Rhythm Guitar MethodPosted by Mike Schumacher
Having a solid understanding of music theory is important if you want to play guitar at a professional level. But there’s a little-known branch of music theory that can help take your playing to the next level – rhythm guitar method (RGM).
With RGM, instead of learning how different chords are placed in songs, what modes they belong to, and which notes go with which chord, you learn the rhythmic patterns used by musicians.
You then use these rhythms as templates for writing your own licks and riffs. By doing this, you’re given more freedom to express yourself creatively because you’ve left space for other ideas to emerge.
This article will talk you through some basic concepts of the technique and show you some easy ways to apply it in your songwriting.
Figure out your musical interests
A beginner can start learning how to play guitar by simply picking up a string set or chord book and diving in, but this is not the best way to begin!
Too many people get involved with music at a young age and give up because they do not learn the instrument from the source – it’s music!
Music comes from a universal language that we all speak subconsciously, so why not use that as our basis for understanding music?
We all have different styles of music that we like, what genre are you most familiar with? What songs make you feel happy or sad?
By knowing your favorites, you will know some basic chords and notes, which will help you form your own style. You don’t need to be famous to enjoy music!
There are many ways to learn rhythm guitar. Some say using an app is the better option, while others suggest buying a metronome or backing track and practicing along with that.
Read as much as you can
In my last article, I mentioned that one of the most important things for beginner guitarists to do is to read as many music books and tutorials as possible. While this is great to do, there is another very important thing to pick up while learning how to play the guitar!
That is rhythm.
I know it sounds funny to say that reading about rhythm is just as important as knowing notes, theory, chords, etc., but it really is!
It will help you learn how to play some basic songs faster. And even more importantly, it will improve your own song writing and playing.
You will start using patterns and rhythms in place of longer sequences of notes or chords. This will create new styles you can experiment with.
There are several ways to learn how to play rhythmic melodies and beats. Some of the methods seem easier than others, so here I will go over three of them and see which one works best for you.
It is very important to have consistent practice times every day. If you start practicing guitar at 5 pm, then that is okay, but it will not last long! The best way to ensure this happens is to set an appointment with yourself where you will be practicing for a specified amount of time every day.
Weekdays can become busy so we may need to plan our daily practices slightly differently. You should also know when your ideal practice time is and try to stick to that as well.
It is helpful to create a ritual before you begin practicing. For example, if you typically wash your hands first, then run through some exercises, you could do that before starting to play.
Also, make sure to only practice for a certain amount of time each session. A good rule of thumb is to spend around 30 minutes per hour of music you are listening to. This helps prevent you from “over-practicing” or going too fast which can hurt your progress.
Join a band
If you’re passionate about music and want to learn how to play guitar, there are many ways to do it! One of these is to join a group or start your own that meets every week for lessons and/or rehearsals.
There are many great resources available free of cost or very inexpensively if you opt for self-teach. Many people begin playing as kids and never stop, so why not give it a try?
You don’t need to be in a professional band to teach yourself rhythm guitar. All you really need is someone else to help you along and some equipment. Luckily, most things can be found online or at stores near where you live.
So go out and inspire yourself – learning how to play the guitar isn’t something that should keep you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Practice playing by ear
It is very important to practice listening to music with your ears, not just using rhythm as your source of learning. There are many ways to learn how to play guitar by ear. Some people start by thinking about what notes go into a song and then use that as their basis for learning how to play it.
This is definitely an interesting way to begin because you are starting from the most fundamental part of music! However, this approach can be tricky because different musicians place emphasis on different parts of a song.
Some may emphasize the lyrics more than the instrumentation, or vice versa. This method cannot always satisfy everyone’s musical needs so it should be used only as a beginner technique.
There are other ways to do it though. You could think about trying to imitate a particular musician’s style, or you could mimic a genre or pattern. For example, if you want to learn how to play some blues songs, then you would need to know the chords for the first line of the verse and the second line of the chorus, but you wouldn’t have to know how to play any other chord patterns in between those two sets of lyrics.
So, instead of thinking about what note goes here and there, try practicing by singing or humming along with the music. If you are able to identify the main rythm element, then add the rest of the instruments to match that rhythm.
Learn to sing
Even if you can’t carry a tune, there are many ways to learn how to play guitar rhythmically. This article will go into detail about one of them — the chord-mapping method.
The term “chord mapping” comes from music theory, where students map out songs using chords. What this means is picking a chord, then playing the notes within that chord as quickly and cleanly as possible. For example, if the song goes D – A – G – CD – E – F, your first choice would be to pick the D chord. Then, you could start by playing the note A, or you could stick with the whole pattern by skipping it and going directly to the next note, the G.
This concept applies to any number of chords. The order in which you choose which notes make up each chord doesn’t matter too much, but choosing slow, steady notes over quick ones makes for more solid practice. (And yes, those fast notes should be considered part of the same chord! That way you’re still learning how to play them correctly.)
There are several methods to apply the chord-mapping technique to guitar rythm. One of the most popular is called alternating bass lines. Let me show you what I mean…
Alternating Bass Lines: How To Practice Them
Start off practicing some simple timing patterns.
This will take practice, but not too long! You can start by practicing downstrokes and upstrokes separately first to feel the timing of your hand. Once you have that down, you can move onto practicing syncopation.
Practicing syncopation means creating rhythmic patterns with an accented or non-accented beat. For example, a simple pattern could be one short stroke followed by two longer strokes, or three shorter ones followed by one longer one.
You can also add trills into the patterns, which are quick repeated notes. And don’t forget about double stops — anything where one note is held for a while!
Once you have those covered, you can combine all these rhythms together in one song to see how it fits together. Many people begin playing guitar this way – just picking music and putting what sounds good in there.
Learn to read music
Now that you have learned some basic guitar chords, it is time to learn how to read music! This will help you in many ways!
Reading music can be very difficult if you don’t know any songs, so most beginners begin by learning how to read simple notes and intervals.
You probably already knew some of these notes and/or intervals, like A, B, C, or G. By knowing those, you are well on your way to reading music!
The next step is figuring out what note groups make up a song. For example, the first line of a poem is usually an initial word (like “Aaaahhhh”), then a stressed syllable, then another vowel sound, and finally a final consonant (for instance, with the word “the”, there is a short silence, a stress on the second syllable, and then the letter _h_ ). That pattern is called an accented tetrameter.
Many songs use this structure to create their lines, which makes sense because poems work! So once you understand the basics of reading music, you can start practicing with something easy, like the first few bars of The Girl From Ipanema.
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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