Basic Music Theory:

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How to read Strumming Patterns?

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Though, I believe that there is a standard notation for strum patterns, many people (and internet sites) use different notations. The notations that I use in these blogs is a mixture of the standard with a bit of modification to match the QWERTY keyboard.


D - Means a chord is struck with a downward stroke (from the 6th towards the 1st string)

U - Means a chord is struck with an upward stroke (from the 1sh towards the 6th string)

( ) - Brackets are sometimes used instead of the bar on top () It means that the strokes within / under these constitute one unit and all of them share the time allotted to that group equally.

' or * - These marks are placed on top of the particular stroke to denote that it is sounded and then muted quickly.

| | - These are the symbols of a meter. The strokes or their groups between these two lines constitute one meter (time unit) of the song.

/ or _ - Indicates a rest when the plectrum is not to be used though the strings may continue to vibrate unless it has to be muted.

Dashes - These may be used to separate the character and do not indicate anything in particular and hence do not alter the time fractions. e.g. |DDDD| is the same as |D-D-D-D|.

All songs in these blogs that have strum patterns provided generally have the following explanation attached to them -
Explanation - x beats per meter; the stroke that is marked with a (') is played and muted (D' here); the beats in brackets are divided into subunits of equal duration as noted.
Here, the "x beats per meter" indicates that for each complete cycle of rhythm, or commonly - line, of the song contains "x" individual equal subdivisions.

This pattern usually repeats itself throughout the song and provides the rhythm of the song.


3 beats per meter; these are a down stroke, followed by an upstroke and again a down stroke.


4 beats per meter; that is to say each beat is divided into 4 subunits. Each such subunit - shown in brackets -contain 2 individual strokes. Here the second stroke of alternate subunits are muted. All strokes here are down-strokes.


4 beats per meter; 1st and 4th subunits are a down-stroke each while middle two subunits have been divided into two strokes each : 2nd unit - down - up and 3rd unit - down - down.

|DDD| |D(DD)(DD)|

Two alternating meters. Both have 3 beats each. First is just 3 down-strokes while the second is a bit more complex. Its two final subunits have 2 down-strokes each.

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How to read Strumming Patterns?

Comments: 1 comment(s)...have your say!

Mir Hasansaid...

Quite halpful, well explained!!!!!

BasicMusicTheory Tip:

Tune your guitar before you start playing.^Top^

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