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Now that we have a vocabulary of chords at our disposal we need to talk about how to use them.
The first thing to discuss is the notion of note values, and how to keep time. Time, or the pulse of the music, is generally felt in groups of 4. This is known as 4/4 time, which basically means that you count to 4 over and over again, and each set of 4 is one bar (or measure).
Therefore, in 4/4 time there are 4 beats in each measure. Yes there are other time signatures like 3/4 , etc. but we won’t get into those at this moment.
Moving on, we have different note values, as some notes right longer than others, right? Here are your 3 basic note values we will be using for this lesson:
Whole notes – ring out for a whole measure, or 4 beats
Half notes – ring out for half a measure, or 2 beats
Quarter notes – ring out for a quarter of a measure, or 1 beat
Practice each of these with a metronome and get comfortable switching back and forth in time. do this with your hands on your knees and while playing open strings on your guitar. And tap your foot! It will help you feel the pulse.
Next, let’s work on a couple of basic strumming patterns to get used to playing rhythm guitar. I want you to try these with all of the chords we have learned so far.
Down on the root, down up on the chord. This should sound like a waltz, and be counted one, two, three
Down, down, down up, down up all on the chord. This should be counted one, two, three and four and.
First, practice all downstrokes on the chord, then practice all upstrokes. Then, alternate (down, up, down, up).
Try to make your strokes even in length and speed. The goal is to try to make the upstrokes and downstrokes sound as similar and as fluid as possible. Remember not to strum the strings that have an X on them in the diagram.
Songs, as you know, are normally made up of more than one chord. There are songs that consist of only one chord, but very few of them are interesting. What I have below are your basic transitions. These are chords that normally go together. They are in the same “family.” They make sense in the same context.
Practice each of the transitions with each of the strumming patterns you have already learned. The idea is to play the first chord four times and then switch to the second chord for four times and so on and so forth. The trick is to not lose any time in between chords when you switch.
So take it slow. Use a metronome.
We are going for accuracy, not speed. I can not express the importance of this enough!
If you master these transitions you will be ready to play many of your favorite songs!
E – Emi
E – A
Emi – Ami
A – Ami
A – D
Ami – Dmi
D – Dmi
D – G
Dmi – Gmi
G – Gmi
G – C
Gmi – Cmi
C – Cmi
C – F
Cmi – Fmi
F – Fmi
Ami – C
Emi – G
Dmi – F
B – E
B – Bmi
Bmi – Emi
Bmi – D
D – Emi
C – Emi