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Old 05-09-2018, 09:44 PM
Raj Raj is offline
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Default Rhythm vs Lead in an Ensemble

We have a band which performs traditional Indian semi-classical (also called light classical) music. Other instruments are percussion (tabla) and Harmonium. Harmonium just plays the main melody sung by the vocalists.

This leaves me playing the rhythm guitar.

My rhythm guitar fills the space nicely, but in our last performance, for one of the songs, I did just fills. So now I am wondering if can do more. Can I do both rhythm and fills? Is it a good idea to leave rhythm and go to leads and then come back? I am just worried that it might not be well received from a listener's perspective. I am not really able to tell from the rehearsals.


I just mentioned the type of music we play in case someone asks, but that should not matter when you guys give me suggestions, I hope. Please write from your experience with any kind of music.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:28 PM
DupleMeter DupleMeter is online now
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As long as it works musically in context, there's no reason to stick to just chords. Even when I'm playing "rhythm" I like to play what works for the music...sometimes it's full chords...sometimes it's triads or double stops...and sometimes it includes single note fills & runs to create texture & fill in the gaps.
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Old 05-10-2018, 06:14 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Someone asked guitarist Joe Walsh about his style of playing. He replied that his first big success was with the James Gang which was a power trio (guitar, bass, drums). In that situation he had to fill all the holes by playing rhythm, fills, and leads. He does it quite smoothly and I've emulated that smooth transition in my playing.

"It is said, 'Go not to the elves for counsel for they will say both no and yes.' "
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:21 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Rhythm guitar actually has multiple roles, in the middle of all the other instruments.
You can strum chords - which is both harmonic and rhythmic.
You can arpeggiate chords, which is both harmonic and textural (and melodic to some degree).
You can tap or strum muted rhythms, which is purely percussive (rhythmic).
You can insert fills or counterpoint melodic lines against the lead.
If there is no bass instrument (as in your ensemble), you can play bass lines, or a drone.
And of course, you can play nothing! Leave space - as much or as little as feels appropriate.
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:13 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Raj, can you talk a bit more about the harmonic qualities of the music--are there chord changes?

Sounds like an interesting ensemble, I'd like to hear it.
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:58 AM
Big Band Guitar Big Band Guitar is offline
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As with any style of music rhythm players need to keep the heartbeat.

Fills are ok but not with the vocals or sparingly between vocal phrases.

I to would like to hear your music.
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Old 05-10-2018, 12:37 PM
SouthpawJeff SouthpawJeff is offline
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Several months ago we were visiting some friends for a get together and towards the end of the night they put the tv on to show us a particular performance. It was an Indian channel, (maybe Zee TV?), and the ensemble was quite large, several drummers, keyboard, harmonium, bass, on and on. Anyway I was a bit surprised to see an electric guitarist playing in this traditional Indian performance, but the sound worked well and fit right in. There were sections when she’d just sit out, (long songs), so was well rehearsed. All this to say I think as long as you rehearse what you’d like to do so that it “fits” why not do a bit of both?

Good luck,
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Old 05-11-2018, 09:10 PM
macmanmatty macmanmatty is online now
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play what the song requires no more no less. Also songs have a melody if you solo I suggest playing that. Some players especially in the square neck resonator camp but alot of guitars and mandolin players too when it comes to take there solo there playin' some right fancy' stuff but it doesn't sound like the song there supposed to be playing.
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