3/4 Time and a Song (Guitar Lesson)

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Jim Deeming

3/4 Time and a Song

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle arrangement of "Bicycle Built for Two." He uses this piece as an example of 3/4 or waltz timing.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Fingerstyle Guitar seriesLength: 37:34Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:34) Lesson Introduction Jim gets things started with a fingerstyle arrangement of "Bicycle Built for Two." In the following scenes, Jim will provide you with the necessary materials to play this song.
Chapter 2: (12:56) 3/4 Timing 3/4 is commonly referred to as "waltz time." The waltz is a popular dance played in this time signature.

Alternating Bass in 3/4

In past lessons, Jim taught you how to play an alternating bass line in 4/4 time. Within this pattern, the root note of the chord is played on beat 1. Then, a chord is typically strummed on beat 2. The lowest fifth in the chord is played on beat 3. Finally, on beat 4, the chord is strummed again.

Jim uses the song "Bicycle Built for Two" to demonstrate how bass patterns within a fingerstyle arrangement must be altered in 3/4 time. Within this time signature, an alternating bass line can still be performed. The root of the chord is still played on the first beat of the measure. From here, the pattern changes. On beats 2 and 3, the chord is plucked or strummed. In the following measure, the fifth of the chord is played on beat 1. Strums or plucks of the chord follow this bass note on beats 2 and 3.

Adding Syncopation

Similar to how you learned some syncopated variations for the alternating bass line in 4/4 time, these same syncopation ideas can be applied to 3/4 to make the accompaniment more interesting. Watch closely at 05:05 as Jim demonstrates this concept. He plucks the G string of a C major chord on the "+" beat of 1. The rhythm of this measure is counted, "1+ 2 3." Practice this rhythmic figure with all of the first position chord shapes that you know.

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature / notation to all of the exercises presented in this lesson.

Adding Arpeggio Patterns

Various arpeggio patterns can also be applied to the alternating bass line in 3/4 time. Jim provides one such example at 07:35. The bass note is still played on the first beat of the measure. Then, the arpeggio pattern alternates between the G and B strings in an eighth note rhythm for the remainder of the measure. Count "1+2+3+" when playing this rhythm figure. Apply this arpeggio pattern to I IV V progressions in a wide variety of keys.
Chapter 3: (01:58) Variation Jim demonstrates a slight variation on the arpeggio pattern that you learned in the previous scene. This time around, the third finger plays at the same time as the second finger. The third finger plucks the chord tone on the high E string. The addition of this extra note produces a much fuller sound. Apply this variation to I IV V progressions in a variety of keys. Remember to start slow! Accuracy and steady rhythm should be your highest priorities. Then, gradually increase the tempo.
Chapter 4: (11:19) Using the Thumb The rhythm patterns that Jim presented in the previous scenes are examples of accompaniment figures. In this scene, he demonstrates how to play a bass line in 3/4 while simultaneously playing a melody line.

The thumb must pluck the tonic bass note on the first beat of the measure. A simple arpeggio pattern is often played as a bass line in this meter. Jim demonstrates this idea within a C major chord at 01:20 in the lesson video. On beat 1, he plays the root note. On beat 2, he plays the next highest chord tone, which is the third. To finish the pattern, the fifth is played on beat 3.

In many situations, this pattern may need to be altered to accommodate the melody line. For example, the melody may feature a note played on the third string on the third beat of the measure. In this case, repeat the third of the chord on the final beat of the measure. This will place the final bass note on the fourth string instead of the third string. This frees up the third string for melody notes.

"Bicycle Built for Two"

When learning any fingerstyle arrangement, it is always beneficial to isolate the individual parts. Begin to practice this arrangement by playing through the melody line. Then, go back and play the bass line. This process will provide you with a firm understanding of how each part functions independently. When you can successfully play both parts individually, begin to play them together. Remember that the melody is sacred in any piece of music. Consequently, it should be played louder than the bass line. One way to accomplish this is to play the bass line with slight palm muting.

As you work through the arrangement, make a special note of any bass segments that stray from the typical pattern that Jim introduced earlier in the scene. One such example is the F chord played in measure 6. The easiest way to finger this passage is by using the thumb to fret the low root note of the chord. Within this fingering, the fifth string is left open. This open string note sounds rather out of place within the context of a bass line. Consequently, Jim applies an alternate bass figure to this chord. He plays the lowest root note on beat 1. On beat 2, he plays the root note one octave higher on the fourth string. The third of the chord is played on the third string on the final beat of the measure.

Adding Extra Voices

In addition to the bass line and the upper melody, some inner harmony voices can be added to the arrangement to create a fuller sound. Whenever a melody note is plucked, one or two additional chord tones can be played. Typically, the third finger is used to play melody notes in this arrangement. This leaves the first and second fingers free to pluck harmony notes on the third and second strings. Watch closely as Jim uses these techniques when playing through the first several measures of the arrangement.
Chapter 5: (10:45) Finishing up the Song Jim continues to teach his arrangement with "Bicycle Built for Two" beginning with the fifteenth measure. A D7 chord harmonizes the melody in this measure. You have several options when applying the bass line to this chord. The root note can be held for two beats followed by the fifth of the chord for one beat (beat 3). Or, you can play the third of the chord as the lowest bass note. Thumb must come up over the top of the neck to fret the note F# on the low sixth string. Then, you are free to follow this note with the root and fifth of the chord in a steady quarter note rhythm.

A couple options are available when playing a bass line with the G and G7 chords as well. You can either play the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings in a quarter note rhythm or the sixth, fourth, and third strings in a quarter note rhythm.

Right Hand Fingering for the Melody

It is possible to play the entire melody line using the first finger. This is most likely the way in which a guitarist such as Merle Travis would finger the melody. Using this simple technique creates a marcato style that you may or may not find desirable. If you apply additional harmony notes to each chord, use the index finger for all notes played on the third string. Use the middle finger for all second string notes. Then, use the ring finger for notes played on the high E string. If you choose not to add inner harmony notes, Jim recommends that you use the index finger for sustained notes on the third and second strings. In this scenario, the middle finger plays notes on the first string. When the melody switches to a steady quarter note rhythm, alternate between the index and middle fingers.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

pwykespwykes replied

Chapter five doesn’t show up in the web player (using safari on iPad)

jrp4jrp4 replied

why are the chords not in the sup.song.

Bradley.ConwayBradley.Conway replied

Hello jrp4! Sorry for the confusion. You'll find the chords for this lesson located directly above the staff on any of the notation contained in the Supplemental Content. You can also look up the individual chord shapes in the "Chords" section :) I hope this helps! HAPPY JAMMING!!

pwykespwykes replied

There are no chords shown in the supplemental content, making it difficult to follow along with the lesson. Had to print it out and write in the chords myself.

badshotbadshot replied

There is a lot going on in this lesson. Perhaps too much. Easy to get lost in all the subtle details.

stevenvlstevenvl replied

To spice it up, I'm using this one for additional help: https://www.google.be/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJ0rqLpP3OAhXD0RoKHQ74D-kQFggeMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.classicalguitar.org%2Ffreemusic%2Fexercises%2FGiuliani120.pdf&usg=AFQjCNE-EageSemn9FLXdl5hOQoynDYh_Q&sig2=Zob-cRQqgq_7GooUmxdQsg

stevenvlstevenvl replied

or nicer link: http://www.classicalguitar.org/freemusic/exercises/Giuliani120.pdf

Chasing-WindChasing-Wind replied

yup, video freezes at about one minute into 3/4 timing section.

Barbara.HBarbara.H replied

I know others have posted this, but just wanted to say that part way through the 3/4 timing section (just before Jim talks about the D) the video freezes. Tried reloading - doesn't work :(

GravelRoadGravelRoad replied

The video froze a few minutes into part two. Can this be fixed?

lugnuts9lugnuts9 replied

Video froze about 1/3 of the way through the lesson. Can it be fixed? I'm having a difficult time getting through the lesson. Thanks lugnuts9

JWEjamJWEjam replied

Where is the song lesson for the full Windy & Warm? thanks

jgperryjgperry replied

Thanks Jim, this is a lot of fun to play.

chris_lamontchris_lamont replied

Yes, show the chords please!

calvin47calvin47 replied

Hey Jim, At the beginning of lesson 8 scene 4 you play part of a song. I really like that song and was wondering if you could tell me the name. Thanks!

tonigreertonigreer replied

wish the chords were on the tabs it would be alot eaiser to learn since it is easy to miss part of what you say.and is taking me forever to get it...makes me want to quit!!!! also wondering why you dont reply to comments

bill_wcnbill_wcn replied

I was having a lot of difficulty getting through this with any continuity. Went to the next lesson (Yankee Doodle Dixie) and realized what I was doing wrong when Jim said, "watch what the left hand is doing". I was watching my right hand! I went back to this lesson, and after readjusting I can pretty much get through it with continuity at a little slower than normal speed. I played at a guitar a little when I was in my teens. I'm in my late 60's now and have been on Jim's lesson right at two years. The new Seagull Coastline Folk I got last summer helped a lot too. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks - it just takes a little longer. Thanks Jim!

nickonicko replied

"Hello fingerpickers!" i liked that :D

echochickechochick replied

This is a fun song to play and the more i play it,,, the more i like it! I download two fingerpick versions of “Bicycle Built For Two” from iTunes,,, but ya kno waht? this one is better :) Stuff from previous lessons is starting to make sense and it’s actually getting easier to move my fingers (finally),,, thanks for this tune!

patsendpatsend replied

Thx Jim for this very useful lesson, it sounds very correct.

fatrascalfatrascal replied

I have the same question as Cyndy - where are the chords...??

jessehjesseh replied

Jim tells you the chords if you listen

joseefjoseef replied

Am I seeing and hearing this correctly since the chords are not indicated: C C C C C F F C C G G E Am D7 D7 G G G7 C/G C C C7(tab shows C though) F C G C G C G C G (FG) (the g added in video only) C

joseefjoseef replied

Is there an error in measure 32? It looks like a C chord...but Jim plays a small F chord?

dagmyhdagmyh replied

Same as Cyndy. Why are cords not written? I like to know the cords first and then listen to Jim

billt199billt199 replied

how come there are no replies to commnets

fatrascalfatrascal replied

Hi Jim I've just realized I've been playing this "wrong" - on the 13th bar, I've been playing an Am and lifting the first finger to get the open string on the second melody note of that bar. If it seems to work - is there any reason this is "bad"??? (Will the "guitar police" be around to get me if I continue???) Great lessons. Cheers Mark

cyndy leecyndy lee replied

I'm a little confused by the song in tablature. It doesn't show what key it is in or where chord changes are? Am I supposed to be able to tell that? I mean I know the instructor is in the key of C, but if he weren't playing it, how would I know what key it was in and where the chord changes were? Can anyone help me with that?

Fingerstyle Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Fingerstyle guitar allows you to play the bass, harmony, and melody of a song all within the context of a single guitar part.

Intro to FingerstyleLesson 1

Intro to Fingerstyle

This lesson serves as an introduction for Fingerstyle Guitar with Jim Deeming. Come on in and get started!

Length: 24:32 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Basic FingerstyleLesson 2

Basic Fingerstyle

Jim demonstrates a basic fingerstyle exercise that you can use with any of the chords you know.

Length: 16:05 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
More Picking PatternsLesson 3

More Picking Patterns

Jim expands on lesson 2 and teaches several different picking patterns. He also covers the basics of muting.

Length: 14:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Using SyncopationLesson 4

Using Syncopation

Jim Deeming explains how to integrate basic syncopation into your rhythm playing.

Length: 17:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Picking Melody NotesLesson 5

Picking Melody Notes

This lesson is all about picking melody notes. Fingerstyle guitar really gets interesting when you combine bass, harmony, and melody.

Length: 33:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Aura LeeLesson 6

Aura Lee

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle version of the classic Civil War era song "Aura Lee."

Length: 43:23 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Chet Atkins StyleLesson 7

Chet Atkins Style

Jim explains key components of Chet Atkins' guitar style.

Length: 18:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
3/4 Time and a SongLesson 8

3/4 Time and a Song

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle arrangement of "Bicycle Built for Two." He uses this piece as an example of 3/4 or waltz timing.

Length: 37:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Two Songs at OnceLesson 9

Two Songs at Once

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle arrangement of "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie." Both songs are played simultaneously!

Length: 30:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Open G TuningLesson 10

Open G Tuning

Jim Deeming teaches the basics of open G tuning. He also teaches a song entitled "Spanish Fandango" to show how the tuning can be used.

Length: 39:58 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Carter Family StyleLesson 11

Carter Family Style

Jim Deeming introduces a playing style called "Carter Family Style." The technique is also referred to as "Frailing" or "Clawhammer" style.

Length: 13:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
DADGAD TuningLesson 12


Jim Deeming teaches the many wonders of DADGAD tuning.

Length: 32:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Thumb Independence Lesson 13

Thumb Independence

Jim Deeming tackles the topic of thumb independence.

Length: 31:51 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
The JamPlay SongLesson 14

The JamPlay Song

Jim Deeming teaches a more advanced version of the aptly named "JamPlay Song."

Length: 7:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Wayfaring StrangerLesson 15

The Wayfaring Stranger

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle version of the classic song "The Wayfaring Stranger."

Length: 31:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Official Thumbpick GuideLesson 16

The Official Thumbpick Guide

Jim Deeming answers one of the most common fingerstyle questions, "which thumbpick should I use?"

Length: 13:03 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Fingernail GuideLesson 17

Fingernail Guide

Jim Deeming presents his thoughts on how to properly grow and groom your fingernails.

Length: 7:07 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
The EntertainerLesson 18

The Entertainer

Jim Deeming teaches a fingerstyle arrangement of "The Entertainer," a classic piano song ported over to the guitar.

Length: 20:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Arranging Fingerstyle SongsLesson 19

Arranging Fingerstyle Songs

Jim Deeming teaches the skills necessary to transform any song into a solo fingerstyle masterpiece.

Length: 37:04 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 2Lesson 20

Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 2

Jim talks more about arranging fingerstyle songs. This time around he discusses harmonization and chord inversions.

Length: 13:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 3Lesson 21

Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 3

Jim Deeming demonstrates alternate ways to play the CAGED chords that can be very useful when playing melody and accompaniment simultaneously.

Length: 30:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 4Lesson 22

Arranging Fingerstyle Songs Pt. 4

In this lesson Jim Deeming talks about a simple way to add harmony notes to the melody section of fingerstyle songs. This technique is quite simple and can add a whole new dimension to your playing.

Length: 5:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jim Deeming

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes JamPlay.com is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

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