Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rhythm Guitar Playing...A Lost Art ...No

Everybody wants to play solo guitar,the rock star image right!Well that is all good,but there is a whole different side to guitar and that is a rhythm side.It requires a whole different way of thinking!It is more team work and takes much more consistency.
Today most players want to solo,they don't even consider rhythm playing.But rhythm playing can be fun and inspiring,and opens up a whole different view as far as the band as a unit and what your job is to contributing to it unit!When you are on stage playing with the band,you are all grooving,the sound is tight and poppin,there is an awesome feeling you feel and get.This is reward and gratitude from being a team player!Complementing each other,filling a role,and nailing the accents together,can be a rewarding experience too!
Just like soloing,playing in a group context can be challenging also.Rhythm guitar playing requires practicing over and over just like soloing does.Here are some quotes and links i have found that may help the guitarist achieve rhythm guitar status!In addition,there is much to be said about playing funk guitar,from the likes of Earth Wind and Fire,Prince,James Brown,Curtis Mayfield,Johnny Guitar Watson and others....Oh...did i mention Jimmy Hendrix :-)

The term "rhythm guitar" is often used. This describes a style of playing where you become half guitarist half percussionist. You can use you plectrum to either pick single notes or strum all six, or combinations of both. A common way of playing rhythm is to pick the root note of the chord and then strum the rest of the chord.

*** What is the function of rhythm guitar?
What are we doing up there in the first place? How do we do what we do? Why do we do all the work while the horn players get all the glory? Given my earlier letter regarding Freddie's focus on playing a tenor harmony line, the guitarist, as we all know, is a member of the rhythm section. This means we are responsible for establishing and maintaining the underlying meter. What is meter? Meter is a regularly recurring accented pulse, followed by an unaccented pulse or pulses.* Think about that for a moment - 3/4, 7/8, 4/4 - whatever the subdivision, establishing a meter is simply to establish a regularly recurring accented pulse, followed by an unaccented pulse or pulses. We've all heard the description of Freddie Green as being the 'heartbeat' of the Basie band, and that refers, of course, to Freddie's solid and even (definitely regularly recurring) 'thunk' which gave the band its pulse. It was Freddie's 'thunk' that enabled drummers like Sonny Payne to concentrate a bit more on showmanship because he knew Freddie was laying it down - the meter, that is. We've also heard the phrase "... plays with good time," or "... has good time." What does this actually mean? For a rhythm section player it can mean that the person is able to self-sufficiently establish and maintain the meter. In addition, it means, and all this of course applies to every musician, that everything played within the meter is rhythmically even. Now we approach the definition of rhythm. Is it the feel one plays with? No, someone playing with a good feel does not necessarily mean someone playing with good rhythm and vice versa. Rhythm is the arrangement of note and rest values within the meter.* Returning home one night from a job with drummer Eliot Zigmund, he put it simply: "I know by the first four bars of the gig whether anybody's listening to and playing with where I'm putting it." Rhythm is defined by where you put it. Everybody in the band should feel rhythmic figures the same way, place them in the same spot, and of course in order to do that must also be feeling precisely the same tempo.
Have a recorder in place (one which you can listen back to quickly with a minimum of fuss) to record your practicing together with your metronome set at 80. Start by playing (I suggest using only downstrokes, letting the pick rest on the next string) and recording just one octave of an ascending/descending scale or arpeggio of your choice, at the rate of one legato note for every two clicks of the metronome. Initially, you don't want to play more than that at a time until/unless you've developed the ability to hear your practice objectively and self-critically as you play, otherwise you'll probably spend more time practicing it wrong than getting it right. When we practice, and this may seem self-evident, the idea is to practice consistently correctly. Don't practice something by fumbling it 10 times then moving on after finally playing it right just once or twice. Always slow it down to the point where you can play it correctly, relaxed, and can be 100% in control of both hands 100% of the time. Then speed it up bit by bit while always playing it right. That way you build a firm foundation - that's the way to be able to play something perfectly after you've been given the downbeat. Listen back to what you just played - are your half notes falling square on the nose with every other beat of the metronome? A little ahead or sometimes a bit behind? It's entirely possible at first, if you've never before practiced such simple rhythmic placement in such concentrated fashion, that you honestly can't tell one way or another. When I first tried this, when I thought I'd been playing evenly, I wasn't. If you've already been playing for a number of years and never developed this awareness/ability from the outset, it's always more difficult to work through and correct an ingrained bad habit than to learn something new off a clean slate. It is possible - I'm proof - but it requires much more effort. When we practice, as when we play, we must always be listening - we should be aware of every sound we make and of every facet of those sounds. Absolute silence should be the empty canvas upon which we begin to apply color with the sounds we produce. Do the notes all possess an evenness of tone and are they played with a similar attack? Are they all legato, each note ringing into the next? Am I maintaining a consistent dynamic level throughout? When playing in a group, all this is compounded by the fact that not only must you be aware of every sound you make, but you must also be aware of every sound produced by each of your bandmates, and of course, your relationship to those sounds.

This is a great style, and again requires a really deft right-hand technique. Many of the great funk players such as Jimmy Nolen, Cornell Dupree and Curtis Mayfield have always utilized their right hands to great percussive heights, and this is really what is at the heart of these kinds of runs. The all-important 7th and 9th chord positions will be mostly utilized in this lesson, and a lot of “sliding” of these positions as well will be incorporated.

Thoughts on Rhythm Guitar...

List of rhythm guitarists:

Some Funk Rhythm Guitar:


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