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Thread: Strumming patterns and Melody

  1. #1

    Default Strumming patterns and Melody

    I began learning ukulele with the Beloff Daily Ukulele books. I would pick a song I liked and learn the chords and then strum and sing the song with the melody that was already familiar. My strum pattern was the melody of the song. I learned a large number of songs this way and got pretty proficient.

    Then I started watching YouTube ukulele tutorial videos which taught playing the chords in a fixed strum pattern and laying down the melody by singing over this fixed strum pattern. I found this a difficult adjustment at first but I'm getting better at it especially if the pattern is simple like a triplet strum or simple swing.

    The songs I learned by playing the chords with the melody sound to me as good and often better than playing fixed patterns. It seems to me that the right hand by playing faster, slower, louder, softer can bring so much more feeling to a song than I can get playing a calypso or other strum to a common C, Am, F, G7 chord progression. I notice that if I play to the melody (though it may not sound like Kimo Hussey) the song is always recognizable. If I play a songs chord progression with a pattern sometimes it's not clear what song is being played until you add a melody with vocals or another instrument.

    My current path is learning more chord/melody arrangements which I really like. I've noticed many new players struggle learning to put a melody over a fixed strum pattern and wondered why this appears to be the recommended method.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Palm Beach County FL


    try this
    Spencer gay chord melodies.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Marin County, CA


    From my limited knowledge and experience, the idea is to have the strumming as accompaniment to your vocals, so what you describe as odd actually makes a lot of sense to me. The melody is in the vocals and the accompaniment lays down the rhythm and basic harmonies for the melody to float over and to weave through.

    I will say, I took a similar approach with the Daily Ukulele books, finding songs I liked and playing a strum pattern that I thought sounded best for the song’s feel. But I’d always pick a pattern, either for the whole song or for different sections, and stick with it, regardless of what the melody or vocals are doing.

    The other reason I would advocate at least practicing songs with a fixed strum pattern is to develop a steady and rock solid rhythm in your strumming hand. Developing that muscle memory frees up some space in your brain so it can focus on singing accurately or reading the next lines of music without having to think about what your hands are doing.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa


    I'm pretty much a singer strummer, singing being what I do the ukulele is the accompaniment. I do however mess around a lot when I'm practicing, as my practicing these days is working on the songs in my play list and messing around. I started playing melodies out of the Daily Ukulele, or any other sheet music I got my hands on as well. Just to learn where the notes were on the fretboard. I hate doing scales. They are so linear and boring. But because I'm a die hard re-entrant ukulele player I had to substitute chords for those low notes. That lead me to chord melody, as I just sort of engineered it the other way around and when I was playing chords I would throw in some of the melody, especially in bridges, intros, and outros. Anyway, that is kind of how I got there and it works well enough for me. I don't try to get fancy doing it, I just throw it in for flavor. But I think it is fun to do.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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