“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton
You could replace the word happiness with music and the quote would still make sense. After all, music and happiness go really well together!
People in the UK regularly attend concerts and festivals.
But what would music be without rhythm?
The guitarist without rhythm is like a cyclist without a bike.
So why is rhythm so important when you’re learning how to play the guitar?
If you look up “rhythm”, you’ll find the following definition:
“a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound.”
When it comes to music, the definition is even clearer:
“the systematic arrangement of musical sounds, principally according to duration and periodical stress.”
You can learn to have a sense of rhythm. (Source: ElisaRiva)
Regardless of whether you’re playing an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, or an electro-acoustic guitar, you need to understand rhythm in order to be a good musician.
Music isn’t just a series of notes being played by an instrument. For these notes to make sense, they need to be played with a certain rhythm and a certain tempo.
You’ll need to have a good understanding of the beats. Rhythm is an aspect of timing. In music, timing is key.
Rhythm is even more important when strumming a chord. Throughout your guitar lessons and your career as a guitar player, you’ll come across various rhythms, strumming patterns, and ways of playing rhythm guitar.
There are a few things that you need to know about rhythm:
These are the main concepts that make up what rhythm is. Understanding these concepts will help you to better understand certain rhythms and produce them, especially if you don’t have a good sense of rhythm.
For those that have an innate sense of rhythm, studying the theory behind rhythm can help you to better compose and play music.
Whether you’re playing rock, pop, funk, jazz, or any other type of music, the rhythm is just as important as the notes being played.
Working on your rhythm can really improve your guitar playing. (Source: harutmovsisyan)
Without rhythm, the notes the notes from a jazz song wouldn’t even sound remotely jazzy. The rhythm is what makes the people want to dance, sing, or listen to a certain piece of music again and again.
It’s the rhythm that breathes life into a piece of music. Even classical music, which doesn’t tend to have a regular drumbeat, relies on rhythm. One of the biggest problems facing beginners is their lack of rhythm.
When you first start playing the guitar, you often want to play songs and skip over the fundamental theory behind them. We often think of rhythm in the same way we do music theory, difficult to learn and not necessary. Big mistake.
There are three main parts to playing the guitar:
If you don’t get all these three correct, you run the risk of picking up some bad habits and not progressing as quickly as you’d like to.
If you focus on the notes and chords without working on your rhythm, you’ll still sound awful.
Put simply, music is 50% notes and 50% rhythm. Only learning half of this won’t be enough to make you a good guitarist.
You’ll never be able to master tapping if you have no understanding of rhythm. Similarly, it’ll almost impossible to play with other musicians or get better as a band without any sense of rhythm.
To be fair, rhythm makes up half of the music. If you can master rhythm, it’ll make you a much more natural guitarist.
You can always get a little help from your friends. (Source: LaughingRaven)
Rhythm is a way to better express yourself musically.
Bit by bit, understanding rhythm will allow any guitarist to:
Having a solid understanding of rhythm will save you time when learning how to play the guitar and certain guitar techniques.
Once you’ve got a good understanding of rhythm, it’ll be easier to understand scales, harmonics, arpeggios, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll also have to study all those other things as well, but a good grounding in rhythm won’t hurt. With a good theoretical grounding, it’ll be much easier to learn and assimilate new concepts.
Everybody’s different in terms of rhythm.
Playing in a group can help you improve but is also a lot of work. (Source: _cbudd)
Some people have an innate sense of rhythm and seem to take to music like a duck to water. However, don’t worry if this isn’t you. You can learn to develop a sense of rhythm.
Rhythm is just as much nature as it is nurture. You can grow up surrounded by rhythm. Generally, the children of musicians will have a better sense of rhythm because they’ll have grown up hearing musical instruments and will have seen their parents playing them. However, as we said, rhythm isn’t necessarily innate.
If you want to develop a sense of rhythm, you need to regularly work on it in the same way you would any other skill. As you’ll have probably understood, developing rhythm starts with listening.
The first step is to listen to the rhythm.
“But I listen to music all the time and I’ve still got no sense of rhythm.”
You have to really listen. Listening carefully will help you improve your rhythm. Each time you listen to music, try and work out the tempo. Next, you’ll have to listen for the time signature.
While it isn’t innate, rhythm is an instinct and you can feel it through your entire body. There are different ways to work on it:
If you’re finding it hard to strum or just play guitar in general, consider learning how to play guitar with the help of a private tutor. Playing guitar is always more fun with someone else and a guitar teacher is arguably the best person to help you with all aspects of playing the guitar.
Whether you need help fretting, understanding chord progressions, writing good licks, fingerpicking, playing tricky barre chords, or just choosing a new guitar, a tailored guitar course from your own personal tutor is the best way to learn how to play guitar.
Check out different rhythms on the guitar.
If you can’t afford as many private guitar tutorials as you’d like, don’t forget there are free guitar lessons for beginners available online and tutorials on how to read tablature (commonly known as tabs) and sheet music as well!