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Rhythm Stretching

This is a fairly standard idea. Simply take a rhythm and stretch the duration of each chord in the progression (or note in the riff) equally. Use the same chords (or notes) from the original rhythm in the stretched rhythm.

To make this idea as clear as possible, the original rhythm that I use will be quarter notes. In each example, the numbers above the quarter-notes correspond to the numbers above the notes in the stretched rhythm example.


Example 1

For the first example, I’ve stretched each quarter-note equally by an eighth note.



rhythm stretch1

…becomes this.

rhythm stretch2 


 Example 2

You can stretch whichever note(s) you want. Here I’ve stretched beats 2 and 4.


rhythm stretch1

rhythm stretch3


Example 3: Gradient rhythm

Another idea is to stretch the notes in an ever-increasing gradient. In the next example, each succeeding note gets longer than the one before it by an eighth note.


To be perfectly clear:


  • Beat 1 – quarter note
  • Beat 2 – quarter note plus eighth note
  • Beat 3 – quarter note plus two eighth notes
  • Beat 4 – quarter note plus three eighth notes
  • Beat 5 – quarter note plus four eighth notes


rhythm stretch4



Don’t be monotonous

Use this technique as a way of brainstorming variations and generating new ideas.  Stretching a couple of notes in the original rhythm creates a related rhythm. Moving from the original rhythm to the stretched rhythm and back relieves monotony.




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