Pattern Obsession and Music Weaving

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Learning Rhythms

Two-Note Patterns

Three-Note Patterns

Four-Note Patterns

Five-Note Patterns

Six-Note Patterns

Seven-Note Patterns

Eight-Note Patterns

Higher Note Patterns

Polyrhythms

Three Against Four

Five-Note Polyrhythms

Inconsistent Rhythms

Accents

Rhythm Conclusion

 

Learning Rhythms

 

These exercises break rhythmic groups into their individual parts. No indication of time signature, half notes, quarter notes, or the nomenclature associated with rhythm are important right now. Those come later once the basic rhythms are internalized.

 

Begin with a rhythmic group containing only one note. With only one note available, the only options are to play the note (/) or not play it (x).

 

Start with the not playing option. Set a metronome to a moderate tempo, around 80 beats per minute (bpm). Concentrate on the click, with eyes close, until the beat becomes internalized.

 

Then practice playing in time with the click. Start with a muted string and play along with the metronome on a down stroke only. If 80 bpm is too fast, slow the metronome down until the click matches exactly. When the synchronization is perfect, the click and the muted string merge into one sound. Do not move on until every beat is perfectly aligned.

 

After the beats are aligned, play a note on the guitar instead of the muted string. Feel free to change notes occasionally, but remember that this is a rhythmic exercise, so do not drift off into scales or other patterns. Concentrate on the rhythmic accuracy.

 

Once single notes are in sync, try strumming a chord, again just with a down stroke.  Begin with your favorite chord, or G. Chords are more difficult to synchronize because strumming through the strings takes time. Experiment with when the strumming should take place. Do you prefer the click to align with the lowest string being picked and the rest a little later than the beat? Or do you prefer starting the chord a little early so that the last note rings on the click? Or is a Goldilocks position in the middle what feels right to you? Whether you play right on the beat, just after the beat, or before is going to depend on your style and what other musicians you play with like. Being consistent is the goal.

 

Two-Note Patterns

A two-note pattern is applicable to 2/4 time or as a division of a quarter note into eighth notes, depending on context.

Four possible combinations exist. The first is both notes not played

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When using a metronome with adjustable parameters, set the metronome to 2/4 time or to play eighth notes. Close your eyes and listen to the beat for a while.

The next pattern to explore is both notes played.

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This pattern is similar to the one note exercise, but play the pattern with alternating down and up strokes, down-up. Repeat as before, with muted string, single note, and strumming chords. Do not move to the next level until the click matches the note exactly.

The next pattern is a note followed by a rest,

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The note should be a down stroke and the rest should be muted with no sound. Either lift the string to mute the sound or use a palm mute for open strings. The muted sound occurs exactly on the beat so that the amount of silence is exactly the same amount of time as the amount of sound.

The final pattern is offbeat.

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Playing off beats is a great way to thin out the mix and make your playing stand out.

 

Once each rhythmic pattern is clean, play them in a sequence

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Repeat the sequence until all patterns are natural, on beat, and relaxed.

 

Next, choose one of the patterns and weave it into the main pattern in an alternating fashion.

 

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This helps work that particular pattern.

 

Repeat weaves for other patterns

 

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Then practice all the combinations of two patterns

 

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Then weave these two pattern groups into the main pattern.

 

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Repeat for three patterns

 

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Three patterns with weaves becomes too large for this document. Find it in the supporting table. However, this many notes in a weave is too much, so a three-pattern weave is best left as an intellectual exercise.

 

The four-pattern table is the initial set in all different permutations without repetition.

 

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Each of these could be its own weave. Instead of weaving such a large group, the final exercise is these patterns together in all combinations, but allowing repetition.

 

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Three-Note Patterns

 

Three notes lead to eight possible patterns

 

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Begin with the bank pattern, as always.

 

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Set the metronome to 3/4 time, or 3/8 if they are available. Listen to the click pattern until it becomes part of you.

 

Next, work the one-note patterns. The downbeat pattern

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Is essentially the same as in previous incarnations, but practice three different ways. First, as written, with the string muted for beats two and three. Next, let the note ring for two counts, then mute for the third.

 

The next one note pattern is the swing offbeat pattern.

 

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This pattern works best with all up stokes on the pick. Again, practice this both with a short note and letting it ring through either two or three counts. This is a great rhythm for blues playing. Listen to “Pride and Joy “by Stevie Ray Vaughn for music that utilizes accented swung off beats.

 

The final one note version, the triplet slapback, is quite difficult.

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For two note versions start with swung eighth notes.

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This pattern is the basis for much of the jazz and blues repertoire. Spend a lot of time here, both with a ringing first note and then muted in the middle.

 

The next rhythm is a downbeat with a slapback then rest.

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The final two note pattern is popular in polka music.

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Play it with an up-down picking pattern.

 

Finally, the full pattern.

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Unfortunately, this pattern needs to have a down-up-down picking pattern that repeats. down-up-down down-up-down down-up-down … The triplets work great on their own with a pure alternating pattern, but when mixed with other rhythms, using a consistent down-up-down pattern avoids problems later.

 

The basic three note full pattern is

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Weaving in one of the patterns each time yields these combinations.

 

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