Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

I have read on here the pooh poohers of tapping saying that it is not an accurate way to keep time but I got to thinking that that is missing the point is it not?

I have been thinking that it is more about getting into the groove with your body and so more akin to dancing then time keeping.

I say it because I sort of have this barrier from reading those previous comments about it’s inaccuracy which has made me not actually learn to be able to tap properly as I feel this resistance that it is ‘wrong’ to do it. It is silly but I think to myself ‘what if I am someday in a classical orchestra and I learned this bad habit I would have a hard time stopping it’ even though I have never trained classical and have no intention of doing so.

I just have it dinned into my head that it is generally wrong and taboo somehow. I have tried it a couple of times though currently have not learned it properly such that it messes up my flow like tapping the head and swirling the stomach however when I do other things like bob my head or swing my shoulders they seem to have the same effect as what I imagine the tappers get.

But I am thinking maybe tapping is a more practical means or maybe I will prefer to be a swinger. I saw a cool video on comhaltas where this girl gets into a real swing while playing whistle with the shoulders and the head does a flourish when she is really feeling it. Check it out.

https://comhaltas.ie/music/detail/comhaltaslive_434_7_shannon_kearney/

I would say I do none consistently but I want to experiment because the ‘dance’ ideas does make me feel it more and I think the process of feeling it more has the knock on effect of playing more ‘in the pocket’.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Having said that there is a very aggressive ‘clumper’ where I went to a session a few times which he does in his workboots and I could hear it very clearly on the recordings I made oftentimes.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Foot tapping is fine as long as it’s silent.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Yes and no. That is: Yes, if you play with good timing; no, if it’s an excuse for poor timing.

As you have observed, however, very loud foot tapping (or ‘clumping’) can be annoying, if it reaches a level where it starts to overpower the music. Furthermore, if loud foot tapping is not precisely in time, it can throw off the other musicians - some players may be lucky (or experienced or practised) enough to be able to stay locked into their ‘inner metronome’, unaffected by whatever potential distractions are going on around them, but I think most would be hard pressed to ignore an out-of-time clumper.

Enough of the negative, though. Foot tapping is absolutely about "getting into the groove with your body".

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

I think a reasonable amount of foot tapping is acceptable. After all, many of us find ourselves doing it unconsciously when we play. And in some cases it may be necessary. A few weeks ago I was at a new session, and as I hardly knew anyone else for the first hour I just played along with those tunes I knew. After that I started a set of reels and several other people joined in straight away. However, by the second time through the first reel, people to my left were playing far faster than me, while those to the right were struggling to keep up. The only way I could keep time was by stamping very loudly for about 16 bars. I think that whoever starts a tune has the right to set the tempo, and often that can only be done by tapping.

And then there are the Quebecquois musicians who regard tapping as an integral form of percussion accompaniment ….

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Not just Quebecois, the Cape Breton fiddlers are all stompers and it sounds great (IMO).

If the session is rocking, then the rhythm is already being expressed in the melody line. Tapping is just an accessory, a dance along with the tune. I’m usually tapping but I try not to be too loud with it.

One other way it’s useful: A piper at a local mixed Irish/Scottish session shifts to an exaggerated stomp when he’s leading the change from a march into a strathspey, or a strathspey into a reel. He plays mouth-blown smallpipes, so there’s no way to "Hup" into the change. And with the continuous sound of the pipes, it can sometimes be hard to pick up on the rhythm change right away (cue comments about how "all those pipe tunes sound alike"). The foot stomp is a good signal to those not completely familiar with the set, that something is changing.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

So the consensus so far is tactical stomping is the way to go. A weapon to be used sparingly and with caution.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

I personally appreciate the sound of a certain type of sole thumping against the floor. My most recent pair of shoes had a very subtle thump at the toe, but unfortunately, I had to raise my heel because it wouldn’t knock if my foot was flat against the ground, so it was more work than pleasure. A subtle, dry, dull dump is fine in my opinion.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

I was just practicing and tried a bit of tapping towards the end of my practice and noticed an issue and in hindsight what I have found before this as well which is actually the main reason I haven’t gotten it properly before.

I find the tapping is fine and dandy if I was already playing in beat and so the tapping emerges from already playing in beat however as soon as I make an error in my playing it throws everything out of sync cos my tapping is following my playing.

So should my playing rather follow my tapping? then an error in the playing the tapping can bring me back.

I think the current problem with tapping and playing is that there are TWO things I have to focus on rather than just the playing when I don’t tap.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

It is practical to learn how to play through mistakes and errors. Of course, you don’t want to make mistakes, but since mistakes are inevitable, it’s healthy to learn how to continue through them. Especially mistakes that aren’t rhythmic. Melodic/Harmonic mistakes can be dealt with by simply maintaining the rhythmic flow. However, if you are making rhythmic mistakes, those have to be dealt with in practice, not in performance.

On the note of foot tapping, if I notice that my foot tapping is throwing me off, I’ll stop. But I start with a foot tap to set a relaxed tempo before going into a set.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Also, I see foot-tapping as an immersive device. So rather than focusing on my foot tapping, I try to focus on my playing and allow the foot to tap in the background. Because I get so excited, I get too wound up and lose control of my playing if I’m not moving. Too much energy. So foot tapping helps me relieve and contain some of that.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

When I took guitar lessons years ago, my teacher suggested that tapping the LEFT foot would help connect or awaken the right brain. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I guess that could be true, because there is some research that the left brain connects to the right side of the body and vice versa.

I do recall that it was hard for me to tap the left foot at first. I made it a practice to tap the left foot to the music when I was driving. Obviously hard to tap the right foot. (Not sure how that works in a country with right-side driving.)

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

I find it easier to tap my left foot - it’s my first choice 9 times out of 10. I don’t know why. Alternating left-right is easer than just tapping the right foot.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Seconding those who mentioned Quebec and Cape Breton… just try taking the tapping OUT. Here in Cape Breton virtually every fiddler and piper taps, and some are known for being very heavy tappers. Some, like Rodney MacDonald for example, often tap reels with both feet going, similar to a Quebecois. Anyone listening, if they aren’t dancing, will likely be tapping too.

Arthur, you will probably find tapping, if you want to do it, develops over time. To get it to the point where you’re not thinking about it, and it’s deadly consistent, doesn’t happen for everyone automatically. Didn’t for me anyway. Sidebar: I was at a fiddle festival this summer, and a young fiddler from another province, who plays Cape Breton style, was playing; I thought something in my brain had broken, as I was unable to tap along consistently to him. Good player, but I was having trouble. Next player up was a Cape Bretoner, and I had no problem tapping to him.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Yeah! Sometimes he gets them both going high too. I heard him play, and saw him dance … a LOT… at Glendale, and Broad Cove this year. Huge respect for what he is doing at the Gaelic College; great vision and they’re at the centre of everything. And he s a great player.

Did you see Rodney on the Canadian TV show Still Standing? They did a Mabou episode…. had Kenneth MacKenzie teaching the host pipes, driving around with Rodney. Good show. http://www.cbc.ca/stillstanding/episodes/season2/mabou-ns

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Thanks for that link, Adrian, I’ll enjoy that later. Here’s a young Rodney -
https://youtu.be/BPpDoF7q6TI

I was at the Gaelic College for a week in early August and saw again the amazing work that he’s doing. We had great classes from Dawn Beaton, Kimberley Fraser and young Joe MacMaster. Unfortunately, we missed Broad Cove this time, although we were nearby in St Joseph du Moine… We did get to Sou’ West for a Friday night dance with Douglas Cameron & Allan Dewar, a few West Mabou nights and one in Glencoe. Mike Hall is flying it these times. Mighty stuff! Oh, and we had two Blue Mist sessions for good measure. Back in Ireland again, so it’s goodbye to all that for now. Maybe I’ll post a call to all and any living in Ireland, preferably west, who like to play Cape Breton music…
Should have DMd you , the OP and moderator may well be miffed!

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

No doubt there are many, many tappers out there. My own teacher and her contemporaries in the Bronx part of NYC were all tappers when I took lessons in the early 1980s. In any local session, I never heard any negative remarks about foot tapping.

Tapping can be especially helpful when playing for a ceili or for any group of dancers of differing abilities. Dancers sometimes fall behind the rhythm, get a bit disoriented, and need a trustworthy footfall to get back in time. Sometimes, overly exhuberant dancers unintentionally pull the the musicians and other dancers to a faster tempo that should not be sustained, and diligent tapping can help rein that in.

That said, the foot is as much an instrument as any other. Give it its due practice effort.

That said, I personally think tappers are driven to tap. Resistance is futile.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Having seen Martin Hayes up close at The Ark in Ann Arbor, I can say without fear of contradiction that he is a very avid foot-tapper. This is evident also on his recorded music. To hear and see him play, one would have to conclude that the feeling of the playing is driving the percussive accompaniment.
Also:
https://thesession.org/discussions/32055

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Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

If you are suddenly drafted into a classical orchestra, you can wear slightly large shoes and tap your toes inside the shoes, as one friend has confessed to doing.

For what it’s worth, I find foot-tapping to be a very useful practice aid: If my rhythm is good, one or both of my feet will tap on their own. If my playing rhythm goes awry, my foot gets confused and stops or goes off-tempo. So it makes a great canary in the coal mine, as it were, for highlighting rhythm/tempo issues I wouldn’t notice if my body were disconnected from the music.

But if your body prefers dancing in the chair to foot-tapping, I don’t think you’re missing out on anything at all…it’s all just different ways of relating to the music, isn’t it? You might even find that your feet like tapping to some tunes while the rest of your body dances to others.

Lisa

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Me-self, I have no idea why this is even a discussion. My damned foot just does it - on it’s own!

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

@Christmas Eve: nice video, Kinnon Beaton driving ‘er on fiddle. And tapping away (correcting for thread drift…. now back on topic).

We were at the College briefly last week; dropped my daughter for a workshop with Kyle MacNeil a part of the Fiddlers Association Festival of Fiddling. We’re lucky to have it.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

If you tap your foot, be sure to do it consistently and with good rhythm. At non-ITM jam sessions, I’ve noticed that if the person taking the lead has bad rhythm, their foot is tapping unevenly.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Echoing the others, be in time with the rhythm. A loud, bad tapper who plays out of rhythm just kills it for me.

At a session last month, I faced one of those. Loud, rushing the beat. I tried stomping my foot louder in time, but he just got louder and louder (and worse). I tried stopping, clapping the beat, and then re-joining. Just got worse. Eventually put my banjo down and picked up the bodhran to help keep time. he was still oblivious. Don’t be that guy.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

Foot-tapping definitely not allowed in classical playing, but actively encouraged in trad music classes. I’m not keen on it, but find myself doing it now, even though the beat is in my head.
Playing for ceilidh dancing, and often being the one that does any "count-in" or played intro and a (mainly) ex-dancer myself, I find it helpful to do a few silent dance steps under my chair to set the tempo. Most people can count 1-2-3-4 but many cannot "count in" in the required dance tempo, or, having counted in, the play at that same speed.

Re: Foot tapping is more about dance and feeling the tune than accuracy is it not?

You’d be hard pressed to find a decent player of Irish who doesn’t foot tap…….