Video Guitar Lesson 11: Rhythmic advice and some ideas for phrasing your improvisations

Video Guitar Lesson 11: Rhythmic advice and some ideas for phrasing your improvisations

  1. How do I best practise rhythm playing?
  2. What’re some strumming patterns for 8th notes, 16th notes, triplets or quarter notes?
  3. How do I stay in time when playing on the offbeat?
  4. What should I accent in my playing?
  5. How do I phrase my improvisations to improve their meaning, impact, interest and feel?
  6. What hints are there for developing my melodic rhythm? Are there ideas which can help me to explore this aspect of improvisation?

If these questions interest you and you want to develop your rhythm playing or phrasing and articulating better melodic improvisations, then keep reading and be sure to check our video and audio out for this lesson.

(see below for timings for both this video and the audio version)

In this lesson, Dan and I explore rhythmic patterns, how to practise rhythm and work towards playing ‘in the pocket’ and then, using a backing track, we look at how to phrase improvisation. We start this lesson by examining some of the regular rhythmic structures which you can form from quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes and triplets. I show Dan the cards which I created by methodically identifying the possible structures. Dan unpicks most guitarists’ rhythmic journey and how we usually develop over time and as a result of need and gives some of his advice, tips and techniques for helping me. In the second part of the lesson (starting at 26:37 or 27:10 on SoundCloud) we take a look at how to phrase and articulate your melodies over a backing track when improvising to give them form, meaning, interest and clout. After our first improvisation, Dan gives some central focus for us to consider in my phrasing ideas. Finally, we then have another go at improvising and after this Dan gives me some of his thinking as he formed his melodic phrases, some of his licks and things to try.

Rhythm is always something which I struggle with. Anyone who has seen my poor attempts on the dance-floor or heard me struggling with a rhythmic structure will definitely agree with me on this. I have made it my mission to work hard on this area and make it my primary focus of practice for a good time to really build this important area of playing up and get my playing into ‘the pocket’. When away from my guitar recently, I methodically looked at the variety of rhythmic structures available and came up with the following:

First with 8th notes

8ths

Next with 16th notes

16ths

If we syncopate (don’t play strong beats, accent weaker beats or playing unusual rhythms) the 16th notes we get the following:

16ths sync

Finally, triplets:

triplets

At one point in this week’s lesson we also briefly talk about Irish traditional jig rhythms:

triplets trad

If you would like us or me to produce a follow on lesson for this aspect and these ideas for guitarists, then get in touch and I will be happy to look at that.

Some things which I am really going to take away from this lesson are that:

  1. I will continue to work with a metronome and really focus on rhythm playing
  2. I will work with random strumming apps and patterns to build lots of different feels and ideas
  3. I will work on those two examples which Dan found challenging to add them to my repertoire – the Killers, Human and Wheatus’s version of Respect.
  4. I intend to practise over backing tracks using Dan’s advice and thinking.

Dan’s advice

  1. How you group your notes in 3s, 4s etc.
  2. Not slavishly following scales but maintaining rhythmic structure
  3. Varying the length of your phrases

Dan’s thinking

  1. Swing and groove
  2. Think like a horn player
  3. Target certain notes (e.g. 9ths, 5ths and 3rds)
  4. Bending licks
  5. Changing the direction of scale licks
  6. Using muted notes for rhythmic effect
  7. Include a scoopy trem lick (Lukather-esque)
  8. Pentatonic lick with tapping

All the best, Gary and Dan

https://tunein-toneup.com/

https://soundcloud.com/tunein-toneup/

Timings for the SoundCloud audio version

00:05:08 Gary shows the rhythmic structures for quarter beats on A4 card and talks about his aim to improve his rhythm playing
00:06:42 Great app for strumming patterns – 8 strummer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccNIElEfxL0
00:07:34 Dan’s ideas on rhythmic playing and why most tuition is not too methodical
00:11:18 One thing about rhythm playing is that you tend to learn rhythm parts for band songs as you go
00:13:09 Gary on how he’s been using a metronome
00:14:10 Sometimes it’s really good to count the in-between beats which you don’t play – perhaps by saying “miss”, or as part of your usual count
00:15:21 Think like a drummer – playing the different beats using low or high strings with different accents or mutes
00:16:16 Dan: “Maybe it is the offbeats when you lose your count”
00:16:59 Dan: “Using a faux strum is good”
00:18:18 One thing that really caused problems recently for Dan was the riff from Human by the Killers and how it starts after the beat
00:20:18 Dan: “Using downstrokes and upstrokes can also accent notes in different ways”
00:21:42 A difficulty in rhythm playing is trying to make it sound natural rather than robotic, to keep a good feel
00:22:48 Irish triplet jig rhythms, Dan’s take on it and right-hand technique to start each triplet on a down stroke
00:23:33 Slowing things down can be really useful to hone over time
00:25:34 Using an acoustic guitar is good for strumming practice: it strips back all other aspects of your playing and helps with focus
00:26:25 A rhythmic part which really challenged Dan was when he was required to play ‘Wheatus – Respect’ – This was good for building his rhythmic accuracy and speed
00:27:10 Phrasing and rhythmic structures in improvisation
00:28:24 Soloing over a backing track from YouTube – Fancy Fusion Backing Track in Bm
00:37:49 Quick bit of reflection on our first bit of improvising
00:38:36 Dan’s advice 1) How you group your notes in 3s, 4s etc.
00:39:09 Groups of 3. Also advice on tailing the lick off a bit
00:40:08 Groups of 4s
00:40:54 Groups of 4s in pentatonic licks
00:41:59 Grouping rhythmic notes but not necessarily rigidly following the notes in scalar intervals
00:43:13 Dan’s advice 2) varying the length of your phrases
00:43:53 Start with something small and push it out from there
00:46:26 Quick recap – length of phrases, groupings and follow the rhythmic idea rather than scalar notes
00:47:32 Second improvisation over the backing track
00:53:24 Dan shares some of his thinking on this improvisation
00:53:34 Dan’s thinking 1) swing and groove
00:54:15 Dan’s thinking 2) think like a horn player
00:56:21 Dan’s thinking 3) target certain notes (e.g. 9ths)
00:57:01 a)      The 5th is a nice note
00:57:22 b)      Resolve to the minor 3rd
00:58:36 c)       Thinking chord tones
00:58:52 Dan’s thinking 4) bending licks
00:59:52 Dan’s thinking 5) going down an additional note
01:00:26 a)      Going back on the note a little bit
01:00:52 b)      Even using a muted note for rhythm
01:01:47 Dan’s thinking 6) scoopy trem lick (Lukather-esque)
01:03:57 Dan’s thinking 7) pentatonic lick with tapping
01:05:04 ·         Spending time giving your licks form

Timings for the YouTube video version

00:04:35 Gary shows the rhythmic structures for quarter beats on A4 card and talks about his aim to improve his rhythm playing
00:06:09 Great app for strumming patterns – 8 strummer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccNIElEfxL0
00:07:01 Dan’s ideas on rhythmic playing and why most tuition is not too methodical
00:10:45 One thing about rhythm playing is that you tend to learn rhythm parts for band songs as you go
00:12:36 Gary on how he’s been using a metronome
00:13:37 Sometimes it’s really good to count the in-between beats which you don’t play – perhaps by saying “miss”, or as part of your usual count
00:14:48 Think like a drummer – playing the different beats using low or high strings with different accents or mutes
00:15:43 Dan: “Maybe it is the offbeats when you lose your count”
00:16:26 Dan: “Using a faux strum is good”
00:17:45 One thing that really caused problems recently for Dan was the riff from Human by the Killers and how it starts after the beat
00:19:45 Dan: “Using downstrokes and upstrokes can also accent notes in different ways”
00:21:09 A difficulty in rhythm playing is trying to make it sound natural rather than robotic, to keep a good feel
00:22:15 Irish triplet jig rhythms, Dan’s take on it and right-hand technique to start each triplet on a down stroke
00:23:00 Slowing things down can be really useful to hone over time
00:25:01 Using an acoustic guitar is good for strumming practice: it strips back all other aspects of your playing and helps with focus
00:25:52 A rhythmic part which really challenged Dan was when he was required to play ‘Wheatus – Respect’ – This was good for building his rhythmic accuracy and speed
00:26:37 Phrasing and rhythmic structures in improvisation
00:27:51 Soloing over a backing track from YouTube – Fancy Fusion Backing Track in Bm
00:37:16 Quick bit of reflection on our first bit of improvising
00:38:03 Dan’s advice 1) How you group your notes in 3s, 4s etc.
00:38:36 Groups of 3. Also advice on tailing the lick off a bit
00:39:35 Groups of 4s
00:40:21 Groups of 4s in pentatonic licks
00:41:26 Grouping rhythmic notes but not necessarily rigidly following the notes in scalar intervals
00:42:40 Dan’s advice 2) varying the length of your phrases
00:43:20 Start with something small and push it out from there
00:45:54 Quick recap – length of phrases, groupings and follow the rhythmic idea rather than scalar notes
00:46:59 Second improvisation over the backing track
00:52:51 Dan shares some of his thinking on this improvisation
00:53:01 Dan’s thinking 1) swing and groove
00:53:42 Dan’s thinking 2) think like a horn player
00:55:48 Dan’s thinking 3) target certain notes (e.g. 9ths)
00:56:28 a)      The 5th is a nice note
00:56:49 b)      Resolve to the minor 3rd
00:58:03 c)       Thinking chord tones
00:58:20 Dan’s thinking 4) bending licks
00:59:19 Dan’s thinking 5) going down an additional note
00:59:53 a)      Going back on the note a little bit
01:00:19 b)      Even using a muted note for rhythm
01:01:14 Dan’s thinking 6) scoopy trem lick (Lukather-esque)
01:03:24 Dan’s thinking 7) pentatonic lick with tapping
01:04:31 ·         Spending time giving your licks form

Wrist Grips Website: http://www.wrist-grips.comGuitar Gear Mentions:

Sure Grip Guitar Picks Website: http://suregripguitarpicks.com
Curt Mangan Strings Website: https://www.curtmangan.com/

Last three lessons for new arrivals or those who want to brush up on this content

Keep watching listening and getting in touch.  We really want to hear from you!  Keep an eye out for some improvements to our video setup coming shortly which we’re really excited about.

You may want to check Dan Davies out in action.  You can find a video I made of Dan and his band Full House on this YouTube channel: Full House Brighton Band (more to come with improved video and some different approaches to the audio).

Enjoy your musical journey 🙂

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