Create New Guitar Licks By Changing The Rhythm Of The Old Ones

Tommaso Zillio


Do you always us the same few phrases and tricks in your playing? And despite your efforts to learn new things, your music seems to be the same? Here is why you might be unable to use in real life what you learned in your practice.

The problem that most people have when they try to apply their “exercises” in actual songs is that they simply try to play the exercise on the song as they learned it. And they quickly discover that the exercises does not “feel” right, does not “groove” with the song. What is happening here? This: they learned the exercise, but they have not mastered the possible rhythm variations of the exercise.

Rhythm is what I call an “invisible area” of musicianship: it’s something that everybody thinks should be “natural” and able to “feel”. As a result, most people either do not practice their rhythm, or they don’t practice it enough, or in the right way. Fact is, with just a little effort you would be able to be so much more flexible in your rhythm skills that you would be able to “adapt” most licks to most song, on the spot.

What can be done about it? Well, the very first thing is to learn how to manipulate rhythm by displacing the accents in a phrase (whoa, that was a mouthful). This allows you to do two important things:

•     It makes “old” like sound “new” because now their rhythm is different, and

•     It helps you “fitting” the exercises you know into songs that may have a different rhythm.

Now, I could explain how to do that forever, but I think that the best way to learn it is by a direct and simple example, so you can HEAR what I am doing. If you play the video below I will show you a very simple example and some suggestions on how to apply this to everything you do. It’s so simple and you will use it so often that you will wonder how could you live without it. :-)

After watching the video, it is your turn to take your licks and change their rhythm as shown in the video. this system will work beautifully also (and especially) with the licks that you think you play “too much”. If there is a lick that you don’t want to play because you have played it too many times, this procedure will make it fresh and new.

You don’t need to know thousands of licks: you need to know just a few of them and then master all their variations: this way you will sound with a coherent style and it will be much easier for you to improvise and write your solos.


About the Author

A professional guitarist, teacher, and composer, Tommaso Zillio enjoys particularly writing about music theory and its application to guitar playing

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