Sunday, October 30, 2011

City Solo

This was composed for a client of my friend, producer Billy Burke.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pendulum Picking

Hi Barrett,

I am working through your book Rhythmic Lead Guitar, I really enjoy it. After playing the guitar for 15 years, it's been really helpful to remind myself to play in time.

I am working through the portion on intentionally make the pick miss the string while maintaining constant motion along with the foot. I realized I don't do that at all, especially when I am playing the acoustic guitar when all I'm doing is mainly strumming. I would just like to ask if it make sense for me to correct that, so that I will maintain constant motion. Do you do it yourself as well when playing acoustic?

Thanks for your help!

Hi John,

Yes, I do it that way too.

One of the main benefits of keeping your hand moving along with the foot, even if it is not really a visible movement, is that you start strumming again on either a down or an upstroke that is aligned with the down or upbeat of the music.

If you are just strumming 8th notes on an acoustic (with pick or fingers) to accompany vocals in a pop or folk tune, then I'd recommend the alternation to keep the time steady. A good example is "Yesterday" by the Beatles. When Paul sings the title word (at about 1:15), the final up strum with "-day" is left to ring for a quarter note duration, and he comes back in with up-down-up strums before the down beat of the bridge section ("Why she had to go").

Strict right-hand alternation even when some notes are not played (some call it "pendulum picking") is useful for making sure you play syncopated single notes and chords without rushing the time. If you try to play single-note funk parts (or mixed single-note lines with chords like the two guitars in Rufus's "You Got the Love") without this steady alternation, it's much harder to stay in the groove.

For strumming chords with no single notes involved, you may alter this approach for tonal purposes. Downstrokes and upstrokes sound a little different from each other. The downstrokes are chunkier and the upstrokes are a little more chime-like due to the order of the strings being hit. Usually the first strings you hit in a strum get hit the hardest and therefore get a volume boost. Punk and metal rhythm parts are often played with downstrokes only and would not have the same impact otherwise. I usually play ska skanks with only upstrokes (they're on upbeats anyway) on the high strings for stinging accents that stay in the rhythmic pocket.

Thanks for your question.

Barrett Tagliarino

Barrett Tagliarino