For a long time I struggled with playing fast tunes...anything over 150 BPM or so would have me so tense I could barely move by the end of the song.
Even playing rhythm guitar on a fast tune would wear me out.
It's common knowledge that excess tension is the enemy of fast, clean guitar playing. But knowing the problem is only the first step in finding a solution. Today I'd like to offer you the solution.
The key to staying relaxed on a fast tune is this: Lose the quarter note pulse. Feel the pulse on beats 1 and 3 (half time pulse) or just on beat 1 of every measure.
This mental shift has the magical effect of making the song feel only half as fast as it previously did.
To try it out, put on a recording of a fast tune. Tap your foot or bob your head to the quarter note pulse. After a few bars, tap your foot only on beats 1 and 3. Now you're feeling the half time pulse. Repeat this exercise a few times to really learn to feel the difference.
The next step is to bring it to your playing. Play a simple part on a fast tune and practice making this mental shift from feeling the quarter note pulse to the half time pulse.
You should notice an instant release of tension when switching to the half time pulse! Feeling the larger pulse will also have the effect of smoothing out your phrases since you'll no longer be "pecking" at every single downbeat.
With a little practice, you'll have this mind hack at your disposal any time you're faced with a fast tune.
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