a world of music, based on the guitar,
and on visualinear tablature
The Rhythm Guitar Core Catalog (RGCC) is a 12 volume collection of 160 rhythm (chord-based) arrangements for steel string acoustic guitar, most of which require an intermediate level of skill. These arrangements, half of which are in flatpick styles and half of which are in fingerstyles, are accompaniments to guitar ensemble arrangements contained in the Guitar Ensemble Core Catalog (GECC). Of the 190 ensemble arrangements contained in the GECC, 96, or almost exactly half, serve as the basis for rhythm arrangements contained in the RGCC. Of these 96, 48 serve as the basis for two complementary rhythm arrangements, thus resulting in 48 rhythm guitar duets, and 8 serve as the basis for three complementary rhythm arrangements, thus resulting in 8 rhythm guitar trios.
The 160 rhythm guitar arrangements of the RGCC are in effect a continuation of Rhythm Guitar, the Twelvemonth Music manual on rhythmic styles of play on the steel string acoustic guitar. The purpose of these arrangements is to provide a framework for developing rhythmic playing skills on the guitar, and for advancing beyond a beginning/intermediate level of skill. The need for these arrangements is suggested by the fact that despite the tremendous popularity of the guitar and of rhythmic acoustic guitar music, recordings of relatively simple but musically effective rhythm guitar arrangements are somewhat scarce.
Session players and recording artists who accompany themselves on the guitar are usually skilled guitarists, and they often play complicated arrangements that are beyond the reach of beginning and sometimes even intermediate level guitarists. On recordings that do contain relatively simple rhythm guitar arrangements, the rhythm guitar music is often rendered barely audible by the addition of vocals and other instruments to the mix. By way of contrast, the recordings for the arrangements contained in the RGCC are entirely instrumental, and are mixed so as to make the rhythm guitar music as clearly audible as possible.
The scarcity of popular recordings that contain clearly audible beginning/intermediate level rhythm guitar arrangements lends greater importance to the use of written scores, which is the means by which many players advance beyond a beginning level of skill. But staff and TAB, the two most commonly used notational systems for rhythmic guitar music, are both fairly complicated and reasonably difficult to learn, especially for self-taught musicians. This problem is directly addressed in the RGCC by the use of visualinear tablature, which is a far simpler form of notation. Despite the fact that it is much easier to understand and to read than staff or TAB notation, visualinear tablature gives a clear, concise, and completely accurate account of how rhythmic guitar music is played.
The RGCC consists of 6 principal volumes, and 6 secondary volumes that are compilations of arrangements from two or more principal volumes. The first two principal volumes, Noel I and Noel II, contain the 24 Christmas carols from the Noel volume of the GECC, each given in a flatpick arrangement and in a fingerstyle arrangement. The first two secondary volumes are Noel I, II (flatpick), containing the 24 Noel flatpick arrangements, and Noel I, II (fingerstyle), containing the 24 Noel fingerstyle arrangements. These two style-specific volumes are offered for the benefit of those who would like to learn all the carols, but who prefer to specialize in one style of play or the other. A third secondary volume, Noel Duets, contains only the tablature scores for the 48 Noel rhythm arrangements, and can only be ordered in printed and bound book format.
The four other principal volumes of the RGCC are less strictly based on the remaining volumes of the GECC, and also include rhythm arrangements based on a handful of selections from Melody Guitar. The RGCC volumes Children’s Songs and Traditional American Songs each contain 18 selections, 6 of which are given in duet arrangements, and the other 12 of which are given in either a flatpick or a fingerstyle arrangement. The D. L. Stieg II volume contains 16 selections, 8 of which are given in duet arrangements. The other 8 are ensemble rounds for which parallel rhythm guitar rounds are given, thus creating double rounds and, in effect, rhythm guitar trios. The Classical volume contains 20 selections, 4 of which are given in duet arrangements, and the other 16 of which are given in either a flatpick or a fingerstyle arrangement. Two other secondary volumes, Mixed Duets (flatpick) and Mixed Duets (fingerstyle), are compilations of the duet arrangements from the four principal volumes described above. The final secondary volume, Rhythm Guitar Core Catalog, contains only the tablature scores for all of the 160 rhythm arrangements contained in the Catalog, and can only be ordered in printed and bound book format.
The RGCC arrangements are accompaniments to guitar ensemble arrangements contained in the GECC, but on the RGCC recordings, the ensemble arrangements are sounded by other instruments or groups of instruments. The recordings were fashioned in this way to make it easier to hear the rhythm guitar music, thus making the CDs more useful as learning tools. The RGCC CDs are of two basic types, differing with respect to their suitabilty for listening as well as for learning, and with respect to the relative ease with which the rhythm guitar arrangements can be heard. On each of the CDs for the 6 principal volumes, the rhythm guitar arrangement is given on the left channel, and the ensemble arrangement is given on the right channel. The rhythm guitar arrangement is the only guitar music heard on the recording, and the complementary duet arrangements are given on separate tracks one after the other.
Because there are no repeating titles on the two duet CDs (Noel Duets and Mixed Duets), and because two complementary rhythm arrangements create a more complex and more interesting musical texture than a single arrangement, the duet CDs are more suitable for listening than the principal volume CDs. Since both rhythm parts obviously need to be included on the duet CDs, one is given on the left channel, the other is given on the right channel, and the ensemble arrangement is centered. It is therefore a little more difficult to make out the rhythm guitar arrangements on the duet CDs, as compared to the principal volume CDs. The D. L. Stieg II CD is also suitable for listening, because it includes 8 rhythm guitar trios, and because unlike the other principal volume CDs, it includes the duet recordings as well as the individual recordings for the complementary duet arrangements. Of all the RGCC CDs, the Rhythm Sampler CD is arguably the best suited for listening, and it can also serve as an effective vehicle for learning, as described below.
The individual Catalog listings for the 160 arrangements contained in the RGCC are comprised of eight different categories of information. This information has been included so as to make the Catalog more useful by better allowing individuals with a wide range of playing skill to locate arrangements that are best suited to their learning needs. Apart from simplifying the matter of identifying arrangements that are appropriate for specific levels of playing skill, these categories of information facilitate an emphasis on particular styles of play, or on particular meters, or on arrangements that are chord-intensive, or on arrangements that are the least challenging in terms of chording requirements, or on arrangements that require the use of alternate tunings or a capo.
Some of the information contained in the Catalog listings has been included for the benefit of beginning/intermediate and intermediate level players who elect to try to figure out how to play these arrangements solely by listening to the recordings, and without making use of written scores. This is not nearly as daunting a task as it might seem to be, since most of the arrangements are relatively easy to play (or at least do not require advanced playing skills), and since the arrangements are clearly audible on the recordings. In addition, trying to figure out these arrangements from the recordings is a useful and productive activity, since it allows for the development of the same listening and musical reasoning skills that make it possible to figure out rhythm guitar arrangements from popular recordings.
Easily the most important component of the Catalog listing for each arrangement in the RGCC is the audio excerpt, which in most cases gives a fairly complete idea of what the arrangement sounds like. The reference numbers for each arrangement facilitate the option of ordering scores individually, which is an essential component of the Catalog’s usefulness as a learning resource. The next two items of information for each arrangement in the Catalog listing, CAPO and KEY OF PLAY, will prove to be especially useful to those who are figuring out the arrangements from the recordings.
If a capo is used in playing an arrangement, the fret at which the capo must be placed is indicated in the CAPO column by means of a Roman numeral. The KEY OF PLAY indicates the key in which the arrangement is played, disregarding the use of a capo. If a capo is not used, the key of play and the actual key of the music are the same. If a capo is used, the key of play must be transposed upward by the corresponding number of half-steps to determine the actual key of the music. If an alternate tuning is used in playing an arrangement, the key of play is asterisked.
Although most of the arrangements are in simple meter (3 or 4), the meter for each arrangement has been included for the benefit of those who would like to sharpen their rhythmic skills in compound meter (6, 9, or 12). There are four possible styles of play. Flat (flatpick) refers to strummed arrangements that are played with a flatpick. P+S (pick and strum) refers to flatpick arrangements that include individually flatpicked notes. Fstyle (fingerstyle) refers to arrangements that are played by plucking the strings with the thumb and fingers of the playing hand. FP (fingerpick) refers to fingerstyle arrangements that include an alternating bass figure. The FP classification is more inclusive than the commonly accepted definition of fingerpicked music (fingerstyle music characterized by a constant alternating bass, a well-defined melody sounded above, and various other complementary notes). Most of the FP arrangements in the Catalog employ a far less complicated style of play, and therefore provide a good opportunity for developing alternating bass and basic fingerpicking skills.
The chord vocabulary used for the 160 arrangements contained in the Catalog is relatively simple and relatively modest. None of the required chord fingerings is inordinately difficult to make, and no more than 30 or so chord fingerings, not including variants of these chord fingerings, are required to play the entire Catalog. The 18 common chords (A, A7, a, am7, B7, C, C7, D, D7, d, dm7, E, E7, e, em7, F, G, and G7) are used with the greatest frequency, and are referred to in the scores solely by means of their chord symbols. Barre chords are referred to in the scores by the symbol for the chord shape used, followed by a Roman numeral indicating the fret at which the full barre must be made. Only seven basic chord shapes (A7, a, am7, E, E7, e, and em7) are required to form all the barre chords called for in the entire Catalog. Any chord that is neither a common chord nor a barre chord is referred to in the scores by an asterisked chord symbol, with the asterisk indicating that the chord is diagrammed at the bottom of the page of score.
Forming barre chords comes much more easily for some than for others, and many beginning/intermediate level players have not yet mastered this important skill. For their benefit, a simple yes or no regarding whether or not barre chords are required is indicated in the Catalog listing for each arrangement. This information might also prove useful to those who are inclined to concentrate on learning music that requires barre chords. In the CHORDS listing for each arrangement, the first number given is the number of common chords used, and the second number given is the total number of chords used in playing the arrangement. For example, 5 of 7 indicates that of the 7 chords required in playing the arrangement, 5 are common chords.
Determining a level of difficulty for each arrangement is complicated by the fact that different players have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, arrangements calling for the use of barre chords will obviously present great difficulties for anyone who is unable to form barre chords. Similarly, any Fstyle or FP arrangement is likely to present difficulties for anyone whose only playing experience is with a flatpick. Nevertheless, a relatively simple arrangement that happens to require one barre chord is still a relatively simple arrangement, and it is possible to distinguish among levels of difficulty for any particular style of play. A number of other factors (especially the tempo of the music, the difficulty of the chording requirements, and the difficulty of the playing hand patterns) also affect the overall level of difficulty of an arrangement.
An approximate level of difficulty for each arrangement is given on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a beginning level, 2 indicating a beginning/intermediate level, 3 indicating an intermediate level, 4 indicating an intermediate/advanced level, and 5 indicating an advanced level of playing skill required. Although most of the RGCC arrangements require an intermediate level of skill, this is in truth a somewhat broad classification that encompasses several sub-levels of skill and several types of skills. None of the arrangements requires an advanced level of skill, and only a few require an intermediate/advanced level or a beginning level of skill. There is, however, a sufficient number of beginning/intermediate level arrangements to allow for an initial concentration on less challenging pieces by those for whom this would be the best course of action.
The most important and unique ordering option associated with the RGCC allows for the individual purchase, at a very modest cost, of PDF scores for any of the 160 arrangements contained in the Catalog. In the Catalog listings, this option is given by the Add to Cart buttons in the far right column for each individual arrangement. Any PDF scores you order can be downloaded from this website immediately after your purchase transaction is completed. The main component of a PDF score write-up is the visualinear tablature score of the rhythm guitar arrangement, which is an exact note-for-note account of the recorded arrangement. Every PDF score also contains a Chord Chart (a shorthand representation of the music’s harmonic rhythm) and Study Notes. The Study Notes average about two pages in length, and consist of observations about how to play the arrangement most effectively, as well as related observations about the guitar or about music in general.
The PDF score format allows for viewing the Study Notes on your computer monitor, and printing the visualinear tablature score and the Chord Chart. The specifics of this innovative format (including introductions to visualinear tablature, Chord Charts, and Study Notes) are explained in a 10 page PDF document called the Quick Guide, a demonstration version of which is offered below. The chord diagrams for the 18 common chords, which are essential to making use of the RGCC rhythm guitar scores, are not included in this demonstration version of the Quick Guide. They have been omitted for the benefit of readers of Rhythm Guitar, who, as part of the course of study in Rhythm Guitar, will learn how to figure out these and many other chord diagrams for themselves. A complete version of the Quick Guide that includes the 18 common chord diagrams is delivered together with any PDF scores you order. The 18 common chord diagrams are also available on the Downloads page of this website. Also offered below for demonstration purposes are complete PDF score write-ups for the flatpick and fingerstyle arrangements for “America (God Save The Queen)”, the audio tracks for which are included in the Quick Clicks on the Home page of this website.
The RGCC arrangements can also be ordered by the volume in four different formats (PDF score, printed and bound book, CD, and ensemble e-scores). The PDF score format, at only 40 cents per arrangement, is more cost effective than if the arrangements are ordered individually at 60 cents per arrangement. The PDF scores for volumes, like the individual PDF scores, can be downloaded from this website immediately after your purchase transaction is completed. The printed and bound book format, at 80 cents per arrangement, is the least cost effective way to purchase scores. This ordering option is offered for the benefit of those who prefer the book format, and those who prefer not to have to print the scores themselves.
The CDs are not required in order to make use of the RGCC scores. The scores completely describe how each arrangement is played, and the audio excerpts demonstrate what at least part of each arrangement sounds like. Further, after you have learned to play a rhythm arrangement, you can play along with the MIDI soundtrack of the corresponding ensemble arrangement, which is given on the GECC page of this website. The purpose of the 6 principal volume CDs is to allow you to hear the rhythm arrangements in their entirety, and to provide a more interesting practice environment than that afforded by the MIDI soundtracks. It should also be noted that most of the RGCC rhythm arrangements, like the majority of the playing Exercises from Rhythm Guitar, are self-contained musical pieces that can easily support an entirely different melody or musical arrangement.
If you elect to order the Noel Duets volume or any of the four style-specific secondary volumes, you should also consider ordering the corresponding duet CD. If you are not inclined to order scores by the volume, the two duet CDs present an interesting way to make use of this Catalog. Each allows for the review of a great many rhythm guitar arrangements (48, to be exact) in their entirety. The same is true of the D. L. Stieg II CD, which contains 40 rhythm arrangements, and especially true of the Rhythm Sampler CD, which contains 55 rhythm arrangements. After listening to arrangements in their entirety, you can better decide which arrangements you would most like to learn, and then order PDF scores for those arrangements individually. You are certain to find that the development of skills as a rhythm guitarist is most easily accomplished by concentrating your efforts on music you like, and are therefore motivated to learn to play.
All of the RGCC CDs can be ordered in disc format, and the discs can be played either with the Media Player of your computer, or with your stereo or CD player. The Noel Duets, Mixed Duets, D. L. Stieg II, and Rhythm Sampler CDs can also be ordered in download format. The downloads consist of a .zip file containing MP3s for each of the CD tracks. The playlists for the four downloadable CDs can be obtained on the Downloads page of this website. If you elect to order any of the downloadable CDs, be sure to specify your preferred ordering format.
You can learn and practice the RGCC rhythm arrangements without making use of the CDs by playing along with the corresponding ensemble e-scores. Since the speed of the e-score playback can be changed at will without affecting the key of the music, you can slow the tempo while you are learning a piece, which is the single most important technique for learning new music. You can also easily modify the sound of the e-score playback, and in so doing imitate the sound of a variety of instruments, which is essentially how the RGCC CDs were made. You can even learn to play the various ensemble parts, and in so doing sharpen your melodic playing skills as well as your understanding of the ensemble arrangement. An ordering option for the corresponding ensemble e-scores has been provided for each volume of the RGCC. If you elect to order rhythm scores individually, the corresponding ensemble e-scores can be ordered on the GECC page of this website. Like the PDFs and downloadable CDs, e-scores, whether ordered individually or by the volume, can be downloaded from this website immediately after your purchase transaction is completed.
There are five other important ordering options at the very bottom of the Catalog listings. The two ordering options for the Rhythm Sampler CD are accompanied by an ordering option for the PDF scores for the 55 Rhythm Sampler rhythm arrangements, and an ordering option for the e-scores for the 24 corresponding ensemble arrangements. The final ordering option is for a printed and bound book containing visualinear tablature scores (but not Chord Charts and Study Notes) for the entire Rhythm Guitar Core Catalog. By purchasing this book you can put the entire Cataog at your disposal, and you can take full advantage of the available resources on this website. You can hear how at least part of each arrangement sounds by listening to the audio excerpts on this page. If you decide that a review of the Chord Chart and Study Notes for a particular arrangement that you’re working on would be helpful, you can order the PDF score for that arrangement individually. And after learning an arrangement, you can play along with the MIDI soundtrack of the corresponding ensemble arrangement given on the Guitar Ensemble Core Catalog page.
The audio excerpts from the 9 RGCC CDs (the six principal volume CDs, and the Noel Duets, Mixed Duets, and Rhythm Sampler CDs) will allow you to determine which arrangements appeal the most to you personally. The various categories of information included in the Catalog listings will allow you to determine which arrangements are best suited to your individual learning needs. These categories of information will also allow you to decide whether you would be better served by ordering arrangements individually or by the volume. In browsing the Catalog, you will likely discover that there are observable tendencies in the categories of information for individual volumes. These tendencies should be taken into consideration before deciding how best to go about ordering arrangements.
For example, the capo is used much more extensively for the arrangements contained in the Noel volumes than in any of the other volumes. You might therefore want to consider ordering one of the Noel volumes if you want to focus your efforts on learning how the use of a capo affects the sound and the playing feel of the guitar. Similarly, the D. L. Stieg II volume contains the greatest concentration of arrangements for which an alternate tuning must be used, so you might want to consider ordering this volume if you are mainly interested in learning to play in alternate tunings. A complete volume by volume analysis of each of the categories of information in the Catalog listing is provided below for the benefit of those who might want to avail themselves of the information it contains.
The Rhythm Guitar Core Catalog Index contains 712 references to individual arrangements that are distributed over 52 categories of information. More than half of the categories (31) refer to specific playing techniques, and the remainder refer to general musical topics (11), types of chords (7), and alternate tunings (3). For seven of the categories, since there are a great many entries, the Index shows the distribution by volume. For a number of categories, however, there are only a handful of entries, thus making the Index an effective tool for locating arrangements requiring specific playing techniques, specific types of chords, or alternate tunings. If you elect to order scores individually, you would do well to print the Index, and to refer to it while you are browsing the Catalog. This will increase the likelihood of your selecting arrangements that are best suited to your individual learning needs.
You can advance the Catalog to a particular section by clicking on one of the links provided below. You can read the Introduction to any of the the various collections of arrangements contained in the Catalog by clicking on the corresponding title in red in the Catalog listings. You can review audio excerpts from the Noel Duets, Mixed Duets, and Rhythm Sampler CDs by clicking on the audio icons beside the corresponding section titles in red in the Catalog listings.
- Noel I
- Noel II
- Noel (duets)
- Children’s Songs
- Traditional American Songs
- D. L. Stieg II
- Mixed Duets
- Rhythm Sampler