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terrgy
07-28-2015, 03:09 AM
I know this will possibly be a lame subject for the experienced ukulele players, but for me it is a challenge.
Strum patterns. When it comes to strum patterns, it's a struggle and sometimes I think "well maybe I am just not musical, perhaps no rhythm. I don't know. But I do want to get some feed back on this subject, hopefully finding a way to deal with it.

Background: I am a self taught mountain dulcimer player. Never got into strum patterns. After lots of practice and a few years of playing, I can play at a decent level.

The strum patterns I got hooked on, and addicted to, are DDUD, and DDUDUD. Practically all of my dulcimer playing includes these two strum patterns worked into the song. DDUD usually is the beginning bars and DDUDUD ends the lines. Some times I do end on DDUDU, and then a DUD.

I decided to attempt to learn ukulele, about 3 months ago now, to add more variety to my music, which includes the dulcimer and tremolo harmonica. I purchased "Ukulele Primer with DVD, by Bert Casey. I think it's a wonderful beginners book. The lesson book teaches several different strum patterns. I have practiced, then practiced, then practiced some more, trying to play simple songs like, "He's to the Whole World in His Hands", and "Pay Me My Money Down". Two different strum patterns, and I guess easy ones.

However, practice as I may, I just can't get it in my head. I'll go real slow, trying to get the strum pattern he plays. But I just don't "hear the song". I go right back to my basic strum patterns that are so ingrained in my head, psych, and I think more important, or perhaps a disability.

Anyways, I am just wondering if there are others that have faced this same challenge, and if so, what did you do about it, or should I just embrace it and go...?

But of course, if I didn't think something was missing, I would never have started this topic. It's hard to keep one's ears from listening.

Thanks

Terry

kkimura
07-28-2015, 03:25 AM
Nothing wrong with your basic strum patterns. I think it was an old Hawaiian ukulele player that said something like, "you just press the strings and strum".
Better to "hear the song" than to force someone else's strum pattern on it.

DownUpDave
07-28-2015, 04:06 AM
Nothing wrong with your basic strum patterns. I think it was an old Hawaiian ukulele player that said something like, "you just press the strings and strum".
Better to "hear the song" than to force someone else's strum pattern on it.

This is very good advice. I believe Aaron Kliem has a video about his three most used strum patterns

If you really want to learn others, I do think that is a good idea, here is what I have done. Start with a new song you have never played, clean slate. Write out the chords of the song on a piece of paper. Practice your new strum pattern with these chords, no tempo, just one measure per chord. Over and over and over until the strum pattern is ingrained. Then incorporate the tempo, then the lyrics.

Using a new strum pattern to a song that is already ingrained is very hard. It took me one month of daliy pratice to really nail a change to a song I had been playing for 6 months.

terrgy
07-28-2015, 04:21 AM
Dave, thanks for the advice. I guess recognition is the correct path to take. In other words it will take some time and due diligence.

sukie
07-28-2015, 06:24 AM
This is an exercise I learned from another UU member:

Get out some index cards
On each card put a D, or U or R or C or even leave a few blank.
(D=down, U=up, R=roll, and C=chunk)
Then shuffle them.
Lay them out so you get a total of 8 beats. (This is using 8th notes)
Play away.


This is a pretty simple description of what to do, but it gives you an idea. Adjust accordingly.
Just remember -- chunks are not on beat one. Rolls can be, though.

terrgy
07-28-2015, 06:32 AM
Sukie

Sounds interesting. Enough to get it a go. First I have to do some study on what a "roll and a chunk" are. I know it has to be some kind of strumming technique, but just not experienced enough to have this knowledge.

Thanks
Terry

sukie
07-28-2015, 08:39 AM
D
Sukie

Sounds interesting. Enough to get it a go. First I have to do some study on what a "roll and a chunk" are. I know it has to be some kind of strumming technique, but just not experienced enough to have this knowledge.

Thanks
Terry
You can totally skip the chunks and rolls for now. Just seems like a fun way to work on patterns.

Rllink
07-28-2015, 09:08 AM
This is just my two cents worth. I started out just doing up down up down up down. I didn't even think about a pattern, in fact, I didn't even know there were patterns. But as time went on, up down up down sort of evolved into two or three other patterns. Well, the next thing that I knew, I found out that those evolutions were actually real strum patterns and I discovered that I was already doing them. But I think what I'm trying to say is that at least for me, the less I think about them, the better they go. As you progress, learning new strum patterns gets easier. I know that if I start concentrating on them, everything else goes to pot. So just do what you are, and the rest will fall in line eventually.

mikelz777
07-28-2015, 09:54 AM
... I know that if I start concentrating on them, everything else goes to pot. So just do what you are, and the rest will fall in line eventually.

You and I are in the same boat. If I start thinking about strum patterns, things go down hill very fast. After a while, things do fall into place where strumming becomes kind of a "feel" and you're not thinking that a down stroke is needed here or an upstroke is needed there, you just kind of do it. Sometimes I struggle a bit when the strum pattern I want isn't strictly a rhythm pattern that goes nicely with the lyrics. Right now I'm still trying to get a handle on the strumming for "She's A Mystery Girl" and "First Cut Is The Deepest". I'll just have to keep grinding through it. It took me a while to get the hang of Springsteen's "Working On The Highway" but I finally figured that one out.

k0k0peli
07-28-2015, 10:00 AM
Another two cents. The whole concept of "strum patterns" just doesn't click with me. I fingerpicked guitar for 5 decades, and flat-picked mandolins for three decades, before I ever picked up a 'uke. I've taken classes in Latino and African percussion rhythms and incorporated those into MIDI scores. I've played North Indian rhythms where every beat has its own voice, sung by the drummer. (That's a lifelong study.) "Strumming patterns" just seem to me like a basic rhythmic mode, not so tricky as learning to keep a thumbpick going at 5/4. IMHO these patterns might be more straightforward if played either fingerstyle or with a flatpick. Since I started concentrating on mandos, I find myself flatpicking lots of stuff on guitar and 'uke that I wouldn't have considered before. Most of my 'uke 'strums' are more like crosspicking. But that's just me. YMMV. Cheers!

terrgy
07-28-2015, 10:42 AM
Thanks guys. Good stuff and I already feel better about myself. As kkimura said: "Hear the song, don't force someone else's strum pattern on yourself."

Best Regards,
Terry

Christon Abike
07-30-2015, 03:29 AM
I highly doubt that you lack rhythm! Most everyone can tap out the beat to a song. As for strumming patterns, my advice would be to not concentrate on them. Don't think about them in terms of rigid patterns. Listen to a song, find the chords and then try to "sing" the song with a strumming pattern, if that makes sense. You can play G, D7 and C with a strumming pattern and it won't sound anything like "Bad Moon Rising", but if you actually concentrate on emulating the rhythm with your strumming, it will.

Hope that makes sense.

terrgy
08-03-2015, 04:59 AM
I highly doubt that you lack rhythm! Most everyone can tap out the beat to a song. As for strumming patterns, my advice would be to not concentrate on them. Don't think about them in terms of rigid patterns. Listen to a song, find the chords and then try to "sing" the song with a strumming pattern, if that makes sense. You can play G, D7 and C with a strumming pattern and it won't sound anything like "Bad Moon Rising", but if you actually concentrate on emulating the rhythm with your strumming, it will.

Hope that makes sense.

It does make sense. Since posting this topic, I have come to grips with my strumming. I think it's a matter of hearing "that song". Make the strokes to make it sound right.

Peace.

CactusWren
08-03-2015, 05:41 AM
My opinion is to learn standard strums and keep grinding them into "muscle memory". There is a reason certain patterns are popular, and that is because they are good. Practice your songs with different patterns--it may take an effort of will, but that's okay, few good things come easily. Beyond that, listen to the music you like and try to imagine how your ukulele can impart the same feel as that music. Chunks are like the strong drum beats (vum, chunk!, vum, chunk! uh). Most American music is in 4/4 and the 2 and 4 are very often those strong beats. A strumming uke or guitar is essentially a type of drum, so good strums come from studying and feeling the rhythm. You can do it!

terrgy
08-04-2015, 02:49 AM
My opinion is to learn standard strums and keep grinding them into "muscle memory". There is a reason certain patterns are popular, and that is because they are good. Practice your songs with different patterns--it may take an effort of will, but that's okay, few good things come easily. Beyond that, listen to the music you like and try to imagine how your ukulele can impart the same feel as that music. Chunks are like the strong drum beats (vum, chunk!, vum, chunk! uh). Most American music is in 4/4 and the 2 and 4 are very often those strong beats. A strumming uke or guitar is essentially a type of drum, so good strums come from studying and feeling the rhythm. You can do it!


That's some good stuff. Thanks for the insight.

Mxyzptik
08-04-2015, 04:23 AM
One of the things I've observed is that certain players develop their own signature strum. I follow a fellow member on utube " mikemiragliuolo " , I enjoy his style and he has an interesting thumb strumming style that I find very pleasing. Check out his utube videos.

Lori
08-04-2015, 06:03 AM
I found that thinking too much about the pattern was getting in the way. Trying to follow written instructions seemed awkward. I do much better listening to a strum, and trying to match it. Try playing with other players, or recordings, and get the feel of the strum. You will find that it is nice to change the strum for different parts of the song. It helps to refresh the ear. As you get more experienced, you will find you may learn faster. Practice is always the key.

–Lori

Christon Abike
08-04-2015, 11:45 AM
Yep, follow your ear and feel for the music. Learn to trust it and it will serve you well. You'll also develop your own style, as has been said, which is what makes your playing unique amongst the ukulele masses who try to stick to 'stock' dduudu or similar patterns. Patterns are great, but they're also limiting and can get monotonous if used throughout an entire song, or even songbook, without variation.

terrgy
08-04-2015, 12:39 PM
Yep, follow your ear and feel for the music. Learn to trust it and it will serve you well. You'll also develop your own style, as has been said, which is what makes your playing unique amongst the ukulele masses who try to stick to 'stock' dduudu or similar patterns. Patterns are great, but they're also limiting and can get monotonous if used throughout an entire song, or even songbook, without variation.


Well said. "I like the way you talk." (i.e. Slingblade)

Tootler
08-04-2015, 02:25 PM
I'm with the feel the rhythm of the song and strum accordingly folk.

I don't necessarily keep the same strum pattern through a whole song either. I will quite often use a more elaborate pattern for an intro or between verses. I like syncopated patterns like D.DU.UDU and stroking my fingers across the strings both of which makes the rhythm more interesting but I will often just use that in the intro then go to a simpler pattern while singing. You need to be on auto pilot with your strumming while singing so you can concentrate on the song itself but then use fancier patterns between verses to maintain interest.

George Formby is a good example. All that famous fancy strumming is purely during his solos. When he is singing he keeps it very simple indeed. It's worth watching some videos of him on You Tube to see that.