Finding a Rhythm, Feeling the Groove


Following on from yesterday’s thoughts on music and the intelligences that are required to make music, we’d like to add the following clarification.

There’s a direct route from the physical into the metaphysical (spiritual) intelligence, and a return route back along that continuum. However, there’s also a route from physical intelligence into instinctual intelligence, insofar as the constant physical repetition of an action eventually leads to it becoming automatic or instinctual. Thus we arrive at a position where our metaphysical or spiritual self (what some would call our soul) expresses itself physically through playing an instrument, singing, etc, and we’re ultimately, through effort and practice, able to do it spontaneously and physically without conscious thought, which is to say instinctually.

As educationalists what we’re returning to here is our three dimensional model of intelligences and our insistence that worthwhile learning in all situations must encompass every intelligence, and not just the intellect. Rather than being downgraded and made subservient to intellect, these other intelligences must be recognised as being of at least equal importance to intellect.


The next chapter we’re dipping into in Philip Toshio Sudo’s book ‘Zen Guitar‘ is called ‘Rhythm‘.

First of all, though, let’s take a look at these lyrics (by Johnny Cash)

Get rhythm when you get the blues
Come on, get rhythm when you get the blues
Get a rock ‘n’ roll feelin’ in your bones
Put taps on your toes and get gone
Get rhythm when you get the blues

A Little shoeshine boy never gets low down
Though he’s got the dirtiest job in town
Bendin’ low at the peoples’ feet
On the windy corner of the dirty street
Well, I asked him while he shined my shoes
How’d he keep from gettin’ the blues
He grinned as he raised his little head
Popped a shoeshine rag and then he said

Get rhythm when you get the blues
Come on, get rhythm when you get the blues
A jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine
It’ll shake all the trouble from your worried mind
Get rhythm when you get the blues . . .

. . . and take a look/listen to this video, with plenty of volume –

Now breeeeeathe out. And relax.


The focus of my playing is the groove, and every time I find a new rhythm I find I can write a bunch of new songs. Learning how to dance, or drum, or to swing my body in a new way is the fundamental way I find a new riff. Because when you learn to swing your body in a new way you begin to swing with your instrument differently.
– Stone Gossard

I often hear people say they have no natural rhythm. This is false. Anyone with a heartbeat has rhythm. Anyone who breathes in and breathes out has rhythm. Anyone who walks has rhythm. The important thing is to feel it and put it into your music.

And into your life.

One of the Japanese words for rhythm, hyoshi, translates literally as ‘child’s clap’.

Zen Guitar does not require you to play to any rhythm but your own. But you should develop the ability to align your rhythm with other rhythms – to feel the groove. We all have this inborn ability.

This is part and parcel of what we’re calling social intelligence and empathy.

You can find hyoshi in everything – the change of the seasons, the cycle of the moon, the measure of night to day; the movement of the tides, in the sets of waves; in each wave as it washes and recedes from the shore.

There is hyoshi in the abstract, in notions such as beauty, space and lifestyle. There is hyoshi in human relations, in the vibe we give to each other. There is hyoshi in the places we live, in the feel of streets and neighbourhoods, towns and cities.

You must learn to feel hyoshi overlapping in every facet of your life and bring it to all that you play. Basketball players often speak of wanting to shoot the ball “in rhythm”, meaning within the flow of the game. In other words, they want their actions to arise naturally. This is hyoshi.

Learn to feel the hyoshi of numbers, too. Those students inclined to mathematics should feel a close affinity to the order of music. Music is full of mathematics – scales, beats, time and sonic frequencies all have a mathematical component . . . Above all, always feel the one, whether it’s at the top of the beat or at the bottom of your soul.

Remember, you cannot feel rhythm with your mind; you must feel it in your body. When you physically repeat a pattern enough times – no matter how basic or complex – you will inhabit that pattern with your soul.

If your spirit is large enough you can sense hyoshi even in things that are seemingly arhythmic. All things have an underlying pulse, and their source is the same.

There is nothing deeper than this on the path of Zen Guitar.


Incidentally, 3Di has a brand new take on the subject of biorhythms, which we’ll publish shortly.

3 chords  –  E, A, B7 –

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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