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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Intermediate Rhythm Exercise

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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]
We're
gonna move on with a concept that we just
brought up the last lesson.
And again just to cover quickly within a
four note bar.
One, two, three, four.
Downbeats and upstrokes.
Or downbeats and upbeats.
One, two, three, four.
And the way they apply to bluegrass, I've
got a couple little exercises here
that I think at this point, intermediate
flatpickers and, and
rhythm players for bluegrass should be
able to to get through.
And I showed you out of our, out of our G
form of, in a strum like that-
[MUSIC]
To play, the alternate bass note of B.
[MUSIC]
And then C.
And if we go to D, the exercise is gonna
work its way back to G with a walk.
[MUSIC]
And, and so that,
well, I'll demonstrate that.
One other little thing to, to discuss we
talked about in like from a C form or F.
The alternate bass thing that's, that's
the next thing.
The, or the first thing I brought up and
one thing to point out quickly with that
as far as the right hand is concerned when
you're doing that-
[MUSIC]
Moving that note around.
[MUSIC]
I should point
out specifically that when I play the
lower note, you know,
the the the boom chuck pattern dictates
that we're playing the bass note and
then strum and then when we go to the
lower G, G note, the fifth there.
We're still strumming from the fourth
string down, it's the basic goal
the fifth string because I've picked my
finger up off that note and moving it.
And when we talked about how you know, my
goal is to make those bass notes big and
clear so-
[MUSIC]
At that,
that point the fifth string doesn't even
come into play.
[MUSIC]
It's essentially muted with the,
with the ring finger.
[MUSIC]
It's the same thing when you're playing G.
The alternate bass and the one and the
five concept.
[MUSIC]
Is, is D, the, the fifth in, in G is,
is the note D.
And we've got that open D there.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
And
usually on, on rhythm guitar, it's, it's
sort of the bass note and higher.
So even though the bass note that, at that
point, is the open fourth string,
in the middle of the guitar, we're not
going to-
[MUSIC]
You know, the,
the effect of the sound is to have, and we
use this other bluegrass voicing here.
[MUSIC]
So it's,
it's basically the, the the beat three of
the bar.
The, the next down downbeat.
[MUSIC]
So that, that's that's how all that works.
And so the exercise that I have works
through at 70
beats a minute is where I want you to
start this.
And we're going to work through the
chords.
And here it is at 70 beats a minute.
[SOUND]
And again.
[MUSIC]
You can start with this form,
you can start with this form.
And play a little bit before you go in,
and here's the exercise,
I'll show it to you.
[MUSIC]
One more time.
So that's, that's,
that's at, working out of G.
And we've got one, four, five, G, C, D.
But we're connecting, basically all the
elements of,
of solid bluegrass rhythm, are at play
now.
We've got a basic boom-chuck kind of
pattern we're leading the chords,
and, and when we get back we, we get back
home to the final G.
[MUSIC]
We're gonna throw in one
alternate bass thing.
We're gonna move this exercise into the
key of C now and
basic same exercise as far as the
relationships of the chords.
And I'll show what 70 beats a minutes.
And here's what a metronome sounds like.
[SOUND] Play a little rhythm.
Feel comfortable her's, her's the
exercise.
[MUSIC]
You know, just to go through that one
slowly.
We play in the third.
It's the, it's the third beat, the E.
[MUSIC]
Same thing on the F.
[MUSIC]
And our actual,
our bass note at this point is actually
the second fret of the G string.
But in interest of consistent big rhythm
sound-
[MUSIC]
You can hear how, and
this is what's important about a lot of
bluegrass rhythm is how, just like with,
with, bluegrass banjo, how just the backup
is sort of its own little study.
And it creates a sense of you know,
urgency to some of the phrases and, and
bluegrass backup banjo and fills and
things like that.
This is the way, and, and bluegrass
rhythm, to kind of create pictures of,
of what the, of what the, you know, the
groove feels like and sounds like,
and, and how to, how, again, the concept
is that you lead into chords.
And so-
[MUSIC]
And, and I'm
just using a thirds of, of each-
[MUSIC]
Of chords to, to lead to the next thing.
[MUSIC]
And
that F sets up because one of the neat
things about
that even though were calling it a bass
note or downbeat is that high up-
[MUSIC]
It sets up for the G really nicely.
[MUSIC]
And then walking back into the C.
[MUSIC]
And back to alternate bass patterns, so
there's, there's a lot of information
there.
But, you know, watch me, I can, you can,
you know,
review those exercises as I show them.
And 70 beats a minute is where I'm
choosing to play em and
I think that's a good solid tempo that an
intermediate player ought to be able to,
to get through that exercise three or four
times.
At that beats per minute, you may start a
little slower, but remember always, you
know, jump into exercises like this after,
you know, play a few bars of rhythm.
And you know, count yourself in and try
to,
try to enter these things as loosely as
possible.
So good luck with that.
[MUSIC]