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TYGS Outline

Link to PDF version 

Link to Outline PDF version 

Teach Your Guitar to Sing: Workshop Outline
Rhythmic, Tonal, Chordal and Melodic Palettes

1. Rhythmic Palette

Free Strumming KEY TOPIC (Changing Rhythms) 

A. Steady beats 1 2 3 4 (Downstrums)

B. Offbeats 1+2+3+4+ (Upstrums)

Upstrums are harder... ...pull harder on the upstrum.

C. Adding ANY offbeats    

1 2 3+ 4+

1+2+3 4             

1 2+3+4+

1 2+3 4+

D. Leaving out beats (do Fake Downstrums)

1 (Fake) 3 4

1 2 (Fake) 4 etc.


To emphasize a particular beat

 Usually louder, but anything that draws attention to a single beat is an accent.

Try accenting by quietness or by space (and also things like Percussive effects, and zone strumming, coming up.)

Percussive effects

(especially as accents, but also on their own)

A. Cutting off: (or choking, or left hand muting) After a strum, release the pressure on the chord (or a single note), but don’t fully lift your fingers. Stopping a sound is a rhythmic event, just like starting a sound is.

B. Chopping: If you are muffling all the strings (touching but no pressure) and then strum, you get a snare-drum-like sound, which we can call a “Chop” (or “Chit”, for what it sounds like) 

Tempo and Effective TempoKEY TOPIC

Tempo is the speed of your beat; in general it remains the same..faster tempos tend to be more energetic, slower less energetic. You can vary tempo within a song however

Unisound/Multisound rhythms 

Effective tempo depends on the fact that a given beat will sound different when played with one sound only (Unisound) , or two sounds alternatingly (Multisound). Your ear seems to separate multiple sounds and not “string them together” in the same way as a series of single sounds.


Drive, intensity,.....changes energy Doubletime happens when you either double the tempo, or move from a largely multisound rhythm to a largely unisound rhythm.

Notes: Mix unisound/multisound to influence the effective tempo. Unisound rhythms can add intensity or drive in little doses, by using for just a few beats.
Arpeggio sections can be multisound if alternating strings, or unisound if steady up and down sequences. 

 • Dimensional Playing: Guitar playing becomes multi-dimensional when there are variations happening in several categories.


2. Tonal Palette

Loudness..How hard you strum (not just accenting...slow changes or abrupt changes in overall volume affect intensity and drive). Should be subtle!

Strumming Up and Down the neck An unsung hero...most people just strum in one place, wherever their hand lands comfortably. But! You can change position from song to song for effect. Changing “on the fly” gives a real three dimensional feeling, or “scene change” to your playing. 

Muting ...Right hand muting..heel of hand just in front of bridge (anchored). Also “on the fly,” in botton strings. Partial/ is variable to a small degree.

Zone strumming - KEY TOPIC

   • Selecting 2 or 3 adjacent strings to strum within the chord.

   • There are Two Broad Zones (bass /treble, bottom 3/ top 3) you can hit to start with.

   • Or 4 Subtle zones: 

      Low strings (includes # 6)

       Middle strings (no # 6 or # 1) Two zones;; the Middle Lower and the Middle Upper

      High strings (includes # 1)


3. Chordal Palette

Different Forms of the Same Chords variation, and also has a Tonal Palette effect too. There are 3 easy G fingerings (plus Barre, and 7th fret D); 3 C’s; 3 D’s; 2 or 3 A’s (plus A7, and Barre); 2 Em’s; Am/Am7 ETC.

Zone strumming in Chordshas an affect on the Tonal Palette, too. A verse played on the low strings followed by a verse on the high strings really resets the stage, providing Novelty with familiarity

Adding a note to chord...finger any additional note that works, briefly or for a while ( examples, adding g with pinky to C chord, or g with pinky to D chord, or d with pinky to Am chord.


4. Melodic Palette

• Hammer On /Pulling Off/Sliding

• Implied Basslines (zone strum)

• Fingered Basslines (single note or zone)

• Melody from Chords (zone strum)

• Melody chunks (minisolos)

• Solos