The Rhythm Push

The concept of the rhythm push is more easily felt than it is explained. The best way I can describe it is that it’s comparable to someone coming up behind you and gently pushing you on the back. Your feet won’t necessarily move, but your body will move forward.

Similarly, the rhythm push helps to move the melody forward without actually messing with the timing or the tempo. It just gives the feeling of forward movement.

How Does It Work?

The rhythm push occurs when you change the chord on the “and” of beat 4 instead of on beat 1. Basically, you’re changing the chord on the up strum immediately before the bar line. Actually, it's a half a beat earlier than you would expect - sometimes beat 3 is anticipated, but that is less common.

Since the chord change comes just a little earlier than you’re expecting it to, it lends a sense of movement, urgency, and excitement to the song.

It can be a very effective rhythmic device, but to make it work, you need clean and quick chord changes!

In the diagram below - remember that numbers will be DOWN strums and the + will be an UP.

Practising The Push

One thing you can start doing is listening for the push in your favourite songs. Once you do this, you’ll notice that there are plenty of songs out there utilizing it. Think about how the music makes you feel and how much of that can be attributed to the push.

Once you’ve got your guitar in hand, it might be helpful to practice the strumming pattern on its own on muted strings first, just to help you get a feel for the rhythm and strumming pattern.

Then, pick a chord combination you’re comfortable with. D and G is a good one, or any of the ones you’re working on in your Perfect Fast Changes exercise. Practice the rhythm going back and forth between the two chords. Keep your changes as clean as possible! The timing on the change matters here.

That said, the rest of the bar is yours to experiment with. Try different rhythm patterns! As long as you’re still changing chords on the “and” of 4, you’ll still achieve the desired effect.

Lesson 10: Weak G Bamba