How to play Newton Faulkner style percussive acoustic

Cross-rhythms are integral to Newton's technique
Cross-rhythms are integral to Newton's technique

Cross-rhythms occur when two or more separate rhythm patterns weave in and out of each other.

Here, Newton's pick hand plays one rhythm pattern (of triplet-based percussive strikes on the guitar body) while his fret hand creates another pattern (hammered-on eighth notes). The contrast between the triplets and the eighth notes creates the cross-rhythm.

You can practise this cross-rhythm in two ways. The first approach is to attempt the pick hand percussion part separately from the fret hand melodic part. Percussion can be alien to guitarists so this presents an excellent opportunity to give your axe a good smack and try out Newton's slap-happy techniques.

The second approach is to combine both rhythms and practise one bar at a time. Newton's piece is essentially a one-bar pattern with variations in each bar, which makes this tricky approach a lot easier.

Next page: video examples tabbed

Example 1: percussion tab and notation guide

(Click tab to enlarge)

Newton uses two percussive strikes in this piece. Notice that he doesn't play the bass boom above the soundhole as he normally would. This means his pick hand doesn't have to move so far.

Example 2: cross-rhythms

(Click tab to enlarge)

In bar 1 there are six percussive strikes, grouped into triplets. This means that only the first and fourth strikes fall on the beat and that the remaining strikes fall either one third or two thirds through a beat. The fret hand hammer-ons are eighth notes, which are either on the beat or halfway in between beats.