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Kalraii
11-26-2016, 01:54 AM
Hiya - As a new Uke player this is my first ever (YAY) string instrument but I am not new to music as a craft. Practically born and raised on classical piano music/technique and while a lot of my knowledge is transferable (sight reading/music theory etc), as expected, I am definitely struggling with things that are NOT.

Such as strumming patterns and strumming overall to a piece of music with standard musical notation (that is, minus any strumming advice/cues). SO then, is it good practice to strum down on the beat and up on the off? When using different strumming patterns do I forgo this "rule" and just ensure the pattern fits the time sig?

Thanks for letting me pick your brains! x

Croaky Keith
11-26-2016, 02:44 AM
There are tutorials on the web of many different methods - but it is mainly down to practice, as ever. :)

I tend to pick melodies & have trouble keeping to a strum pattern, but there seems to be 2 schools of thought about strumming.
1) You pick a pattern & play it all the way through a song.
2) You play what 'feels' right.

DownUpDave
11-26-2016, 02:58 AM
Strumming is a funny or weird thing because it does go against convention ie classical piano for instance. Many many people new to the ukulele ask for advice about strumming. I usually strum to the time signature and try and get the pattern within the measure.

BUT strumming, when done well, adds soul and feeling to the piece. Because of this the rules are bent and strumming is more about feel and groove than adherence to a set pattern. Check out website "Ukulele in the Dark" by Guido Heistk, go to strumming archives. He also has an instructional DVD "Hear the Strum".

Barrytone
11-26-2016, 05:07 AM
I'm a "strum to the feel of the music" player. I try to syncopate my rhythm at the end of a phrase or passage, where appropriate. It is important to emphasise rhythm by striking the strings with more attack on down or up strokes and either on or off the beat. Also practice "ghost strokes" up or down movements without hitting the strings. Then there are the other "Dark Arts" including: double/triple strums, split strokes, pinches and plucks. There is a lifetime of learning and thanks to the "net" it is just a click or swipe away....oh and practice.

Rllink
11-26-2016, 05:47 AM
I'm a "strum to the feel of the music" player. I try to syncopate my rhythm at the end of a phrase or passage, where appropriate. It is important to emphasise rhythm by striking the strings with more attack on down or up strokes and either on or off the beat. Also practice "ghost strokes" up or down movements without hitting the strings. Then there are the other "Dark Arts" including: double/triple strums, split strokes, pinches and plucks. There is a lifetime of learning and thanks to the "net" it is just a click or swipe away....oh and practice.A lot of ukulele players feel the same way as Barrytone. I think that there is some intuitiveness that comes with ukulele playing that also allows for a lot of creativity. When it comes to strumming, the basic up down strum is just a starting point. The ukulele players that I know strum with feeling and not convention.

kohanmike
11-26-2016, 06:24 AM
I'm a reasonably good strummer, played rhythm guitar for almost 50 years before taking up the uke, but when I first tried the strum Iz uses on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" I absolutely couldn't get it. I put it aside and continued to play all the songs done in the uke group I joined, practiced them constantly, then a few months later I happened to try the "Rainbow" strum again and wow, there it was, just like that. So start out simple and as you get more proficient, you'll actually find yourself almost automatically adding nuances.

jer
11-27-2016, 10:24 AM
For me, it's more about feel. Strumming is often very percussive, although it doesn't have to be. It's a good practice to mute all strings with your left hand (assuming you play right handed) and practice just strumming the strings with your right hand. Think of it as strictly percussion and find the beat of the music, so to speak. Learn to do your own thing that fits your ear within the music. I think trying to adhere to a certain strum pattern or way of doing things is very limiting when it comes to this kind of thing.

robinboyd
11-27-2016, 12:22 PM
I found the advice that Aldrine gave in UU+ to be really helpful. It's just for basic strums, so leave out rolls, picks, and triplet strums for now, I'll just talk about regular strumming and chunking.

Start with a down strum on the beat and an up strum on the off. In 4/4 time this will look like DUDUDUDU. From there, you can subtract strums, so to get the classic "Hawaiian" strum, you end up with D_DU_UDU. All of the strums are the same as the first patter, but you have just taken out 2 strums. A good way to keep the timing is to do the motion of strumming, but without touching the strings. From there, you can add chunks instead of any of down strums (although it sounds a bit odd when the first strum is a chunk). If you're not sure how to do a chunk strum, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. So, adding a chunk to our last strumming pattern would look like D_XU_UDU, if X represents a chunk. Using that technique, you can play with a whole bunch of strumming patterns.

Once you are comfortable with this, then you can try to get fancier.

jddennis
11-28-2016, 03:02 AM
One thing I'd mention -- some people find different fingers more comfortable than others for strumming. Several of my beginning students prefer strumming down with their thumb. It's a really good starting method.

Also, I recommend a metronome. Set the beats nice and slow (say, 30 or 40 beats per minute). Practice down strokes, strumming in time with the beat. As that feels comfortable, make the beats faster. Once it's comfortable, do the same with the up stroke.

Once your down strokes and up strokes are at the same speed, slow down again. This time, you'll practice alternating down stroke and up stroke, one per beat. Once you work that up to a decent speed, start practicing skipping beats to create different strums.

SailingUke
11-28-2016, 03:49 AM
The best strumming advice I ever got was simple.
"Think Drummer".

Croaky Keith
11-28-2016, 04:18 AM
The best strumming advice I ever got was simple.
"Think Drummer".

Hey! That might work for me, I keep getting hooked up with the melody, must give it a go. :)

mikelz777
11-28-2016, 05:05 AM
I was thinking about this thread last night as I was strumming away to myself. When I tried to purposely think of strum patterns, it really threw me off. I found I don't go into or play a song thinking that I'm going to play strum X or strum Y, I just do what seems to fit so I guess I'm a "feel" strummer. One thing I noticed, and this seemed to work a lot in Bruce Springsteen songs, was that I often strummed according to the syllables of the words in the lyrics. So a 2 syllable word would be D-U, a 3 syllable word would be D-U-D, a 4 syllable word would be D-U-D-U, etc. That order could be inverted as well and for me, it just seems to happen, I don't think to do it. Of course, none of what's mentioned above is a hard rule. Depending on the feel of the song you might want to "swing" it or play multiple up strokes and/or down strokes. Then there's strumming harder, softer, strumming behind the beat a bit, skipping beats, etc. I've noticed in some videos I've watched here that there are some players who pick a strum pattern and doggedly stick with it throughout the song, never wavering from beginning to end. That does work and is called for in some songs but in those songs where it isn't called for, it makes for a boring, robotic, metronome-like performance lacking in feel or soul. So I'm probably not being very helpful to essentially say, "just do it". Coming from a more formal and structured background in music, you may have to kind of unlearn some things and approach strumming from a different angle. Pick a song that you know very well and look at a resource that only has the chords and the lyrics. Maybe trying to work through it that way, free of the notes, stanzas, etc. will help you find your way.

JackLuis
11-28-2016, 06:38 AM
I too strum to the lyrics. I found D u D D, repetitive strumming to be blah. Boom chica Boom like on a guitar is less useful without that bass strings on a Uke. My Uke buddy is an old guitar player and he plays the same pattern no matter what, but he plays to sing. I play to make the Uke sing.