Guitar rhythms for country music explained. The acoustic guitar is the most popular instrument when it comes to folk and country music. This is mainly due to the versatility and portability of the instrument.
More importantly, if there is no bass player or drummer the guitarist will play the rhythm section to fill out the sound of the melody, and keep the rhythm, harmony, and timing going throughout the song.
As this article is about folk and country music rhythms let us look at how the beat and timing is done in this particular genre of music.
First let us take a folk ballad. The ballad is the most common form of this type of music.
Ballads are played at a slow to medium tempo. They can be played by finger style, thumb picks, or plectrum.
The timing for most of these songs should be displayed at the top of the first music line of the tune. This is called the time signature, it should also show the beat count.
The beat is the strumming action and is usually played to a 3/4 or 4/4 rhythmical beat.
The country and folk songs are mainly made up from a few simple and easy to play chords. More times than not there are only three or four chords in the songs which are usually a few major chords with a minor chord that make up the whole musical part of the song.
The chords are almost always played with a full left – hand sustain – which means they are allowed to ring out giving a full body sound to the melody.
The most common right hand styles are full, or open strumming, with playing alternate bass notes by strumming to the beat.
The notes are allowed ring out and should not be dampened down to muffle the sound.
The strumming should be either up strokes or down strokes, but you must keep in mind that the hand must not be uninterrupted while making the rhythmical beat and timing actions.
Keeping an uninterrupted flow of the hand or fingers is the most important element for playing a smooth steady rhythm.
The most common pattern is mostly the down stroke on the first beat then an upstroke on the second beat, then down on the third, and up on the fourth beat.
Folk and country music can and are often played at faster tempos which would be relating to dance music such as bluegrass, country and western, Irish jigs and reels and so on.
It must be remembered that the beat, and the timing whether you are playing finger style, or hand strumming, or plectrum, is and always will be the vital element in whatever genre of music you wish to play.
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