An easy method to create a huge number
of interesting rhythms
A frequent problem guitarists are facing is being unhappy with there guitar playing,
because it is always sounding the same. No matter how hard they are trying to
come up with some original ideas, their songs are more often than not are
sounding very close to what they’ve been playing so many times before.
If you are finding yourself in a similar situation, than you will most likely ask yourself
questions, like why it is so hard for you to come up with some really cool
stuff. The most common reason for this is, that you approach playing guitar or
writing songs in the same way most of the time. You don’t have a variety of
approaches yet, but you are focused on the same aspects over and over again
without diversifying your strategy.
An important aspect of playing guitar, being underestimated very often unfortunately and not
being used even near to it’s potential in most cases, is the one of rhythm. If
you are stuck with your “standard rhythm”, playing the same stuff over and
over, your guitar playing may soon become boring and unfulfilling to your ears.
I’m going to show you a method now, witch you can implement right away into your playing, in
order to develop interesting rhythms in a fast and easy way, without having to
worry about how to come up with new stuff.
What you need to do now is to pick out a few songs, from witch you find that they have some
interesting rhythms. Simply pick out 1-2 measures you like the most
rhythmically and write them down. I took “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits as
We are not concerned about the notes being played in the initial song. All we want to borrow is the rhythm. We
are going to replace the chords from the original excerpt by our own chord progressions.
In this example I am going to use the power chords “D”, “A”, “Bb” and “F” in
order to write a rock song. Here is how I arranged it:
What we have done now, is to convert “Sultans Of Swing” into a “Sultans Of Rock”. That being said, you don’t
have to pick out a piece fitting your own style. In fact you can come up with
some really unique stuff, using a piece out of your genre and than using chords
you would normally use in your playing.
I am going to show you 3 ways now, to create your own rhythmic variations:
1. Displace the rhythm:
In order to develop your own variations, you can simply shift the rhythm. In this example,
I am moving the rhythm together with the chords by a quarter note to the right.
The note values witch would “drop out” of the second measure, are simply being
moved into the released space at the beginning of measure 1. Of course you
could also displace the rhythm by a half note, a whole note, or an eight note.
Displacing the rhythm, while
keeping the chords in the same position:
You also could move the rhythm, while leaving the chords at the same position in the measures,
like you placed them in the beginning. As you are choosing this alternative and
listen back to it, you will find that the feeling has completely changed in regard
to the initial position. You are sounding completely different now, by doing
nothing else, than only shifting the rhythm by a quarter note!
After trying the first two exercises, you are ready now for the final variations, witch are
based on mirroring the measures. That means playing everything backwards! You
can use different approaches for this:
1. Keeping the chord progressions as they
are and playing the rhythms backwards.
2. Keeping the rhythms as they are and
playing the chord progressions backwards.
3. Playing the chord progressions and the
Now that you have a lot of possibilities to choose from, it is your turn to apply them into
your playing. You gain the most value for your playing, if you implement them
right away in your next practice session. Have fun with it and see yourself,
how your playing is becoming much more interesting!
This article was written by Marco von Baumbach, guitar teacher in Wuppertal,
If you are interested in the author, check out his website about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal