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Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 11: Using Simple Syncopated Rhythm Parts In Arrangements

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 66 **

Welcome to the 11th instalment of my Rhythm Guitar column, over the last few columns we’ve looked at some chordal concepts that work really well when playing the Guitar in an ensemble. In this issues lesson we’re going to continue on this path but with the focus on creating very spacious and simple parts that are super effective. The backing track I wrote for this is very stripped back, using only a drums, synth bass and a synth pad in the B section to create some movement between sections. My goal here was to add some interest to something that could sound quite dry and uninspired without my part. However, I didn’t want to add too much, I wanted to just put enough in. Section A: Bars 1 – 8 Much like we looked at in last issues column on using small 3 string add/sus voicings, I have used the same concept again.

The chords are outlined in the video section of this column. But the chord sequence being implied on paper looks like this: Badd9 – D13 – Gmaj9 – A9 By simply keeping a very simple 3 note arpeggiated phrase that changes and moves through each chord change I was able to create rhythmic interest simply by starting on the + of beat 1. By following this through the A section, I managed add some syncopation to the very straight feeling backing track whilst also adding harmonic interest and something that wasn’t too busy.

In Bar 4 I added a little interest and contrast with a staccato/palm muted single note line which helps bridge the D13 to GMaj9 harmony change. Notice how this also starts on the + of beat 1. Towards the end I play some small modal voicings that outline an A9 or A11 sound before moving into the B section.

Section B – Bars 9 – 17:

Now the harmony of the tune goes to the following implied chord sequence. B7 – Gmaj7 – F#m – A. I have a simple palm muted single note part, very inspired by the kind of single note guitar parts from 80s pop records. The goal is to keep in the pocket and get the tone really consistent with the picking hand. The note set highlights a B7 arpeggio over the B7 chord, when the underlying harmony changes to GMaj7 I change the D# (Major 3rd over B) to D which gives us the 5th over the GMaj7. It then also stays diatonic within the key of D Major/B Minor for the following F#m and A chord changes.

The example then ends with a Badd9 voicing (with no B root note) which is raked with the side of the pick for a nice clean shimmer. Summary: I personally get great satisfaction from writing guitar parts like these, or playing classic guitar parts of a similar fashion. It feels great to play something that is simple, that grooves and sounds great within a track. It feels like as a Guitar Player you’re really adding something rather than just throwing something over the top. Which leads me to this quote that I found very inspiring, whilst not completely related to this column, I think its essence follows the same principle. The quote is from Victor Wooten and I am paraphrasing here: ‘Practice Music not to make yourself better, but to make the Musicians around you better’

Happy Practicing, see you next time!


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