Bryan discusses the concept of how to play rhythm and teaches one of the cornerstones of bluegrass rhythm, country rhythm, and folk rhythm, which is known as the “boom chuck” sound.
- We just covered all, a lot of basic chord shapes. And what I feel are, as you play Bluegrass music you're gonna see these chord shapes show up over and over again. And it's important to get your hands familiar with those shapes. We're gonna move over to the right hand now and show you sort of the ways to execute these things. And sort of building, we're starting to build the concept of how to play rhythm. And one of the cornerstones of Bluegrass rhythm, Country rhythm, folk rhythm is what's considered the Boom Chuck.
And what that means is, there's a boom then a chuck or a strum. And it harkens back to the day, it's the history of Bluegrass rhythm and Country music is ya know music, a lot of times there weren't bass players. It was a small ensemble, some old time bands. And so the guitar was sorta, what now, Bluegrass now you have the bass, and the guitar's more of a strum kind of bass kind of thing. But this harkens back and this is the reason people play Bluegrass rhythm the way they do is the Boom Chuck kind of concept.
And so I'm basically gonna run through those same chord shapes, but now we're gonna add, instead of just ya know (strums guitar) full strum. We're gonna make these chords ring for as long as possible. And so we're gonna add the Boom Chuck concept with the right hand. I'm gonna show you two different ways to do it. We'll start G. (strums guitar) Find our G shape here and so the first way I'll show you is a basic, the Boom comes from the low G. We showed you the root note of every chord. It's going to be important to remember that. So G, that's your G there.
(plays G) That's the Boom, that's your bass note, essentially. And so the strum from that, (strums guitar) that's what happens. (Boom G, strum) That's the basic Boom Chuck. Boom. (Boom G, strum) If you were to look at it again, in tablature or in a song, notated, you would see the bar, we talked about the bar being four quarter notes. One, two, three four. Usually the booms are on one and three and the upbeats two and four are the chucks or the strums.
Booming and strummin' here. (Booms and strums guitar) Usually with a G chord from Bluegrass you don't play this B right there. (strums guitar) That's usually, it's just not the way it's done. Usually you play the G, (strums guitar) then you strum from the fourth string. (strums guitar slowly) (plays Boom Chuck on guitar) And one of the things to start being aware of is the way your right hand feels here and again we've hopefully got our good approach here of the angles and everything's lookin' good here.
(plays Boom chuck strum on guitar) Norman Blake sort of refers to this as "flingin' water off your hands". That's (strums guitar) again we talked earlier about building the idea of playing rhythmically, being a rhythmic musician. Bluegrass is such a rhythmic way to play music. That's acoustic and the small ensemble creating this big sound. And that comes from strong rhythm playing as an ensemble. These are cornerstones for that kind of approach.
So, (strums guitar) There it is in G, and the other way to play that. So that's the first way. (strums guitar) In the next one, we're going to employ we talked about the rest stroke. We talked about pick attack and striking the strings. And so we're gonna play a rest stroke from that Low G. (strums guitar) Into the fifth string. (strums guitar) And you continue the pick through the string. So, what that looks like if we can go overhead, is (strums guitar) see there's the pick that's still inside the strings.
And there's the angle from the wrist into the guitar. (strums guitar) This is generally a stronger way to play. This is a little more free and can, little more, advances a little more than when you're off. Ya know not doing the rest stroke. (strums guitar) You can usually do it faster. (strums guitar) The rest stroke is generally, if you play Bluegrass, it's you want, as we get into the rhythm deeper, we're gonna talk about voicings and how to think about qualities of the chords and how to back up songs that are ya know.
If you have a song that talks about, you know a lot of murder ballads in Bluegrass, ya know. Or a Stanley Brothers kind of song that needs a stronger foundation, we're gonna discuss a lot of those kinds of things. And so this rest stroke kind of approach is good for just makin' a bigger sound. (plays guitar) Because again, the rest stroke, generally delivers a bigger sound. (picks two notes on guitar) The pick stays inside the strings.
(picks two notes on guitar. Ya get more meat of the pick in the strings and so, therefore, more sound is produced out the guitar. You're not really playing harder. You're just allowing the pick and the weight of your hand to just drive it through. (picks, strums guitar) So those are the basic things. We'll cover this in C now. This is, got your C form. So here's sortta type one, without the rest stroke. (strums guitar) One, two, three, four. (strums guitar) And that's the basic thing to work on. (strums guitar) What you'll notice is when you play the Boom.
(picks Boom on guitar) You have to get your hand ready to come up, come back up. So that's where these are, these are foundations of when I'm going to talk about playing rhythmically. Where you're right arm or your picking arm is sort of always in the groove. It helps to find the groove of where you are, you're pocket. We'll get into those kinds of concepts later. But these are these are building blocks here. So (Strums Boom Chuck) it's your picking the note but you're also preparing for the strum. (strums Boom Chuck) And with that, with a rest stroke.
(strums guitar) Usually, when you're playing a lot of bars of rhythm together you'll probably go with this one. (strums Boom Chuck) And say you wanted to end that. (strums guitar) You would end that with a rest stroke. There's different, we'll get into how to use these things in a little bit and just we'll move onto a D now. Get into our D form. (strums D Boom Chuck) There's the basic sort of free stroke there.
(strums D Boom Chuck) with a rest stroke. (strums guitar) You can hear the tone get meatier as the pick stays inside there. (strums guitar) Versus. (strums guitar) So there's the G, C and D with ya know Basic Boom Chuck Stroke, there.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Holding the guitar
- Tuning the guitar
- Picking hand and fretting hand techniques
- Combining picking and fretting
- Practicing picking pattern exercises
- Changing chords and rhythm
- Playing traditional bluegrass tunes