In my last article I wrote about Rhythmic Displacement - the often overlooked technique of shifting a groove and giving the listener a sense of rhythmic dissonance or of the groove being out of time. Last time I focused only on eighth note rhythms in 4/4 time. This time I'm going to use combinations of eighth and sixteenth notes and there will be shifts that I hadn't discussed in the last article. Again, don't stop with just using these combinations.
Experiment with your own ideas and see where they take you!
The guitar is in Drop D Tuning.
Example 1 is our main riff. The main riff is a two measure riff which is going to make for some very interesting sounds once we start shifting things around. I've also added Sixteenth notes on Beat 4 in Measure 1 to spice things up a little.
In Example 2 the riff has been shifted to start on the & of Beat 1 in Measure 3. The amount of dissonance is slight but as we work through the riff, the sense of being out of time or slightly off becomes greater, because in Measure 4 the riff is also shifted and goes over the bar to resolve on Beat 1 of Measure 5.
Let's combine the two riffs now.
Combo Riff 1 starts with the main riff starting on Beat 1 of Measure 6. At Measure 8, Example 2 is added and the riff shifts to now start on the & of Beat 1. The riff resolves itself nicely with the addition of Example 1 added at Measure 10.
If you look a little closer at the shifter riff (Measure 8-9) you will notice that unlike Example 2, the riff does not go over the bar and resolves at the end of the second measure. Up until this point, the riffs have been shifted out to land in the next measure. In this example however, the last eighth note has been changed to a sixteenth note which allows this riff and also the following riff to resolve. There's no rule saying that once you've shifted a riff you can't also change a portion of the same riff and resolve it earlier.
Example 2 shows the riff shifted to start on Beat 2 of Measure 12 and just like Example 1, the riff is going to go over the bar of Measure 13 and end on Beat 1 of Measure 14.
Now, let's combine Example 2 with our main riff!
In this example, I started with the Example 2 and combined it with Example 1. Example 1 picks up on the & of Beat 2 in Measure 17 and resolves itself at the end of Measure 18. Once again the last eighth note of Example 1 has been shifted to a sixteenth note so that the riff won't also go over the bar. Example 1 resolves itself and allows for the main riff to come in on Beat 1 of Measure 19, giving the sense that everything has gone "back to normal."
In my last article I didn't include examples of songs that have rhythmic displacement, so let's get into some now!
Examples of songs that use Rhythmic Displacement:
"Head Together" - Big Wreck
The Displacement occurs during the main riff starting @ 0:46. It also continues on during the first verse. For comparison, listen to the chorus and the second verse. Notice that the end of the riff is changed slightly in order to resolve itself.
"Can't Get This Stuff No More" - Van Halen
Bonus points on this one as EVH not only uses Rhythmic Displacement but he does so in odd time. The displacement occurs during the riff at the end of the song starting at 4:12.
"Black Dog" - Led Zeppelin
The displacement happens during the riff between verses, starting @ 0:42.
Have fun with these examples!
Catch ya next time...
By Byron Marks