Just reading through old threads here
Dennis103 wrote:I've recently adopted the concept of "resolution" (think screen resolution, pixels per inch etc.) to explain timing.
It takes time and practice, sometimes years, to increase this resolution to the point where you can hear if someone is playing off the beat altogether, or exactly on the off-beat of varying complexity and speed.
I can definitely attest to existence of this resolution phenomenon, and that it can be improved! Here's my story.
Without any previous music education, I started to learn hand drumming 12 years ago and for first 3 years learned the basic technique and played accompaniments and ensemble breaks. Though I did not pick up new patterns immediately, once I learned a pattern I was quite solid and could easily find my way back if I fell out of the groove (usually due to getting distracted by some off-beat soloing). So I thought my timing was good.
Man, I was wrong! After a year or so more, I got invited to join a "world percussion" band that played djembe, congas etc. and had their set compositions. Initially I really struggled, as my bandmates would say to me "you're slowing down", "your slap is too early" etc. very often. Only during this time I really learned to play consistently by the metronome and to mentally count beats and bars (two of the band members, including the leader had strong drumset background). So my "resolution" improved, but since we were practicing rhythms from notations (MK's book etc.) I still knew nothing about the "feel". I clearly remember being in 2008 Suffolk drum camp where Hans Sutton was talking about swing, and I could not hear the difference in his demonstrations.
Then, sometime about two years ago or so I had a revealation - I suddenly heard that Famoudou plays the call tripiti ti-ti ti-ti ti differently than we do. We don't have African teachers here and I can't afford to travel to workshops frequently, so I attribute this increase in my awareness of the feel to two things: listening to djembe music recordings (and videos) a lot, and reading Rainer Polak's article about microtiming (for me seeing the swing visualised helped a lot). Last year I went to England again, to the Generations drum workshop, and Hans was again giving a seminar about the swing. This time I could clap the SML feel! However, I'm not saying I can always play, let alone solo, with an authentic feel, there's still so much work to be done..