Q&A: Is It More Difficult To Keep Time At Fast Tempos Or Slow Tempos?

matt halpern

Matt Halpern

Age 28
Drumming Experience 24 years
Band Periphery
“I think it completely depends on the type of groove or part you’re playing. However, slower, syncopated grooves can be way harder to play than some would expect. There is so much space in between the hits played within slower grooves that you need to make sure you can account for timing.”

chris vrenna

Chris Vrenna

Age 44
Drumming Experience 38 years
Bands NIN, Marilyn Manson, Gnarls Barkley, Smashing Pumpkins
“I think it is much harder to keep time at slower tempos. The spaces between quarter-notes in, let’s say, your click track get shorter the faster the tempo is. Conversely, those spaces get longer the slower the tempo. Given this, any slight groove variances (which we humans call ‘feel’) are much more noticeable to the ear. At fast tempos, the beats go by so quickly it becomes more difficult to notice timing slips. In this modern age of computer recording, it is a challenge to balance keeping a live drum performance that has feel, and locking the timing of that same performance to a click and/or sequenced material. All of us drummers walk that line.”

frank gilchriest

Frank Gilchriest

Age 44
Drumming Experience 35 years
Band Virgin Steele
“Slower tempos require the drummer to constantly subdivide the beat to ensure proper pacing. It’s easier to hear if a musician is dragging or rushing the time at a slower tempo because everything in the music becomes magnified. Keeping good time in a live setting can be even more difficult than in


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  • Keeping time at slower tempos is harder, due to what Chris Vrenna said…the subdivisions. I have never had any problems with playing to clicks until I was recording a tune that was at 77bpm. While writing we didn’t think about the tempo, just went with feel. when it came time to record we started figuring out tempo…the drum part was relatively busy for a tune at that tempo. So, when it was time to record, we turned on the click and away I went…not sounding like rehearsals. The engineer(which is a good friend of the band) mention going to an eighth not click, instantly the groove fell into place and I got the song recorded in a couple of takes. The eighth note click allowed me to hear the subdivisions better which put all of the busy verse parts in better perspective for me. Since then anytime i have a click and a slow tempo I listen to eighth notes, this in turn has improved my play immensely when not with a click.