Bluegrass Rhythm II: Boom Chuck Continued; 8ths + Rumble Rhythm

Bluegrass Rhythm II

In this lesson we will build upon our Boom-Chuck bluegrass rhythm foundation and learn about the next step; 8th note flow. Subdividing our quarter note boom-chuck into a fluid 8th note flow will be an absolute game changer when it comes to upping your bluegrass rhythm guitar chops. There is a world of possibility, a veritable pandora's box. 

Before jumping into a demonstration, I cover some really cool historical information on how we might contextualize the boom-chuck, where it fits into the pantheon of all genres of American popular music and its most common roots- vaudeville, tin pan alley and minstrelsy. Reconceiving of what a boom chuck is will help us know where it can go and the potential limitations of its utility. The long story short here is that Earl Scruggs completely changed the trajectory of “groove” in bluegrass and if we think about rhythm like him, our guitar playing can become so much more fluid, dynamic and supportive of “drive.” 

I make reference in this lesson to some really incredible research that can further illuminate the historical context of bluegrass. If you’re interested in nerding out on this stuff I’d recommend checking this out:

Also discussed in this lesson is the concept of drive, swing and groove. How can we create a sensation of direction and excitement with our rhythm guitar playing?

Additionally more historical context of the 8th note alternative strumming is provided, including a conversation about Jimmy Martin. I make reference to a pretty incredible interview that Dan Miller of Bluegrass Unlimited conducted with Jimmy Martin where he talks about his “rumble rhythm.” It’s a two part interview and comes highly recommended:

Last, I talk about some ways to practice this strumming technique and add a bass note “boom” fill that I really like to play.

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