1 (edited by nevets17 2009-09-01 14:03:51)

Topic: Basic Strumming Question

There is a question at the end of this rant. Thank you for your patience.

As I have mentioned before I was taking lessons from January until July of this year. My main intention was to learn enough about the guitar to be able to pick it up and play at the campfire this summer. My lessons stated out by learning the strings and how to read notes by plucking out little tunes like "Jingle Bells" and "Aura Lee".  That was all well and good. What kind of fool would I be if I didn't take advantage of a little "music theory" while learning how to play. The thing is I wanted to learn chords so I could play the songs I wanted to play. I picked songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane", "I Fought the Law" and "Ring of Fire" so I could learn basic chords. I really wanted to learn "Won't Be Home" by The Old 97's and practiced that along with the others. I got the A chord down for songs like "The Bucket" by Kings of Leon and "Stumble In" by Sleepercar. During that time I was doing the basic down strum when one day it clicked and I began to experiment with a faster up and down strum. At this point I knew the chords and could make my changes fast enough. By July I was strumming out more Old 97's tunes for my family at the campfire. I have been adding more Old 97's songs to my list. Now I can play "Weightless", "Victoria", Designs on You" and "Our Love" by Rhett Miller(lead singer of the Old 97's). By the way, if you have never heard of any of these songs, you should check them out.

I decided to have a look at Justin’s Beginner guitar course for structured way of learning instead of the sort of backwards way I learned. I am a little embarrassed to say that I did not know the E chord and I like that he suggests keeping your first finger on the 3rd string to help you change chords faster. After going over D, A and E he gives you two easy songs to learn. With the song “Peggy Sue" he has you do all down strums.

Here comes the question, can I play this strumming up and down?

Re: Basic Strumming Question

^ strum it however you want. Don't get hung up on specific strum patterns. Here's the rule - If it sounds good it is good.

Rule No. 1 - If it sounds good - it is good!

Re: Basic Strumming Question

topdown is correct.  Get the feeling of the song and strum any pattern that sounds good to you.  You patterns will change and you will get better with practice.

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Re: Basic Strumming Question

bensonp wrote:

topdown is correct.  Get the feeling of the song and strum any pattern that sounds good to you.  You patterns will change and you will get better with practice.

I totally agree, if you know the song well it really helps with the strumming, just go with feel!

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Re: Basic Strumming Question

Strum however you want. Sometimes switching up the strumming (or time) can change a song dramatically.  If it works, keep it in your pocket for the campfire...if it doesn't, oh well, you tried.

Don't worry about playing it "right" - just play it!

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Re: Basic Strumming Question

play it like you hear it in your head it is called "poetic licence"
you should have heard me play the national athem at a poka:<) everybody roared (i was playing at a poke festaval)
the chords take care of themselves after a while the style comes from the other hand, picking, strumming ,or both.  i did not want to say right or left couse we have some great lefties out there
actually the most important thing is keep at it  "music is for life"

always pickin someting

Re: Basic Strumming Question

I was strumming along to the words... sounded pretty good in my head... till my husband asked me what the heck I was playing.  So then I sang WITH it... and he went "OH, I see" ... LOL!  Um... yeah, so I worked on a few strumming patterns... recorded my three different versions of the same song (nothing special, just with my camera) ... and come to find out that it DOES make a HUGE difference in the overall sound of the song. 

So yeah... strum it how you want to start with and then tweak it!  Since I've always been able to hear the entire "band" playing in my head while singing... now I add the guitar in and I can hear even more... but amazingly no one else does!  So until everyone else can get in my head and hear what I hear; I learned that you have to make it sound like a full song with just the guitar and yourself (unless of course you ARE going to play with a whole band... or... you're content just hearing the rest of the song in your head).

Art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
What constitutes excellent music is in the ears of the listener.

Re: Basic Strumming Question

Looks like the strumming question is covered... so how about some chord practice to go along with it? Try Hey Joe and Wild World... Hey Joe is a cycle of 5ths: C-G-D-A-E, Wild World is a cycle of 4ths: Am-D7-G-CM7-F. Good practice both for the chord positions and changes, even if you never play either one outside of rehearsal.

Strum away!

Don’t let short-term frustration make you feel that your life exists in just this volatile moment.