Why Your Guitar Rhythms Sound BORING

Why Your Guitar Rhythms Sound BORING (And How To FIX Them)

Tommaso Zillio

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creative guitar rhythm

What separates good songwriters and composers from mediocre ones?

Great lyrics? Maybe - I am a sucker for good lyrics - but what about people who write instrumental music?

Great chord progressions? Again, maybe… but there’s plenty of excellent music that uses two basic chords out there.

Great melodies? Once again, maybe. We are getting closer, though!

No, here’s the element that good songwriters have mastered (or at least started to master):

Creating great rhythms

Coming up with interesting rhythms can be one of the most difficult things about writing good music, and so many people get hung up on it and end up with music that sounds stale or boring.

And the pity is that just a little bit of extra care about the rhythm can take a song to a much higher level. And this without changing lyrics, chords, or melodies.

Luckily for you, I have an extra-long video about this topic that gives you lots of ways to come up with new rhythms…

… and many of the things I’ll show you might be things you have heard a bazillion times in songs, but you just didn’t realize what was happening…

… but after watching this video, you’ll notice them and use them for your music:

And, as we said above, another equally important part of coming up with good rhythm parts is understanding chords inside and out.

If you want to understand everything there is to know about chords on the guitar, check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course.

Video Transcription

Hello internet so nice to see you! Today I want to talk about how to be creative with rhythm. Now it’s a big topic. And if you notice this video is gonna be slightly longer than usual. But come on YouTube, do you really think we can get some reactivity going in less than 10 minutes?

No, this is going to be a long video because there’s a lot to talk about. And we are going to see a number of things and ideas to make your rhythm parts much more creative. And there’s going to be some playing too. So follow along, grab your guitar, take notes, this is these kinds of videos, take notes. And let’s see how to be creative with your rhythm.

I have always been quite interested in what you can do, arranging songs for guitar and voice. So when you’ve got one person, what are all the resources that you can use when you’re arranging? So what can you do that might make your arrangements more interesting?

And so I started out somewhat by trial and error singing over riffs. And then just riffs that were repeating. And, you know, tell me a little bit of time to get used to doing that. So things like it was making. You know, whatever. Yep. So and then, like, it’s nothing. Sure.

And then I was like, Well, can I sing over arpeggios? So then I actually formed a thing, and I suppose to 20 where I was doing that? Yes. And so then, so basically, my question is what this is things I’ve just tried out slightly randomly, and then I’ve spent a long time trying to do them. Is there a better way than that? To discover the interesting?

Okay, there is a better way to discover Do you know, a better way, there’s a better, there’s a better way to discover the interesting rhythm stuff. Okay, cool. There is not a better way to be able to play it. Okay. Okay. Sit down and figure it out. Okay, meaning they’re gonna have the score in front of you need to find out how to play these read them.

And since these other read them at the same time, which is the tough part, okay. Which I will not do, because I cannot see any word, anything. Okay. So, but there is a way. For instance, there’s more than one way that that’s the thing is like, how much time do we have? So, let’s start from this, you have a melody. Okay.

Any melody, the melody is a rhythm profile, okay, meaning what happens if I strip away all the information about pitch and the just leave the attack of every note? Okay? Some melody at this point is becoming fairly boring, because they are just like seven quarters. And then one quarter to brief at the end of the two bar. Makes sense. I call them them.

The Beatles melodies. Make sense? You see what I mean? Many, many ballots have these seven syllables, seven notes. And the last note of the eight beats, you just take a breath, and then you start again, this melody, we’re going to have problems working with them in this sense, but if the melody is a little bit more interesting, so there are some eighth notes here and there are something more interesting, then we can do something that works really well.

For the rhythm guitar. Okay, so you did this, I’m gonna explain this in theory, then maybe if you have an analogy or two, we can try these. Okay, okay. You’ve right, just the rhythm information of the melody. Okay. And let’s say your melody is too bad long, it could be more, it could be less, I don’t care.

Okay. But let’s say it’s too bad, just for the sake of example. Okay, so you take the rhythm of the first bar and the rhythm of the second bar. You exchange them. And then you write an accompaniment the respect is new rhythm. flashbacks to your rhythm. Mirrors.

Yes, yes. I know. I mean, this procedure, when I every time I explain it, I myself, I’m thinking this is silly. It will never work.

It’s just most people don’t do things in a most informal composition doesn’t occur in a kind of planned way. And thereby all these possibilities remain unexplored. But there’s this thing, it doesn’t have to be planned that there is that you have a melody, you just split it into typically in the middle.

It doesn’t have to be this that interesting thing. Invert those two parts and use this new rhythm to create the accompaniment part. Okay. And the thing is, once I started doing that by myself, I started realizing in how many songs this is happening, okay. And it’s all over the classic jazz era.

30s, 40s It’s all over those. It’s all over Modern music. It’s just some some of those people know this and they’re doing it. Okay. Well, I was thinking it was will being really original. Okay. First of all, he surprised me how well it works. But then again, it’s surprising that I’ve heard these. Okay.

But I think that we, our brains are just so wired for pattern recognition that there’s a pleasing. We don’t consciously recognize it exhibit, there’s an aspect in which there’s a similarity slash difference that’s intrinsically satisfying.

Exactly. That’s exactly what’s happening. The thing is, again, you can split this rhythm in the middle, but you can also split it up evenly. So if you have like an eight beats, you can split five and then three. And so this way, all the accent gets moved around, but still, your brain will recognize that one way or another. Okay, you can do more complex thing, you can split them flip one partner, so play the retrograde and then flip them. Do you have any melody as an example?

Okay. Actually, there’s one before I do a melody, but in terms of your point about simple melodies, and you know, the kind of Beatles melody at the start, there’s one thing that I think about that, in terms of arranging is that that leaves a lot of space for more elaborate parts. So if you think about the house of the rising sun like you could play a more elaborate guitar.

So in a way, they might not work for what you’re suggesting, but they can have some you can you could because there’s a lot of space the notes are slow. So then it gives us a note summary fast annual playing a fast guitar part. Not only would that be technically very difficult, but it would sound a bit crap because the better than that, because it has the rising sun notes and not all eighth notes.

Yeah, they are. There is I think what you’re seeing right now that if I just take those that the prereading profile and adjust flip it or do something it’s still not enough, let’s say house rises on them because it’s new son lots of it’s pretty, it’s okay. It’s eight notes, but this is what you can do, you can kind of shift the melody one eight, not later.

So you’ve seen it since zing, sun, I mean, I singing it straight and you’re playing it, delete. So I need to know. I’m playing it delay. Okay, so dun, dun, dun. So you have the two things that you have the three and one, okay. Or you have one and two. Okay. One and two, then.

The melodic material is rhythmically to even I don’t want to say it’s poor. Yeah. Nikoli to even so we can start do any kind of crazy things. Okay, the problem is if you’re able to play in real time, the basic rhythm poles is in 312312312. Okay.

So I one thing I got the the regularity and idea it will be to play rhythm based on four. So like I’m getting 123 pose, 231 pose. Makes sense. But the problem is to play this, okay, and then playing the chord this way so that there is rest every four notes other than the rest every three nodes. So the whole thing shifts inside the triplet.

So it’s kind of best basically one rhythm for this vocal line is doing and then there’s a sort of different rhythm that the exactlyyou could phase the vocals as well. Yeah, if you were doing a recording, that’d be like the PROG version of House, the rising sun.

In fact, you would end up with something that was so far away, it would sound like a different song, and then it could be a different song. Yes. Well, that’s when that’s one trick we do is that you take away an element of a song and you change something else and take away another element of the song and you put something else until you come up with a completely different Song.

So take a melody, create an accompaniment. Forget about the melody, create a new melody and boom, new song. So that’s an idea. Is that Yeah, we could do also a series of five. If I cannot do four, five is the question. Okay. But we could do anything more five. So yeah, essentially left for notes, and well rested. So that’s kind of is that basically working with accents?

Yes, yeah. The idea is that the basic rhythm is in three, any, you’re using a different number to create accents and rest, but my accent is arrest in this case, because I’m playing of a group of foreigners and playing three and the rest.

Okay, I could I could just walk instead of playing just the accent. And then four notes, three notes of rest all four notes of life and this kind of thing. It will be way more sparse and less cohesive in this specific song. But it could work. Makes sense. The idea is, if the rhythmic material is to even insert a different number, essentially, and try to make it work this way. Yeah, that does pose some that then would pose the question asked yesterday about getting that consistent in a live format setting. But we covered that already.

Yeah, no, yes. Well, the thing is, he if you keep playing it, it could be something new. Sounds strange, the first repetition through but then you get used to it when I was trying to play this part. It didn’t sound completely off. Yeah. Okay. Didn’t sound like I suddenly put Dream Theater over. I was right. Yeah. I think if something repeats, even if it’s unusual, as long as it’s the same, you can, if it’s a pattern, you can always learn it. Like you just you can always learn it, if it’s a pattern, you the days that your rhythm perfectly complements the melody, these effect works, but it’s very particular.

So if you start doing using it for more than one song, people start recognizing they’re doing the exact same thing, which could be good if you want to get the style essentially, but could be bad because I like doing the exact same thing.

The other thing I like about taking the rhythm as a point of departure is that it’s um, you then have a lot of other choices about how that rhythm was articulated. You don’t necessarily just have to strum it.

So let’s say you definitely you could then have your your you know, you have all these other options of how that rhythm is actually expressed, which is nice as well, you can do all those things. Okay, you use repeating a lot.

I use. Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting, because I sort of do slow sweet picking on acoustic guitar. So it’s not what it’s really intended for. But it’s still, it still gives like nice rhythmic texture and variation. And if you have something that’s been if you’ve been having this kind of typical acoustic guitar pop, and then you have this, even if it’s quite slow. It’s still a nice change.

Yes. The thing is, when I heard you, when I hear you playing, is we pick and by the way, what you’re doing is already incredibly difficult that you’re seeing as we pick at the same time, okay, um, will not be able to do it. I mean, I could learn right now I’m not able to do that.

What I see you’re doing though, is that you use the picking and it’s always on an even rhythm that’s how I’ve got so far but if you add a little bit of rhythm variation, yeah, using this kind of idea. Okay, then then it opens it opens up a lot now it will be very hard then to sing and these at the same time I’m not saying it’s impossible, so it’s it could be hard but knowing what you’re doing and what you’re going after, I think that will be good because nobody’s doing this it’s not that easy.

Yeah, it’s not that it’s I mean, I think PE shouldn’t be such a complex idea but nobody is doing it but I think because the people who would do it don’t know that it’s actually quite close to where they are they think it’s in a box miles away they didn’t realize this in the box right there for whether that’s probably that’s probably ain’t so you have a competitive advantage you find incredibly slow sweep picking.

But that’s it that’s the beauty of it. If you if you change the rhythm, it doesn’t have to be faster even if it’s even if it’s say okay of the dream that he saw. Did it a minute. Fantastic. Thanks. you very much Thank you that was fun.

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