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Guitar Strum Patterns

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Chapter - 7
Strum Patterns

Strumming is the most important thing when it comes to playing a song on a guitar. You can learn only 5 to 10 basic chords and if you get the idea of the strum pattern, you can literally play 1000s of songs with ease. These patterns are the "beats" in the song and are often more signature than the chords themselves.

The basic things that you need to understand is that a strum pattern is rather hard to express and unless the pattern is very simple or unique, people with come up with their own versions. The pattern is more "felt" than it is "measured."

You may choose to strum with your bare fingers (thumb) or a plectrum - It is recommended that you choose the kind that you are the most comfortable with but for rock songs in general, it’s better if you use a plectrum, especially if you are a beginner.

Writing It Down (Notation):

Despite of the "feel" factor, strum is measured and written down as follows. The symbols used are straight forward:

D = Down stroke (means pluck the strings from above, 6th to 1st string) - generally louder

U = Up stroke (means pluck the strings from below, 1st to 6th string) - generally softer.

"/" or "-" or "_" = Indicates a rest when the plectrum is not to be used though the strings may continue to vibrate.

" " = Meter symbol: as used in general, indicates one unit of time. In terms of general notation, if the time be 4/4 with crotchet = 60 sec, then whatever be written within the is to be played in 4 sec. Generally, however, it is rare to see a time notation is not mentioned and it is assumed that the player has heard the song and knows "how fast the song goes."

Whatever is indicated is repeated throughout the song. Patterns may also be composite, like DUDDU and this means that these two meters repeat throughout the song. The pattern may also change inside the song.

DUDU = alternate up and down strokes of equal duration.
D-DU = down of twice duration followed by an alternate up and down stroke of unit duration.
D/DUDU = pattern of "Nothing Else Matters" (Metallica).
D-DUUD = pattern of "Wonderful Tonight" (Eric Clapton).

Understanding strumming is incomplete without understanding off and on beats. (continue)

Strum Patterns:

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Guitar Strum Patterns

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Tune your guitar before you start playing.^Top^

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