All About The Rhythm GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
Having a solid understanding of rhythm guitar is one of the most fundamental things you can do to improve your music making! It’s always good to have an extra set of ears listening to your songs, and being able to recognize which parts are mostly composed of rhythmic patterns helps polish that ear-training.
In this article we will be going over some basic concepts about how to play simple rhythms in time with a meter. We will also take a look at some easy to follow steps to practice these rhythms by yourself or for as little money as possible!
Now let’s get into it!
Rhythm Scheme Theory
The term “meter” comes from the Greek word mestos, meaning average or middle. A metric sentence has an internal structure made up of duple (or two syllable) beats and triplet (three syllable) beats. This pattern is repeated throughout the whole piece, creating a steady beat.
A common way to identify a meter is through the use of stressed and unstressed syllables. The number of each type of foot per minute defines what part of the song belongs to which meter. For example, a ratio of 1:2 means every other foot is stressed and half of the feet are stressed, a quick march style rhythm.
Another very popular way to describe meters is using names such as āmma, eppē, or kṛta.
Recognizing and defining rhythm
Defining rhythm is not an easy task, but we can give you some basic guidelines here! When talking about rhythm in music, what part of the song or piece you are listening to is usually the first thing to consider. The rhythm of a song comes in two main parts: the pulse and the foot.
The pulse is the steady beat that most people recognize as having a strong rhythm pattern. This typically changes position in the song, sometimes even skipping a round. An example of this would be someone walking down the street, their feet moving at a steady pace.
The other element that makes up the rhythmic structure of a song is the feet. These are the steps that the singer or musician takes with each note. Some songs only have one type of foot, for instance, every measure has a long, short, long pattern. Other songs use different types of feet within the same measure, such as a normal walk, then a quick trot, before returning back to the regular walk.
Finding the beat
The first step in learning how to play guitar using rhythm is finding the main “beat” of the song. A beat is any sequence of notes or silence that stays for some amount of time, usually one full measure (four beats).
The easiest way to learn this is by listening to music! Many people begin practicing with their own songs they know well. What element of the song does it seem like there is a steady pulse? That can be your starting place to add more pulses to your patterns.
Another way to learn the basics of timing is looking at examples of simple rhythms. There are many ways to do this, from counting out each quaver as two short and long sounds, to tapping the foot along with the pattern. Either method works!
From there you can build up speed and accuracy. Use slow, medium, fast tempos to see what feels best to you. Some people prefer faster songs, while others find meditation or lullabies easier to play.
Guitarists who use rhythm often start playing basic licks and melodies and then add additional effects such as syncopation (alternating between quick and slow) and triplets (three notes per strike).
Finding the key
The first step to learning how to play guitar in any style is finding your main chord structure or key. This will depend on what genre of music you want to learn!
For example, if you are trying to learn an easy blues song with no more than five chords, then the easiest way to go about it is to start with the major scale.
The major scale has one note that repeats itself throughout all twelve positions of the fretboard. These notes are called root position notes. There is a natural pattern built into this root position note which makes it very simple to pick up guitar playing by just using this as your starting place.
This natural pattern comes from the intervals within the scales. An interval is two adjacent notes played together. For instance, the second highest note in the major scale is the third higher than the root note. A minor tonic uses these same roots but replaces them with minor tones instead.
Recording your own music
After you learn how to play guitar, the next step is to actually start playing songs! This is one of the most difficult things for beginners to do because it requires someone else’s help to put what you have in your head onto paper or tape.
Producing your first song can be tricky at times. You will need to find a balance between helping others contribute and completing the task yourself.
This article will go over some tips to ensure you are never stuck without music where you live. These strategies include finding free online resources, using technology to create and record your music, and investing in good microphones and headphones.
Free Online Resources
There are many ways to learn how to write and produce your own music. The best way depends on your skill level, budget, and motivation to practice. Luckily, we have an excellent resource for you today!
Allison Ozer from AllMusic has created an incredible website called RhythmGuitarWiki.com. Not only does she provide helpful articles and videos about different types of guitars, but she also offers great advice on recording your own music as well!
You may know how to play a few chords on the guitar, but creating your own musical masterpiece comes down to editing, writing, producing, and arranging all of the pieces together.
Mixing your own music
As with any form of art, creating your own musical pieces is an excellent way to learn how to play guitar! There are many ways to do this, from singing along to songs you like and using that as a song structure or main chord pattern, to writing your own songs or mixing and matching bits and pieces to make new ones.
Whatever method you choose, don’t worry about what others say about being “good enough” – just keep trying, experiment, and grow. You will always have resources online and in stores for help too!
And while it may sound intimidating at first, there are plenty of ways to break down the process into easier steps – even for novice musicians! For example, anyone can listen to a song they know and try to figure out the chords and lyrics. Then, they could take those same notes and create their own version of the song, replacing some parts with their own.
That would be the rhythm part! If you want more tips, check out our article: How To Play Guitars By Heart.
Learning to read guitar chords
Chords are one of the most fundamental concepts in music, and learning how to read them is an important part of your rhythm guitar repertoire!
In this article you will learn some easy ways to pick up reading rhythms for songs. We will also look at some basic chords that every guitarist should know.
This article assumes you have some experience playing the guitar, but it is possible to come out with these tips even if you are new to the instrument.
Reading chord patterns can be fun to do, and can help you develop your ear as well as technique.
Learning to sing along
A lot of people include singing in their hobbies, whether it’s for fun or to improve their voice. Many musicians already have a good voice, so they can focus more on learning how to play an instrument.
You can learn how to sing along with almost anything! You will need a way to listen to the song, though. Most music producers now use Spotify, YouTube, or other streaming apps that have vocals.
There are many ways to get inspiration from others’ songs. For example, you could look up lyrics to known songs, study rhythm patterns, or compare and contrast different parts of a song.
After getting some tips, practice by singing what you know back to the original song.
Equipment for guitar
Now that you have chosen to learn how to play rhythm guitar, here are some important pieces of equipment to consider!
First off, you will need an amplifier! There are many great beginner level amps available at any music store or online retailer. A good quality amp can be expensive (price range: $100-500), but it is totally worth it if you ever want to perform in a band!
You also need headphones or earphones to practice with! This way you do not have to use your computer speakers which could interfere with other people’s ears nearby. Good quality headphones cost around $50-$150, but they are totally worth it!
Next we recommend using two guitars! One should be an easy to handle light weight “practice” guitar that does not require too much pressure when playing chords. This guitar should also get tuned up every few weeks so that it does not feel loose or uncomfortable to hold onto while practicing. The second guitar should be a heavier model so that more advanced players can help you develop your technique! This can easily cost over $200, but it is completely worth it as you advance as guitarist!
Last, but certainly not least, you will need a strap! Most musicians carry their instrument in a strap hanging from their shoulder or across their chest.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
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