A pulsating rhythm not only sounds cool, it is also a great muscle memory guitar exercise. In a previous guitar lesson video I demonstrated how to make the transition between certain chords easier by using an open chord strum. Now I’m going to show you how to add a little more pizazz to your strumming…
How to Create a Pulsating Rhythm:
Notice the open notes at the end of each chord sequence in the graphic above. This is where you are supposed to lift your fingers and strum the open strings. The letters underneath the tab indicate the direction of the strum (d=down u=up).
The 2nd up strum in the pulsating rhythm sequence is tied to the next note, which means you don’t have a down strum on the 3rd beat. That’s why I put a parenthesis around the number 3 in the count sequence shown beneath the tab. The down beat is counted, but not played.
The open strums are: up, down, up.
If you watch the video closely you’ll also notice that I’m alternately holding, then releasing, pressure on the strings as I strum. This creates a slight damping effect which enhances the groove a little more. It’s not hard to do, but it may take a little time to get used to.
The most important thing in this exercise is to focus on keeping your rhythm steady and even. If you notice that your timing is getting off the beat, slow down or start over. Sometimes it may be necessary to simplify the entire process by breaking things down into smaller increments. Less is more!
Breaking It Down
- Start with one chord and play a simple quarter beat down strum
- Hold pressure on the strings through the 1st down strum
- Release pressure while maintaining contact with the strings through 2nd down strum
- Hold pressure on the strings through the 3rd down strum
- Release pressure while maintaining contact with the strings through 4th down strum
- Now play an even eighth beat (down-up) strum while holding the same chord
- Hold pressure on the strings through the 1st down-up strum
- Release pressure while maintaining contact with the strings through 2nd down-up strum
- Hold pressure on the strings through the 3rd down-up strum
- Release pressure while maintaining contact with the strings through 4th down-up strum
- Hold a G chord and play through steps 1-3 above.
- Lift your fingers up on the 3rd down-up strum and play just open strings.
- Continue playing just open strings on the 4th down-up strum while moving to a D chord.
- Play steps 1-3 above while holding D.
- Create a loop by repeating the entire sequence from the beginning.
- End with a G chord