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This question is related to Basic Punk Rhythm Guitar--Snare Feels Like Down Beat, but essentially different.

I have been playing the drums for quite a long time. When I started drumming I practiced quite a lot. I noticed that some songs try to 'deceive' the listener into feeling the (down)beat at the wrong place by placing a big accent that is offbeat.

The example where I notice this effect in the most obvious way is 'rope' by the foo fighters: enter image description here

or listen to it (I skipped through most of the intro):

Notice the rest on the one, and the accent on the offbeat. A similar thing happens in 'elephants' by them crooked vultures (although I'm not even sure if I'm feeling the count wrong, or if the beat is actually where I feel it).

Is it 'wrong' to feel the downbeat in the wrong place (or count in the wrong way, if you prefer)? It certainly makes the beat from rope harder to play, but it is not very hard to just learn the patterns shifted by half a count.

Can you do exercises to avoid this? I tried playing rope quite often but never really got used to counting it the right way (although I did seem like I made a little bit of progress, in that I could feel the downbeat at the right space for a couple of bars. It seems like the little rest 'resets' my counting.

I hope my issue is clear. I am also curious how other people (more experienced musicians) interpret the downbeat in rope. If you do count it in the right way, is this by stubbornly counting or does it happen naturally?

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Although it may seem easier to learn that pattern shifted, what happens when you get to the chorus? I contend that it's pretty awkward to add an eighth note and then take it away between sections, especially if you want to add a fill. You'll also have to memorize such shifts for any other song, instead of just feeling 4/4, which is what most of our practicing already fits into.

Getting used to the awkward accents is not only a much more flexible habit, but it allows you to keep more consistent time at higher tempos, since your brain gets used to using more of the counts as reference points.

I recommend using Audacity to slow the song way down, to like half-speed. Then, you can easily sit and clap the downbeats, making absolutely sure that your brain is putting not only the "1" in the right spot, but the rhythms of all of the other instruments as well. Then, you can slowly speed the tempo back up to the original.

Here is an exercise that you can do with a metronome. Here is the hard-mode for this type of ear training. Like Rope, it accents the "&" of "4" and skips the "1", but instead of ~140bpm it's ~200bpm and the beat is double-time. Make sure you pay attention to how the drummer counts in on the hi-hat and the beats that the vocalist emphasizes. Took me a few weeks of listening to this at varying speeds to get it right. Here is a version that includes a click track.

  • Thanks for your answer! I was also thinking about using Audacity to remove the first accent. It is indeed very helpful to listen to the other instruments. I think when I first tried to play this song as a novice, I spent so much time listening to the drums with the wrong feel that it's hard to unhear the wrong timing. – Ruben Jun 30 '17 at 7:35
  • I've found that two things help for me: 1. Filtering out the main guitar (either by turning up the bass or just listening to the drums on youtube.com/watch?v=k0TLFbpsL7M ). 2. Playing the missing downbeat. This helps me to keep track of time (so that I don't feel the accent as the downbeat). – Ruben Oct 14 '18 at 13:36
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There's nothing wrong with placing accents anywhere. The rhythm in Rope is similar to swing (in a way) so that the off-beat is accented. Don't think of it as wrong or odd.

You may have an issue separating your right hand from the right foot (if you're right-handed). One exercise I'd recommend for inter- or in-dependence would be to play quarter- or eight- notes in succession: right hand, right foot. It will feel perfectly natural after a while. And the result will be this somewhat reggae-like accenting.

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