I Keep Forgettin' - Michael McDonald - Keeping (Counting) Time

I hope that subject makes sense…

I’m having a hard time with the second bar and counting it… This is in 4/4 time…

The very first thing in the second bar is a 1/8 rest followed by an 1/8 note. Then comes a 1/16 rest followed by an 1/8 note then a 1/16 note. How do you count that? I have 1 - e for the 1/8 rest and 1/8 note, then what? “2” seems too long for a 1/16 note and I get all tongue-twisted starting with “e.”

If you want to see what I’m looking at, it’s here.

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What do you hear? Sometimes it’s just hard to put it down on a sheet especially a syncopated funk master like Louis Johnson on a free sheet website.

When I read the sheet and try to remember the tune it sounds about right but I don’t just read the note I know the tune. I just follow the tune. It would make you life easier.

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Are you asking how to count 16ths? I don’t want to explain something more basic than you’re asking - just trying to understand what you’re asking…

But basically, you’re playing on the “e” and “uh” of beat 2… (“2 e and uh”)

You might want to have a look at this:

and this

and others from Saher.

If the 16th notes are confusing (and they easily are), then you could re-write the entire rhythmic information by doubling up the note values. So, where you have 16ths notes, you write 8ths, where you have 8ths you write quarter notes and so on. Oftentimes, at least for me, that makes it easier to decode the rhythm.


Hi Joel,

You could think “staccato” for the “2”, dropping the “2 e” to “2” when you play, without saying anything different.

An alternative is to anchor the notes on the next played beat, i.e. don’t say two, just “e + a 3”

The second bar

Since the second bar is repeating with the first bar, you could try to think about both bars together and then split it into smaller units, anchoring on played beats.

Once you got this, you’re home free because it repeats in the chorus, :grin:



I appreciate the advice. I can play “at” it but I wanted to slow it down and make sure I was hitting all the rests and notes correctly.


Those are incredibly helpful videos. Thanks for sharing.

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Running through one of the software sources Josh provides. You can slow the tempo down but not change the notes. That way you can play it as slow as you want to then pick up the bass when you get better at it.

Since you have 16th notes and rests, divide the measure into 16 sections. Fill in the rests and notes. Set your metronome to one beat and a slow tempo. Use a pencil to tap along per beat per the note. No tap with pencil for the rests. Use your left foot to tap each of the sixteen beats which will get you through the rests. When you can hit it right, start speeding your metronome up 10 beats at a time. You will eventually start to “feel” the rhythm and hear it the faster you go. I don’t do the 1 e an ah stuff…….especially confusing for rhythms like this one. I just say “da” out loud for the notes per my pencil taps and shut up for the rests.

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