Rhythm Guitar Lesson 1b: Ideas to develop your groove, pulse and funk

This is the second part of the first lesson in our new mini-series on the topic of rhythm.

Dan and I, in our first lesson look over the basics of rhythm: In lesson 1b we covered what the difference is between a quarter note, eighth note and sixteenth note along with the synonyms of crotchet, quaver and semi-quaver. We looked at staccato, dotted notes, tied notes, off-beats and counting. Finally, we looked at some reggae and funk examples. Go back and have a listen if you haven’t yet heard the first part.

Here is the second half of the lesson: Dan gives us some reminders for your practice and how to play 16th funk strumming patterns  with confidence and so that they sound groovy. Dan demonstrates what we’re aiming for when developing an inner pulse through a funk improvisation in which he mirrors what a drummer is thinking when they support a funky track with fills and mini solos. I have been adding to my own new practice regime lots of metronome work based on what we will discuss next time.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been continuing to use Earmaster, however, I was finding sight reading partial sixteenth notes (where only some of each group of 4 are played) and so I went back to earlier exercises and have been redoing those exercises but with increased tempo. This is all helpful stuff. I haven’t been doing this everyday though and also have been working through a TrueFire course by Vicki Genfan on thirty strumming patterns and playing these alongside a metronome. I have been using some different metronome apps on my android and PC which have the ability to subdivide each beat into eighth, sixteenth notes or triplet.  My favourite Android one is called Metronomerous and on the PC there is one called Tempo Perfect or for a nicer interface: Metronome +. I have also been working through some solos and improvising over backing tracks by Quist and Elevated Jam Tracks.

Regarding EarMaster – It has really improved in its capacity to use an interface and hence a guitar to input a response. With this realisation I began to play through a course on ‘reading rhythm’ really valuing the real-time responsiveness of the program to show me where my playing is in terms of the beat. I have found that this is effective to deliver immediate analysis and evaluation on my ability to play a rhythm and to challenge me with random rhythmic tasks.

I really recommend this program, however, I do appreciate it may not be for everyone and enthusiasm for it may well be determined by confidence and other methods of rehearsing rhythm – e.g. if I could be playing live or with other musicians more regularly then I’m sure that this would be something I would want to do instead. For me, this support for my woodshedding is timely, helpful, and engaging.

To give you an idea of the number of exercises available, please see the exercise overview below. Remember that I am, due to difficulty around exercise 11, going back to earlier exercises at a higher tempo at the moment. Essentially, there is something that will challenge you here.

Timings for the SoundCloud audio version of Rhythm Guitar Lesson 1b:

00:00:22Using Eartrainer to practise the rhythm of a piece separated from the melody
00:01:08A simple idea for practising rhythm
00:01:22Starting with a bar of 4/4 and then throwing in some 8th notes
00:02:28Using the offbeat and how to play challenging rhythms
00:02:58Riff from Human by the Killers and timing it right
00:03:40The 8th note at the beginning of the riff that isn’t heard
00:05:10Sing the rhythms – do it in your head
00:05:20Sixteenth notes starting on the offbeat can be tricky
00:05:43Start of our Funk mini study
00:06:39Yngwie’s quote: “groove or die”
00:07:21Right hand playing, percussive hits in funk music
00:07:51Sixteenth notes with accents on the beat
00:08:26Make the right hand consistent, lock in with drums / metronome
00:11:12Demo of the same funk groove with and without the percussive notes
00:13:00All this kind of practise helps to instil a sense of pulse 
00:13:57What does a drummer do when he is performing fills?
00:14:09Demo of acting like a drummer
00:15:18Playing funk solos in this way is a great way to practise
00:17:00Dan’s advice to listen to Cory Wong – will share in our show-notes
00:19:31There is life beyond power chords

Timings for the SoundCloud audio of Rhythm Guitar Lesson 1a:   

00:01:25A few words on Jeff Beck
00:04:45Intro to rhythm and a reminder about how important it is to work on
00:05:32Quick bit on EarMaster and how Gary has been using it in his practice
00:07:22Look at the real basics of note values and rhythmic divisions in a bar
00:08:27Dan’s breakdown of rhythmic values and basics of music reading
00:14:22Stacatto notes
00:14:52Extending notes with dots or ties
00:15:34Using the spider gym for warming up, rhythm and playing without tension
00:16:01Variations of Spider Gym finger patterns – see notes
00:16:51Funky and reggae rhythms and use of syncopation and off-beats
00:18:40Keeping track by using down and upstrokes to help your rhythmic work
00:20:21Reggae: focussing on the offbeat on the high strings

Spider Gym finger patterns:



Keep watching, listening, and getting in touch.  We really want to hear from you!

You may want to check Dan Davies out in action.  You can find Dan’s album on Spotify and other streaming music sites, like Apple Music (click the links to take you to his album ‘Flight’)

Enjoy your musical journey and be in touch! Gary and Dan

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