30th March 2021

Counting on 2 and 4

You may have heard that counting on 2 and 4 or playing to a click on 2 and 4 is good practice, but where does this idea come from and why do it? 

I have always heard this concept talked about in jazz circles and the reason for counting like this is that it develops the idea that you emphasis beats 2 and 4 more, helping you to swing.  In a jazz swing beat, the backbeats (2 and 4) are much more prominent than in a lot of other styles of music. 

counting 2 and 4

So how do we set up a metronome to do this?  

First of all play this jazz walking line with your metronome set at 120bpm.  This means that there will one click to each quarter note beat.  

The clicks will be on 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 

  

Clicks on Every Beat

Now set your metronome to 60bpm.  Your click will now be half notes and there will only be two clicks to each bar. 

Try first with a click on 1 and 3.  This is a lot harder than playing to a click on every quarter note as you have to now feel the beats that don’t have a click on them.

 

Clicks on Beats 1 & 3

Now try with a click on 2 and 4 (still at 60bpm). 

If you are having trouble knowing where to come in, then try and count 2 and 4 out loud on the clicks and then try to say the 1 and 3 counts as well.  When you can do this, start playing on 1 (there will be no click here!).

 

Clicks on Beats 2 & 4