Hello there, my fellow guitar players over 40! Learning to play an instrument can be a daunting task, but fear not, for I am here to guide you through the six most common rhythms you'll come across in your guitar journey.
Before we start, let's quickly go over some music theory. Rhythm refers to the timing and duration of notes and rests in a piece of music. Each note has a corresponding duration, and they are typically represented with different shapes: whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes. Rests, on the other hand, indicate periods of silence.
Without further ado, here are the six most common rhythms you'll encounter:
Rhythm Guitar Made Easy: The 6 Most Common Rhythms Every Adult Beginner Guitarist Should Know
1. Whole Note: The whole note is the longest note in Western music, lasting for four beats. It's represented by an empty circle. To play this on your guitar grab a chord and strum it once while counting from one to four.
2. Half Note: The half note is half the duration of a whole note and lasts for two beats. It's represented by a filled-in circle. Again grab a chord strum once and go out loud 1, 2, then silence the sound of the chord.
3. Quarter Note: The quarter note is one-quarter the duration of a whole note and lasts for one beat. It's represented by a filled-in circle with a stem. This is best demonstrated as four down strums in a row. When you are counting 1- 4 and you are strumming every beat, this is also what is referred to as the pulse of the song.
4. Eighth Note: The eighth note is half the duration of a quarter note and lasts for half a beat. It's represented by a filled-in circle with a stem and a flag. Most rock, pop and blues songs are founded on eighth-note rhythms. Even though you do play a single eighth note at times, you are more likely to find them in pairs or groups of four over 2 beats. When they are played in pairs or groups you will see the notes connected together at the top of the note with a horizontal line and with no flags.
5. Triplets: Triplets are three notes of equal duration that are played in the space of two notes of the same duration. The most common triplets are eighth-note triplets (played over 1 beat or quarter note) and quarter-note triplets (plated over 2 quarter notes). They're represented by a small "3" above or below the notes.
6. Sixteenth Note: The sixteenth note is half the duration of an eighth note and lasts for a quarter of a beat. It's represented by a filled-in circle with a stem and two flags. Again you will play them individually, however, you will mainly play them in groups of 4. Over the duration of one beat. When you see them in groups they do not have flags but two horizontal lines at the top of the stems.
Now that we've covered the six most common rhythms, it's time to put them into practice. The key to mastering these rhythms is to practice them slowly and gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable.
To get started, play a single chord, using each of these rhythms. Set up your metronome or drum machine at around 60-70 bpm. Start with whole notes and work your way down to sixteenth notes. Once you've mastered these rhythms, you'll be well on your way to becoming a proficient guitar player.
It is even better to practice these rhythms with no chords and simply work on them with muted strings. So you get a chuck, chuck sound. This way you can focus entirely on getting the rhythms into your psyche and not have your ear coloured with the notes that you hear when you strum a chord.
Remember, learning to play an instrument takes time and practice. Don't get discouraged if you don't master these rhythms right away. Just keep practicing and have fun with it!
I hope this post has been helpful in your guitar journey. Keep on strumming, my friends!