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Rhythm Rules: Syncopated 16th-Note Rhythms


Things get even busier in Fig. 12, where we play a more British-inspired riff. Keep an eye out on the strum patterns in the second measure—they're the key to getting the feel right.

The next three examples are a little more challenging to execute cleanly, especially at faster tempos. Remember there’s no shame in practicing slowly at first.

In Fig. 13, we’ll play on every beat, except on "e." Yes, it’s the familiar gallop pattern you might recognize from a million different songs. This pattern really forces your strumming hand to be consistent in the 16th-note motion. Let’s accent all the downbeats by making those downstrokes a bit stronger than the strums on the “+ a” beats. Also, try dampening the strings with your strumming hand.

Here’s a cool pattern that's similar to something Duncan Sheik might play. I’ve included Fig. 14 to show where all the notes are, before we take them out. Fig. 15 is the one we’ll play.

Last but not least, we have something straight out of the ’90s alt-rock scene (Fig. 16). This rhythm totally rocks! If you can play this well, then I’d say you’ve got some rhythm chops. Be sure to get those dead notes by lightening your grip on the chord (which will stop the sustain and mute the strings). It might take some practice getting the accents and dead notes in sync with your strumming hand, but the result will be worth it.

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