Rhythm in Music (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Rhythm in Music

Mark Lincoln explains how rhythm is used in music.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Guitar Performance seriesLength: 15:16Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (07:33) Welcome Back Welcome back to the Guitar Performance lesson series! Before moving on with the lesson please be sure to review and practice the following:
1)Warm up the body.
2)Single note hum.
3)Three note hum.
4)Hum "me-me-me-me" to "mah-mah-mah-mah" to "me-ma-me-ma-me."
5)Wake up the breath with "sah-sah-sah" etc. long and sustained then five times staccato.
6)"Sah" in five-note descending scales, then five-note ascending scales.
7)Work these scales faster and faster, then louder and louder.
8)Play each of the open chords and sing scales along with your guitar accompaniment.
Anatomy of a Song II
As we discussed in our last lesson, a song can be composed of many different parts and can be put together in an infinite number of ways. But since we’re focusing on singing and playing the guitar in this series, we can focus more on playing rhythms that are best suited to accompanying ourselves, rather than on the myriad different ways that bass guitar can carry the rhythm, or how the drums can serve to link different parts of the song together. You can think of yourself as a one man (or woman) band and hence, it is of the utmost responsibility for the guitar player to be a strong rhythmic player.

Think of the rhythm as the foundation of a structure that you are erecting and the lyrics as the décor or even as a beautiful sound or smell wafting through the structure (work with me here!). I’ll try to map this out for you. This is what a or a "down down-up down "pattern might look like if you tried to map it out on paper:
And if you wanted to map out what it might look like if you were to add lyrics to your rhythm:
This is just a basic example and a way for you to conceptualize the idea of creating structure with rhythm, and interlacing it with the lyrics. But no matter how you visualize this process, the rhythm must be strong or the entire structure that you are attempting to create will be weak!
Chapter 2: (02:31) Rhythm and Guitar Rhythm can be defined as “an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, 1999). Rhythm can also be defined as meter which is measured and repeats a basic single pattern. But no matter how you define rhythm, you need to find the rhythm within you. This may sound ridiculous, but what I’m trying to say to you is that some people are able to play a perfectly smooth rhythm in time while some people are not. Some people keep time in their heads and some tap their foot. No matter how you do it, keeping the rhythm steady while you play is of the utmost importance regardless of whether you’re playing alone or with other musicians.
Chapter 3: (05:32) Rhythm Exercises Warm-up Exercise
Start with a warm-up strum. Use the chords Em, C, G and A while strumming or "down-up down-up down-up." Don’t forget to do a snap strum. Relax your wrist and breathe. Get in the feel of the rhythm and listen to what you are playing.

Exercise 1
Some strums change in different parts of the song and even from one part of a verse to the next. Here is an example of that: play or "down down down-up." Play Am for this part. Then play or down up-down up-down. Play Am7 for this part. Am7 looks like this:


Play this chord by putting your first finger on the B-string first fret and your second or middle finger on the D-string second fret.

Next, play the first strum pattern again or "down down down-up," but this time with the Fmaj7 chord. Review my Intro to Guitar lessons (Lesson 3 and 4 for this chord if you need to. Next play the second strum or "down up-down up-down," this time with a G chord. Alternate the rhythms and pay attention to how these two rhythms come together to make a more interesting feel for the song. Watch me in the video for more insight on how to play this exercise.

Exercise 3
Take four chords and invent two strums of your own to put together a song like we did today. It doesn’t have to be complex, but you should pay attention to how the chords sound together as well as how the two strums sound together. Don’t forget the concept of dynamics and how it might come into play here.

Exercise 4
Using the two exercises explained above, do the vocal warm-ups along with the chords that I used (Am Am7 Fmaj7 and G) and the chords that you selected. Remember to work gradually and slowly at first until you feel warmed-up and slippery. Then, you can sing louder and faster when you’re ready. You can combine these exercises with the initial warm-ups to save some time and also to become more adept at singing and playing at the same time.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

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

ganeshnat1ganeshnat1 replied

hey mark i have a question, how can i know if im singing off key??

zayatszayats replied

Mark, Im 58 and have written alot of lyrics and play guitar and piano by ear, and have great desire to combine the two and sing. I am committed to this and you're course is helping me immensely. I am starting to find more variation in my melodic grunts LOL and meshing my lyrics to the chord and rhythmic changes on the guitar, and now even on the piano. You mention the wave like quality of the lyrics in relation to the rhythm and I know what you are talking about. My question is, I have heard singers sing with such emotional, lyrical, and melodic variation over the chord and rhythms. I know now that much is this freedom is due to voice skills, creative ability, in combination with primary instrument skills. Question is – what is the relation of the notes of the scale in the key you are singing in with the wavy line you refer to. Do the creative melodic variations in a song as they are expressed in lyrics come as a natural result of vocal and instrument flexibility, and then the music is notated, or a step by step combination of both. I know I may seem a little vague, but regardless, I know this course is helping me immensely, and I will sing those songs inside of me, thanks to your help

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Zayats thanks for the awesome and well-thought question! Whew, where to start on this! Basically that wave that I'm talking about is not so much based on the notes in the scale but rather building a pyramid of sorts using rhythm, lyrics emotion etc. Your intro will be the bottom stones, first verse the next level, chorus and on up to where you are crescendo-ing...then gradually down again, or maybe another peak...then down, down to the coda. Each song will take on it's own persona in this fashion but where you place the highs and lows is usually a function of where the song peaks and valleys in relation to emotion. Yes, scales can dictate this (especially during a really screaming lead break) but the wave has more to do with where you, as a player-writer-performer, place the emphasis. Does that make sense? Mark

chris2pchris2p replied

Awesome Awesome Awesome lesson Mark!

tedted3tedted3 replied

Mark you have no idea how hard it is for me to sing and play. I have watched, listened, and viewed many instructors and friends trying to teach me. I am still not there yet but your lessons are giving me real hope. Thank you very much!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Ted, thanks for writing in. Yes, it definitely takes a great deal of practice to sing and play but just keep in mind, nothing good comes easy or everybody would be doing it. Keep at it! Mark

flyrerflyrer replied

Mark ,Great lessons, but I'am confused ! In the last lesson you said we could always recognize by your blue northern cap. But now your wearing a black one!!!! LOL Russ

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Fly, I'm just trying to change up my image from time to time. Thanks for writing! Mark

jboothjbooth replied

The writeup should be done and online soon. I just wanted to get the lesson up for those of you who don't need the writeup :)

Guitar Performance

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Performing live or in a studio situation is a goal of many aspiring guitarists. Vocal training and the ability to sing and play at the same time are skills that will help in this endeavor.

Introduction to SingingLesson 1

Introduction to Singing

Mark introduces you to the wonderful world of singing.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Vocal ExercisesLesson 2

Vocal Exercises

Mark Lincoln guides you through stretches and vocal exercises to warm up the voice.

Length: 23:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Vocal VibratoLesson 3

Vocal Vibrato

Mark continues to discuss vocal warm-ups and exercises. Then, he moves on to explain vibrato.

Length: 23:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Warming the BreathLesson 4

Warming the Breath

Mark covers some singing terms and teaches an exercise that is used to "warm the breath."

Length: 19:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Singing and GuitarLesson 5

Singing and Guitar

Mark Lincoln talks more about vocal exercise and warm-up. Then, he moves on to discuss singing and playing at the same time.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Singing ExercisesLesson 6

Singing Exercises

Mark Lincoln provides more singing exercises to practice while playing your guitar.

Length: 26:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Singing and Playing RevisitedLesson 7

Singing and Playing Revisited

Mark returns to singing and playing. Mark teaches proper form while singing and playing, cognitive exercises, and chord progression basics.

Length: 17:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Anatomy and DynamicsLesson 8

Anatomy and Dynamics

Mark Lincoln discusses song dynamics and the anatomy of songs. He also explains more about singing and playing.

Length: 23:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm in MusicLesson 9

Rhythm in Music

Mark Lincoln explains how rhythm is used in music.

Length: 15:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Technique AppliedLesson 10

Technique Applied

Mark Lincoln applies singing and playing techniques to the Doors song "Riders on the Storm."

Length: 17:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Palm Muting and SeparationLesson 11

Palm Muting and Separation

In lesson 11 of his performance series, Mark discusses the palm muting technique and how to separate your singing from your playing.

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Picking Vs. StrummingLesson 12

Picking Vs. Strumming

Mark discusses how alternating between arpeggios and strummed chords can add contrast and flair to your music.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Silence Is GoldenLesson 13

Silence Is Golden

Mark discusses silence in music and how it can transform a piece. Additionally, he explains how to use silence effectively in your playing.

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Warm-up and PracticeLesson 14

Warm-up and Practice

In this lesson, Mark Lincoln talks more about warming up your voice and walks you through a few exercises that will aid this process.

Length: 16:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Preparations for Playing LiveLesson 15

Preparations for Playing Live

Mark provides a lecture on items you should do and think about to become a proficient live player.

Length: 20:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Voice and GuitarLesson 16

Voice and Guitar

In this lesson, Mark delves into the concept of combining both your voice and guitar into one neat little package you can deliver to your listener.

Length: 21:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Day in the LifeLesson 17

A Day in the Life

Mark Brings us Lesson 17 today to explain the preparation that goes into a performance. Mark tracks back up to 36 hours in advance, and shows us some routines to prepare for a great show.

Length: 19:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Dynamics of a SongLesson 18

The Dynamics of a Song

In this lesson, Mark teaches all of the diverse parts to a song with regards to dynamics.

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Proper Breathing RoutinesLesson 19

Proper Breathing Routines

In this episode, Mark talks about proper breathing techniques and routines. He gives us eight points to work off of when singing and playing together.

Length: 23:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Play Along with Mark LincolnLesson 20

Play Along with Mark Lincoln

Mark Lincoln brings us a great play along opportunity. Mark provides lyrics as well as the chord progression for this play along. He also breaks down key elements such as palm muting, hammer-ons, bending,...

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Palm Muting TechniqueLesson 21

Palm Muting Technique

Lesson 21 is a repeat of lesson 20's content only with a whole new set of chords and techniques. The"chords de jour" will be a little simpler than lesson 20's and will also include a much more in depth...

Length: 20:05 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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