Rhythm primer (part 15): Putting It Together

You did it! You made it through the rhythm primer series. You now know how to hear the basic pulse in music, divide that beat into all the important notes and rests, use ties, dotted rhythms, triplets and different time signatures. You have the tools to read the rhythm for just about anything on this site as well as your favorite sheet music or tab.

So now what? It's time to take a stroll through the strum patterns section. They are divided by time signature, starting with the longest durations and then moving to the quickest. Listen to a few of them and try to learn some of the ones you like the sound of.

Besides learning just a ton of different patterns, it's also important to learn how to change the feel of the patterns to get the most you can out a rhythm. I didn't realize it for the first 8 years of playing, until I started teaching, that I only used about 5 different rhythmic patterns in my strumming. I would vary the tempo, how many strings I struck, whether I played percussive strokes or used palm muting or not and a few other tricks and techniques to vary my sound. It is quite astonishing how much you can pull out of just one rhythm if you know how. But, once I realized that I only was using a small handful of rhythms, I set about figuring out new rhythms and cataloguing all the rhythms I could. That's how this site came about. Now I get to share all that with you. So, check out the tutorial section as I add more lessons on how to use all the different techniques I described above.

Check out this free lesson on how to make up your own rhythms and strum patterns. That way you're not stuck just memorizing a bunch of your patterns but know how to create them yourself. That's what I do now- just make up the rhythm on the fly and vary them as I feel it in the music.

Though it's not necessary for the amateur enthusiast, for the more serious guitarist, you could consider learning how to read traditional music. You're already well on the way. You've learned the scariest looking part, the rhythm. All you have to do is learn how to read pitches on a traditional 5 line musical staff and where to find those notes on the guitar. It doesn't take long to understand, but it does take awhile to get really fluent.

Congratulations again on how much you've learned and on all the hard work it took to get through the rhythm lessons. Keep it up and soon you'll be a solid rhythm guitarist!