Rhythm Guitar

About the Catalog Listings

The individual Catalog listings for the 160 arrangements contained in the RGCC are comprised of eight different categories of information. This information has been included so as to make the Catalog more useful by better allowing individuals with a wide range of playing skill to locate arrangements that are best suited to their learning needs. Apart from simplifying the matter of identifying arrangements that are appropriate for specific levels of playing skill, these categories of information facilitate an emphasis on particular styles of play, or on particular meters, or on arrangements that are chord-intensive, or on arrangements that are the least challenging in terms of chording requirements, or on arrangements that require the use of alternate tunings or a capo.

Some of the information contained in the Catalog listings has been included for the benefit of beginning/intermediate and intermediate level players who elect to try to figure out how to play these arrangements solely by listening to the recordings, and without making use of written scores. This is not nearly as daunting a task as it might seem to be, since most of the arrangements are relatively easy to play (or at least do not require advanced playing skills), and since the arrangements are clearly audible on the recordings. In addition, trying to figure out these arrangements from the recordings is a useful and productive activity, since it allows for the development of the same listening and musical reasoning skills that make it possible to figure out rhythm guitar arrangements from popular recordings.

Easily the most important component of the Catalog listing for each arrangement in the RGCC is the audio excerpt, which in most cases gives a fairly complete idea of what the arrangement sounds like. The reference numbers for each arrangement facilitate the option of ordering scores individually, which is an essential component of the Catalog’s usefulness as a learning resource. The next two items of information for each arrangement in the Catalog listing, CAPO and KEY OF PLAY, will prove to be especially useful to those who are figuring out the arrangements from the recordings.

If a capo is used in playing an arrangement, the fret at which the capo must be placed is indicated in the CAPO column by means of a Roman numeral. The KEY OF PLAY indicates the key in which the arrangement is played, disregarding the use of a capo. If a capo is not used, the key of play and the actual key of the music are the same. If a capo is used, the key of play must be transposed upward by the corresponding number of half-steps to determine the actual key of the music. If an alternate tuning is used in playing an arrangement, the key of play is asterisked.

Although most of the arrangements are in simple meter (3 or 4), the meter for each arrangement has been included for the benefit of those who would like to sharpen their rhythmic skills in compound meter (6, 9, or 12). There are four possible styles of play. Flat (flatpick) refers to strummed arrangements that are played with a flatpick. P+S (pick and strum) refers to flatpick arrangements that include individually flatpicked notes. Fstyle (fingerstyle) refers to arrangements that are played by plucking the strings with the thumb and fingers of the playing hand. FP (fingerpick) refers to fingerstyle arrangements that include an alternating bass figure. The FP classification is more inclusive than the commonly accepted definition of fingerpicked music (fingerstyle music characterized by a constant alternating bass, a well-defined melody sounded above, and various other complementary notes). Most of the FP arrangements in the Catalog employ a far less complicated style of play, and therefore provide a good opportunity for developing alternating bass and basic fingerpicking skills.

The chord vocabulary used for the 160 arrangements contained in the Catalog is relatively simple and relatively modest. None of the required chord fingerings is inordinately difficult to make, and no more than 30 or so chord fingerings, not including variants of these chord fingerings, are required to play the entire Catalog. The 18 common chords (A, A7, a, am7, B7, C, C7, D, D7, d, dm7, E, E7, e, em7, F, G, and G7) are used with the greatest frequency, and are referred to in the scores solely by means of their chord symbols. Barre chords are referred to in the scores by the symbol for the chord shape used, followed by a Roman numeral indicating the fret at which the full barre must be made. Only seven basic chord shapes (A7, a, am7, E, E7, e, and em7) are required to form all the barre chords called for in the entire Catalog. Any chord that is neither a common chord nor a barre chord is referred to in the scores by an asterisked chord symbol, with the asterisk indicating that the chord is diagrammed at the bottom of the page of score.

Forming barre chords comes much more easily for some than for others, and many beginning/intermediate level players have not yet mastered this important skill. For their benefit, a simple yes or no regarding whether or not barre chords are required is indicated in the Catalog listing for each arrangement. This information might also prove useful to those who are inclined to concentrate on learning music that requires barre chords. In the CHORDS listing for each arrangement, the first number given is the number of common chords used, and the second number given is the total number of chords used in playing the arrangement. For example, 5 of 7 indicates that of the 7 chords required in playing the arrangement, 5 are common chords.

Determining a level of difficulty for each arrangement is complicated by the fact that different players have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, arrangements calling for the use of barre chords will obviously present great difficulties for anyone who is unable to form barre chords. Similarly, any Fstyle or FP arrangement is likely to present difficulties for anyone whose only playing experience is with a flatpick. Nevertheless, a relatively simple arrangement that happens to require one barre chord is still a relatively simple arrangement, and it is possible to distinguish among levels of difficulty for any particular style of play. A number of other factors (especially the tempo of the music, the difficulty of the chording requirements, and the difficulty of the playing hand patterns) also affect the overall level of difficulty of an arrangement.

An approximate level of difficulty for each arrangement is given on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a beginning level, 2 indicating a beginning/intermediate level, 3 indicating an intermediate level, 4 indicating an intermediate/advanced level, and 5 indicating an advanced level of playing skill required. Although most of the RGCC arrangements require an intermediate level of skill, this is in truth a somewhat broad classification that encompasses several sub-levels of skill and several types of skills. None of the arrangements requires an advanced level of skill, and only a few require an intermediate/advanced level or a beginning level of skill. There is, however, a sufficient number of beginning/intermediate level arrangements to allow for an initial concentration on less challenging pieces by those for whom this would be the best course of action.