The Subdivision Game: Rhythm and Strumming Basics

Rapidly improve your understanding and rhythm ability on the guitar.

Ultimate Guitar
Whenever you listen to or play music, get in the groove. This means soaking up all elements of rhythm on daily basis. It's really useful to be able to count out loud and get thinking in "time."

Listen to the radio or your favourite songs and count the quarter note beats: 1, 2, 3, 4. Then keep counting the beats and add the "ands" (eighth notes). Then, while keeping count add the "e and a" (sixteenth notes).

There are lots of different types of rhythm out there in western music such as the ones stated above plus other more advanced types such as dotted rhythm and triplets. For the majority of music out there quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes cover so much ground and so many strumming patterns like you wouldn't believe.

If you want to be a good guitarist, you will definitely need to have a solid understanding of whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes as an absolute minimum especially before you think about the more advanced rhythms.

You may even want to start being one of those annoying people who tap out the beats to songs whenever they hear them on the radio, or just sit there creating your own beats.

Either way, it's great practice for your guitar playing without you even having a guitar nearby!

Every time you tap out a beat you will be fine tuning your rhythm skills and what is strumming - rhythm applied to the guitar. Let's have a little recap...
  • Whole note = 1 bar - There are 1 x whole note per bar
  • Half note = 1/2 bar - There are 2 x whole notes per bar
  • Quarter note = 1 beat - There are 4 x quarter notes per bar
  • Eighth note = 1/2 a beat - There are 8 x eighth notes per bar
  • Sixteenth note = 1/4 of a beat - There are 16 x sixteenth notes per bar
The more the above 5 subdivisions make sense to you, the better your sense of rhythm will be.

Play along with me in the videos and aim to get as fluent as possible switching between these subdivisions.

Once you are really comfortable switching between them, you will find that creating your own strumming patterns from scratch will be far more effortless.

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4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Always wise to keep the fundamentals sharp. Never knew there is 2 tone metronome available.