Rhythm Primer (part 7): Sixteenth notes
Congrats on making it this far in the rhythm primer tutorial series. I hope your rhythm guitar technique has been improving. Earlier, we learned about eighth notes, which were notes worth half a beat. Today we're going to get things going a little faster. If you take an eighth note and divide it in half you get a 16th note. So, since there are two 8th notes in a beat that makes four 16th notes in a beat. The first picture to the left is a single 16th note. Notice it looks almost the same as an eighth note but, it has two flags instead of one. Just like eighth notes, 16th notes can be beamed together. Since we try to group notes visually into a single beat, you can also beam four 16th notes together.
When counting out a single measure of 16th notes, we say 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a. The & in each of the beats when counting 16th notes happens at the same time as the & when counting out 8th notes. Here's an example with two measures of 16th notes for you to listen to, so you get the feel of them. When playing 16th notes you will want to alternate using down and upstrokes.
Besides just playing four 16th notes, you can break up a single beat by mixing and matching an 8th note along with two 16th notes. There are three ways this can happen.
First one, is one 8th and two 16ths like this:
The second way is two 16ths and then one eighth like this:
The final way is one 16th, one eighth, then one 16th like this:
Now let's give these a try. I have included the pick strokes for you to use. The arrows pointing down are for downstrokes (pick down towards the floor) and the arrows pointing up are upstrokes (pick up towards the ceiling). Here's a few exercises for you try your hand at:
Description: Exercise 1 using sixteenth notes
Description: Exercise 2 using sixteenth notes
Description: Exercise 3 using sixteenth notes
Description: Exercise 4 using sixteenth notes
That just about wraps up using sixteenth notes. From here you could divide 16th notes in half to make 32nd notes. These would have three flags to them. Then you could divide those in half and add another flag and keep it going forever. 32nd notes are just about the quickest notes you will run into (I think I've seen 64ths once in my life and never 128ths). But, in theory you could just keep dividing.
Now that you've made it this far, you're ready for the first two lessons in the Solid Rhythm Series. In the second tutorial of that series there are some excellent exercises to improve your ability to move between the different note divisions we've learned so far. Of course, you should also continue on here in the primer series.
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