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Chord Strumming 101

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The next step after learning your basic chords (see basic chords) is to learn some strum patterns that can be used for accompaniment in a song.

prerequisites:
an understanding of the following rhythms: quarter notes, eighth notes and dotted eighth notes (see understanding rhythms)

The following are some beginning 2 beat strum patterns. Each should be played separately until the sight and sound become familiar. Any chord can be used to play these patterns, but you might just start out with an easy Em chord.

= the symbol for strumming down

= the symbol for strumming up

pattern #1

 

This is a simple pattern. Just strum down, up, down, up and repeat.

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pattern #2


In this pattern, you need to keep your right hand moving down and up, as if you were playing all 8th notes (like pattern #1). The only difference is that on the "&" of beat 1, you are going to miss the strings (go through the motion of moving your hand up, just don't let your pick touch the strings). It takes two 8th notes to equal a quarter note, so you will be missing were the 2nd 8th note would be in pattern #1. Your hand is moving down and up at the speed of an 8th note.

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note: The counting that is in parentheses will be where you miss the strings.

 

 

pattern #3

 

This pattern is just the opposite of #2. Miss the strings on the "&" of beat 2.

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pattern #4

 

In this strum pattern, just remember that your hand is moving down and up at the speed of the 8th note. So when you see a quarter note in this pattern, just miss the strings right after it on beat 2. You are missing the strings as you are strumming down in this pattern.

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pattern #5

 

It takes three 8th notes to equal a dotted quarter note. Therefore, in this strum pattern you want to miss the strings on both the "&" of 1, and beat 2. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. It takes more energy to stop your right hand than it does to keep it moving down and up at the speed of the 8th note. Also keeping your hand moving gives you a physical way of counting the rhythm.

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pattern #6

This is just the opposite of strum #5. Miss the strings on beat 2, and the "&" of 2.

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These 6 patterns will be the building blocks to many of the basic accompaniment strums to follow.

Next move on to some basic 4/4 accompaniment patterns. This is where you can start to play something that actually sounds like a song!



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