Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turn The Beat Around

Turning the beat around, or Rhythmic Displacement is an excellent way to spice up your rhythm guitar playing. Here is a simple illustration of what it is, and how you can practice turning a simple beat around.

This example is a basic country two-beat. In the pickup bar, we have the typical 'bomp bomp bomp' country music pickup notes. They are a means of signifying the end of a musical phrase, or the beginning of the next musical phrase. You can also signify the end of a phrase with more funk by using rhythmic displacement.

The first full line is a four bar phrase. Three bars of A, followed by one of E. The rhythm played in the bass is identical in every bar. As you play it, simply notice how the change to an E chord punctuates the end of the four bar phrase.

In the last bar of the second line, the bass note on beat three is displaced an eighth note early, and placed on the 'and' of beat two. This leaves you a rest, or 'empty beat' on beat three. In India they call this empty beat the Khali. Practice this phrase over and over until you can play it smoothly. Enjoy how the rhythmic 'balance' gets upset by the new rhythm, but don't lose your balance:

Now we aren't only using harmony to punctuate the phrase, we are using rhythm. Funky!

The third full line, measures 9-12, are the same rhythm as the last line, however the low E is sustained through beat three. Still funky, but it feels a little different without that empty beat on three. Try it:

Finally, as a contrast, and for those of you who are uncomfortable with the funk, here's the four bar phrase with the typical country pickup notes rounding out the last bar. No funk whatsoever:

Now go on and get funky!
Advancing Guitar Lessons:
Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun
for Beginners and Beyond

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Jam Class, Mother Funker!!!

One of the things I do in addition to private guitar lessons in Washington, D.C., is a rock band class for adults called 'Jam Class'.

Students bring out their electric guitars to the Mid-Life-Crisis Center and rock out together. We rehearse classic rock material in a studio with amps, drums, and a P.A.

Rock on!

This class is specifically for adult students who are tired of playing rock band video games and want to actually play rock music in an ensemble setting.

As it takes place well after bedtime on school nights, I was going to call it 'Adult Jam Class'. I was hoping for the 'Adult Swim' connotation, however, I started getting too many emails with unsavory pictures attached. So, now I'm just calling it 'Jam Class', Mother Funker.

Here are the tunes we've rehearsed in Jam Class this fall or are planning to rehearse in the next few weeks:

Born Under A Bad Sign - Albert King
Cry Cry Cry - Johnny Cash
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Cat Stevens via Sheryl Crow
Have Love, Will Travel - Richard Berry, via the Black Keys
Hideaway - Freddie King
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Looking Out My Back Door - CCR
Louie, Louie - Richard Berry
Mind Your Own Business - Hank Williams
Mississippi - Bob Dylan
Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
She Took A Lot of Pills (And Died) - Robbie Fulks
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
(They Call It) Stormy Monday - T-Bone Walker
You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

Drop me an email if you'd like to check out a Jam Class sometime and learn how to Jam! Make sure and ask me to sing the 'Jam Class' jingle for you. It's a doozie!
Advancing Guitar Lessons:
Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun
for Beginners and Beyond

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Jam Class and Lesson Rates

DC Guitar's Jam Class offers top notch group and private guitar, bass, songwriting and music theory lessons for the Washington, DC Community.

Please email for current lesson rates.

Be sure to ask about Jam Class, too.