Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers questions from off of his Guitar Blog website.
Q). I'm currently working on my rhythm guitar skills with a focus on the smooth guitar rhythms played in the early Motown classics. I'm mainly focused right now on the music of Marvin Gaye. His hits like, "What's Going On," and "Mercy, Mercy Me," have a really smooth sound. Can you demo some of these Motown rhythms, as well as, show a few of the most common chords? Isaac - Syracuse, NY. USA
A). When it comes to the early Motown sound, there's no denying that it has a very laid-back rhythm guitar approach. In this lesson, I'll break down the most popular types of grooves that you'll find on these early Motown recordings. I'll discuss the various rhythmic duration's found in the guitar parts, we'll look at some of the most common chord patterns, and I'll run through a few practice grooves that you can study at home that should help you to develop this very laid-back style of rhythm guitar.
The sound of early Motown rhythm guitar was generally played on electric guitar using a clean channel amp with light reverb and little to no other obvious effects. The rhythmic durations used could range from simple quarter-notes and half-notes, to more complex sixteenth-note patterns. The examples and practice grooves in this lesson will help to get you started, but in order to really get a good handle on this style it will be necessary to both listen and transcribe several pieces from this era of music.
Work slowly on developing the more complex sixteenth-note rhythmic grooves. If the rhythm pattern seems too complex for you, clap and count the phrase until you can hear it clearly in your mind. Then, take it to the guitar for further development. The most important factor is listening to the music in this genre. Learning a dozen or so songs from this era will really help you develop the style in the long run!
About the Author: Andrew Wasson is a 1992 Graduate of Hollywood California's Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.). He has operated his Canadian Music School; Creative Guitar Studio, for the last 20+ years... teaching thousands of guitarists both in studio sessions, and through his popular YouTube Channels and websites. Hundreds of FREE lessons are available at www.andrewwasson.com.