Rut-Busters for Guitarists, Part 4 of 8: Syncopated Phrasing — Video

Welcome to Part 4 of my series of lessons, "Rut Busters for Guitarists." You can find Part 1,Part 2 and Part 3 under RELATED CONTENT, just below my photo.

These lessons are aimed at breaking through barriers that might be preventing you from improving on the guitar.

Some of these lessons will simply give you some good food for thought, and some will be more hands-on. Written to help you get past that plateau, these lessons are here to help you mix things up and keep your relationship with the guitar an interesting one.

We tend to play what we practice. Those of us who practice regularly with a metronome are practicing our lines, scales, and arpeggios on the beat. Thus your phrases and lines end up starting and ending on the beat. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, I find that phrasing like this makes the music feel heavy-footed and less than exciting to listen to.

This fourth lesson discusses syncopated phrasing. Syncopation is defined as a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm. It's the placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur. Syncopating your lines will lighten the sound of your phrases, propel the music forward and add an exciting element that's sure to get your playing out of that rut.

The trouble most students have is getting the feel for syncopation. I suggest you get comfortable with "saying" the syncopated phrase to the metronome, whose click will remain on the beats “one, two, three, four." If you can say it, you can play it.

The syncopated 8th note example would be verbalized as: “and one and two and three and four."

To verbalize syncopated 16th notes, you have a few choices—to start the phrase on the “e," the “and” or the “a.”

The first is verbalized as: “e-and-a-one” with the click on “one.”

The second is verbalized as “and-a-one-e” with the click still on “one.”

The third is verbalized as “a-one-e-and” also with the click on “one.”

In the accompanying video, I provide an easy four-note exercise that displaces the first note to start on the “and” if you are playing 8th notes, and then the “e," “and" and the “a” (as in “one-e-&-a”) if you are syncopating with 16th notes. I also include a short musical phrase that we will displace so you can hear what the different syncopations sound like. Mix up your practice routine by using these different syncopations and over time, it will surely show in your playing!

Guitarist Adrian Galysh is a solo artist, session musician, composer, as well as Education Coordinator for Guitar Center Lessons. He's the author of the book Progressive Guitar Warmups and Exercises. Adrian uses SIT Strings, Seymour Duncan Pickups and Effects, Brian Moore Guitars, and Morley Pedals. For more information, visit him at readers can enjoy a FREE download of Galysh's song "Spring (The Return)" by clicking HERE.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49