A constant; always changing, always occurring yet never ending. A machine that waits on no one.
Another funny thing with time, which my editor will agree with, is it’s about freaking time I write another column…I really was trying to, I just didn’t have the time. (ed.note : YEAH it’s about freaking time. Glad to have you back!)
As a pro musician time is key. Being on time for gigs, practices, meetings. What time does the bus leave? What time is sound check? Sometimes, time stands still for that all-too-brief moment.
Other times, it flies. Play an hour set of raging metal to a room full of people and that hour will feel like seconds. Yet waiting to play that show takes forever. I’ve seen bands break up and people fired due to TIMES not being followed.
In a song context, you can play ahead of the beat, or behind the beat or straight up on top of it. As a metal guitarist, I rip apart and analyze timing and time signatures to death….
Metal is traditionally, played on the beat. I like to play a shade behind it; it gives you a feeling of pulling the train instead of following it. Some of metal’s truly innovative guitarists, such as Darrel Dimebag Abbott, Denis “Piggy” D’Amour and Tony Iommi routinely played behind it.
On the new Entropy record that we will start recording in February 2012, there are some very prog-like and somewhat “unmetal” time signatures going on and that’s the point. Why follow the herd when you can cut your own path? Everybody plays in 4’s and fine enough with that, but stretch it out a lil man!
In 1 tune entitled Darkness, the main riff is a 10/4, 9/4 and 10/4. My drummer thought I was insane:
“Dude you are messing it up it should go like this”
Then I played it the same way 8 times in a row….and got an
“Ooooo ya, NOW I get it”
Later on, the signature shifts to a 7/4 which gives a “push” feel which then leads into a 9/4… 11/4…back to 9/4… then into (yep)… a 13/4. Of course, it ends with another 7/4.
Don’t worry shred head, there are some solid 4’s to bang your noggin too.
When writing this tune, I didn’t intend on re-inventing the wheel, cos let’s face it; it’s all been done.
I merely wanted to do something a little different; off the beaten path. I recommend that you try different time signatures; play a usual 4/4 riff and try it 5/4 or 7/4 – same riff way different feel!
I’ll bet you end up somewhere way different due to this timing. It will inspire you to play differently and try new things, which is the whole point. Unless you wanna play 4/4 for 30 years – hey Angus Young made a living doing it.
Time is also a funny barometer; almost like a diary. I remember what I was doing and who was with me the first time I heard certain landmark albums like Moving Pictures – even though it was 30 years ago. By the way, that day was also my first beers; thanks Christine 😉
I remember writing the first riff for my first album like it was yesterday yet it was 20 years ago.
I remember clear as day my singer yelling “Yesssssss give me more like that!” sitting in my shitty townhouse in Brampton just monkeying around. We wrote that album in about 4 months. Twenty years later people are still talking about it, reviewing it and searching it out. I remember each day spent in the studio like it was yesterday, but ask me what I did four days ago and chances are I’ll stare at you kinda blankly and might even drool a bit if you catch me at the right time.
Sometimes, time can work against you. The usual, you are due somewhere in 10 minutes and you are an hour away. A deadline approaching that you cannot meet. Time is relentless.
Time also took a very dark curve for me recently; in the form of my Father getting the news that too many people have heard – cancer.
I remember how it was told to me, the tone in which it was delivered clear as day, what I was wearing that day and the smell of the doctor’s office. It was ironically, a sunny clear day, as I stared blankly out the window……and I had been bitching that I didn’t have time to go to this routine appointment.
People told me to not waste time; to make time for my Dad. He fought on for almost 2 years… in some ways, that time span feels like 10 years yet also 10 minutes- simultaneously. Time stood still some moments, yet for other moments… there was never enough time.
What got me though this dark time was time itself and music. I immersed myself into writing, playing and not being a victim. I was hell-bent on turning this negative into a positive. Bad news is really the root of the blues anyways, so why not crank it up a lil??? Some of my best playing in years came from this.
To any of you who have recently received this bad news; it is everywhere and you are not alone. Immerse yourself into your craft, your passion, and you will be amazed at what comes out of it.
Talk about it with others that are going through it and those that have gone through it. Try not to focus on the negative.
Sitting around and being a victim won’t get anything done; time will really stand still…and then you will run out of time; and then it’s too late.
My father took his “You have 6 months” and kicked cancer’s ass for 2 years. He did not waste his time, nor did we. Time will not wait for you, so take the time to do what is right.
Time is what you make of it. Do not waste your time or that of others, but PLAY with it – ahead of it, on top of it, behind it. Play. Play. Play. Because, at the end of the day, time marches on…
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