Can you learn rhythm?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by W.L.Weller, May 6, 2021.

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  1. W.L.Weller

    W.L.Weller Tele-Holic

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    Basically the title, is it possible. If so, what's worked for you? Lots of technical aspects of my playing have been improving, but the rhythmic part absolutely isn't. Whether we're talking about basic beats per minute stuff, or accents and "feel".

    I'd love to hear about something that's worked for you.
     
  2. Misty Mountain

    Misty Mountain Tele-Meister

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    There are a bunch of apps that help you read rhythm by clapping or tapping. I use one to help me and it has improved my ability to read and play rhythms:

    I think you can as I believe it is a learned skill.
     
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  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    So I'm a rhythm junkie and love/ crave/ need some funky back beat or other interesting beats.
    I love Tool stuff in odd times but cannot just play those times from memory, can't count off 11/4.
    I also played drums for some years and have a kit in the garage but don't play any more.

    My problem is either alone or with a band where I can't hear well, I lost my place in time, or speed up then notice I'm out of sync with the music. IF, I can hear well I'm pretty solid and do interesting rhythmic stuff.
    But I don't have a good built in metronome.

    As far as learning what's not already there?
    I certainly learned improvement and variety, but even as a kid I was very time conscious when I sang all my favorite tunes like The Band, The Platters, Otis Redding, some Country pop etc; I revered time.
    Singing songs where the vocal paused for some beats, many or most non musicians do not count off the time between lyrics, while i always did from a young age. Probably not well but it was there as a value or an understanding.
     
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  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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  5. johnny k

    johnny k Poster Extraordinaire

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    I suck at rhythm. Can't play a funk song. Can't play slow. Absolutely no feeling. I still have fun.;)

    I did some progress since i first played and didn't even know i had to play in rhythm.
     
  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Absolutely!
    Find a circumstance where you can play rhythm.
    Maybe a Grateful Dead tribute band.
    You be Bobby Weir.
    Play some Stones, Keef and Ronnie both play great rhythm.
    Play rhythm guitar for a bluegrass/country fiddler.
    Three chord stuff like Boil The Cabbage.
    Use a metronome, set it to a slowish tempo, and play along changing chords every four beats.
    This stuff worked for me.
    I’m a proud, and ahem, good/solid rhythm player.
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
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  7. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    I am fully convinced that some people cannot process rhythm. And some people can do it very well. You can always spot the one in the crowd who can't clap along with the tune. Likewise we've all seen babies who nod their heads to the pattern of birds or outside noises.

    I do think you can improve your sense of rhythm by utilizing metronomes or similar, even having ticking clocks in the house can help although that is my nightmare.
     
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  8. buster poser

    buster poser Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    No earth-shattering advice here, but for timing, I would suggest playing along to a metronome, to records, and with other folks. Those are what worked for me.

    Technique-wise, I'd start simple, pick up techniques as you play along with those records, and watch YouTube vids. Tomo Fujita is great, Cody Wong too (though I haven't watched many of his instructional/tips vids).

     
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  9. medic_90

    medic_90 TDPRI Member

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    Lots and lots and lots of Jazz Cabbage and Spotify premium. ;)
     
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I think most of us learned rhythm first strumming cowboy chords to the songs of the day. It came naturally to some of us. Others struggled. There are threads here about metronomes, drummers, bass lines, and other ways of keeping time. But how does one learn it?

    I think you have to be born with it. You can’t learn to manipulate what you can’t sense. Just as you’ll never play in tune if you’re tone deaf. So talent plays a big part.

    Assuming you’re talented enough, there is a way to get better at playing rhythm. Go back to the beginning, when you were strumming cowboy chords to songs you and your friends liked. Strum along to recordings. Then make a major break from what you’ve been doing with a band. Play SOLO. Alone. You and your guitar. You’ll have to sing the melody and keep everything in time without a drummer or bassist. Learn finger style. Now you’ll be adding a simple bass line and flourishes and you’ll need to keep all that in time with the vocal. Next ditch the metronome. Music is much more interesting when you can hold onto a note or insert a pregnant pause. When you go back to playing with a band, you’ll have a much more highly developed sense of time and your rhythm playing will be better whether you favor rhythm or lead.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
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  11. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Learning how to play a basic fingerstyle pattern was the one thing that helped me more than any other. But playing with a metronome is a close second.
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Grateful Ape

    Grateful Ape Tele-Afflicted

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    Use a metronome to install a sense of metronomic time. Do this every day for a few mins.

    Listen to music you know has a strong rhythmic side. Go by artist, not genre. Listen to how they play with the beat - anticipating it, stretching it.

    Get Allen Slutsky's 'James Brown Rhythm Section' book and develop an obsessive love of Mr Brown. Ditto The Meters. Play along. It will take time to play it as it is, not 'how you think it is.'

    Review all practice materials but from an added rhythmic emphasis.

    Keep at it. I definitely believe you can massively improve your time feel.
     
  13. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    ED205554-6B15-496D-8A09-879775C58AB5.jpeg

    Navin did,you just have to find the right tunes

    57FC3C54-58EA-4B62-A829-708371D889B9.jpeg

    I’m more of a you have it or you don’t type guy
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  14. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    Great advice here all around.

    I'll add:

    * Practice and play with other guitar players, bassists, and drummers. All that you can.
    You get better at rhythm when you are working with humans, and real drums.
    Metronomes are good, but working with other players is paramount in the process of building your chops.
    Because you get human feedback and on the spot critique.

    That said,
    * Embrace the notion of swing.
    That ebb and flow in the timing of the verse leading toward the chorus,
    the pregnant pause before the solo,
    and the stuttering stagger toward the grand finish.
    Swing.
    It's a thing.

    That's all I got.
    I'm gonna shut up now.

    :(
     
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  15. Otis Fine

    Otis Fine Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Find a song you like the rhythm guitar part in and try to play along. Over and over. Then find another one. That’s what I did and now look at me.
     
  16. BuckSatan

    BuckSatan Tele-Meister

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    I've been practicing counting out loud with my child while he practices drums, sometime practicing alongside him on another drum. It's helped my guitar rhythm and vocal phrasing noticeably in a rather short time. We do this both with and without a metronome.

    I tend to count while practicing scales and strength exercises too. It's a great habit which bears fruit over time. Turns out all my band directors were right: count out loud, sing the line you're playing.
     
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  17. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    My personal opinion is that some people are just born with "rhythm", and others won't have it if their lives depend on it......but many can improve. And the answer is the same as almost everything music related.....PRACTICE. Practice doesn't always mean going over something a couple of dozen times......it means several hundreds of times. This past year, since I wasn't able to play out, I "amused" myself by sitting down and learning a bunch of stuff NOT in my "wheelhouse". YouTube is a "God-send" for me......there were songs I learned in the morning, and then played twenty-thirty times a day for weeks.....until they became second nature. Rhythm can encompass strum patterns, tempos, time signatures, and syncopation. (and probably more) The more you do it, the easier (and more automatic) it becomes.
    It's called "wood-shedding". ;)
     
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  18. W.L.Weller

    W.L.Weller Tele-Holic

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    Dude if listening worked, I'd be Elvin Jones.
     
  19. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Meister

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    Thats probably the best thing you could do for your rhythm. And its not even on the guitar. I have to count playing my midi drums or I get lost or turned around. Counting helps you learn to internalize the rhythm. I dont always count but I always internalize the rhythm and try to get a good rhythmic feel going.
     
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  20. control voltage

    control voltage TDPRI Member

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    Like several others have said, playing with a metronome is helpful, especially one that can play different time signatures and subdivisions, like the inexpensive Korg MA-30.

    Many people don't like the DigiTech Trio+ pedal, but I have found it to be very helpful, and more fun to play with than a click. The Trio+ can be a simple looper, or it can "listen" to a chord progression you play, and provide bass and drum accompaniment in different styles. It's good rhythm training just learning to play consistently enough for the pedal to interpret your input the way you want it to. It's a little expensive, though, and some people can't stand the bass lines, especially. For practice, I think it's useful.

    Playing drums is very helpful, too, but may not be for everyone. The more I do it, the easier I find it to be to make sense of rhythms in music I hear.

    Counting and singing the line is very good advice:

     
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