In this article, we will talk about the intention but also about the rhythmic placement when we play pieces in this or that style. These notions are quite abstract; you might not necessarily find a method to work on this, but it is important to understand a few things about the subject. We will try to give you some relevant and easy to remember information.
You could translate "intention" as "energy" or "way of playing". It is important to remember that a song gives off a mood, whether it is joy or sadness there is always an emotional signature in a song.
So most of the time you will adapt your playing to the mood of the music and that's what we call "intention". Not playing like machines allows the music to flow, and so we can adapt the rhythmic placement to the style of music we are playing.
In jazz, for example, it is rare for an album to be recorded on a metronome. The musicians usually record together and you can sometimes hear a tempo change over the course of a piece.
Theoretically, you will not find any or very few scores that will guide you on the intention to give in a piece. It's up to you to feel how to play the song by listening to a lot of music of the same style and by immersing yourself in the playing of some musicians. If you listen to blues music, you will quickly grasp the notions explained in this article, because in this style of music, the musicians generally play in a way that makes us feel heavy.
In this second part of the article, we will review the few styles that require a lot of feeling and intention, and other styles that do not require special adaptations:
Reggae: In this style of music, we often have to play eighth notes in the air on the guitar, and it's important not to play them metronomically. Reggae requires flexible playing, and you will often be in tune with the spirit of a song by playing your chords almost late. Pick up some Reggae records and listen closely to the guitarist's playing style, you'd almost think he was behind the pulse, but he's not!
Funk: For this type of music, it's very different and it's actually the opposite of reggae. In funk, we want to hear music that is upbeat and with a lot of groove! Most funk musicians play what we call "in front of the beat", that is to say in a way that gives a crazy energy and a feeling that the music speeds up a little bit. Of course, this is only an illusion and the rhythmic placement of some funk musicians is just amazing. I advise you to listen to "Tower of power", this band is the typical example of what we are talking about!
Variety: Unlike the previous two styles of music, variety does not require any particular intention in rhythmic placement. The band should generally offer a very straightforward way of playing, i.e., metronomic playing so that the singer can have solid, clean musical support on the beats.