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Introduction To More Syncopation


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Syncopated Rock Rhythm Series 3

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A propulsive backbeat syncopation is the engine of rock and roll rhythm guitar. In this tutorial we'll open the hood and have a close look at what makes this engine run by learning to play some syncopated rock rhythm guitar patterns.

If you missed it, you might want to check out the first and second tutorials in this series before working through this one. They will give you a more basic and complete understanding of what we are building on to in this tutorial.

Syncopated Rock Rhythm Series 1

Syncopated Rock Rhythm Series 2

We will be using the same open major and minor chords as the previous tutorials. But this time we'll add more notes to our rhythmic pattern that alternates between palm muted bass notes and punchy chords on higher strings.

This type of playing is essential to rock rhythm guitar playing. The backbeat is the rhythmic standard of rock and roll. In classical music, the emphasis was typically on the first and third downbeats of a 4/4 measure. The result was a pulse like this:

ONE, two, THREE, four.

Blues and jazz, followed quickly by rock and roll was built on the exact opposite rhythmic pulse!

One, TWO, three, FOUR.

That is the origin of the term backbeat. It's always behind the downbeats of "one" and "three". This makes it feel like it's coming in behind the first beat and kicking the whole rhythm forward. That's why the drummer in blues, jazz and rock music is always smacking the snare on beats two and four!