Polyrhythms on Guitar
First, have a good look at this lesson on deep rhythm
from Bob Brozman's website.
Once you're happy with being able to play a 3 against 2 polyrhythm by tapping it out wiht your hands, you can try to apply it to the guitar.
First we're going to pick a chord, and for argument's sake we're going to play E major 9th.
- the second finger plays the root note, E, on the A string 7th fret
- the first finger plays the major third, G#, on the D string 6th fret
- the little finger plays the major seventh, D#, on the G string 8th fret
- the third finger plays the ninth, F#, on the B string 7th fret.
Now the picking hand does all the hard work here. We'll be doing this without a pick, just using the thumb and the index, middle and ring
We're going to divide the picking hand into thumb (T) and fingers (F). The thumb is going to provide a steady bass on the root E at the seventh fret
on the A string.
If you curl the fingers of your picking hand loosely and bring the fingertips together so they're parallel (in other words, you could rest all three
fingertips on a table at the same time), you'll find that if you get the angle of your hand right over the strings, you can rest your fingertips on
the strings at an angle so they fit nicely against the D, G and B strings. It should be easy for you to rest your thumb against the A string.
So we're going to count "one
two three two
two three" for this. The bold numbers denote where the accents fall, and in fact, the
thumb should be playing the E root on those bolded numbers.
That gives a steady two-beat rhythm.
Against this, the fingers are going to pluck the other strings according to this rhythm: "one
When you get comfortable with this polyrhythm, you can improve it by playing an "alternating bass" with the thumb. On beat 1, play the E at the 7th
fret of the A string: on beat 2, play the B at the 7th fret of the E string. Play both of these notes with the second finger.
Then when you get the idea you can vary the chord and eventually play whole progressions with this technique.