The video I have posted below is a clip from a very useful instructional DVD. A common tendency is focusing on the playing of leads and melodies rather than focusing on rhythm and chords. Our ear is more drawn in by single note playing and our fingers prefer it to clamping down full chords.
Rhythm and chords of songs are being overshadowed by the sexier melodies playing over them. As one’s understanding of music expands it becomes obvious that melodies are contained in the chords and the chords contain the melody as well. The two parts of the music are codependent. The relationship between the timing of a solo, and the rhythm of the song is also one of codependency.
That being said, in agreement that solo playing is over-emphasized, new ways are being used to teach and put emphasis on comping. Some great instructors have gone so far to say, “the chords are more important than the melody, and only after the chords are learned can one attempt the lead.” I agree with the application of this, but not the implication. It is not true that one is more important than the other, it is true that one is much more neglected.
This video is a great illustration of how important and intricate playing rhythm is when it is done well. Wyatt Rice is one of the best, be it bluegrass, jazz, or in-between. His playing is so tasteful and smooth it often goes unnoticed.