Do you play your instrument with authoritative time? No, it’s not a disease, don’t worry. It’s the ability to make whatever you play stand out. Because simply playing something might just not be enough. Confused yet? Let me explain.
Don’t settle for the vanilla
Once you have learned a piece so you know it inside out, or once you’ve reached a level where you can improvise confidently, a new obstacle emerges. The wall of boredom is full of musician corpses. You wanna end up being another smelly cadaver on that fukken wall? Of course not. That’s why you need to consciously learn how to control your timing, man. You can play circles around all the whiny kids (of the block). But still, the little cocksuckers pwn you with their natural ability to screw up their timing in an aesthetically pleasant way. What the heck is wrong with you, n00b? Nothing; you just need to learn the authority of (musical) time.
Beating the machine
Take out your metronome, drum machine or whatever gadget that can lay down a rigid, perfectly accurate (and lifeless) rhythm. Start playing your shit. If this time bending concept is new to you, you’ll pretty much follow the machine. Down the rabbit hole, and it’s gonna bury you into all the crap and garbage down there. You’ll be playing a boring, straight rhythm that grooves just like that freakin’ machine. If you’re somewhat lucky, your muscles will make mistakes. Even if you just play something repetitive, your muscles will start playing slightly off-beat. That’s where the sprouts of time control arise. Embrace these mistakes and start playing off of them. As if you were in a lazy mood, kinda like being stoned, but we don’t do that shit for real now, do we, pal? Anyway, listen to your phrasing; how your accents start missing the perfect beats of the machine. After some time you’ll get the feel of it.
Circles around the bar lines
Not crop circles, b00vie. Ones you play around them, like a champ. The reason why it sounds infinitely more interesting if you play in the above way is because it imitates a very human thing. Think of how actors recite a poem. Even if it has a strict metrical structure, a certain rhythm, they like to bend the boundaries of such rhythm, making it sound closer to prose. That way, they can make the meaning of the words – the story – more coherent. That’s what you should aim for with music, too. Dare to break the strictness of the groove, and let the melody’s own “built in” rhythm take the upper hand. As if you were singing with your instrument, or reciting some prose.
Works for the rhythm section, too
Of course there are times and genres when the parts require strict, accurate timing. Especially if you happen to be the drummer or the bass player. Or any other kind of poor soul who needs to lay down the darn groove. Like there’s no tomorrow. But even then, you can still put your “signature” on the performance, timing-wise. You can actually learn to rush or lay back ever so slightly, if you practice the above way. Injecting the sense of excitement into the music, or putting it into a relaxed state becomes easy this way. Be the ruler of your own time.