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May 2014
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Rhythm Rules: Syncopated 16th-Note Rhythms

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Here’s a funky one in the style of Tower Of Power. This groove begins with an accent on the “a” of one—this will be an upstroke. You can get away with playing very lightly muted strumming on the first three 16th-notes, which makes it easier to play that first accent in time. However, I’d recommend being able to do it without the dead notes as well. Once again, Fig. 6 shows the pattern before the unaccented notes are removed, and Fig. 7 is the one we want to nail.

Funk guitar isn't the only place where syncopated 16th-note strums come into play. Here’s a very common (more folky) strum pattern. You can get a lot of mileage out of this one when accompanying a singer. Notice that you’ll be switching to the G chord on the “e” of beat 3 in the second measure, which falls on an upstroke. Let's start with the entire progression in Fig. 8 and then move to the syncopated version in Fig. 9.

The next two examples are very familiar progressions. In Fig. 10, we cop a '70s Rolling Stones vibe and then go more modern in Fig. 11 with something you could easily hear from someone like singer/songwriter James Blunt.

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