a world of music, based on the guitar,
and on visualinear tablature
- About Rhythm Guitar
- Rhythm Guitar : Table of Contents
- Rhythm Guitar : the playing Exercises
The most commonly understood meaning of the term rhythm guitar is a member of a rock band who plays the chords on which the music is based, usually by strumming the guitar in a rhythmic pattern. Rhythm guitar is also commonly understood to mean the music played by a rhythm guitarist. In the context of the visualinear tablature guitar series, the meaning of the term rhythm guitar is considerably different, and has only a marginal connection with rock music. It is therefore of some importance to define exactly what is meant by the term rhythm guitar, since this definition is the basis of the rhythm guitar component of the series.
As demonstrated in Melody Guitar and the Guitar Ensemble Core Catalog, the guitar can be used to play monophonic (one note at a time) music. But the guitar is first and foremost an instrument of chords, and it is best suited to playing chord-based music that is more self-sufficient and more complete sounding than a melody or a monophonic part in an ensemble arrangement. This is the main appeal of the guitar among aspiring musicians – that it can be used to play satisfying and self-sufficient music by oneself. This is obviously an important consideration for anyone who do not have the advantage of being able to play music together with others in an ensemble, and only a relatively few people enjoy such an advantage.
In the context of the visualinear tablature guitar series, rhythm guitar refers to any guitar music, or any style of play on the guitar, that is based on chords, and is more self-sufficient and complete sounding than a melody or a monophonic part in an ensemble arrangement. A guitar chord is a specific combination of fretted and/or open (unfretted) notes. Together with melody, chords are the basis of all music, at least in the Western world, and chords create a context in which a melody makes musical sense. Polyphonic instruments like the guitar or the piano are capable of producing more complete sounding music than monophonic instruments because they can be used to play chords as well as melodies.
Another important component of the definition of rhythm guitar, again in the context of the visualinear tablature guitar series, is the fact that the two basic styles of play are given equal emphasis. Rhythm guitar music can be played either by striking the strings with a flatpick, or by plucking the strings with the thumb and fingers of the playing hand. Most rhythmic styles of play on the guitar employ one or the other of these two basic styles of play (flatpick or fingerstyle). An equal emphasis on the two basic styles of play allows for the development of a broader range of skills as a rhythm guitarist. This in turn allows for the crafting of effective rhythm guitar arrangements for a wider variety of musical settings.
Rhythm guitar arrangements are typically played as an accompaniment to singing or in combination with other instruments, but seldom as solo pieces. Nevertheless, a well-crafted rhythm guitar arrangement should make sense musically regardless of the context in which it is played, and should be able to stand alone as a complete sounding piece of music. This is an important common feature of every arrangement included in the rhythm guitar component of the visualinear tablature guitar series. All of the arrangements have a musical sense about them, however simple at times, and they are more than an exactly repeating pattern of play applied to a progression of chords. This does not necessarily mean, and it is important for beginners in particular to take note of this, that musically sensible arrangements are any more difficult to play than strictly formulated arrangements.
In theory at least, any piece of guitar music can be played on any type of guitar. In practice, however, classical and flamenco guitar music is normally played on a nylon string acoustic guitar, and rock and jazz guitar music is normally played on an electric guitar. Most other styles of guitar music (including folk, contemporary acoustic, blues, popular, country, traditional, and bluegrass) are normally played on a steel string acoustic guitar. Of the three types of guitars, the steel string guitar is best suited to playing music in a wide variety of styles, and in either of the two basic styles of play. All of the music contained in the visualinear tablature guitar series, and especially the rhythm guitar music, is written for, and meant to be played on, the steel string acoustic guitar.
The unparalleled and unquestioned popularity of the guitar is a direct result of the fact that there are a great many well-known and widely admired styles of play. In the context of the visualinear tablature guitar series, rhythm guitar refers to any and all of these diverse styles of play, since elements from a wide variety of styles were drawn upon in fashioning the rhythm arrangements. The diversity of styles of play thus developed is intended to serve as a general introduction to numerous more specific styles of play, and to allow for the development of a well-rounded understanding of, and skill at playing, rhythm guitar music. While it is true that a great many styles of music are touched upon in the rhythm guitar component of the visualinear tablature guitar series, there is a predominant emphasis on the folk and classical musical genres, and the rock guitar and jazz guitar genres are barely touched upon, primarily because they are based for the most part on the electric guitar.
In conclusion, then, in the context of the visualinear tablature guitar series, rhythm guitar refers to styles of play on the steel string acoustic guitar (either flatpick styles or fingerstyles) that are based on chords, that draw upon elements from a wide variety of musical styles and genres, and that allow for the creation of sensible and self-sufficient music. Rhythm guitar also refers to the music produced by any of these diverse styles of play.
About Rhythm Guitar
Rhythm Guitar is the manual for the rhythm guitar component of the visualinear tablature guitar series. The main purpose of Rhythm Guitar is to provide a carefully developed course of study for learning to play the steel string acoustic guitar in a musical fashion and in rhythmic (chord-based) styles of play. An important secondary purpose of this book is to allow for the development of familiarity with rhythmic visualinear tablature. This in turn allows for access to the opportunities for learning given by the many volumes of rhythm guitar music that follow. Another important secondary purpose of Rhythm Guitar is to provide a well-balanced approach to learning to play rhythmic guitar music that includes discussions of numerous topics in music theory, chord theory, music analysis, and musical practice and performance. This integrated approach to learning is designed to allow for the development of general competence and self-sufficiency as a rhythm guitarist.
Since no prior knowledge or playing experience is assumed, Rhythm Guitar is suitable for complete beginners in the study of music and/or in the study of the guitar. The course of study in this book consists mainly of four related subject areas : music theory, chord theory, flatpick technique, and fingerstyle technique. These subject areas are introduced in turn in the first four chapters of Rhythm Guitar, and then developed more or less simultaneously in the fifth through ninth chapters. The tenth chapter is mainly devoted to a consideration of alternate tunings for the guitar.
The music theory and chord theory content in Rhythm Guitar is reinforced by means of a number of written exercises. Most of the playing techniques discussed in this book are demonstrated in the playing Exercises, an eclectic collection of rhythmic guitar music in a variety of styles. The mastery of these playing Exercises will allow readers to attain a solid intermediate level of skill as a rhythm guitarist. Rhythm Guitar also includes a parallel learning track that is based on applying basic patterns of play to simple chord progressions. This parallel track, quite apart from the playing Exercises, allows readers to advance at their own pace in the development of playing skills.
Although it includes a significant amount of music theory content, Rhythm Guitar is first and foremost a practical guide to learning to play rhythm guitar music effectively and musically. The assumption has been made that musicianship (musical ability and awareness) is not an innate talent possessed by a relatively few people, but rather consists of skills and knowledge that can be learned by practically anyone. Rhythm Guitar contains numerous detailed descriptions of useful techniques for learning to play the guitar in chord-based styles with rhythmic correctness and in a musical fashion. Since nothing is assumed and since everything is clearly explained, this book is well-suited for self-instruction.
It is true that only a relatively few people become or ever have aspirations of becoming a professional musician. But practically everyone enjoys listening to music, and people generally enjoy and benefit from learning to play music as well. The goal of becoming a competent rhythm guitarist is a very worthwhile goal that is shared by a great many people. The easy-to-follow course of study developed in Rhythm Guitar, and the simplicity of visualinear tablature, make the attainment of this goal possible for anyone willing to devote the required time and effort.
The two following headings on this page (Rhythm Guitar : Table of Contents, and Rhythm Guitar : the playing Exercises) include more than enough detail and free content to allow for an informed choice regarding the Ordering Options with which this page concludes. Be sure to take note of the fact that the three links at the top of the Table of Contents will allow you to read the Foreword, the Introduction, and the Index. The Index in particular should prove useful to those who already have some playing skills, and who want to quickly determine if there is sufficient content in Rhythm Guitar to warrant their interest. This is so because it lists in a condensed fashion the broad range of topics and terms that are explained and defined in Rhythm Guitar.
Rhythm Guitar : Table of Contents
Eastern music and Western music 1 equal temperament 2 the 88 key piano keyboard 2 the octave 3 the division of the octave 3 the natural notes 5 accidentals and enharmonic notes 5 Exercise 1 7 families of instruments 8 range and register 9 bass and treble 9 the open notes of the guitar 10 fretted notes on the guitar 10 the fretboard diagram 11 Exercise 2 11 the formal name for an interval 11 the minor 3rd and the Major 3rd 12 tertian harmony and triads 13 spelling triads 14 Exercise 3 14
tuning the guitar 15 relative tuning 16 guitar chords 17 chord diagrams 17 constructing chord diagrams 18 chord fingerings 19 chord symbols 20 Exercise 4 21 fretting considerations 22 the partial barre 23 chord progressions 25 Major and minor keys 25 the tonic chord 26 the Perfect 4th and the Perfect 5th 26 the three chord group 27 chord progression in d 28 meter 29 the 12-bar blues progression 29 Exercise 5 31
the use of chord progressions in this study 32 the use of Exercises in this study 33 rasgueado and punteado 34 strumming the guitar 35 the flatpick 36 the basic downstrum 37 the arc-in 37 meter and rhythm in visualinear tablature 38 metric rhythm 39 developing patterns of strumming 40 the playing Exercises 42 Exercise 6 43 the basic upstrum 44 the arc-out 44 touch with a flatpick 45 strumming patterns 45 playing strummed music musically 47 Exercise 7 48
practicing effectively 49 developing rhythmic correctness 50 the metronome 52 introduction to fingerstyle technique 53 the playing hand anchor 54 the fingernails of the playing hand 54 four finger picking 55 arpeggiated fingerstyle 56 fingerstyle in visualinear tablature 56 Exercise 8 58 cut time and double time 60 three finger picking 61 Exercise 9 62 playing the progressions in fingerstyle 64 fingerpicks 64 hybrid picking 66
the metric beat and patterns of rhythm 67 syncopation and accents 67 the C and G progressions 69 relative Major and minor 70 parallel Major and minor 70 the Medieval cadence 71 common chords and common keys 72 creating and expanding chord progressions 73 legato strumming 75 damping strings 75 damped strums 76 arpeggiated strums 79 bass note strum style 79 Exercise 10 81 patterned fingerstyle 83 Exercise 11 84 the duration of notes in fingerstyle 86 vibrato 87 touch in fingerstyle 88
repeat signs 90 quartering the beat 90 compound meter 91 the theory of 7th chords 92 Exercise 12 94 added note chords 95 the C-1(3), G-2(3), and G7-2(3) chords 97 the F(5) chord 97 the g(6) chord and internal damping 98 the B7 and B chords 99 the E and e chord groups 101 quartering the beat while strumming 102 pick and strum style 104 string and fret notation 105 the hammer-on and the pull-off 105 Exercise 13 107 the talking blues progression 109 the open chord 110 the bend 110 Exercise 14 111 the pinch 114 other multiple note techniques in fingerstyle 115 Exercise 15 116 practicing fingerstyle patterns and strumming patterns 118
the pick-up 120 suspended chords 121 Exercise 16 122 the F(6) chord and thumbing 122 chords above a bass note 123 making chord transitions efficiently 123 strumming in compound meter 124 Exercise 17 128 alternate pick and strum style 130 backpicked notes 132 flatpicked damped and staccato notes 132 multiple flatpicked notes 133 the slide 133 Exercise 18 134 incomplete and inverted chords in fingerstyle 136 syncopated fingerstyle 137 damped notes and muted notes in fingerstyle 137 Exercise 19 138 rolls in fingerstyle 140 florid fingerstyle 141 Exercise 20 142
song form 145 reading song scores 146 9th chords 148 Exercise 21 149 the theory of barre chords 149 important barre chords 151 common chords and common keys 152 muted strums 153 non-chord notes in strums 155 implied melody in strumming 156 Exercise 22 156 alternating bass 159 Exercise 23 164 Travis picking 166
Exercise 24 167
a review of rhythmic considerations 170 triplets 171 duplets 173 Augmented chords 174 chord charts 177 another blues progression 179 diminished chords 181 the capo 185 transposition with a capo 186 transposing chord progressions 187 fashioning rhythm guitar duets 189 5th chords 190 modal chords 192 hammering-on and pulling-off while strumming 193 hammered chords 196 advanced strumming technique and notation 197 Exercise 25 198 fingerpicking 202 Exercise 26 203
scordatura 207 D standard tuning 207 low D tuning 209 Exercise 27 210 D pedal tuning 212 Exercise 28 213 D modal tuning 215 D5 tuning 216 Exercise 29 216 open tunings 218 Exercise 30 220 chording in open tunings 222 harmonics 223 half-open tunings 225 experimenting with tunings 225 naming chords devised by means of experimentation 226 figuring out song accompaniments from recordings 227
Index and Pronunciation Guide 246
Rhythm Guitar : the playing Exercises
The playing Exercises demonstrate most of the playing techniques discussed in Rhythm Guitar, and comprise a small catalog of reasonably simple but musically satisfying rhythm guitar pieces. The CD for these Exercises serves an important purpose by ensuring the reader’s correct understanding of the description of those techniques. The CD track excerpts provided below serve another important purpose by allowing for a quick review of this music by prospective readers of Rhythm Guitar.
But the most important purpose served by the CD for the playing Exercises is given by its usefulness as an aid in learning to play the music. The rhythm guitar arrangement is given on the left channel, and a complementary musical arrangement is given on the right channel. Since the balance of the two channels can be adjusted rather easily on most stereos, the CD can be used in a number of ways to make practice more interesting, more enjoyable, and more productive. The most obvious use of the CD would be to favor the rhythm guitar channel while you are learning a piece, and then to eliminate it altogether after you have perfected playing the piece. Achieving the goal of substituting your own playing for the music on the rhythm guitar channel, and playing along with the complementary arrangement, can produce considerable enjoyment, encouragement, and satisfaction.
The playing Exercises are given below, and in Rhythm Guitar, in approximate order of increasing difficulty. Exercises 27, 28, and 29, however, are somewhat easier to play than many of the Exercises by which they are preceded. Beginners should not be discouraged by the fact that a number of these Exercises obviously require a solid intermediate level of skill. Although much of the content of Rhythm Guitar may be of use and of interest to more experienced players, the course of study is nevertheless appropriate for complete beginners, since no prior musical knowledge or playing skill is assumed.
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