Where's The Pocket, anyway?

hnryclay

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You can learn timing, and you need to use a metronome. There is a very traditional way to learn this, which is exersizes played with a metronome, and listening to music. I dont know why but people for some reason dont listen to what they want to play, or they dont critically listen to it, so they dont pick up the swing, and cannot play it. People also dont listen to thier bandmates, but play thier lines independently. Listening is the most important thing to timing, and you have to take time to develop it. You definately can learn to play in the pocket, it does take effort and time.
 

MilwMark

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The pocket is created with more than one person playing together. It doesn't exist outside of a relationship. Sometimes one musician might do a great job of creating a potential pocket, while the musician(s) they're playing with just can't find it, but if no one gets in it with them, it never existed.
You can play with a metronome or click track to gain discipline that will help you find a pocket with people, but playing tight on a click is not being in a pocket. A click is not a pocket.
Exactly this.
 

telemnemonics

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I’d say look for it like looking for love.
we cant say XRZ is love, get that.
so first learn to play drums.
Then learn polyrhythms on drums.
The point is nothing but rhythm to focus on.
Then remove parts so you play three different rhythms at the same time and none are 16ths or 8ths.
Nail each rhythm with fewer hits but emphasis.
listening to funky polyrhythmic drummers will clarify what I don’t know how to explain.

When you meet the pocket it will introduce itself.
Few beats but so right on time.
 

drmordo

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This thread is pretty challenging with its responses.

The 'pocket' is a changing and advanced thing. It is where the band is playing *around* the beat. But the most important word there is "band".

The band might play behind the beat. The band might play before the beat. The Krantz video above shows all of these options!

My dad played uptempo shuffles way ahead of the beat, right on the verge of rushing. Led Zeppelin play slow shuffles WAY behind the beat, on the point of dragging.

Listen to Bernard Purdie's take on Babylon Sisters, then listen to Dennis Chambers' take on the same tune. VERY different pockets.

This is my point - the pocket is a moveable concept, and it is truly one of the most subtle and complex concepts in music. It is not something you can read about or study, it is entirely learned from playing with others who are really good at what they do.
 

telemnemonics

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This thread is pretty challenging with its responses.

The 'pocket' is a changing and advanced thing. It is where the band is playing *around* the beat. But the most important word there is "band".

The band might play behind the beat. The band might play before the beat. The Krantz video above shows all of these options!

My dad played uptempo shuffles way ahead of the beat, right on the verge of rushing. Led Zeppelin play slow shuffles WAY behind the beat, on the point of dragging.

Listen to Bernard Purdie's take on Babylon Sisters, then listen to Dennis Chambers' take on the same tune. VERY different pockets.

This is my point - the pocket is a moveable concept, and it is truly one of the most subtle and complex concepts in music. It is not something you can read about or study, it is entirely learned from playing with others who are really good at what they do.
Looking at the various descriptions of pocket, I’d try the concept of the “pocket player” or the player who other say “is a real pocket player” or “is always in the pocket” etc.

As you mention, in any given tune, the pocket can be many things or places.
Pocket players seem to me to be less busy and leave more space, BUT when they pay something it just hits that time thing like an anvil dropped from a second floor window.

One way I think of it when playing guitar in an ensemble, is where wold a great funky drummer put a snare hit.

Mentioning funky I mean to exclude metronomic players with perfect time but that just bang away like a washing machine with their 8th or 16th notes.
Those players may be dead on with time and arguably in some pocket, but we might not say

“that’s a real pocket player!”
 

codamedia

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It's hard to describe, but when it happens you just know it.

Yeah, I GUESS that's right, but somehow I still want some more technical discussion ANYWAY 😅

I haven't read all the responses in this thread and I'm sure it's been said already but I don't think it is possible to have a technical discussion about the "Pocket" because the Pocket is a moving target between styles.

IMO, the pocket is just a really tight performance (individual or group) really locked into the timing and feel of what they are doing.
 
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