Rutbuster: Rhythmic Limitation

This week's Tuesday Tip is what I call a rutbuster - a simple practice method that will force you away from the familiar and into something new.

The method I want to share with you today is Rhythmic Limitation. The idea is to pick a rhythm (ex. 8th notes) or rhythmic phrase (ex. quarter note, 8th note, 2 16th notes) and see how much mileage you can get out of it. Here are some specific exercises using rhythmic limitation.

1. Scale Practice - Many guitarists only have one method for practicing guitar scales...they play the scale up and down using a straight rhythm such as 8th notes. Try applying a rhythmic phrase to your scale practice. Instantly your scales sound more like real music.

2. Single Note Improvisation - This is a bit tougher than the first exercise. In this exercise you'll be improvising a solo but limiting yourself to a certain rhythm or rhythmic phrase. Spend 10 minutes with this exercise over a backing track or loop. You'll be surprised how tricky it is to stick to one rhythm the whole time.

3. Song/Riff/Lick-writing - The third exercise is payoff for the first two. After you've practiced rhythmic limitation with scales and improvisation you should have plenty of new ideas for songs, riffs and licks that use the rhythms you've been practicing. You can even take 2 or more rhythms and combine them to form longer rhythmic phrases. The possibilities are endless!

Hopefully this rutbuster will be an effective tool to add to your practice routine. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so leave a comment below.


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