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King of riffs but can't play songs. Lol

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by ocean, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. crazyrachey96

    crazyrachey96 Strat-O-Master

    Feb 26, 2020
    Yesterday i was just popping in with random stuff while I was at work. Let me flesh that out a little...

    Most rock guitarists are better soloists than they are rhythm players, because learning riffs and solos is fun, whereas learning primary rhythm parts is seen as tedium. This is a PROBLEM. I'm in a band. I get plenty of solos, but what do I spend 90% of my onstage time doing? Playing rhythm. And I love it! it doesn't have to be boring. Listen to Hendrix; does he sound bored playing rhythm? Heck, no... he was honestly a better rhythm player than he was a soloist (I know for some those will be fighting words, but I stand by it).

    So how do we fix this? Let's start small. Pick a song with AT LEAST four chords, one that you know the harmonic structure for back to front. I can't stress enough the importance of being aware of the harmonic structure of anything you play. Pop quiz: what two chords is the Smoke on the Water riff played over? No googling! You need to know this stuff. So anyway, pick a song that you know the entire chord progression for. Play through it... not the recorded parts, just chords. For any given chord, can you play it anywhere on the neck? Or are you defaulting to the same shape and same position every time it comes around? If the next chord is D, you want to be able to play it anywhere on the neck, in any inversion, on the fly.

    From there you want to expand into being ale to play specific notes from the chord (if you don't know your chord theory, now is the time to get it handled), and to choosing your inversions... which note do you want on the bottom? On top? Then you can start thinking about adding extensions... do you know what extensions will work on this chord, in this context, and in this key? Can you find them on the fly? You don't need a jazz player's command of extended harmony (I sure don't have that), but you should be able to handle suspensions, 6ths, 7ths and 9ths without having to poke around your fretboard to find them. At this point rhythm playing is FUN, because you have freedom.

    The other really important thing... which I mentioned upthread... is developing your ear. I was lucky and didn't have to work very hard at this, but I've seen people develop it with practice, too. Your goal is to instantly identify a chord's function within a given key. Take... I dunno... Heat of the Moment. The chorus goes I V IV V I V vi IV I V vi. Do you know that when you hear it? The best way I know to start getting good at that is to try playing along with songs WITHOUT PEAKING AT TABS OR CHORD CHARTS. Don't try to duplicate the parts; just find the chords! Another good exercise is what I mentioned upthread: actually chart it out on a piece of paper. No peaking; just write down what you THINK the chords are. Goodbye to You is a great starting point because it's a five chord song and 100% diatonic; no surprises or weirdness. Once you've got this down you don't even need to "learn" the song... you're literally playing along as you're listening to it for the first time. This is the really rewarding stage.
    Jesse414 and ocean like this.
  2. nuculer terrist

    nuculer terrist Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 12, 2014
    center of the mind
    In my own head, I can hear some fantastic leads. Put a guitar in my hands and it all goes downhill real fast!

    Sent from my SM-A205U using Tapatalk
    ocean and Boubou like this.
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