Playing Together as a Band: Rhythm Playing

Andrew Stanley —  December 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

Rhythm Playing

Rhythm is not just for the drummers in the band.  I know that sounds obvious, but think about it — as band members, how much more of the time are we thinking about what notes we’re playing as opposed to when we’re actually playing those notes? The 100% Rule is applicable on two different planes.  I like to think of it like this …

The Vertical Plane – Sonic Range:
A fancy way of saying the notes and octaves you’re playing in.  You would think that playing the same note in the same octave as another instrument would make for a cleaner sound.  In my opinion, if the notes are played at exactly the same time for exactly the same length, then yes, there can be a certain charm to this every once in a while.  However, the margin for error raises significantly when you’re trying to layer pieces identically on top of each other.  You can’t only think about the notes and range that you’re playing in, you need to be thinking about the notes and ranges that every other instrument is playing too.

We’ll talk about how to maneuver the sonic range in upcoming posts, but for today, we need to continue focusing on …

The Horizontal Plane – Rhythmic: 
Are our parts lining up in such a way that we’re not taking up too much space in the 100% total on this plane?  If we’re all playing single shots on 1/4 notes, we’re not taking up much space on this plane at all.  However, if the drums are into a full groove with the bass, the acoustic, piano and electric are layering up different parts on top, you can imagine how thick and cluttered the sound would be if you weren’t intentional about WHEN you were playing those notes.

The Drums and the Bass are currently laying down the groove (refer to previous posts if you’re behind), it’s time to start layering the rest of our parts on top of them.

Rhythmic Chording
This concept is applicable anywhere that a chord is being played in a particular rhythmic pattern.  Typically, in our context, these parts will be found primarily in the keyboards and acoustic guitars, but also occasionally the electric guitar too.

How do I rhythmically (not even worrying about the notes I’m playing yet) play on top of the groove that is already set by the drums & bass?

Check out this video from our Amplify Conference.  The examples are all done on the acoustic, but these concepts are applicable to any “rhythmic chord-er” in the band.

(If you can’t see this video, copy and paste this URL to your browser:

Andrew Stanley


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