Townshend is undoubtedly more famous for his on-stage gear-destroying antics than any lead part he ever played, but his genius has always been his driving rhythm style, which laid the bedrock for almost everything that came after it in terms of rock ‘n’ roll guitar, but especially punk. So turn up your full stack as loud as it’ll go, and don’t forget to hit those strings hard!
This is a simple trick you can put into your rhythm playing to channel some Townshend vibes. If you’re going to be hitting a chord on the first beat of the bar, you can set it up by quickly strumming a pair of 16th notes at the end of the bar before. Count this as “& a 1”.
Chord inversions and drones
A classic rhythmic trick from many The Who tracks is Townshend’s use of chord inversions and a droning note to create melodic rhythmic movements. This example uses inversions of D, A and G chords.
This is another melodic chord movement that uses sus2 and sus4 chords. Rhythmically, this shares some similarities from the first example, but there are some additional hits in the bar.
The Who were officially recognised as the loudest band on earth at one point but it wasn’t all aggression all the time. In some of the softer moments, Townshend would often lean on his favourite suspended chords to give some interesting textures. This example uses an Esus4, Dsus4 and Asus2.
About the Author
Leigh Fuge is a guitar teacher and professional musician from Swansea in the UK. He has taught hundreds of students face to face and via the MGR Music platform. He has over 10 years’ experience working in the industry as a touring musician, session guitarist and teacher.
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