There are some of us in the guitar playing community who just enjoy a strum every now and again (who doesn’t?) and then others who like to put a more formal structure around their playing – neither of which are really better than the other.
I do however, think that there is one detail that everyone should pay a little mind to, and that is… timing!!
So, what is timing?
(definition from google)
The choice, judgment, or control of when something should be done
So, the important words in there are choice and judgement and control.
When we’re playing a song to ourselves or are round the table with our friends at a party having a sing-song, the timing (as long as it’s roughly in the right place) doesn’t overly matter, does it? – I mean, it’s more about the fun, right?
Well, maybe – but if you are playing with other musicians or along to a track, or you just want your music to flow timing is EVERYTHING!
If all the musicians have inherently good timing, it allows everyone to settle into a groove, where everyone’s rhythm is aligned and the song just flows – have you ever heard a song where you just can’t help but nod your head or tap your foot? That my friend, amongst other things, is a groove and of course, your audience gets sucked in too – and that is when you have them – nodding in agreement with your music – look at them in the video!!
Timing and FEEL.
Of course, you might say “But John, I’m a LEAD guitarist – I don’t care for any of that RHYTHM nonsense – what are you chatting about, fool??”
My answer would be that you’re the fool –
Music is primarily about the rhythm as far as I’m concerned, the rest comes after that.
Chords, melodies, solos, drum beats, bass lines… it’s got to groove, feel right and of course, be in time.
Next time you practice, put on a metronome, or even better a drum beat and try playing along with it. Listen to the overall picture – are you in time? Does it groove?