18 More Notes on the First String, Thirty-Second Rhythms & Swing

INTRODUCTION

In this unit you will learn to recognize and play more fretted notes on the first string. You will also be introduced to thirty-second note rhythms and the notation used to express swing rhythm.

NOTATIONS

Notes

The Note ‘E’

‘E’ is in the third leger line above the staff. To play ‘E,’ fret the twelfth fret on the first string.

The Note ‘F’

‘F’ sits on top of the third leger line above the staff. To play ‘F’ fret the thirteenth fret on the first string.

The Notes ‘F‘ or ‘G

‘F♯’ and ‘G♭’ are enharmonics. To play ‘F♯’ or ‘G♭’ on the guitar, fret the fourteenth fret on the first string.

The Note ‘G’
‘G’ sits on top of the fourth leger line above the staff. To play ‘G’ fret the fifteenth fret on the first string.

Rhythms

Thirty-Second Note in Simple Meter

A thirty-second note sustains for one-eighth of a beat in simple meter. The thirty-second note can be written in two ways: either with three beams or three flags.

Beamed Thirty-Second Notes

This example contains four thirty-second notes.. The thirty-second note consists of a note head that is colored in, a stem and three beams.

Flagged Thirty-Second Notes

In this example, the thirty-second notes contain flags instead of beams.

Thirty-Second Rest

A thirty-second rest creates silence for one-eighth of a beat in simple meter. It consists of a diagonal line with three small flags.

How to Count Thirty-Second Notes in Simple Meter

When you sight-reading at a brisk tempo, counting thirty-second notes in a methodical manner can be impossible, simply because they proceed faster than most of us can count. Therefore, it is best to devote part of your rhythmic sight-reading practice to recognizing and playing different combinations of thirty-second and sixteenth notes. Aim to play them in relation to the pulse in an intuitive (not intellectual) manner. However, while you are developing this skill, it may help to slow down the pulse and count according to the method below. When this becomes manageable, speed up the pulse (little by little) until you count only the pulse, not the rhythmic sub-divisions of the pulse.

I recommend to count thirty-second notes in the manner described below. The first eighth of the beat receives a number, which represents the its placement in the measure. The second eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘di.’ The third eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘ee.’ The fourth eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘da.’ The fifth eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘&.’ The sixth eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘di.’  The seventh eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘ah.’  The last eighth of the beat receives the sound ‘da.’ 

Bear in mind that thirty-second notes are usually ornamental. When applicable, it will help to recognize a group of thirty-second notes as a trill, turn, mordent, etc. Further, since ornaments are not as structurally important as melody notes, some composers and styles allow them to be played with a greater degree of expression and flexibility. However, this is not always the case. Many composers request that musicians perform thirty-second notes and ornaments with rhythmic precision.

Dotted Sixteenth Note & Rest in Simple Meter

Dotted Sixteenth Note

The dotted sixteenth note sustains for three-quarters of a half of a beat. The dotted sixteenth note consists of a sixteenth note with a dot positioned close to the notehead.

Dotted Sixteenth Rest

The dotted sixteenth rest creates silence for three-quarters of a half of a beat. The dotted sixteenth rest consists of a sixteenth rest with a dot positioned close to the symbol.

 

Dotted Sixteenth & Thirty-Second Note Combinations in Simple Meter

The dotted sixteenth and thirty-second note frequently combine. Below are two combinations that commonly appear in music.

Sixteenth & Thirty-Second Note Combinations in Simple Meter

Since the sixteenth note holds for one-quarter of a beat and the thirty-second holds for a one-eighth of a beat, they frequently beam together to form a group that adds up to half of a beat. Below are three combinations that appear frequently in music.

Meters for Swing

Swing rhythm is usually notated with the word swing written above the time signature. The notation used to represent swing rhythm is only an approximation. Nonetheless, it is commonly represented in compound meter with consistent quarter note/eighth note rhythmic groupings, as in the example from Crazy Vertical Blues by Joan Greenwald.

Occasionally, swing rhythm is represented in simple rhythm with consistent eighth note/eighth note rhythmic groupings, as in the example from Swing by Emile Porée.

Let’s Play

Sight-Reading Tip

Since the notation used to represent swing rhythm is only an approximation, I recommend listening to some of the best blues and jazz guitarists to develop a more musical and nuanced sense of swing.

Checklist for Sight-Reading

  • Count the beats out loud (including the &).
  • Keep going (even if you make a mistake).
  • Maintain your best playing posture.
  • Look at the score, not your hands.
  • Play with the feel of the meter.
  • Play patterns instead of individual notes (AKA chunk).
  • Cultivate a calm demeanor.
  • Have fun!

Let’s Play Rhythms

Attitude Tip

The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have. –Vince Lombardi

Exercise 18.1: Score

Exercise 18.1: Audio


Exercise 18.2: Score

Exercise 18.2: Audio

Exercise 18.3: Score

Exercise 18.3: Audio

Let’s Play Patterns

Attitude Tip

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. –Vince Lombardi

Exercise 18.4: Score

Exercise 18.4: Audio

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Let’s Play Duets

Attitude Tip

The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall. –Vince Lombardi

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Exercise 18.X – TBA

Let’s Play Compositions

Note: These compositions are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license  (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Attitude Tip

We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible. –Vince Lombardi

Swing by Emile Porée: Score

Swing: Audio

Crazy Vertical Blues by Joan Greenwald: Score

Crazy Vertical Blues: Audio

Obelisk No. 4 by Ashraf Fouad: Score

Obelisk No. 4: Audio

The next piece contains a refrain. The refrain starts at the Segno (on the first page, third system) and ends at the Coda (on the first page, fourth system). Notice that the piece is divided into four major sections, labeled A, B, C and D. When you see the Segno/Coda symbols in Sections B, C, and D jump back to the beginning of the refrain in Section A. At the end of the refrain, when you encounter the Coda, jump back to the Coda in either the B, C, or D sections.

Guitar Samaie by Ashraf Fouad: Score

Guitar Samaie: Audio

Congratulations!

You have completed this unit! If you kept up with the beat and accurately played approximately 70% of the pitches and rhythms, you are ready for the next unit. Feel free to repeat the exercises. However, do not play them so often that you memorize them. Once you memorize the notation, you are no longer developing the skill of sight-reading.

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