When learning how to play acoustic fingerpicking patterns in their acoustic guitar studies, many players dig into common groupings of 2, 4 and 8 notes that use both 8th and quarter notes in their construction.
While these patterns are essential learning for any fingerstyle player, and can be used to play and write countless interesting songs on the acoustic guitar, sometimes we want a fingerpicking pattern that moves beyond the standard time and note groupings.
For this reason, this lesson will explore a commonly used odd grouping fingerpicking pattern that you can use to expand your songwriting, accompaniment and general acoustic guitar harmonic prowess as you dig into this idea in the practice room.
Equal Division of 8th Notes
To begin, let’s take a look at a pretty standard fingerpicking in 4/4 time that uses all 8th notes, so there will be 8, 8th-notes in each measure.
When you play in 4/4 time, using 8th notes, often these notes fall into groups of 2 or 4 notes, as that is a common subdivision used in many acoustic guitar songs and fingerpicking patterns.
So, if this progression or fingerpicking pattern is new to you, take a second and review it before moving forward and then jump to the next example in this lesson.
If you are familiar with this progression, and can play it without much of a challenge, then feel free to dive right into the next example which moves on to exploring an odd grouping of 8th notes within a bar of 4/4 time.
3+3+2 Fingerpicking Pattern
Now that you have reviewed the 4+4 division of 8th notes in a bar of 4/4 time, fingerpicked on every 8th note, we can begin to play with this subdivision in order to create an odd grouping fingerpicking pattern.
To do this, we are going to take the 8, 8th-notes and divide them into three groupings, 3+3+2, rather than the symmetrical 4-note groupings you saw in the previous example.
Below is an example of this grouping applied to a fingerpicking pattern over a C chord, with the more traditional pattern in the first bar and the odd grouping in bar 2.
Try playing both bars back and forth so that you can hear how the time signature doesn’t change, but the 3+3+2 grouping allows the barline to become hidden a bit, creating a syncopated pattern in that second measure of the example.
To take things one step further, you can accent the first note of each group, so you play 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2, with the 1’s all played a bit louder than the other notes in the phrase.
This will help emphasize the odd groupings of notes, and might make it stick in your ears more as you begin to work on this pattern in the practice room.
Full Odd Grouping Pattern Progression
With an understanding of how the 3+3+2 fingerpicking pattern works over a static chord, you can now take it to your favorite chord progressions such as the I vi IV V in C major progression below.
Once you have tried this pattern over these four chords, be sure to take it to other keys and progressions that you know or are working on in the practice room in order to hear how this pattern sounds in myriad musical situations.
If you are finding it tricky to get this fingerpicking pattern down at first, try counting the groupings out loud, such as 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2, as this might be helpful when working out the 8th notes in your practice routine.
As well, using a metronome is always good practice, especially when working with an odd grouping fingerpicking such as this one on the fretboard.
Odd Grouping Pattern Variation
Now that you have a grip on the 3+3+2 fingerpicking pattern, you can take this and create other variations using both open and barre chords on the guitar.
If you are new to this technique, or new to barre chords, you might want to stick to the previous examples before trying this more advanced technique out in the practice room.
Here is an example of how you can add a two-note grouping to the top of the phrase in order to bring some harmonic variety to this pattern.
Try this variation out and then come up with a number of your own in order to take this odd grouping pattern to new levels of interest and creativity in your practicing, songwriting and performing.
Do you have any questions regarding this Odd Grouping Fingerpicking Pattern? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.