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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Changing Chords in Rhythm - Exercise 1

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Bluegrass Guitar

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Flatpick Guitar with Bryan Sutton. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Bluegrass Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
It's
been said a lot that country music is
three chords and the truth, and
there's a lot of truth to that.
So, in Bluegrass, similar thing.
A lot of songs just have three chords.
And so in our studies of,of learning these
chord shapes and learning how to,
how to strum, strum with these chords,
we're gonna start sort of isolating
how these songs, how these Bluegrass songs
are built from a rhythm guitar standpoint.
It's very important that, as, as Bluegrass
players, we build a sense of where these
chords, how they fall, what they look
like, what they feel like, how they sound.
As Bluegrass rhythm guitar players, you
wanna support a band,
essentially the Bluegrass guitar in a, in
a rhythm aspect, rhythm,
rhythmically speaking is, is one of the
key elements, you know, it's at least
as important as any, you know, the banjo
role, or the melody, or the lead singer.
Rhythm guitar, you can't stress its
importance too much.
So what I've got here, as far as, you
know, learning about this stuff and
beginning these sort of ideas of playing
bluegrass, are some, some patterns here,
exercises that we're gonna put together,
and that of all these chord shapes and
what we've got, we've talked about the
boom chuck being in a bar,
its a one, two, a bar of four beats.
One, two, three, four, and then two, two,
three, four.
We're gonna have eight bar patterns.
It's basically the same four bars twice
or, you know, the same four bars.
However many times you want to play them
actually.
But the basic concept in a, you know,
looking at say, a song is in the key of G.
What you're gonna find, it's gonna be, you
know,
a song in G with three chords in Bluegrass
is going to have G, C, and D.
That's just kind of, one of the, sort of,
standard idea about this kind of,
about this kind of exercise.
So, getting our, our, getting our boom
chuck on here.
[MUSIC]
Kind of get that going.
So the way this exercise is built is each,
each chord change is gonna receive a bar
worth of time.
And so what this is gonna build, and we
talked about moving the chords back and
forth, this is gonna give your hands, you
know, again, sort of, and
the concept of building muscle memory,
we're going to try to, you know,
put all this in a pattern and just run the
pattern.
It's just a simple, simple exercise,
hopefully, that, that will build this,
this kind of muscle memory.
So here in the key of G is three chords,
G, C, and E.
[MUSIC]
That's a fairly medium tempo if you're
still getting used to those chord shapes
and your,
your, your left hand is strengthening,
which at this point most, you know,
if you started from the beginning with,
with me,
your left hand is still developing, and so
you may want to do this slower.
[MUSIC]
All
the pick strokes are down strokes here.
[MUSIC]
There's a rest stroke.
[MUSIC]
This
experiment with different ways to play it.
But again you want to think about each
chord receiving its,
you know, full note value.
[MUSIC]
The guitar really needs to ring here.
[MUSIC]
If you use the rest stroke on the, on the,
on the root notes of the chords, it'll
define,
define the downbeats a little stronger.
[MUSIC]
Which is important when
you're playing Bluegrass, you know,
Bluegrass rhythm obviously defines a lot
of the drive of the song.
So that's important to be able to, to work
on those strong downbeats.
[MUSIC]
And, you know, a way to as, you know,
work through that a way to make it harder
is just speed it up.
[MUSIC]
The shift from D to G is, is, is more,
is more work on your left hand.
So that's, that's you may find some
resistance there.
[MUSIC]
But
again, we talked, we've talked about
stress so much left hand technique.
You know, you don't want to move your
hands all over the place just
to get forward.
You want, you want to keep working to
where your fingers do,
do most of the work.
[MUSIC]
So,
we're gonna move on to some other keys.
[MUSIC]