How to always be in the right place at the right time
Contrary to what many people believe, everyone can develop a solid sense of rhythm if they undertake the right training. Investing in developing your sense of time is very well worth it – a musician can play two notes perfectly placed and will sound convincing and expert – more so than someone playing many notes in a random stream with zero authority and no sense of time.
A sixteenth note rhythm is one in which each of the beats in the bar has been subdivided into four parts of equal length. This doesn’t mean that you will be playing each of those subdivisions, merely that there are now sixteen places in the bar where you can start or end notes or strumming patterns.
The best way to get used to this is to start by thinking of each bar as four groups of four. Refer to your 16th note handout and play through each of those examples, strumming muted strings to start with. When you have a rhythm that you can play comfortably, you could always add in some chords. It’s VITAL to preserve the correct direction when you strum – walk through this as slowly as you need to so that you don’t have to unpick errors later. It’s also critical to include the strums that are not making contact with the strings. At higher tempos, it is going to be this learned movement that keeps you precisely in time.
You’ll find that as long as you start slow enough, even the less intuitive patterns become manageable after a while. Gradually work up to playing each of them separately at slightly higher tempos.
Then write down a combination of two different patterns, and go back to the slowest track to play your combined rhythm. You might find that it’s a lot harder to switch patterns that it was to get into one pattern and stay there. This is normal, but if you go slowly, you’ll be able to do this too.
A good exercise to check you have got the sixteenth note feel internalised is to pick one out of the four sixteenth notes in every beat to focus on. Play only the first one, to begin with, then play only the second, then play only the third, then play only the fourth. If you can do this at one of the lower tempos strumming muted strings, see if you can do it picking a single note. But in order to play it perfectly precisely, make sure you move the pick in the same directions as you would if you were strumming.
16th note backing track 40bpm
16th note backing track 50bpm
16th note backing track 60bpm
16th note backing track 70bpm
16th note backing track 80bpm
16th note backing track 90bpm
16th note backing track 100bpm
16th note backing track 120bpm