How To Improve Rhythm And Timing GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
When guitarists start learning how to play songs, they usually learn the notes of each song as they are spelled out. But what happens next is trying to make the music feel natural and fluid.
It is impossible to play music without rhythm.
Rhythm gives shape to the music you play by setting up recurring patterns that tell time within a piece or between pieces. It helps create sense of flow and momentum in your playing!
By understanding the basics of timing, you’ll be able to take some basic chords and play them quickly with ease. This will help you get past the beginner stage and onto more complex ideas.
This article will go into detail about the different types of rhythms, how to recognize them, and apply them to bass lines, chord progressions, and melodies.
Identify difficult rhythms and figure out how to play them
The second way to improve your rhythm guitar is by identifying tricky rhythmic patterns that need some polish. There are many ways to do this!
You can take lessons from music theory or formalized timing concepts like in drumming, which apply to playing the guitar more than once.
By learning about modes and tritone substitution, you will be able to create new melodies and riffs using familiar chord structures.
Practice taking minutes of music and breaking it down into smaller sections to identify the main events and internal rhymes.
Practice counting in a straight line
One of the most fundamental skills that guitarists should develop is learning how to count. Most music has a standard set pattern for what notes go together and how many times they are said within a given time frame, or metric position.
By knowing how to accurately identify these patterns, you will be able to read music more easily (something every guitarist needs to do at some point!), as well as learn how to match the rhythm section’s timing!
Practice counting in a straight line
This can be done by just thinking about it and practicing, but there is an easy way to get very familiar with this. This method uses a tool called a metronome. A metronome makes discrete, steady beats so that you have to work against it, not with it.
To use your own voice as a source of the beat, say “One” slowly until the note does not sound like a one, then speed up the tone slightly and say the word faster.
Practice counting in a circle
It is very common for guitarists to practice by simply picking random chords and strings quickly without any structure or timing. This can be fun, but it will not improve your rhythm skills!
To truly learn how to play guitar you must know how to count. You must understand what time signature each song is written in and how many beats there are in a bar of music. Then, you need to develop an internal clock that knows when to start playing a new note or chord and how long to hold it before moving onto the next one.
This process is called learning how to stick-figure play. When people say they learned how to play guitar this way, they mean they practiced sticking figure play where notes go directly onto another as quick and seamless as possible.
There are several ways to do this. The best way depends on your level and goal. For beginner students, practicing counting in a circle is a great tool to use. Here, you begin with a slow, steady beat and then add bbs (beats per second) to match the number of notes in a chord or string.
You get these bps by dividing the length of the note into ten so one full measure equals one bpw (beat per word). One half of a quarter note is a whole measure, and two eighth notes make a whole measure too.
Practice counting in a circle can also help you become more familiar with the basics of reading music.
Practice counting backwards
Another way to improve your timing is by practicing counting backward. There are many ways to do this, but one of my favorites is to use a song as a practice piece or test out different techniques on it.
A common technique in music is called matching rhythm. This means finding an event (like a rest) and matching it with a corresponding event that repeats at the same time every other repeat. For instance, if there’s a short break after two beats, then you would match that break with a longer break after four beats.
The thing about rhythms is that they can add harmony to a song. If you learn how to play simple rhythmic patterns, you will be able to create lots of effects and melodies.
Practice moving away from having a constant pulse and exploring various types of beats and rythms. The best way to develop your sense of rhythm is to find a type of beat you understand and work on developing your ability to recognize and identify where those events occur in relation to each other.
You can start playing songs that have strong rhythms and see what parts you can pick up.
Practice counting while keeping time with a metronome
A very common way to improve your timing is by practicing using a meter, or patterned structure of music. There are many types of meters, but one of the most basic ones goes like this: every other line is stressed (one long note) and then a short break before another set of stresses.
This type of rhythm can be practiced in several ways. You can use a slow, steady pulse for the bar-meter, which makes it easier to keep time, or you can use a faster tempo to make it more challenging. By learning how to play these rhythms at different speeds, it helps to develop your sense of timing as well as skill!
Practice making the notes match the rhythm board-ly slowly first, and then increase the speed until you reach the challenge stage. The same applies when changing the meter – start fast and slow down, or stick with a normal pace and add some swing to it.
Learn to recognize which notes should be played together
The second way to improve your timing is by learning when different chords need to be played as pairs or groups. For example, if you wanted to play an A major chord, you would have to know that the first note of the trio is the index finger playing the middle tone (A) of the root (the element in the chord that changes).
The second note of the group is the third, or pinky, fingering the fifth degree (B) of the chord. Then the thumb nails down onto the other two strings, completing the chord.
Learn to identify the different types of rhythms
There are two main categories when it comes to understanding rhythm. The first is counting patterns, or as they are more commonly known, rhythmic patterns. These do not have a steady pulse like some people may be accustomed to hearing with music.
These patterns shift around in timing and speed, which makes them difficult to learn how to play without practice. Technically, this type of pattern is called an irregularly-timed pattern.
The second major category is regular rhythms, or what most people would call normal songs that use standard timing. This includes familiar tunes such as “Happy Birthday” or anything by Adele.
Regular rhythms can be learned easier because you will know what to expect! It also helps if you are able to count forward and backward so you can easily recognize the pattern. By doing this, your brain will associate the song with the rhythm pattern, making it easier to learn.
Practice playing rhythms correctly
There are many ways to improve your rhythm guitar skills. This article will go into detail about some of the most effective strategies.
One of the first things musicians learn is how to play a simple, one-two pattern or beat. This basic timing structure can be applied to any instrument — bass, violin, flute, etc.
To truly become proficient at rhythm guitar, you must understand this basics downbeat – syncopation (or offbeats). An example of an easy way to practice this is to take a standard chord progression like A–Bm–C–D–E–F–G and add either a quarter note or half note bounce to each of the chords.
For instance, the first chord would have a normal tempo, then a quickened pulse for a quarter note, a rest for a demi-semi-couplet, and finally a normal tempo as it cycles back to the start of the song.
This technique can easily be transferred onto other instruments.
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.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.