Saturday, 23 March 2013

Confession #10 - Learn the 'Folk' Rhythm!

The 'folk' rhythm is a very common rhythm pattern in music.  It is used as a strumming pattern in hundreds of songs (e.g. The Eagles 'Best of my Love').  It is used as a rhythm pattern in melodies (e.g. the descending scale pattern on the B string in The Cure's 'Just Like Heaven').  It is used across many genres of music.

This is one rhythm pattern you need to have in your arsenal of guitar skills!


At its most basic, the pattern goes like this (using an open G chord):

The D's and U's under the TAB stand for Downstroke and Upstroke.

Some beginner guitar books suggest that you count a continuous 1/8 note pattern like this "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &", but only hit the strings with your pick on the appropriate beats.  I call BS on this!

If you are counting "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &", then you are making a different rhythm pattern with your voice than the one that you are tying to play with your right hand!  This will only cause confusion.

At some point, you'll want to separate your strumming hand from your voice so that you can sing and play, but now is not the time for that (I'll cover singing and playing in a future confession).

What you count should be the same as what you are trying to play, like this:

    1      2    &   (3)    &    4
    Ooone  Two  annnnnnnd  and  Foooour

To be clear, your right hand will be moving up and down in a continuous 1/8 note pattern.  It has to if you are to play this rhythm pattern.  But don't focus on this.  Focus on the rhythm you want to hear.


There are a few variations that can be made by adding in some extra eight notes, like this:

Variation 1

Variation 1 would be counted like this:

    1      2    &   (3)    &    4     &
    Ooone  Two  annnnnnnd  and  Four  and

Variation 2

Variation 2 would be counted like this:

    1    &    2    &   (3)    &    4     &
    One  and  Two  annnnnnnd  and  Four  and

Variation 3

The Eagles 'Tequila Sunrise' takes it one step further and adds in a couple of 16th notes, like this:

Variation 3 would be counted like this:

    1    &    uh  2    &   (3)    &    4     &
    One  and  uh  Two  annnnnnnd  and  Four  and

Note that in all the previous examples, we were strictly using downstrokes on beats 1, 2, and 4, and upstrokes on the 'ands' of each beat.

Variation 3 requires you two adjust your approach.  The strum on the 'and' of beat one is a downstroke!  It will take some getting used to, but it is doable with practice.

Master the previous 3 examples before trying this one.

Next Week's Confession - Learn Root 6 Barre Chords!

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