Beginning Guitar I
- Lesson 5
Playing a Song
Lyle: One of the main things the
beginning guitarist needs to be able to do is strum, count out loud, and tap
their foot, all at the same time, so that they can play at a steady
beat. It's easy for some, tough for others, but like all things, it get
easier with practice.
Lyle: Try this: Tap your foot on the ground and
count 1, 2, 3, 4 each time you tap your foot. Repeat it over and over, keeping a
Lyle: Now add a strum to it. Grab your strings
and muffle them, don't let them ring, or turn the volume off on your guitar. Now
strum down on each count while you tap your foot. Watch this video clip of this
strumming and counting
Lyle: Next you're
going to learn the basic C chord. This is the simple way to do it, with just one
finger. The hard part is getting it to sound just right. Here is the simple C
Lyle: There are many other ways to play
the C chord, this is just the one-finger, three string way. The hard part about
playing this simple C chord is getting the 1st and 3rd string to ring open,
without getting muted or muffled by your index finger. You will need to use the
tip of your index finger to push straight down on the 1st fret, second
Lyle: Many simple songs just use two or three
chords. If we use the C chord as one of the chords, all we have to do is count
up the alphabet to the 5th of C to get the second most important chord to use in
a basic song. 5 up from C is G.
JJ: How many one finger chords (simple chords) are
Lyle: Not too many.
walkerjones: I thought F was the 5th of
Lyle: C is 1, D is 2, E is
3, F is 4, G is 5, A is 6, B is 7, C is 1.
Lyle: You learned the simple G chord
earlier, here's the G7 chord, which has the blues sound to
Lyle: Now let's try playing the two chords back
and forth like in this TAB file:
rhythm riff 1
Take the TAB file and play it back using the loop button. You should hear a beat
in the background audio of it. Strum the chord once, downward, on beat 1, count
to 4, switch chords. Just like in the video example. You should work on counting
out loud, strumming and tapping your foot, all at the same time.
Lyle: Here's a
looping jam track you can also use:
Jam Track for rhythm riffs
You see, you're working from a chord progression that has 1 measure for each
chord, and 4 beats to each measure:
Lyle: You've got to be able to strum, count out
loud, tap your foot, and follow the music, all at the same time. Like I said, it
may be simple for some, but it's hard for others.
Lyle: Now let's make it a little more
interesting, strum on beats 1 and 3 for each measure, like
It is a little trickier now to do all the counting and tapping while the
strumming part gets busier, but you should still work at it. Keep strumming all
Lyle: Try this next rhythm riff. It has you
strumming down for each of the 4 beats in the measure. Now your counting,
tapping of your foot, and strumming are all going to be doing the same thing
With those two chords, you can play hundreds if not thousands of songs. I picked
a very old American folk tune to show you how to play it using these two chords.
Here's how the chord progression will
Lyle: Here's the TAB file. You'll strum down on
each of the 4 beats in each measure:
Tom Dooley rhythm riff
Joel: Sounded a bit like Molly
Hatchet or Allman Brothers, but folk songs are cool too. :)
Old, old folk songs can be very interesting. Most of them preceded blues and rock
music. I read the words to this song Tom Dooley today and was shocked. Found
them to be a little disturbing, just like some folks find Eminem lyrics
Lyle: Here's a looping jam track for this tune.
Once you have mastered the rhythm and chord progression, see you can play along
to this jam track:
Tom Dooley jam track
Lyle: If you have
mastered the rhythm part for this song, you should try learning the melody part.
It uses single notes across three strings. Make sure you use the correct
fingerings by watching the TAB file playback on the virtual
Dooley melody riff
Use all down strokes when playing this slow and simple melody. If you're a
beginning student of mine, then you've just learned another song!
Congrats to you! Try playing it to the looping jam track once you've memorized
For music fans: Tom Dooley was a Hit song for the Kingston Trio in the 50's
60's. :) A bit of a music nut.
Lyle: There are
hundreds, if not thousands of songs out there that are simple like this, and
they're all fun to play.
Lyle: I did not know that, Joel, thanks for the
Was Tom Dooley a real guy?
Joel: it was a song about the civil war.. it's believed
so or someone similar. :)
Lyle: That wraps it up for this series of
lessons. I hope I see you again at the next lesson. If you have questions, email
me at Lyle@theguitar.net. Thanks!