Down by the Riverside (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Down by the Riverside

Matt teaches the melody to "Down by the Riverside". This tune is used as preparation for learning accompaniment techniques.

Taught by Matt Brown in Reading Music and Rhythm seriesLength: 15:02Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:18) Introduction Welcome back to the Reading Music and Rhythm Series! Lesson 19 begins a two part lesson detailing a duet arrangement of "Down by the Riverside."

In past lessons, you have doubled Matt while playing a melody line or scale exercise. Now, you must perform a part that is totally independent from what Matt plays. Playing an independent part will force you to improve your rhythm and counting skills. You can no longer rely on his example to ensure that you are playing in time. You must build the confidence to be able to count and play on your own. In the current lesson, Matt plays an accompaniment part while you play the melody. In the next lesson, the roles are reversed. You will play accompaniment while he performs the melody.

Melody Demonstration

Watch and listen carefully as Matt performs the melody to "Down by the Riverside" at 01:32 in the lesson video. The melody is demonstrated in second position.
Chapter 2: (04:35) Down by the Riverside Key Features of the Melody

A. Cut Time

Cut time is indicated with an uppercase letter "C." A vertical line is written through the "C" to differentiate this meter from "common time" or 4/4.

Note: A cut time symbol can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Similar to 4/4 time, cut time can be written two different ways. 2/2 also indicates a cut time signature. Remember the guidelines that Matt discussed in lesson 3 concerning time signatures.

Top Number

The top number in a time signature indicates how many beats are in a measure. There are a total of two beats in each measure.

Bottom Number

The bottom number indicates which note is counted as the beat. 2 on bottom = Half note gets the beat. Thus, a measure of 2/2 time contains a total of 2 half notes. Unlike 4/4 time, the half note now receives the beat instead of the quarter note. Another way to think of 2/2 is that it is a version of 4/4 in which the notes receive half their normal value. As a result, a quarter note in 2/2 receives the value of an eighth note. By the same principal, an eighth note now receives the value of a sixteenth note.

B. Accidentals

Quite a few accidentals occur in the melody. Many D# notes occur in "Down by the Riverside." This note is played at the 4th fret of the second string.Sharps, flats, as well as double sharps and double flats are all examples of accidentals. When an accidental is used, it carries on through the rest of the measure. A natural symbol must be used to indicate that a note is no longer sharp or flat.

C. Staccato

Staccato is a musical style in which a note is played short and detached from the note that follows. The duration of the note is cut slightly short. Staccato is the opposite of legato. A dot written above or below a note indicates the staccato feel.

Watch Matt in the lesson video as he plays the C major scale in a staccato style. To produce a staccato note, lightly lift some of the let hand pressure from the string. Do not completely remove the finger from the string. When adding staccato to an open string note, the left hand must mute the string after it is struck.
Chapter 3: (03:02) Identifying Song Phrases Unlike past lessons, Matt does not explain how to play each of the individual phrases. At this point in the series, you should be able to play the melody from the musical score on your own. If you are confused about how a certain section should be played, refer to Matt' s performance example provided in the first scene. If you still have questions, feel free to write in for help.


When learning a new piece, remember to identify the phrases. You must highlight the phrases by playing them like a vocalist would sing them.

To determine the phrase structure of a piece, study the guidelines and tips listed below.

-A phrase must contain a logical, complete thought.

-Often, rhythmic features such as long sustained notes or rests occur at the end of a phrase.

-The lyrics to the song provide a strong indication of phrase breaks.

-Important cadences such as the V to I authentic cadence usually happen at the end of phrases.

-Play through the piece to hear how it sounds. This will give you the best idea of where the phrase breaks are.

Print out the melody to "Down by the Riverside." Using a pencil, indicate where each phrase break occurs with a comma.

Practice Time

Before proceeding to the next scene, learn the melody. Return to the lesson video when you can play the melody in time with a metronome set to a moderate tempo.
Chapter 4: (05:05) Playing Along Counting in 2/2

Remember that there are only two beats per measure in cut time. Consequently, the count in that Matt uses is different from the count in that he uses in 4/4. He uses two measures for the count in. However, each measure now consists of two beats.

Play Along Example 1

Play the melody along with Matt at 00:52. If you make a mistake, simply keep going. Address any errors after the conclusion of the performance.

Play Along Example 2

This time around, Matt plays the accompaniment while you play the melody line. The same count in is used for this example. Remember to come in with the pickup notes before Matt enters with his accompaniment on the downbeat.


Matt's accompaniment remains quite simple throughout the song. On beat 1, he plays the root of each chord. The chord is then strummed on beat 2.

Additional Practice

Check out Jim Deeming's Phase 2 Music Reading lessons as well as the "Let's Play" style lessons in his Phase 1 series for more practice of this kind.

Preview of Next Lesson

Matt demonstrates how to play the rhythm accompaniment to "Down by the Riverside." You will practice your accompaniment skills while he plays the melody line.

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.

waldo48waldo48 replied on December 19th, 2013

Mat In the melody there is G note that moves to an A note a couple of times. Should we play the G as an open string or use the G note at the 5th fret of the D string?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on December 26th, 2013

I used this melody as a reading/playing exercise in 2nd position, so play the G notes on the 4th string. In a real world application though, you might choose to play the melody in a different position, or combine various positions. Always base your decision on what sounds best.

telboytelboy replied on June 28th, 2012

Thanks. My electronic metronome offers 2/4 and not 2/2 time. I think that may be the case with I'll practice with an internet metronome offering 2/2 for that "different feel".

telboytelboy replied on June 26th, 2012

Can cut time also be written as 2/4?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on June 27th, 2012

Cut time is the same as 2/2...In cut time, the half note is counted as the beat. In 2/4, the quarter note is counted as the beat. As you learn more music in 2/4 and 2/2 (cut time), I think you'll begin to understand why a composer may write a piece in 2/2 instead of 2/4 or vice versa. Sure, both time signatures have 2 beats in each measure. However, the overall "feel" of these time signatures is quite a bit different.

kierkier replied on October 24th, 2011

I'm screwing up on the whole notes and rests. Each whole note I hit I count C(1)-2-3-4 with the metronome. Likewise with the two rests, I count 1-2. So in 2/2 should I be halfing the whole notes and rests? In 2/2 a whole note is 2 beats on the metronome and 2 rests is one beat on the metronome? If so, this would explain the difference between 2/2 and 4/4 which I didn't really understand up until this point. Still having a hard wrapping my brain around it … Thanks Matt.

kierkier replied on October 24th, 2011

Ahh.. just re-watched the lesson from the beginning and 2/2 is explained as such. I've been working on this piece so long I forget the initial info. Think I got it now. Tricky!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 25th, 2011

Well, besides the difference between how 4/4 and cut time (same as 2/2) are notated, the only real difference is how the rhythm feels. If you can, record yourself playing the song along with a metronome in 2/2. Then, change the time signature over to 4/4 just as an experiment. Set the metronome so that it clicks twice as fast now. In this scenario, all of the notes will be held for the same amount of time from the 2/2 version to the 4/4 version. However, the "feel" of the rhythm has changed. In my opinion, 2/2 has sort of a more relaxed, half-time feel compared to 4/4. It's pretty hard to explain in writing...hopefully I'm making some sense here, though. :)

kierkier replied on October 24th, 2011

So how do you half a dotted quarter note? It's getting trickier by the moment!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 25th, 2011

Good question! With dotted notes, I don't actually do the math in my head. In 2/2, a dotted quarter is usually followed by an eighth. It helps me to compare this rhythm figure to its equivalent in 4/4, which is basically a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth. So, when I'm counting the dotted quarter - eighth note pattern in 2/2, I count "1 e and ah" in my head sort of like I'm counting sixteenth notes in 4/4. The dotted quarter hits on "1." The eighth note hits on "ah."

kierkier replied on October 24th, 2011

I've been working on this one for a couple of days now, hours at a time. I can almost play along with you perfectly but when I switch back to the metronome I just can't grasp it yet. 4/4 just wants to take over. Gonna take a break from it and try again tomorrow. Will get it eventually!

kierkier replied on October 25th, 2011

Damn finally got it! Had 3 days off and did nothing but this song. My strings are black at B&G 5th frets and I just changed them last Thursday! Little bit scared to move on, though I think it was the cut time that gave me the most problems, don't think the 3/4 of Fur Elise will be as hard for me. Cheers.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 25th, 2011

That's great news! Glad to hear it! I remember cut time taking forever for me to master too. Yep, most people find 3/4 a little bit easier to feel out. Don't be afraid to head to the next lesson! The more often you face your fears in music/guitar, the more fearless and confident you will become. That's when things really start to get fun!

danielscdanielsc replied on September 26th, 2009

nice melody to play 2/2

ronin808ronin808 replied on May 6th, 2009

yep i will be on this one a while,but I like the change thanks man!

Reading Music and Rhythm

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Matt brings all of his years of education right to you with this fantastic series on how to read music. You will start with the very basics and work up to some very advanced concepts.

Lesson 1

Intro to Reading Music

This introductory lesson will walk you through the basics of reading music and reading rhythm.

Length: 15:07 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Reading Music

Learn how to identify notes, the key signature, and the staff. Implement your reading skills by playing a few simple tunes.

Length: 43:32 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lesson 3

Rhythm and Time Signatures

Learn the basics of notation and time signatures. Practice these concepts with a few timing exercises.

Length: 22:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

3/4 Time Signatures

Now that you've learned a bit about 4/4 time, it's on to 3/4 time.

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Reading Music Practice

Now that you know the basics of reading music, it's time to put that knowledge to work with some exercises.

Length: 25:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

On Top of Old Smokey

Get some more practice reading music and rhythms during your rock fest rendition of "On Top of Old Smokey".

Length: 15:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

He's Got the Whole World

Matt Brown reviews the G major scale and teaches "He's Got the Whole World".

Length: 13:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Amazing Grace

Matt Brown explains how to read music in the key of F major. He uses the song "Amazing Grace" as an example.

Length: 15:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Shoo, Fly

Matt Brown teaches the song "Shoo, Fly" as another excellent rhythm and reading example. This song is in the key of G.

Length: 14:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Scales and Key Signatures

Matt Brown returns with the 10th installment in his Reading and Rhythm series. In this lesson, Matt discusses key signatures.

Length: 14:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Minor Key and Aura Lee

In this lesson Matt Brown covers the first minor key song in this series, "Aura Lee".

Length: 12:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Scarborough Fair

In this lesson, Matt introduces the A Dorian mode. He applies it to the song "Scarborough Fair".

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Second Position

In lesson 13, Matt Brown discusses and demonstrates second position.

Length: 29:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14


Lesson 14 is all about rhythm. Matt Brown discusses its importance and provides several exercises.

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

On Top of Old Smokey Review

Matt Brown reviews "On Top of Old Smokey". This time around, the melody is played in second position.

Length: 7:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Reviewing Angels We Have Heard On High

For lesson 14, Matt Brown reviews "Angels We Have Heard On High". The melody is now played in second position.

Length: 12:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Shoo, Fly Review

Matt Brown reviews the song "Shoo, Fly" in second position.

Length: 8:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Rhythm Strumming

This lesson covers right hand rhythm technique. Matt introduces syncopated strumming patterns.

Length: 25:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Down by the Riverside

Matt teaches the melody to "Down by the Riverside". This tune is used as preparation for learning accompaniment techniques.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20


Matt uses the song "Down by the Riverside" to teach accompaniment techniques for rhythm backing.

Length: 12:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Fur Elise Pt. 1

Matt teaches the classic tune "Fur Elise" in a two part series. For Part 1, Matt demonstrates the melody section.

Length: 24:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Fur Elise Pt. 2

In lesson 22, Matt teaches the accompaniment sections to Beethoven's "Fur Elise".

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

The Entertainer Pt. 1

Lesson 23 starts a 2 part series on the classic tune "The Entertainer".

Length: 16:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

The Entertainer Pt. 2

Lesson 24 completes the two part series on "The Entertainer". You will learn the accompaniment in this lesson.

Length: 14:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Sea to Sea Pt. 1

Matt starts another 2 part lesson, this time on the tune "Sea to Sea" by William G. Leavitt.

Length: 20:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Sea to Sea Pt. 2

Lesson 26 completes Matt's 2 part series on "Sea to Sea".

Length: 10:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 1

Matt introduces the B flat major scale and teaches the song "Stars and Stripes Forever".

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Stars and Stripes Forever Pt. 2

Matt completes his two part series on "Stars and Stripes Forever" by teaching the accompaniment.

Length: 7:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

D Major in First and Second Position

Matt Brown teaches the D Major scale in both first and second positions.

Length: 17:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Danny Boy Pt. 1

Matt Brown demonstrates "Danny Boy" in both first and second positions.

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Danny Boy Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to the "Danny Boy" melody.

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Silent Night Pt. 1

Matt teaches the Christmas classic "Silent Night."

Length: 18:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Silent Night Pt. 2

Matt teaches the accompaniment to the "Silent Night" melody.

Length: 4:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 34

Funiculi Funicula Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches "Funiculi Funicula" as an exercise in reading and playing in 6/8 time.

Length: 14:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Funiculi Funicula Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to "Funiculi Funicula".

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 36

Strumming Triplets

In lesson 36, Matt provides exercises to help you strum triplet patterns.

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Strumming Sixteenth Note Rhythms

In lesson 37, Matt Brown demonstrates how to strum sixteenth note rhythms.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Song of the Volga Boatmen

Matt Brown demonstrates the melody and tips for playing the Russian folk tune "Song of the Volga Boatmen".

Length: 11:33 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

Song of the Volga Boatmen Pt. 2

In lesson 39, Matt teaches the accompaniment to "Song of the Volga Boatmen".

Length: 8:35 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Dance of the Ukraine

Matt Brown teaches and demonstrates "Dance of the Ukraine."

Length: 15:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Dance of the Ukraine Pt. 2

Matt demonstrates the accompaniment to the "Dance of the Ukraine" melody.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 42

Etude by Ferdinando Carulli

Matt Brown teaches an etude for classical guitar by Ferdinando Carulli.

Length: 21:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 43

Morning Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches the melody section to "Morning" by Edvard Grieg.

Length: 18:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 44

Morning Pt. 2

Matt teaches the accompaniment for Edvard Grieg's "Morning."

Length: 8:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 45

Bach's Minuet Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches Bach's classic Minuet.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 46

Bach's Minuet Pt. 2

In lesson 46, Matt Brown covers the accompaniment section to Bach's Minuet.

Length: 5:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 47

Little Prelude in C Pt. 1

Matt Brown teaches Bach's "Little Prelude in C."

Length: 16:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 48

Little Prelude in C Pt. 2

Matt Brown teaches the accompaniment to "Little Prelude in C" by Bach.

Length: 7:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 49

Clementi's Sonatina

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Length: 23:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 50

Bach's Invention #1

Matt Brown teaches Invention #1 composed by J.S. Bach.

Length: 21:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 51

Third Position

Matt takes a look at playing in third position. This lesson will set up future reading lessons that require the third position.

Length: 7:16 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 52

Third Position Practice

Matt Brown has you working through Jean Philippe Rameau's Minuet for third position playing in lesson 52. He provides a play along and accompaniment to help your sight reading and playing.

Length: 15:11 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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