Babysteps - The Beginners Guide To Guitar. Part 2

author: guitar-guy01 date: 05/12/2009 category: for beginners
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Hey there, hi there, ho there. It's me, JP (or whichever nickname you chose last time), again. In this lesson I am going to be teaching you about the basics of rhythm and showing you a basic rhythm pattern. Rhythm is absolutely essential in music. Like I mentioned in the previous lesson, before you can be a good lead guitarist, you have to be a great rhythm guitarist. And lets face it boys and girls, without some sort of rhythm, music would just sound weird. In this lesson I am going to show you a basic rhythm pattern, introduce you to Standard music notation and I'm also going to teach you a song using this rhythm pattern. Yes that's right..You are gonna learn you first song! This is a basic rhythm pattern and is very easy to learn:
|    TOP            DOWN   UP  /   TOP           DOWN   UP   |
     1       &      2      &       3      &      4      &   
N.B | is the symbol I am using to show the end of a bar and / is what I am using to show the half bar. So what does the above rhythm mean?. The "TOP" means you hit the top string of the chord..i.e the thickest string of that chord. For an E major this would be the 6th string(thickest string). For an A major chord this would be the 5th string (2nd thickest string). Quite simply the DOWN means you strum downwards all the strings in the chord that you are playing i.e. with an E major chord you would play all 6 strings while an A major chord doesn't use the sixth string (the thickest one) so you would leave that string out and just play the other 5 strings. And now for the UP part. This means quite simply that you strum back up. This means going from the thinnest string of the chord to the thickest string of the chord. In this rhythm pattern, when you hit the "TOP" it lasts for the same length as the "DOWN" and "UP" added together. The "TOP" last for one quarter of a bar while an individual "DOWN" lasts for an eighth of a bar. So when you add a "DOWN" and an "UP" you get a quarter of a bar. Next up Standard notation. This is how music was wrote down centuries ago and is still used today greatly and it is very useful to be able to sightread. I wont go into too much detail about it this lesson but i'll jus show you the different note lengths that are used in our rhythm pattern If this image shows, it will be showin a crotchet, if not then put this link into your address bar on another tab to see what it looks like. A crotchet lasts for a quarter of bar. So a crotchet is the same as the "TOP" in our rhythm pattern This is a quaver note, this lasts an eight of a bar. This means that it lasts half as long as the crotchet note. It is the same as the "DOWN" strum of our rhythm pattern and also the "UP" strum. Also when two quavers are beside each other, like in our rhythm pattern, then they are wrote like this So our rhythm pattern is |Crotchet quaver quaver / Crotchet quaver quaver| Following me so far? Good! So let's put this into practice. Step 1: Single Chord Using the rhythm pattern play the E min chord over and over again until you are comfortable with the rhythm. It should look like this:
E Minor

  1     &     2     &         
 TOP         DOWN   UP  
|-------------0-----0---|    This should be kept at a constant pace.
Step 2: Multiple Chords Now that you're comfortable with playing a single chord to that rhythm, it's time you learnt how to play multiple chords together with the rhythm. Lucky gor you guys, I'm a fun lovin guy and think that guitar playin should be fun. So instead of jus giving you progressions within a key to practise..with no musical outcome, instead I am going to teach you a song to make it less boring (I can hear the excitement). The song is Soft Cell's Tainted Love and it uses the chords Emin, Gmaj, Emaj, Amin, Cmaj and B7. So just in case you are a complete beginner and don't know what these chords look like (even though they were in the last lesson) here they are in TAB
 Em   Gmaj  Dmaj  Amin  Cmaj   B7
If you are unfamiliar with these chords play them a while to get used to them before attempting the song. And now for the song. The song follows the rhythm pattern we learned earlier in the lesson. So here's the verse layout:

 Em                Gmaj             Cmaj               B7
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |
This is played 10 times. Practise this a lot before trying the prechorus. Start slowly as it can be difficult to change from G to C then to B7 And now the chorus.

Emaj                                Gmaj              
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |

Cmaj                                Amin
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |

Amin               B7
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |
Again practise slowly first. Play at a speed comfortable to you. Notice how the Amin lasts for a bar and a half. And now the Chorus.

 Em                Gmaj             Cmaj               B7
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |
This is played twice in the first chorus. The 2nd verse chord progression is played 8 times. Then the pre-chorus is played again, followed by the chorus progression, which is played 20 times then the song is finished. And that is your first song. Strengthening Alright, I thought this lesson was goin very well, so I'm just going to give you some tips on how to strengthen your fingers so that you can play for longer, which will prove useful when playing the song. They'll also help you to change chords faster and also build calluses on your fingers. Calluses dull the pain of chords on your fingers, you'll eventually get to the point where it doesn't even remotely hurt to play chords or riffs, which I think you'll find is very very useful. Alright, take the first chord of the song, Em, and strum it continuously for a minute or two, if you're just beginning do it for a minute per chord. You don't have to use the rhythm pattern for this but it would be good if you did as then you're killing two birds with one stone. It would be getting you used to the rhythm pattern of the song so that it comes naturally. When the minute is up without stopping, I repeat and cannot stress this enough, without stopping switch to Gmaj. Do this for a minute then switch to Cmaj. Work your way through the entire song, then if you're still going strong and are up for the challenge go through the rest of the chords that you know. Hold out for as long as you can. When you can't do it for any longer, stop, take a break (maybe get a glass of water, just don't hold it with your fretting hand you might drop it and then you would have to clean it up....which doesnt add to your rockstar image to be honest!). Now let's work on speed in chord changing. Strum the Em a couple of times then switch straight to Gmaj as fast as you can, strum some more then onto Cmaj as fast as possible. Go through all your chords. These may seem boring but they are worth it in the long run. Keep practising and you should see a quick improvement. To avoid limiting your chord changing abilities, try making up some of your own chord progressions using the chords that you know. This is creative and helps you improve at the same time.
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