Video Guitar Lesson – Triple your Blues Guitar Licks with Rhythmic Displacement.
Rhythmic displacement is a scary sounding topic, but in actual fact it’s a very simple concept to apply with a bit of practice. It’s also an extremely powerful idea and when used in blues guitar it gives you the ability to triple all your blues guitar licks.
The great thing about it is that the guitar practice you get to do is pretty much all jamming with backing tracks or friends, and you can instantly ‘recycle’ any blues or rock guitar licks you may already know to sound different and intelligent on your guitar.
The concept is to take a guitar lick you already know, and move, or ‘displace’ it slightly in the bar to give different notes more emphasis or importance.
Let’s take a quick look at the basic subdivision of most blues music; the triplet:
In this blues, we have 4 main pulses in the bar, and each one is split into 3 subdivisions.
To play our basic blues guitar rhythm in A major, we simply tie the first two subdivisions together like this:
To solo, and to try out the idea of rhythmic displacement on the guitar, we will take a very simple blues guitar lick and play it on beat one of the bar. We are playing on the first subdivision of the beat:
This lick is played on the accompanying video so listen to it now if you haven’t already.
Learn it and play it with a backing track to see how it sounds.
Rhythmic Displacement of the blues lick:
When you have mastered that line, try playing it in exactly the same way however this time start on the second subdivision of the beat like this:
This blues guitar lick is exactly the same, but as you can see, it has been rhythmically displaced by one 1/8th note.
Listen to this on the video lesson and notice that lick sounds almost unrecognizable It sounds different because our ears pick out notes that are on the beat more strongly. As the lick has been moved, different notes are on the beats. Jimi Hendrix is a great exponent of this technique
Obviously we can move the lick again one 1/8th note to the right and start on the third 1/8th note in the bar:
Again, the rhythmic feel is extremely different.
Try out these ideas with your own licks. They work equally well with jazz guitar, rock guitar or funk guitar licks.
We don’t have to stop there, however. We can also split each 1/8th note sub division into 1/16th notes and displace those. A simple Idea like this:
Can easily become a rhythmically displaced idea like this:
Using rhythm in this way to feed your improvisation is an extremely important tool. Without knowing it, your listener will subconsciously lock on to the fact that you’re using similar rhythms and melodies throughout your solo. This is a great thing because it gives your solo shape, development and a structure that the audience can follow while they are unaware that you are using similar material.
This idea sounds great. You can hear it constantly in the playing of BB King, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Add some rhythmic displacement into your playing today to help you create new music from those tired old blues guitar licks.
Joseph Alexander has written 5 instructional books for guitar. Two of them, The CAGED System and 100 Licks for Blues Guitar and Complete Technique for Modern Guitar are currently in the Amazon.com best sellers list.
Author - Joseph Alexander
Joseph Alexander has been a guitarist and expert music tutor for over 20 years. His tuition books are published in four languages and have sold over 200,000 copies to widespread critical acclaim. He is currently writing and publishing cutting edge-material that breaks down the barriers between learning and playing the guitar. As well as a…Author profile
One response to “Rhythmic Displacement for Blues Guitar”
Since purchasing Joseph’s Book 1 of the Complete Guide to Playing Blues Guitar, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of the options available to me when playing the blues. He writes clearly and methodically, giving just enough information on each topic so that I can confidently integrate new techniques and expand my playing knowledge.
The book provides alternative approaches to each method to drive home the idea that you the player should experiment and find what works best in different situations based on your preference. Clear explanations of different chord voicings and rhythm options have really opened up the palette of sounds to choose from, and I look forward to continuing the series.