Magazine article Guitar Player

Rhythm Workshop: Bending in Rhythm

Magazine article Guitar Player

Rhythm Workshop: Bending in Rhythm

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE GREATEST JOYS OF playing guitar is having the ability to physically bend the strings. Of course, we do this in order to raise notes to a desired higher pitch (or to add vibrato), but there's also an important and often ignored rhythmic element involved in this guitaristic technique, one that can open up worlds of phrasing possibilities.

In fact, the only non-rhythmic bend is a pre-bend, where a string is already bent up to a desired pitch before it is played, as shown in Ex. 1a. Every other bend has rhythm. Even though a grace note theoretically receives no rhythmic value, the standard grace-note bend in Ex. 1b does create an audible change in pitch, and therefore qualifies as a rhythmic bend. Ex. 1c delays the bend by one sixteenth-note for a more melodic effect, where both the unbent and bent notes are clearly audible. Delaying the bend by successive sixteenth-notes produces the slightly lazier eighth-note and dotted-eighth-to-sixteenth rhythmic bends illustrated in Examples 1d and 1e. Finally, Ex. If brings us full circle, with the bend targeting the next quarter-note on beat two. You can repeat the previous six moves starting on each successive beat or continue elongating each bend through the entire measure. Play each bend as written, and then try them all with gradual bends, half- or one-and-a-half-step bends, and/or swing-eighth and sixteenth feels.

Ex. 2a condenses the rhythmic bends from Examples 1b through 1e into a single measure, while Examples 2b and 2c illustrate the same four moves applied to unison and oblique bends. These can be mixed and matched to form a vocabulary of emotive bends that can be summoned at will. In Examples 3a through 3d, we apply each rhythmically displaced bend to the first beat of the same blues-rock lick. The grace-note bends on beat three remain constant throughout, but feel free to substitute sixteenth-note, eighth-note, or dotted-eighth-to-sixteenth bends. …

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