Supplemental Material for Page 9 (Chapter 1)

The tie

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Related audio: CD Track 2 (Tuning Notes); Track 8 (Audio for Page 9)

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General info about page 9:
This page introduces perhaps the single most important strum for budding guitarists: Strum number 1 is among the most commonly used rhythms in many styles of popular music. If you can play this rhythm comfortably, and play the chords presented so far (switching from one to another without an audible pause), you're prepared to play lots and lots of songs.

About the "Review" section:
The review on the top part of the page is critical. If you are having any trouble at all playing the fourth pattern (same as number 4 from page 5), you must spend more time reviewing pages 3 and 5. You must be able to play the "review" patterns over & over very comfortably (effortlessly, even) before attempting strum number 1 here on page 9.

Of course, physical technique is just as important as ever; make sure your right-hand form is good. Refer to the text presented on this web site for pages 1, (and reiterated on pages 3, 5, and 7) for plenty of discussion about proper right-hand form. Seeing a competent teacher is highly recommended to ensure that you aren't developing a bad habit.

About the tie:
There really isn't much to add. When two notes are tied together, it makes them like one big note; don't "hit" (better words: pick, strum, or attack) the second note; simply add its time value to the previous note, and treat the two notes tied together as one.

About strum #1:
The tough part of this is the "missing" downward strum on beat 3. You physically make a downward strumming motion that misses (rather than hits/plays) the strings.
1. Refer to the CD (track 8), or the audio file here. (It walks you through playing the rhythm without the tie, accenting beat 3. Then it introduces "missing" the 3rd beat.)

2. Your right hand/arm should maintain a very steady, even down/up motion. Don't do anything differently on beat 3 simply because it is missing the strings. (Unless, at first, it helps you to slightly accent the "missing strum" on beat 3, as the CD/audio file suggests.) Strum as if you were going to strike the strings on beat 3, but miss them with the pick as you go by. Don't change anything else.

3. Still having trouble? Try this: play simple quarter notes (see the first example in the "review" section on the top of page 9.) Notice that you're only striking the strings on the downs. You're able to "miss" the ups without any trouble, right? Now try the opposite: strum using all "ups", without hitting any of the "downs". This generally isn't a problem. Strum #1 on page 9 is simply using this concept, but only on beat 3; make a downward strumming motion on beat 3 without hitting the strings, and without changing anything else about your technique. Focus on doing the two "ups" in a row, just before and after beat 3.

4. Try tapping your foot. If you can lock your foot and your right hand together, it sometimes makes things easier. Let your foot tap on all your downward strums. (Also lock the motion of your upward strums together with the motion of your foot coming back up, preparing for the next downward tap.) On beat 3, you'll hear & feel your foot tap (and make a downward strumming motion) without hearing the strum on your guitar.

About exercises 2, 3, and 4:
Exercise 2 is really quite difficult by beginners' standards. I sometimes skip it, but more often, I like to teach this one slowly by breaking it down. Measures 1 and 2 are manageable. Things get tricky in measures 3 and 4. Try sticking a repeat sign around these two measures, and treating this as its own exercise. If you can gradually build it up to a reasonable tempo, it begins to resemble the types of rhythms you'll see lots of later on. Measures 5 and 6 may be treated the same way. The final two measures aren't a problem! Don't be concerned if it takes a few weeks to get this one; it's a challenge. It also makes page 9 a nice spot to work up to: Start to incorporate plenty of reviewing, do the progressions on the bottoms of pages 2, 4, and 6 to keep your left hand in shape, and generally be sure you're solid at pages 2 thru 9 before moving on.

Exercise 3 is a nice example of how strum #1 will work in the real world. Note that there are 2 measures of G and Emin, and just one measure each of C and D. Play two more measures of G at the end, and remain on G for another two measures as you are back at the beginning (because of the repeat sign).

Of course, you'll notice the use of brackets in the final measures, indicating "To repeat" and "Ending". Remember that throughout Sensible Guitar, repeat signs are "open", meaning material enclosed within the repeat signs may be played as many times as you wish. (Normally, material enclosed by repeat signs is generally played just twice, unless "open" is specifically indicated.) Play the measure marked "To repeat" every time that you are going to repeat the progression. When you are finally going to end, skip the measure marked "To repeat", and play the "Ending" measure instead.

1st and 2nd endings:
As mentioned above, material within repeat signs is typically only repeated once (i.e. played twice) unless something indicates otherwise. However, long musical passages often repeat with variations occurring only at the ending(s). Conventionally, any bracketed final measure(s) before the repeat sign would simply be labeled "1" (instead of "To repeat"), meaning you should play that the first time. This "first ending" will always end with the repeat sign. The second time, omit the first ending, and play the "second ending" (labeled "2") instead of the first ending. As is the case in Sensible Guitar, you must watch for variations indicated within the "first and second ending" convention in written music. There may sometimes be three or more endings set up, or other liberties taken with this concept of guiding the reader through repetitive sections of music.

Exercise 4 is another very practical example. Notice that "strum #1" is very effective when a measure contains just one chord. However, it doesn't "break in half" very well when there are two chords (requiring two beats each) in a measure. This is because the rhythm is tied (i.e., you do not strum) precisely in the middle, where you should hear the chord change. In such cases, the rhythm of a quarter & two eighths (played twice) is a good option. Exercise 4 provides some preparation for chord progressions of this type.

For the curious: Why tie?
It's easy to see why the tie is used to create a note that holds longer than four beats: When there are only four beats per measure, you have to "connect" (i.e. tie) notes together over the bar line. But what about within a measure? If two eighth notes tied together add up to one beat, why not just show a quarter note? (OK, you probably haven't asked yourself this, but it may be helpful to know.) When the tie is used within a measure, it's because of the "imaginary bar line". This rule of notation dictates that you treat a measure of 4/4 time as if there is a bar line between beats 2 and 3. Therefore, you don't use a quarter note on the "and" of beat 2.
There are some exceptions to this rule: For instance, a whole note isn't considered a violation; it would be silly to use two half notes tied together. Quarter, half, quarter is also considered reasonable. (Four quarter notes with the second and third tied together would be tougher to read.) But in general, you should be able to draw a bar line between beats 2 and 3. That way, you can easily see the start of the 3rd beat (the midpoint of the measure), which helps keep things tidy and easier to read.




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