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Rhythm: A Framework In Music

Los Angeles based classical guitarist Mak Grgic shares insights on the importance of rhythm and practicing with the metronome.

Inspiration by Metronome Online with

ARTIST FEATURE: From opening for KD Lang to playing classical guitar recitals; from performing at Disney Hall to Musikverein in Vienna, meet Mak Grgic, classical guitarist. He is our featured artist of the week! Read what he has to say about rhythm and time in music.

1) Why is rhythm important?

Every painting has a frame, every house has walls, every path has a direction – these are just a few avenues in life that keep things organized. In music one of such avenues is rhythm. Without rhythm, notes would just be free-floating pitches without any sensibility of direction and groove. Just try humming the melody of Yesterday by The Beatles without observing the rhythm. You will find that suddenly the famous melody doesn’t sound like it at all. Pitch and rhythm go hand in hand and create a framework in music.

2) How do you practice your rhythm and sense of time?

How I used to practice rhythm is a bit different from how I do it today. As a student I would take a metronome as a guideline for pretty much all rhythmic exercises. From playing with the click, adding subdivisions, to starting slower and pushing faster and faster, these were part of my every day routine. Nowadays, I try to focus on the musical aspect of rhythm much more. With the use of metronome I play phrases while diversifying sense of time by playing either strictly with the click, a little bit before (‘in front of beat) or a little bit after (‘behind the beat’). These are rhythmical exercises that help with keeping the time but allowing for flexibility in phrasing.

" Without rhythm, notes would just be free-floating pitches without any sensibility of direction and groove "

3) What are your favorite rhythmic exercises?

My favorite rhythmic exercises are those that involve complex right hand work. Taking from flamenco, for example, oftentimes the right hand pinky finger produces tapping sounds on the soundboard, while fingers index/middle/ring play ghost-noted strums and the thumb tackles alzapua lines (flamenco technique). This is a complex technique that produces a very intricate sense of subdivisions. I like to practice this, even if not playing flamenco music, since it is something that is hard to do, but sounds very cool!

4) Can you name one thing that you like about the metronome on Metronome Online?

It’s easily accessible and free. A win-win combination!

VIDEO: Check out a video of Mak’s performance of Solamente Una Vez by Agustin Lara on Disney’s Coco guitar!

Rhythm: A Framework In Music

Mak Grgic

Mak Grgic is a classical guitarist and one of the founders of Eurostrings, the European Guitar Festival Collaborative. The expansiveness of Mak’s repertoire winds its way through a dizzying array of approaches, from music of the baroque and renaissance (for which he received praise from Washington Post) to music of a cinematic nature, ethnic music of his native Balkan Peninsula, and extreme avant-garde and microtonal music. His first solo release on Marquis Records entitled Cinema Verismo explores adept guitar arrangements of music from the movies. His latest recordings, Balkanisms for Naxos Music and MAKrotonal for MicroFest Records, an album produced by the Grammy Award winning producer John Schneider, explore a vast repertoire spanning ethnic music, microtonal newly-composed music and early music on re-fretted instruments.

In the recent past Mak has showcased an innate affection for entrepreneurial work. This has resulted in directorship roles at EuroStrings; Zagreb Guitar Festival and Roots & Notes Interactive Music Festival in Croatia; Music@RushHour in Los Angeles; and Acoustic Caffeine Concert Series in cooperation with Arts Brookfield.


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