Picked off beat arpegios, to a metronome

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by greeny, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. greeny

    greeny Member

    Sep 21, 2006
    North Derbyshire - UK
    Every so often something comes along to make me realise what a hopeless case I am. I’ve been playing a couple of years and to be fair I’ve had a few of these. The latest such confidence sapper involves fast picked arpeggios.

    This is part of a Ritchie Blackmore style file in UK Guitarist magazine Issue 308. In essence what we have is an eight bar arpeggio based picked section at just over 8 notes per second. Now I can’t really play eight notes per second certainly not all picked and continuing for eight bars (16 notes per bar).

    So the first question is how long would someone usually have to have been playing to be able to maintain this type of pick speed? This piece is rated at Intermediate in the mag, and I can usually play most of the intermediate stuff even some 8 notes per second stuff but that is usually including some hammer-on, pull offs and only lasting maybe a bar.

    Anyway not withstanding my lack of speed I decided to work on this section a bit because it’s pretty cool sounding, so out comes the metronome set at 60 bpm rather than the up to tempo 122 bpm. Humm still a problem. 40 bpm after a good hour I can play if at this pace however even at this leisurely pace maintaining even tempo with the metronome is proving a real problem, and here is why:

    What we have is 4 groups of 3 note arpeggios plus a 4 single picked notes (making 16 in total) per bar. This is in 4/4 time hence the arpeggio section do not start on a beat (except the fist group in each bar). Here is a tab of the first couple of bars to try to elaborate

    E 5—-5—-5--5—-5555|6—-6—-6--6—-6666|
    B -6—-6—-6—-6-----|–8—-8—-8—-8-----|
    G --7—-7—-7—-7----|--7—-7—-7—-7----|

    Now when I try to play in time to a metronome even at really slow pace I find playing in time really difficult this is because if you look at how the notes are grouped you have:

    E 5—-5 —-5- -5—- 5555|6—-6 —-6- -6—- 6666|
    B -6—- 6—-6 —-6- ----|-8—- 8—-8 —-8- ----|
    G --7— -7—- 7—-7 ----|--7— -7—- 7—-7 ----|

    Hence the natural groupings do not fall on the beats so hearing the metronome and keeping in these groups I find near impossible.

    So I thought of a new alternatives to allow me to play to the metronome.

    I could play it as 5/4 and drop one of the last notes giving 5 3 note triplet per bar. This is much easier to play to the metronome but of course I’m losing a note.
    I could try to ignore the inter bar timing and just try to hit the start of each bar in time (and just keep it even within the bar) but even at tempo it would require a 30 bpm metronome, At a pace I could manage we would be looking at 15 – 20 bpm My metronome only goes down to 30.

    So I guess the question is: When trying to play to a metronome when you have unusual or difficult off beat groupings is there anything I’m missing to make it easier?

    Then secondly I’d be interested to know who can actually play this type of stuff (people in the UK with the mag) i.e. 8 notes plus per second, all picked for 8 bars.

    PS. I’m under no illusions about my ability. I’m only a bedroom player that manages about 30 mins per day practice.
  2. Woozy

    Woozy Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    take a left at Andromeda
    I'm a guitar hack, but I'm also a drummer.
    And rhythmically, this is a common phrase that you've probably heard a million times.
    I don't really think you should try to perceive it as another time signature.
    It would help to get that phrase locked in your mind.

    In drums, you might play 16th notes accented on the beat,
    then play it accented every three notes with four on the end.
    It sounds confusing, but here's an example:
    l XxxxXxxxXxxxXxxx l XxxXxxXxxXxxXXXX l
    (accents in bold, all 16th notes)

    If you plug something like that into a drum machine...
    Have the snare play the 16th notes and program the kick to mimic the metronome.

    Here's an example of the phrase from the Smashing Pumpkins:
    (they use it at 0:45, then repeat it several times in a row at 3:45)
    It's actually: l XxxXxxXxxXxXxXx l

    I'm slow on guitar, but I did manage to play the riff clean at 60bpm.
    I think you'll go faster when you embrace the phrasing.
    Just like drums, you practice a little bit each day.
    Keep moving the metronome up when you nail it.

    Good luck!
  3. greeny

    greeny Member

    Sep 21, 2006
    North Derbyshire - UK
    Maybe being a drummer helps you somewhat on this type of thing.

    I can actually play this somewhat quicker than 60 bpm if I forget the metronome and just play it as fast as I can being clean (mostly) I can manage up to around 80 bpm, the main difficulty being muting the arpegios in time (just letting the notes ring makes things somewhat easier, though I still couldn't manage 122bpm even doing that).

    What I am finding really difficult is with the metronome, trying to hit those clicks with the right notes, i.e 4 note groupings rather than three note arpegios.

Share This Page