Where's The Pocket, anyway?

schmee

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I cant define the pocket, but can tell if it's there, you know it's there.
It's the "glue" that holds the groove.
 

Telenator

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I wanna hear some wisdom about The Pocket.

When I started playing electric, I was into the blues, and then studied jazz for a while, and I THINK I MIGHT have a feel for being "in the pocket", thanks to alla that swinging, but thinking about it recently I concluded that I don't really know exactly what "the pocket" IS.

I know that some music seems to want me to push the beat, and some music seems to want a looser vibe. I've also played with bass players that were really precise with their timing (well, actually not that many of em), and others who struggled to find the "1" (unfortunately quite a few of those), and just a very few that really made songs feel GOOD in a way that's hard for me to describe.

So I'd like to hear from the Kool Kats:

How do you define being "in the pocket?" How do you find it? How do you explain it?
The pocket is a place that is based on the actual beat, but just a little ahead, or behind the beat. A lot of blues, and up tempo music is played slightly behind the beat. It keeps the song sounding relaxed even though the tempo is quick. Slow ballads are often played just slightly ahead of the beat. This keeps the listener awake and keeps the song from sounding like a dirge. Metal is played dead on the beat. The pocket changes according to what you're playing. Great question.
 
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alex1fly

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Pocket is fitting the groove of the song without sticking out, being too loud, having too many frequencies. Notice how funk rhythm guitar is NEVER cowboy chords - too many notes in the chord. So pocket is timing and pocket is also note choice.
 

Jupiter

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The pocket is a place that is based on the actual beat, but just a little ahead, or behind the beat. A lot of blues, and up tempo music is played slightly behind the beat. It keeps the song sounding relaxed even though the tempo is quick. Slow ballads are often played just slightly ahead of the beat. This keeps the listener awake and keeps the song from sounding like a dirge. Metal is played dead on the beat. The pocket changes according to what you're playing. Great question.
THAT’S the kinda thing I can use!
 

thelowerlip

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Click tracks mimic a steady gravitational pull and tempo variations mimic fluctuations in gravitational pull because time passes differently at sea level than it does above the earth's atmosphere. I think that's why we like to play with tempo. Slowing a piece is like cruising from Everest to sea level. The pocket is whatever you are wanting to experience.
 

Hodgo88

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My approach:

1. Sit down with guitar and a way of recording yourself
2. Pick a song that gives you a serious case of the foot taps
3. Try to mimic the groove with your mouth first. You know, badata-badata-bap-bap-bada. Keep the foot taps happening.
4. Heck, get loose with it, let your knee lift on the downbeat, stomp, nod your head.
5. Keeping the fretting hand muted, start picking or strumming that pattern you were blabbing a little prior
6. Feeling good? Start adding in notes and chords
7. Let your phrasing and timing wander, but keep the knee tapping
8. If you get lost just go back to muting and picking or just dancing and tapping along
9. Listen to your recording a few hours, days, whatever later and try to relearn some of the phrases you came up with

This isn't gonna work for everybody and all genres, but it works out just fine for me with funk, blues, jazz, pop and rock. And it helps me find phrases and develop my voice too.
 




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