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Why doesn't anyone care about strumming patterns?


SuperMonkey
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If you can't play the appropriate strumming pattern for the song, pick a more appropriate song that suits your level. Practice till you get better. And then practice some more. It's all about giving a shit. :lol:

 

I haven't found that strumming patterns are problematic; changing chords are often the trouble spots. Most of my students can learn the basic strumming patterns, but switching between chords while maintaining tempo is the tough task. Problems with changing chords has one time-tested solution, practice and then practice more. If a beginning student can't change chords, then more time on the fretboard is required.

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I don't think about strum patterns. I learned to play by playing along with songs. You should be able to learn the strum patterns as you learn the chords and get the feel of the timing of the song. In other words, it should come naturally.


My advice is to play along with the music you are learning. It puts everything into better perspective.

 

This... listen to the song, over and over again, a lot... keep repeating in your head all day, everyday... until you feel in your bones... that is how you do it :thu:

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...the real reason why I sound like crap: technique (or lack thereof).

Bosh. I've heard you play.

 

I've decided that some of us "get" rhythm au naturale (like me) and some don't. Just like some "get" soloing and some (like me) don't. Has to do with brain/heart/ear/DNA or something.

 

My mando player Mike CANNOT keep a rhythm pattern going if he tries to anchor a song for the band, or to play solo. He actually changes time sigs mid-song, or misses beats, without even realizing it. But he solos effortlessly. I, OTOH, am a natural "motor", but my soloing sux. It's all brain, no heart. Because I'm constantly having to think about it rather than just play.

 

So, prescriptions for getting better at these things prolly is very individual. I have no idea how to make a strum-challenged musician better at it. I've suggested to Mike to get a metronome but so far he hasn't tried that.

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Yeah Stack you and I are clearly different teachers. It is pretty much bass string down starting with me. I have noticed that if you make someone play like the metronome they have a tendency to pick up rhythm rapidly. Then I start allowing them to find patterns for themselves. The minute the patterns interfere with the time it is back to the standard for a bit though. Nothing right or wrong with either way, just different.

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I guess I'm different than most. I'm a Rhythm Oriented type of guitar player. I've also been called a pecussive guitar player. When I play in Bands, I'm all about the snare drum. I play on it, before it, after it, whatever works. (as well as hitting accents off cymbals and such)

In my personal practice, I practice scales like most, but I also practice with recorded drum rudaments as well. Some times I'll pick a rudament, play over it with one chord, and do the same pattern for up to 20 min.The Rythm is more important to me than all the single note flashy stuff. Its what I think make people tap their feet when they listen to you.

But then again, I'm not one for copying guitar parts strait off a recording, unless I feel it's really needed in covering a tune.

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I've never played along with rudiments, but I've spent dozens of hours drilling the drum patterns that come with Ableton Live. First I'll try covering every hit. Then leaving out single hits starting with the first one. When I've got that dialed I'll drop the second hit, then the third, etc. Drummers have strumming covered.

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Yepp, the snare i what I go by, too.

Whenever I want to work out strumming for a new song, I listen to the snare.

BTW: it's different depending on what kind of guitar I play. When I play the acoustic in a solo singer/songwriter setting I tend to play more elaborate than when I just play rhythm guitar in the classical four-piece band setting.

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I've worked with a number of music therapy students, at different skill levels on guitar. Once I had a unique pair at the same time: a self-taught 'ear' player who mostly figured things out from listening, and incidentally seemed to love playing guitar as much as possible. And in contrast, a classically trained violinist who seemed to struggle with intuitive strumming patterns, preferred notation for everything, and was unlikely to pick up the guitar when she had a spare moment.

 

I remember one exercise that really flipped things around - I asked them to learn the song Life is a Highway. I gave them one hour to learn how to sing and play the song at the same time. I wanted them to recreate the syncopated riff in the chorus properly - which is easy enough to play by itself. This lesson covers it, for example:

 

f_PgZLwVOdY

 

Singing the chorus at the same time is more difficult, since it doesn't follow the exact syncopations. The result? The ear player essentially gave up, or insisted that her incorrect strum pattern was correct (later she bargained that it was 'close enough'). The violinist wrote out both parts and slowed it down, and was able to do it at performance tempo well within the hour - a bit mechanical sounding, but in proper time.

 

In reality, the ear player could have come up with an acceptable, musical version of the song, since we weren't playing classical music that demanded exact re-creation. But I liked the fact that the other player had no fear of detail - no fear of something that might be complex on paper, like tied notes off the beat, and no fear of the tedious process of slowing down and repeating a passage over and over. I praised her for that, and at the very least, she ended up with a little more confidence in her guitar playing that day.

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I discovered that I need to hold my pick differently to be able to strum better. Using the round side of picks made a huge difference for me. It's much more easy that way!

Coincidence: I started using the round side of picks about a year ago, after a very young (and very accomplished) guitarist told me he held picks that way. I wouldn't say it made strumming better, but it does seem to offer more control, as with flat-picking.

 

I've also found myself using slightly heavier (thicker) picks over the last year or two. Now, the ones I used to use seem too flimsy for any kind of playing that involves runs on a single string or on pairs of strings.

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  • 9 years later...
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Strumming patterns are really only important on some songs. It depends a lot on what style you're playing. A lot of punk is just straight quick downstrokes the whole time. On the other hand, some styles (folk, jazz) absolutely require variety in strumming to get their full sound.

People also sort of obsess over playing the "original sound" of a song, despite the fact that less than .01% of people are actually going to be playing something that sounds exactly the same. You can mechanically play it exactly the same, but the sound will be "wrong" anyway due to changes in amps/pickups/guitars/etc. 

A lot of people just prefer to own that discrepancy and fully commit to making it sound like "them", rather than obsessing over each minor little thing that makes their sound deviate from the original. 

And then it's truly baffling when someone thinks you're playing the song "wrong" because the youtube video they watched had some dude playing it a different way from you. 9 times out of 10, the person saying it's "wrong" wouldn't be able to tell the difference if they could only hear the audio. It's just something people hyper focus on to judge other peoples' technique and feel superior. They see how your hands move, determine, "That's not what I do!!!" and then start dissing your technique. Doesn't matter if what you do sounds better or worse.

It just matters that they do it one way and you do it another--and they're fully convinced their way is the best way. Maybe it's because that's how the original band did it. Maybe it's because whoever taught them to play it just had their own style. Doesn't matter which, because it's entirely about their perception--not how it actually sounds.

And, to be totally clear, it doesn't change the tone if you upstroke or downstroke a string. It's a string. It's symmetrical. What matters is how much attack and pressure you're putting on each string in a strum, and the order the notes ring out in. In some cases, the pattern makes it easier/harder to time the strums. If any of those things are truly imperative to the sound, the strum pattern might matter. Otherwise it's totally irrelevant.

Some people have enough control to make a downstroke attack the same way as an upstroke. Some songs are strummed so fast/hard you can't realistically hear the difference between an upstroke or downstroke--the 'order' of the notes is intended to be nearly simultaneous. Sometimes it's just easier to time with a different strum, and the timing is way more important.

If a strum pattern legitimately changes the sound of a song, that will be painfully obvious to anyone who isn't a complete beginner. It's not something that needs to be pointed out. The same people who obsess over strum patterns are generally also totally bewildered by playing a song in a different key. 

TLDR: Some people don't care because the strum pattern is irrelevant to what they're playing, and/or they're more focused on sounding good than sounding exactly like someone else.

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Wow! That is a nice long post to revive a zombie thread! Lots of familiar names in this one! 😁

I feel that strumming is about the worst part of my guitar playing, so this caught my attention. I love  listening to good rythym players.

"And, to be totally clear, it doesn't change the tone if you upstroke or downstroke a string."

 

Doesn't change the 'tone'...okay, but certainly changes the sound.

 

Welcome to the forums btw!

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Oooh, a zombie thread just in time for Halloween during the year of the apocalypse. I'll bite:

I've come to appreciate that when it comes to rhythm, a guitar is also a percussion instrument. As a solo player I find myself following the same syncopation as a drummer or percussionist would have. I don't know much about the mechanics or sensibility of drummers or percussionists though so I tend to think of have a good sense of rhythm as being something that becomes subconscious. The musician's term for it is "groove" but the technical term has become "muscle memory" which is akin to learning to type or even something as mundane as drumming your fingers.

Once the mechanics are internalized you start feeling the different stressors in the beat. This is where we get into rhythms, which is essentially what a strum pattern is. It's not just "down up down up" but knowing that there are "hard" beats and "off" beats and whatnot. These are called "dynamics." Triplets are such an example because they aren't usually equally divisible within a 4/4 time signature. They were especially hard for me to pick up on, but once I did I found that it opened me up to different time signatures like 6/8 for example, which is similar to 3/4 but the notation is not as apparent.

What it all comes down to is not just trying to work through it but also learned to listen to songs so that you get that rhythm internalized. Let me say that again: you need to listen and internalize the rhythms until you begin to feel them. Once that happens, you should actually enter into an almost relaxed state where you don't grip the pick so hard or do jerky movements that result in brash sounds. The "strum pattern" - a term that will sound incredibly mundane as you progress - will eventually come unbidden.

OTOH, if it doesn't there is absolutely no problem with that. In fact, that's actually a good thing because that's the beginnings of improvisation. From the audience's perspective that can go either one of two ways. If you're playing for other musicians they're likely to notice and critique you for not being able to recreate the original note for not. To that I say "fuggedaboudit" because musicians often make for a crappy audience. However, if you're playing to a non-musician audience they may actually like that and see it as a "fresh take" of something that has become cliché.

 

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I mix it up and strumming, though not as a routine, is a dynamic that can't be denied a place with the best when done right. I can't think of another way of saying it. Strumming gets seconded as a technique, in context with finger picking (or finger styling if that's your preference), and I can see that when I think a person's progress typically starts out with it as a basic method of sounding chords. It's a starting point with finger picking being the next level up. That's to guitarists and those guys are picking bastids. Anyway, mixing all the techniques up (orchestrating them) marks the player who chooses music over method and I must admit that I did not see it that way for a very long time.

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