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The Music Schop is a resource for worship musicians and pastors. Song analysis of popular worship songs, theory lessons, reviews of worship resources, and tips and tricks for drummers, keyboard players, guitar players, bass players – the entire band. Written by Chris Schopmeyer.

Displacing the Dotted Eighth Note, A Guitar Analysis for Hillsong Live's "Endless Light"

[This post originally appeared in July of 2012, shortly after Cornerstone was released. It has been a popular post. I have updated it with new links to the latest resources.]

This weekend my church is introducing "Endless Light", the happy opener from the Hillsongs Live Albumn Cornerstone. This song is anchored by a distinctive electric guitar part. Check out the rhythm below; it's a little different. 

The Dotted Eighth Note 

This rhythm was not immediately clear to me. I had to rewind more than once, but I quickly realized it is our old friend: the dotted eighth note. Yes, worship music's best friend is here in a fresh incarnation. 

A review of the dotted eighth note: 

  • First, its most familiar use among electric players: delay. 

  • Second, the foundational strumming pattern a generation of worship was built on it. 

  • And, in case you don't hear it, check out "Open The Eyes" with the delay superimposed on top. 
 

"Endless Light" Is The Dotted Eighth Note Displaced

The "Endless Light" rhythmic guitar groove is the same dotted eighth rhythm, just displaced by an eighth note. Instead of starting the rhythm on the downbeat of one, it is starting on the upbeat of one (the 'and'). Here are three clips to demonstrate: 

  1. The typical dotted eighth as heard above
  2. The typical dotted eighth displaced so it starts on the 'and' of one
  3. The typical dotted eighth displaced, then superimposed on "Endless Light"

The Money Tip

Listen one more time to the "displaced" example above. Notice it lands on beat three. When learning a rhythm like this, look for anchors: notes to aim for when mastering a difficult rhythm. For "Endless Light" the anchors are: 

  • "And" of one, the first fingerpick  
  • Beat three, the third fingerpick

To Master This: 

  • Start by practicing just the anchors, leaving out the other notes (i.e. two fingerpicks per bar). Then add the other notes once you have that mastered. If you get the anchors, you can fudge the rest if needed. 
  • If you are having trouble nailing the "and" of one, try grunting on beat one. I'm not kidding. I think of syncopation like that as bouncing off the beat, so feeling the beat internally with a grunt helps me nail the upbeat. Try it. 

Resources

Find tracks I've created to practice this rhythm with here. 

  • The practice tracks have the drum loop with a static guitar riff playing the rhythm. This only covers the verse groove. You can play all of the chords over the static riff. You'll hear the track in the background if you want to follow along. It is at three different tempos. I believe if you can't play it slowly, you can't play it.

[UPDATE - 11/2012]

Rehearsalmix.com has released practice tracks from the original recording sessions. Definitely check these out. 

Worshipartistry.com has also released a training video for this song.


Note On Audio Examples

  • Please note that I used a delay in the examples because that is familiar to many electric players. The pattern is actually fingerpicked (or a hybrid technique), not utilizing a delay in the manner of the audio examples. With that said, the original track has a bit of dotted 8th delay synced to the tempo.