Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Rockschool -

In the last is­sue we looked at count­ing quar­ter-notes, eighth-notes and rests as well as in­tro­duc­ing dot­ted notes and ties. We saw that quar­ter-notes are shown as a black dot with a ver­ti­cal stem on one side and eighth notes are the same, but have a flag on the end of the stem; they can also be beamed to­gether with a hor­i­zon­tal line con­nect­ing a max­i­mum of four notes to­gether.

This month we will in­tro­duce 16th notes, which are also known as semi­qua­vers as they last half the time as a qua­ver or eighth note. To sum­marise: a bar of 4/4 con­tains four quar­ter-notes, which can be sub­di­vided into eight eighth-notes, which in turn can be di­vided into six­teen 16th-notes.

Six­teenth notes can be counted pho­net­i­cally: ‘1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a’. No­tice that the num­bers ‘1 2 3 4’ and the ‘&’ are the eighth-notes and the ‘e’ and ‘a’ let­ters are 16th-notes in be­tween. Ex­am­ple 1 switches be­tween quar­ter, eighth and 16th-notes so you can com­pare them to each other and get their rhythm in your head.

A sin­gle 16th-note looks much like an eighth-note, ex­cept it has two curly flags at­tached to the end of the stem. When two, three or four eighth-notes are next to each other, they are beamed to­gether with two this is a clearer way of show­ing notes go­ing across the beat, but still keeps the bar or­gan­ised log­i­cally.

Dots are another way of ex­tend­ing the value of a note. Plac­ing a small dot after the note in­creases the value by an ad­di­tional 50%. Dot­ted 8th notes are the same value as an 8th-note plus a 16th; th­ese are ‘glued’ to­gether as one, with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing 16th note to follow as seen in Ex­am­ple 3.

The fol­low­ing rhyth­mic ex­am­ples use a com­bi­na­tion of 16th notes, rests, ties and dots. The ex­er­cises are all played on the note B, which, although mo­not­o­nous, will en­able you to con­cen­trate fully on read­ing the rhyth­mic in­for­ma­tion with­out think­ing about chang­ing notes - don’t worry, we’ll com­bine th­ese two skills in a fu­ture is­sue. Use a metronome or a drum ma­chine to en­sure that the ex­am­ples are played at a con­sis­tent tempo and feel free to in­crease or de­crease the sug­gested 60bpm to suit your cur­rent read­ing level. As with all the lessons in GT, learn­ing slowly and ac­cu­rately is far bet­ter than charg­ing through like a bull in a china shop. Read­ing speed will come nat­u­rally enough, so be pa­tient.

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