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Help playing Irish rhythm guitar

03 Aug 01 - 09:27 AM (#520336)
Subject: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: GUEST,Jeff

Looking for some ideas on playing Irish rhythm guitar. In particular, I want to know what people have found to work for playing jigs. I know some melodies like Banish Misfortune and Merrily Kiss the Quaker and have found myself playing with a down-up-down, down-up-down pick direction. I like the way the downstrokes emphasize each beat and have found it easier to keep steady time. Recently I got a book and CD by William Coulter that I like a lot, and this my first attempt at accompaniment, most of which is in DADGAD tuning. Most of the jigs he accompanies with a down-down, up-down-up pick direction with first beat being played as a bass note and then brush on the up beat and the second beat played as a triplet strum. This seems to make sense for playing faster tempos since it keeps a down up pattern going throughout the measure instead of throwing in consenctuive downstrokes. The down side is that it is different than the pattern I'm familiar with for single note flat picking and so it feels strange. Wondering what oher people have found to be helpful, whether it makes most sense to learn these two different patterns or might be better to adapt rhythm to what I'm used to.

03 Aug 01 - 10:21 AM (#520387)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: mooman

I play a fair amount of Irish guitar backing in DADGAD. I'm not near my guitar at the moment so I'm just thinking it through in my head and I think my main rhythm would be dowm-down-up-down-up as in the Willian Coulter tutor you mention (which I have not seen). However, while generally maintaining this rhythm, I am prone to throwing in little runs, partial chords and variations to try and add a little interest to the basic backing. I also do a variation on this by damping the strings with the heel of my right hand while doing partial chords and runs in the same rhythm on the bass strings. Actually a little easier to do than to describe!

Hope this might help a little.


03 Aug 01 - 11:16 AM (#520426)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: John P

I try to avoid getting stuck in any particular strummng pattern. Learn them all and have them all available to stick in where appropriate. Each tune, and each measure of each tune will have its own requirements for rhythmic accompaniment. That said, there are some patterns I use more than others, starting with the two you mentioned:


Stringing these together in a variety of ways will make the rhythm fit the tune, or create any other feel you want.

John Peekstok

03 Aug 01 - 12:52 PM (#520489)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: GUEST,Lauren

The best video I have seen is by John Doyle. Not only does he show you right hand movement in detail, but he also shows you different chord voicings and chord substitutions to make the songs more interesting.

04 Aug 01 - 06:14 AM (#520875)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: mooman

Reading John P's post I realise that I also do a far wider range of rhythms than I mentioned above. Without my guitar to hand it was hard to visualize (rhythymualize?) them.

I think John P's suggestions are a good place to start and would say, as a general rule, that more or less anything goes as long as it:

- doesn't detract from the melody of the tune - is interesting and has variety - is interesting for the player

Best regards


04 Aug 01 - 07:30 PM (#521117)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: GUEST,Neil Comer

04 Aug 01 - 09:06 PM (#521149)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: GUEST,Frogmore

The best accompaniment I've heard on record has to be Paul Brady, who played for a fiddler whose name I've forgotten in the early 80s probably. He seemed to respond rhythmically to every triplet, he know the tunes so well. I would recommend not listening to your bluegrass records while you try to learn this.....

05 Aug 01 - 02:28 PM (#521446)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: GUEST,dp

I`m just looking through the string and thought i`d join in. The fiddler is Tommy Peoples (frogmore) and John Doyle`s video(lauren)is very good but he only uses drop D tuning i.e. dadgbe I`d realy like to see the same type of video for dadgad tuning.

05 Aug 01 - 02:36 PM (#521449)
Subject: RE: Help playing Irish rhythm guitar
From: mooman

Or the fiddler could also be Andy McGann who Paul Brady also accompanied onan album although I think that was late 70s.