Get More Out Of Your Rhythmic Idea

By Rene Kerkdyk


Have you ever had a good musical idea, used that idea in the context of improvisation but then noodled on it, so that the impact of your good idea was no more than a fire cracker? I felt like that before, and this is a problem many musicians struggle with. Wouldn’t it be awesome to create something more impactful than that? And how cool would it feel if you could take a simple idea and create something beautiful out of it. That’s what we want to accomplish today. We will take a simple rhythmic idea and create many ideas out of it. Let’s go!


The Core Idea


The core idea is a break. A little piece of silence in playing. One simple implementation is play – play – rest. This concept can lead to a lot of music. What happens if you apply this to quarter notes? If you are using it over regular 4/4 meter this rhythm the emphasis of the first note in a bar changes from the first note played to the second note and then to the rest.



The same idea applied to 8ths has another feel to it. Here we have the beat emphasize the notes or the rest. A whole run through the rhythm until it starts again from the first note of a measure looks like the this:


The Idea Applied


So far so good, but how does this help us? The magic happens when you apply this concept to another musical concept. Take a pentatonic and apply the rhythmic pattern with it. Here it is applied to the A minor pentatonic in the position most often used:



Playing through it in this way will sound a whole lot better than playing the scale in a straight rhythmic pattern. Now it’s your turn to get creative. Apply the pattern with different scales, apply it to arpeggios, double stops, or simply bends. All of those musical concepts can be enhanced by this simple rhythmic idea. Furthermore if you apply the rhythmic pattern and apply it to different musical ideas it will give the ideas a feeling of coherence. They fit together although the techniques you use may be quite different.


About The Author:


This article was written by Rene Kerkdyk, a guitar teacher in Hildesheim. Be sure to contact him if you have questions or are interested in taking your playing to the next level in Hildesheim.