Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Beginners strumming patterns Pt 1: DDUUDU

Hi there!

When you look on a tab site, you'll often get chords alongside the lyrics to a song. Often there is no indication of strumming or how many chords to the bar. IMHO it's essential to know how the system of strumming works (when to play a down stroke, when to play an upstroke), plus a repetoire of strumming patterns. Then learning songs will be so much easier. Many popular songs tend to merge very common patterns together.

Let's go through some essential rhythm values first:

CROTCHET - this lasts for 1 beat and looks like the below:

In a standard bar of 4/4 timing (4 beats in a bar) you could play 4 of these - play all of these with downstrokes

QUAVER - this lasts for half a beat and looks like the below:

In a standard bar of 4/4 timing you could play 8 of these in total. A lot of the time you'll alternate between down and upstrokes.
You count quavers as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Generally on the 1,2,3,4 you play downstrokes and on the + of each beat play upstrokes
So a full bar of quavers would be DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP
If there are quite a few notes in a bar they will be joined up together to make it easier to read - here
 are 2 quavers joined together:

Now for our first strumming pattern we are going to play 1 crotchet followed by 2 quavers and then the same again:

You'd count this as 1, 2 +, 3 , 4 +
With your strumming hand you'd play DOWN, DOWN UP, DOWN, DOWN UP
Practice taking 3 chord progressions like A,D and E, C, F and G playing 1 bar of each chord using the above pattern. It's a really nice pattern and it appears in thousands of songs.
We can now introduce another quaver on the '+' of 3:

You'd count this is 1, 2 +, 3 +, 4 +
With your strumming hand you'd play DOWN, DOWN UP, DOWN UP, DOWN UP
Now for Ties.

Ties are a great way of adding variation to your rhythm playing. See an example below:

What a tie does is extend a note/chords length by connecting an additional note onto it.
This creates variety in your rhythm playing by missing out certain down and upstrokes and letting notes ring longer.
For the above you'd be playing on 1 + but not play on the first half of beat 2.
Now have a go at the below pattern - this song is used in so many songs it's unbelievable, lots of rock bands like Oasis and Green day use this pattern all the time.

You'd count this as 1, 2 + , 3 + , 4 + BUT you'd not play the note that takes up the first half of beat 3 as it's tied.

With the right hand you'd strum DOWN, DOWN UP, UP, DOWN UP
Have a go with various chord progressions using the above.

Half the world away by Oasis and Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May' both use this pattern.
Play along to a metronome with the ability to split up the bars into quavers

Thanks for reading


James Schofield

Twitter: @jsmusicschool
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