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View Full Version : Knowing the strumming pattern of a song



t0th1nk
05-17-2009, 03:26 PM
Eh, hi guys, i need help with this so please assist. :uhoh:

I want to play these songs and they do put a 4/4 or 3/4 and so on but i dont really know how the song is suppose to sound, to be much more clearer, example, 'somewhere over the rainbow' is played as 3rd string then down-up up-down-up (with reference of a video on youtube teaching how to play this song). Need help! :confused:

So right now i'm kinda in a dilemma on :
1. Tempo
2. Strumming pattern

:wallbash:

Bluke
05-17-2009, 04:25 PM
Tempo is one thing that is manageable and can be assisted with a metronome.

Strumming patterns are a huge part of playing, and come naturally after a good bit of experience. If you need a kickstart, consider lessons, where you can get one on one guidance from the right person. There are also some great rhythm and strum instructional DVD's by masters like Bob Brozman, and others.

Ukulele JJ
05-17-2009, 05:11 PM
example, 'somewhere over the rainbow' is played as 3rd string then down-up up-down-up

Well, the Iz version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is played that way. But that doesn't mean you have to play it that way.

As you get more and more comfortable with various strums, you'll be able to copy exactly what some other uker is doing. But until then, there's nothing wrong with just playing whatever strums you know. As long as the chords are right, it'll work fine.

:shaka:

JJ

GrumpyCoyote
05-18-2009, 07:07 AM
Just my opinion, but the first thing to remember about strumming patterns is that you need to forget them.
Rhythm and timing are critical for the beginner, getting down and upstrokes just like the recording is not.

Honestly, specific patterns emerge from feel more than study. You would be better off focusing on tempo and basic rhythm than making yourself nuts with strumming patterns.

That said, right hand technique IS important, so you don’t learn bad habits (like me) and get stuck. Watch Aldrine’s vids… don’t sweat the down-up-chunk as much as what he does with his fingers, thumb, and wrist. It's about technique, not the pattern.

FatBaldGuy
05-18-2009, 10:10 AM
Just my opinion, but the first thing to remember about strumming patterns is that you need to forget them.
Rhythm and timing is critical for the beginning, getting down and upstrokes just like the recording is not.

Honestly, specific patterns emerge from feel more than study. You would be better off focusing on tempo and basic rhythm than making yourself nuts with strumming patterns.

I've only had my uke a couple of weeks, but I have noticed when I am worrying less about the strum pattern, it seems to sound better. When I am focusing on trying to strum a specific pattern my chords are weaker, chord changes are slower, and it just doesn't sound as good.

FBG

Ukulele JJ
05-18-2009, 11:46 AM
I've only had my uke a couple of weeks, but I have noticed when I am worrying less about the strum pattern, it seems to sound better. When I am focusing on trying to strum a specific pattern my chords are weaker, chord changes are slower, and it just doesn't sound as good.

Good for you! I think it is to the beginning uke player's benefit to focus more on listening and building that connection between the ear and hands, and less on executing the "correct pattern".

JJ

seeso
05-18-2009, 11:47 AM
Trust me when I tell you that the musicians playing the songs that you're trying to figure out are not thinking about strumming patterns. They're just thinking of the beat, the feel of the song.

Try not to worry so much about how it's supposed to sound, and start trying to define the feel of your interpretation. Let go!

Myala509
05-18-2009, 01:43 PM
As a begginer too I have problems with tempo and strum patterns. I just practice the patterns by themselves until it's natural. Also the iz strum is pretty hard but I think it sounds alot better if it's the fourth string and low g.

buddhuu
05-18-2009, 10:17 PM
A few notes (no pun intended) that may (or may not) help...

Tempo is just the speed in beats per minute at which you play. Don't sweat that, you can play at whatever speed you want - or at least until your fingers refuse to go faster!

Rhythm is the tricky bit, but it gets easier the more time and concentration you put in.

A couple of things that might help when you're working on strumming patterns:

Step 1) Establish whether a tune is in 4/4 or 3/4. Most will be in one or the other, with the majority being in 4/4. If it's in 4/4 (AKA common time), then a count of "1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4" should fit over it. If it's in 3/4 (AKA waltz time), then a count of "1 2 3 1 2 3" will fit.

Step 2) Practise strumming a straight up-down-up-down with a down-stroke on every count. Count in your mind, or out loud, and say "and" for the upstrokes.

Your strumming should be like one of these depending on the time signature or the song - 4/4 or 3/4. The examples show two measures (bars) of each time sig:


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
D U D U D U D U | D U D U D U D U (4/4)

1 & 2 & 3 & | 1 & 2 & 3 &
D U D U D U | D U D U D U (3/4)


Many instructors on videos will keep that steady up-down-up-down motion going steady through the song no matter what. So, even where they don't strum a count beat or an "and" beat they will still "mime" that beat in the strum, just without actually brushing the strings. Once you get that steady, uninterrupted up-down-up-down strum thing into your head and your fingers it can make it easier to figure out the patterns people are playing - because, as often as not, if you follow the pattern played by the instructor you will find your hand is usually in the right place for whichever up or down stroke is required.

Step 3) Get some paper and a pencil!

Write down that 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & or 1 & 2 & 3 & count pattern for whatever time the song is in, then as you work through the song on the video write the U or D or X/chunk (or whatever notation you use) under or over the count pattern. That way you can see exactly where the strum pattern fits into the count of the bar.

As has been said, strum patterns just come naturally after a while - but to get to the stage where they do come naturally it is helpful to learn and practise as many of the ones people have already used as possible. If nothing else it shows you some options you might otherwise miss. The transition between learning strums "parrot fashion" and ad-libbing them without thinking just happens gradually. You just start to find yourself doing your own thing ... and it working!

Good luck! :shaka:

ukulele2544
05-18-2009, 10:19 PM
It really dosen't matter... I myself can just guess the strumming pattern...

buddhuu
05-19-2009, 02:53 AM
@ t0th1nk:

If I still sometimes find myself noting stuff down to get the strum right I do it as follows.

Iz's version of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'...



1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
D D U X U D U | D D U X U D U | D D U X U D U
T M T M T M


So,
The top line is the 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & count for 4/4.
Second line is the strum D=downstroke, U=upstroke, X=muted or chunked. The position of the X strum tells you that in this case it will be on a down stroke as the strokes on either side are both ups, and following that steady up-down thing those X strokes do indeed fall on the down strokes
Third line is where I might put memory hints under the strums. In this example T=thumb (thumb plays the bass note on the C string - or G string if you're tuned low G) and M=mute, as I mute this beat by gently slapping my palm on the strings instead of doing a proper chunk. Some people might do a pinky mute or a chunk here, the palm slap is my preference.

And of course, always work with a video or audio file if possible so you can clearly hear the rhythm you're trying to achieve.

Myala509
05-19-2009, 08:26 AM
Awesome responses b! I agree 100 percent and learned a lot too! Also your rainbow method is the same as mine.

buddhuu
05-19-2009, 01:29 PM
;) :shaka:

pithaya9
05-19-2009, 04:23 PM
@ t0th1nk:

If I still sometimes find myself noting stuff down to get the strum right I do it as follows.

Iz's version of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'...



1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
D D U X U D U | D D U X U D U | D D U X U D U
T M T M T M


So,
The top line is the 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & count for 4/4.
Second line is the strum D=downstroke, U=upstroke, X=muted or chunked. The position of the X strum tells you that in this case it will be on a down stroke as the strokes on either side are both ups, and following that steady up-down thing those X strokes do indeed fall on the down strokes
Third line is where I might put memory hints under the strums. In this example T=thumb (thumb plays the bass note on the C string - or G string if you're tuned low G) and M=mute, as I mute this beat by gently slapping my palm on the strings instead of doing a proper chunk. Some people might do a pinky mute or a chunk here, the palm slap is my preference.

And of course, always work with a video or audio file if possible so you can clearly hear the rhythm you're trying to achieve.

Thanks for the notes Buddhu they are a great help.

MysticRatboy
05-20-2009, 09:53 AM
How do you take the next step of "feeling it"?

When I play a strum i will stick with it forever. I dont know when i should vary it to mix things up.

I have conquered the timing problems (even on hard strums like that above). Will not miss the beats. Its just i strum like it was a chore, not like im enjoying it.

Help?

NukeDOC
05-20-2009, 10:28 AM
How do you take the next step of "feeling it"?

When I play a strum i will stick with it forever. I dont know when i should vary it to mix things up.

I have conquered the timing problems (even on hard strums like that above). Will not miss the beats. Its just i strum like it was a chore, not like im enjoying it.

Help?

too many mind... no mind.
-from the last samurai

really, you just gotta keep doing it till it becomes second nature.

in motorcycle riding, ive been taught that my total attention span is worth $1. if im just beginning, im going to be using about 25 cents worth on throttle control, 25 cents on clutch control, 25 cents on brake and shifter control, and 15 cents on balance and body position. that doesnt leave much room for watching the road, does it? thats why we practice. so that eventually, that 25cents worth of attention only requires about 5-10cents worth, and you have more "money" to spend on finer aspects like lines on turns and road hazards and that truck that just ran the red light while you were coming through the intersection.

strumming and fingering the chords on ukulele are basic fundamentals of playing but you must practice to the point that you spend less time concentrating on your actions (making it a chore), and spending more time remembering the lyrics and listening to the beautiful music you are making.

buddhuu
05-20-2009, 10:54 AM
How do you take the next step of "feeling it"?

When I play a strum i will stick with it forever. I dont know when i should vary it to mix things up.

I have conquered the timing problems (even on hard strums like that above). Will not miss the beats. Its just i strum like it was a chore, not like im enjoying it.

Help?

People sometimes say that you don't need to learn strums, that you can just do what you feel. Well, that might work for some, but others of us benefit from learning a vocabulary to work from.

Invest some time learning strum patterns from Aldrine's lessons. When I say learn, I mean LEARN! Like practise so much that you can leave the strum alone for two weeks then go back and still play it without too much concentration.

You have to work things like chords, strums and picking patterns into what people call 'muscle memory'.

Once you learn a whole lot of strums really thoroughly, not only will you have a vocabulary of strum 'phrases' to mix and match, but they'll start to flow from your hands so naturally you'll be able to relax that tense beginner's concentration to allow you to focus on feeling the vibe.

It's a bit of a paradox, but many of us really do have to work at the semi-rigid drilling regime of practice, practice and more practice in order to reach a place where we can do that whole natural, relaxed, zen feel-the-music thing.

Basically, I pretty much agree with NukeDOC.

Denno
05-20-2009, 11:33 AM
Screw strumpatterns! So what if all songs sound the same....:D

buddhuu
05-20-2009, 12:13 PM
Screw strumpatterns! So what if all songs sound the same....:D

:rotfl: .

CoffeeMate
05-20-2009, 06:08 PM
Buddhu, REALLY helpful posts, Thank You. I have such a hard time picking a strum pattern and sticking with it. I'll start out with the pattern I want to use and then half way through the song I find myself playing duudu (the first pattern I learned). Having a visual tool will help.:nana:

buddhuu
05-20-2009, 09:49 PM
:music: :rock: :shaka:

jorge
05-24-2009, 07:36 AM
OK - I've been at it a few months, but I'm a slow learner. I hear the strumming pattern this girl uses a lot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIZB0-Kqp70

But, man, i can't figure it out. Can anybody help me out? (I'm gonna be really embarrassed if it's just U/D. But I keep trying to sound like her and can't do it.)

thanks,

Jorge

Ukulele JJ
05-24-2009, 08:46 AM
OK - I've been at it a few months, but I'm a slow learner. I hear the strumming pattern this girl uses a lot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIZB0-Kqp70

But, man, i can't figure it out. Can anybody help me out? (I'm gonna be really embarrassed if it's just U/D. But I keep trying to sound like her and can't do it.)

thanks,

Jorge

Ah, yes. The old "one-two (rest) and-four-and" strum. A classic. :cheers:

I'm not a fan of thinking of strum patterns in terms of down and up, but if you must have it that way, it's: D - D - - - U D U

It might be easier to start with playing "one----two----three-and-four-and" (AKA "D - D - D U D U"). Once you get that, then omit playing the downstrum on beat three.

And, as always, it is essential that you keep your strumming hand moving in a constant, steady motion, and only make contact with the strings when you want the strum to sound. Don't stop moving your hand/arm on beat three during this strum. In other words, movement-wise, you're always playing DUDUDUDU.

Now here's the tricky part. She's playing a "swing" rhythm in that video you linked to. That means that the "and" (the "up" strum) doesn't come evenly between the quarter-notes (the "downs"). It's delayed slightly. This is very difficult to explain in print. Sorry. Just listen. You'll get it.

:shaka:

JJ

jorge
05-24-2009, 09:00 AM
And, as always, it is essential that you keep your strumming hand .


:shaka:

JJ

thanks JJ. once you broke it down for me, i could really hear it and (sort of) play it. though i'm gonna have to practice strumming but not hitting the strings. that's hard. thanks agian.

seeso
05-24-2009, 09:42 AM
Quality effin post, JJ.

buddhuu
05-24-2009, 02:00 PM
Yeh, great post, JJ. Nice explanation! :)


[...]
And, as always, it is essential that you keep your strumming hand moving in a constant, steady motion, and only make contact with the strings when you want the strum to sound. [...]

TOTALLY! That constant regular, uninterrupted motion is the key to every strum pattern I know. :music:

t0th1nk
06-08-2009, 04:07 AM
Hey! Thanks to all those that answered and yeah, i guess i'm settling into 'just strum' method. Sorry for the super late reply. Fact being i can't seem to find this post so i assumed they didnt let it in.

You guys rock! :shaka: