How To Play Ska Rhythm On GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
Ska is an upbeat, danceable music genre that originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. It’s characterized by its use of strong bass lines, catchy hooks, and skanking rhythms. Many musicians have made their name as individual artists within this genre, including Mark Bell (drummer for The Vandals), Ivan Gann (lead singer for Arrested Development) and special guest star Eric Casterline (Gumby from The Powerpuff Girls).
With such a wide audience, it’s no surprise that many people have enjoyed making ska rhythm patterns on guitar! By adding ska licks or skronk beats into your own songs, you can add some new flavor to your playing. Plus, learning how to play some basic ska riffs can help improve your guitar skills!
There are several ways to learn how to play ska rhythm on guitar. This article will discuss three different approaches.
Learn the ska rhythm pattern
The next part of learning how to play ska rhythms on guitar is knowing what step or pattern your chord needs to go into before you can start playing some songs!
The ska rhythm pattern goes like this: one, two, three, four – then back down again one, two, three, four. This pattern always has a main riff that repeats throughout the song.
The main riff in most ska songs is an easy way to learn the rhythm pattern as it is very simple. It typically uses either the same bass note or double-bass (two notes at once) for each beat.
For example, if the verse of a song starts with the chord Bm, then the bass will be B and the second string will be E. Then the chorus comes along and switches the chords around so they are G, D, and A. At this stage, the strings need to switch up as well!
This article will show you how to play the basic ska rhythm pattern on the guitar using both standard position and drop position fingering strategies.
Practice making the rhythm
The first way to play ska rhythm is by just picking up your guitar and playing whatever riff or chord you want to use as a pattern for the song. This method can be tricky because it does not tell you where in the music the ska beat falls!
So, what we do instead is match the length of each skielord with one of the notes on the bass string of the guitar. For example, if the word “dance” was said loudly then hit the note G on the bassstring. If the next word was spoken slowly then hit A on the same string.
This process will help you get the hang of how quickly ska songs are sung so that you can play along easily. It also helps learn which strings have strong tones used for the bass instrument.
Learn some common ska riffs
The first thing you will need to do is learn some simple, easy to recognize ska guitar licks. These can be done in any key or position, and are typically one note long. Some of the most popular ones include:
The third beat of a standard four-four time signature song like “Happy Birthday” or “Good Morning America”
The second and fourth beats of an eight-eight time signature song like “I Was Made To Love Her That Way”
Any two notes that go as a pair twice in a row (like A–B–A–C–D)
These types of songs contain these rhythm patterns often times several times within each other, making it possible to pick up this technique quickly. Technically, this isn’t considered playing them, but picking out individual notes within the pattern is!
Once you have learned those three basic pieces, your music listening experience will be elevated dramatically! You will find yourself able to add new layers onto existing songs, creating your own unique melodies and rhythms.
And while not every song has a complex rhythm pattern, there are still a ton of great opportunities to use this knowledge. By practicing regularly, you will naturally incorporate this concept into your playing.
Play along with this video
A beginner can start by practicing these ska licks in any position or style of music. For example, you could practice them as guitar riffs in blues, jazz, funk, or even electro songs!
To make it more interesting, try changing up the speed at which you play each note. Triplets are way faster than normal notes, for instance. Or use triplet quarter notes instead of normal ones.
And don’t forget about rhythm! There is usually an accent or syncopation pattern used in ska music that you can include into your song.
Mix and match which chords and which rhythm pattern you like
There are many ways to play ska rhythm guitar! What kind of chord structure you use in your songs makes a big difference in how the song is structured and what sounds you want it to have.
Ska is typically built around an intro, a verse, a chorus, and then some sort of break or instrumental section. When writing our new favorite ska song, let yourself be inspired by whatever comes up and see where the music takes you!
You do not need to know all the same licks for every ska song to enjoy this style of music. Many people have their own unique way of playing drums or bass, and that’s totally okay!
There are several types of ska rhythms that musicians use in different songs. You do not always have to learn them all, but it is helpful to understand at least one well.
This article will talk about one such rhythm called the 1-2-1-3 turnaround.
Learn ska dance moves
Now that you have your feet moving, it is time to add some additional music! There are two main types of songs that use ska as a genre-the fast ones and the slow ones. Fast ska songs usually feature very strong beats and bass lines along with melodic guitar riffs or licks. Slow ska songs typically do not contain a strong beat or bass line, but instead emphasize catchy melodies and lyrics.
Skapemics (ska dancing) include many different styles and patterns. Some people even make their own rules for what constitutes an authentic ska move so there is no standard way to learn them all! Luckily, however, we can pick up some basic steps which will help us play some simple rhythms in this style. These exercises focus mostly on how to play a pattern called the one-two step.
The one-two step was made famous by Jamaican artists like Vybz Kartel and Mavado and has become something of a staple rhythm element in ska. It consists of a short break followed by a longer rest before repeating the cycle once again. This type of rhythm can be applied to any number of musical genres and works best when used properly.
There are three important factors to keep in mind while playing the one-two step. First, make sure your foot movement matches the timing of the song. If your leg movements don’t sync up, then the music will feel out of place.
Watch ska music videos
This can be done via YouTube, where you can easily search for ska songs or ska guitar licks. There are many online resources that have ska song lyrics so that you know what part of the song each note is in!
Ska rhythm comes down to two main components: the first is the foot. The second is the hand position. You will learn how to play some ska rhythms using these basics here.
Listen to ska music
One of the most important things for anyone wanting to learn how to play ska rhythm guitar is listening to ska music! There are many ways to learn how to play ska chords, but you must first listen to some ska songs to be able as to what types of chords they use and what timing they have.
Ska musicians usually do not use very complicated chord structures, so by learning the basics of playing ska chords, you can easily pick up the style. Many famous ska artists such as The Specials, No Doubt, and Living Colour all use simple barre-chord shapes when writing their melodies and bass lines.
Music theory teaches us that every note has an octave, or scale, associated with it. An octave contains eight notes, which makes sense given that there are eight positions in a violin string! By knowing your base scales, you will know how to combine these notes into authentic ska rhythms.
There are three main rock based styles that make up much of today’s popular music – jazz, blues and country. All three of these genres use different patterns of meter (rhythm) and tempo to tell a story or set a mood.
This article will go over some basic concepts of meter and how to play them using step-down beats in time with a standard one two three four five six seven eighth-notes per measure.
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