How To Keep The Rhythm With A GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
A lot of people begin playing guitar with a goal to learn how to play some song that they like or want to sing. While this is a great way to get started, it can become boring if you don’t set up your guitar for effective practice.
Why not focus more on learning songs first? This is probably one of the most common things beginner guitar players do! But before you dive in and try to figure out what notes go into which chords, there are two important concepts to understand about music theory.
Music theory isn’t just for advanced musicians – even novice performers can benefit from knowing them. These theories help us relate different parts of a song to each other and give insight into the structure and components of a piece.
In this article, we will talk about one such theory: rhythm. What does it mean? And how can you use it to improve your own skill as a guitarist?
Reading time: 5 minutes
How to keep the rhythm with a guitar
The term “rhythm” comes from the word ratio, because it relates to the proportion of shorter to longer pieces within a given unit of time. For example, when someone says something fast, it is usually due to their perception of rhythm.
A slow speaker would have no perceived rhythm in his speech, while someone who talks very quickly may seem to be speaking too fast.
Learn the chords
The first thing you need to do is learn your chord structure! Chords are simply three or more notes that sound good together.
The easiest way to start playing guitar is by learning how to play some basic chords. There are many great sites and apps that can help you get started with this very quickly.
You should be able to pick up something simple like an A major chord, then move onto double chords and eventually advanced chords.
Practice playing along with the song
One of the most important things to do as a beginner is to practice your rhythm! When you are learning how to play the guitar, it can be hard trying to find the right tempo for each part.
If you start practicing by doing this, you will eventually figure out what speed everything should go at. Some people learn this concept later in their career, but it really does make a difference!
Practice singing or playing an accompaniment part (the part that just repeats throughout the music) together with the main melody. This way you will get more experience changing the tempo and keeping the timing steady!
Another good tip is to choose a short piece first, like a one-minute segment of a song.
Use a metronome
A good way to keep the rhythm is by using a device that helps you keep time! There are many ways to use a metronome.
You can set it up so that it constantly beeps at a steady rate, or you can have it do this for a certain amount of time then silence for another length of time.
Either method works well because it gives your body a constant reminder of what tempo it should stay at. Your subconscious mind will eventually accept the signal as fact and thus, the music will join together in harmony.
There are several apps and software solutions that contain a feature that allows you to create a sequence where the app or program beeps periodically. You can choose whether it goes fast (relaxed) then slow (fast walking), or the other way around (normal speed).
Whatever option you pick, remain in control and don’t let the beeping take over! It was designed only to help you, not the other way around.
Listen to the song to find the beat
A note is considered to have a pulse when it is repeated at a steady rate, typically one per second (1 Hz). The rhythm of most songs is made up of metric notes that are evenly spaced apart. These are called normal beats.
However, some songs contain irregular rhythms that do not follow this pattern. Some parts may be easy to identify since they have a regular rhythm, but other sections can get more complicated.
It is very difficult to play along with a piece that has erratic timing unless you know how to recognize and match the different rhythmic patterns.
Find the tempo on your guitar
The most important thing to do is find the rhythm of the song! If you can’t figure it out, then choose a faster or slower pace than what you have already found!
A good way to determine the speed of a piece is by thinking about how many notes per minute (abbreviated as “ppm”) there are in a given amount of time. For example, if someone sang one note for one second, and then paused for two seconds, that would be one whole measure of music (one beat)!
So, if they repeated this pattern ten times, we would get 10 measures of music! Therefore, the number of notes per minute is determined by dividing the length of the song by its number of beats.
The easiest way to learn how fast things go on an instrument is by looking at a similar instrument.
Make a plan for the song
In songs with an easy melody or simple chord structure, you will know what part of the song is coming up next. This information helps in two ways!
First, you can just learn the parts already and as your guitar skills increase, you’ll be able to quickly figure out which chords go along with each section.
Second, knowing when a new section starts makes it easier to keep time. You can simply use this knowledge to either start playing at a normal speed, or pick up the tempo!
The easiest way to do this is by thinking about how the music moves from one section to the other. For example, in a song like “Happy Birthday” there are three main sections: the verse, the chorus, and then the bridge.
The bridge usually contains some kind of motivational or inspirational lyrics that tell the listener why they should be happy today. This is typically followed by another catchy chorus.
So, if we were to make our own version of Happy Birthday, the first thing would be to write a short poem or sentence-style fragment of a verse. Then, we could add a second part that repeats the word birthday twice.
After this, we could put in some motivating lyrics such as “Today is your day, celebrate it” before moving onto the chorus.
This type of song uses a motif (or theme) to create its effect.
Learn the chords
The first thing you need to do is learn your chord structures! There are several ways to do this, but one of the most effective methods is learning your chord shapes by position.
This method uses chart patterns that show the positions of each major, minor, and neutral (no specific notes) chord shape. By knowing these chords in order, you can then play simple melodies or songs and match the correct note with the right chord.
You will also need to know how to read music, as some chords have direct lines for reading. These include anything from basic diagonals to full blown figure-eight shaped chords.
Knowing what key a song is in helps determine which chords go together. For example, if a song is in A major, then an A major chord would make sense!
There are many resources available online and through books that teach beginner guitarists the basics of playing chords.
Practice playing along with the song
After you get the hang of practicing without a music structure, it’s time to add one! This is an easy way to start because most songs have a steady rhythm that makes it simple to keep track of what part of the song goes where.
By learning how to play along with a song, you can practice your guitar skills in two ways: by practicing slowly or quickly depending on whether you are trying to match the tempo or not.
You will also learn how to naturally use syncopation (where notes fall outside of the normal rhythmic pattern) in your strumming and picking patterns to create interesting sounds. All of this adds more depth to your musical knowledge.
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