is there a real, true pulse that can be "tapped into" by certain people? Or is there a Platonic idea of a pulse, say 120 bpm, that we can all learn to approximate, some better than others? What would be the mechanism to compare the pulse to? If we want to measure something, we use a slide rule, but if we want to match a pulse than how does that work?

This issue of timing is intrinsic to almost any physical act, music or athletic. It always amazed me in track that the jumpers would plan out each step and could duplicate this pattern every time for their jumps. On the other hand, I was a miler and two miler, and we practiced every week trying to hit a target time for each lap. Pace is very important, especially for the two mile. Trust me, a 70 sec split for the 440 does not feel the same first time around as the 8th!

The reason I bring this up is that guitar playing is a physical act. Don't different tempos feel different according to certain circumstances?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 23 2005 3:04:17
 
Ron.M

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From: Scotland

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

What I wonder is..what exactly is this quality of sensing a pulse?


If I remember correctly, this topic was a precursor to the meltdown of Flamenco-Teacher a couple of years back.....

To "lock" on to a rhythm, I think there must be some sort a neuro-chemical equivalent of a PPL (Phase Locked Loop in Electronics) and the ability to either subdivide or more probably IMO, set up other PPL's with time constants of half/quarter/eighth etc of the main PPL.

My wife is utterly hopeless at rhythm...she can't even tap her foot to a pop record in time.
But then again she has no interest in music.
My rhythm has always been not too good, but is getting better due to practise.
So it seems like it's something that can be developed.

I think it would be unusual to have "perfect" time (as in perfect pitch)...that is the ability to produce say exactly 4 beats per second without using a clock or reference beat.
That is I can't believe there is any kind of internal absolute reference.

A good time perception experiment would be to set up a one second click track on the computer, tap your foot along with it (say 4 beats/second) until you get the rhythm, then turn the volume down to zero and keep going for a minute or two and turn the volume back up and see if you are still in step.

I bet drummers would come off well in this kind of test.

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 23 2005 14:25:33
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

Ron,
I have heard stories about people with this kind of ability, and it does seem to be rare and freakish.

For example, I heard stories about a session player who claimed he got so good at rhythm that sometimes he would enter a tunnel, and the radio would cut out for 30 seconds. When he came out, and the radio came back on, he claimed to be able to tell if they were off!

Another thing, I met a pro in Seville who was from Belgium, and along with another studio guitarist, played for some famous pop singer (who I didn't recognize). He said the other guy was ridiculously good, and claimed that the rhythm was flawed on one track. He was told that it couldn't be off, since they had used an expensive rhythm machine, and besides, no one else heard anything. Well, I guess this guy was pretty persistent, and they took it into the shop, and it was discovered that there was some tiny problem with the machine which caused it to hiccup once in awhile.

Your PPL idea seems very good. That would make sense, because as Ricardo pointed out on that fateful thread years ago, good rhythm is precise, if not perfect. How a bunch of imperfect beings could execute that without the benefit of some type of field or force (like those cuckoo clocks all getting in sync with each other, right), is beyond me.

By the way, the other day at a gig, my rig made that weird sound again. Except this time, I didn't have my amp! I assumed it was my amp/battery for some reason. This time, I had guitar, two cords, and effect box. What I just described has been soaked by sprinklers two times, so it's not surprising it's showing some ill effects!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 23 2005 15:11:26
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13342
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From: Washington DC

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

I think it would be unusual to have "perfect" time (as in perfect pitch)...that is the ability to produce say exactly 4 beats per second without using a clock or reference beat.


All you have to do is think of a song that you know is for a fact normally played at say 120bpm and tap out 2 notes per beat to the song you hear in your head. Most people would be pretty darn close, drummers usually dead on. As kids we learn to count to 60 to know a minute has passed, like one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand...etc. That is pretty darn close to 4 beats a second too. Maybe not perfect, but a good example of how to get an internal reference of time. Perfecting it takes years of practice.

When I listen to flamenco players I often hear perfectly placed subdivisions, especially with palmas. To me that is "perfection". Check out the rumba on Francisco Sanchez DVD "Cana de Azucar" with Paco/Banderas/Canizares. For about 5 minutes, they maintain a steady 115bpm with no metronome, just their own feeling. When Canizares solos, they speed up a hair, but for me that is for all intents and purposes an example of guys playing with "perfect tempo" and no metronome or percussionist. It is about a "feeling" not being a machine, that is why a lot of human beings feel good when in the groove.

quote:

If I remember correctly, this topic was a precursor to the meltdown of Flamenco-Teacher a couple of years back.....

Oooops!....


Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 23 2005 22:24:36
 
duende

Posts: 3051
Joined: Dec. 15 2003
From: Sweden

RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

A lot of time the chorus of any tune will speed up a little and the come back daow on the verse
It sort of adds to the tension in a possitive way.

Heres a good way to practices rythm.

Strum or arpegios or a whole song in 4/4
Put the metronom at a slow 30-40 BPM then play with only ONE klick in each bar.
For example let the first klick be a 1. then when you and the 1 are in sync while playing move the klick to be beat 2 in the bar. Then you continue to move the klick.
To sync with that klick it´s not easy i tell you
A good start would be to play only quarter notes down beat.

What so good about this is that you have to be resposeble for the beat while waiting for the next klick, not speeding up or slowing down.
Henrik

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This is hard stuff!
Don't give up...
And don't make it a race.
Enjoy the ray of sunshine that comes with every new step in knowledge.

RON
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 24 2005 5:40:09
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

It’s not something you can really learn. You’re born with it.

Al di Meola doesn't know what he's talking about. No one is born with it. How about listening to Jamaican music and internalizing the off-beat rhythm of Ska and Rock Steady?



Compas needs to be explained to Andalusians.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 30 2021 18:16:55
 
ric

 

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RE: Al Dimeola on Rhythm (in reply to Ricardo

As far as being born with it? Let's move the comparison to sports--there are guys (in this case, and girls) who can throw a football way farther than I could ever dream of. I could build up my muscles and work on technique and they would STILL throw it farther! Would it improve my ability, yes, were they "born with it"?
Perhaps. Does that stop me from trying--No!
Another analogy regarding the quarter note. I will marvel at drummers who remember where they are--all the time! If you give me a drum set, i can bang on it, but as soon as I do something that takes more concentration, there goes my sense of where I am in the measure. I don't have that (innate?) ability to split screen my mind, but I'm working on it. The drummer Billy Cobham said when playing with Mahavishnu that he spent most of his time counting! It may be a bit egocentric to say you either got it or you aint--listening to Yo Yo Ma play classical is great, but when I have heard him playing Brazilian pieces, to may ear he just doesn't swing. Classical/Great, Brazilian/meh! But I wouldn't say he's either got it or he aint.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 4 2021 14:35:34
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