Keep your hand moving?
Several of the lessons that I've read recommend keeping your hand moving while strumming when skipping up or down sweeps of the pick. I just had a general (newbie) question about the mechanics of that. It seems like that works pretty well so long as you are only playing quarter-notes, but what do you do when you switch back and forth between quarters and eighths or sixteenths? It seems like it would be silly-looking to keep your 'strumming motion' going along at a sixteenth note pace during parts that have 'mixed' notes - if that makes any sense?
Quarter notes to eighth notes is easy.
Quarter notes you strum on the downstroke only, eighth notes strum on the upstroke and downstroke.
I'm not advanced enough yet to even think about trying 16th notes, but I'd guess you just make your "arm speed" fast enough that strumming every time your hand passes the strings is a 16th, and from there just don't hit the strings every time to get 8th and 1/4 notes...
Darn, that is an awkward explanation. I can see the motion in my head, but describing it is harder than it seems.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep
It seems like it would be silly-looking to keep your 'strumming motion' going along at a sixteenth note pace during parts that have 'mixed' notes - if that makes any sense?
That's an interesting question, Melander. I'd guess the overall strumming motion would be dictated by whatever note division is prominent in the passage, no? If there's only a handful of 1/16 notes, there's not much percentage in flailing away at a 1/16 note pace, just to accommodate those.
Have a look at this:
Thanks guys! It does make sense that you wouldn't want to be thrashing away at 16th note pace to just hit a couple of them. I'm really new to this, I can copy the speed of songs that I hear, but still haven't got my mind around how to look at some music and figure out how to keep rhythm. Also once I get 'into the zone' with a steady tempo it's hard for me to leave that and come back to it.
I think podcast 4 might be of help https://www.guitarnoise.com/podcasts/podcast-4-partial-chord-strumming/
16th note strumming is: Dudu Dudu Dudu Dudu
This means your hand moves down-up twice in place of the quarter note.
It actually means you can get an insane amount of crazy strumming patterns in a song, rather that the rather limited amount you can have with 8th or quarter note strumming.
Wish You Were Here: Dx xx Du xx Dx xx Du Du
Now the song itself is quite a slow one but to use the pattern above, you have to be moving your hand quite fast!
Keeping your hand moving really helps with developing your sense of rhythm and timing - it's what I teach my students. And I teach a strategy for dealing with those long pauses without looking like a stuck windshield wiper too :)
The key is to keep it moving down/up... there's no distance requirement. So instead of a full upstroke/downstroke, just bounce your hand a little - moving it an inch or less will still help you keep time, and it looks very natural to an audience, like you're grooving to the music (which you should be!)
To keep it simple, I'll just illustrate with a quarter note, two eighths, and a half note. You can work out the same principle for sixteenths or any other even figure.
& Up (miss the strings, second half of quarter note)
& Short upstroke
4 Short downstroke
& Up (getting ready for a downstroke on 1)
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Ahh, that makes sense, thanks for the replies. I'll check out that podcast when I get home tonight, thanks Jase.
Thanks for the example also, Noteboat. I definitely need all the help I can get when it comes to keeping time with the music.
Forgive me another newbie question, but doesn't that leave you the possibility of being 'out of position' for a desired strum? For example, in Kroikey's "Wish you were here" example the song is strummed Dx xx Du xx Dx xx Du Du - what if it were Dx xx Du xx Ux xx Du Du - by keeping your hand moving, aren't you 'out of position' for the Up strum?
Thanks! I appreciate the advice, sorry I'm such a newb :oops: I am so excited to learn more.
Well... when you play, some things you should do for practical reasons, and some things you MUST do for musical reasons.
If you're simply working on strumming, you take the practical approach, and use the techniques that best help you keep the rhythm. But if you're doing a song where there's a clear musical reason to do something else, the musical reason always trumps.
If a song had a clear upstroke, maybe to emphasize the soprano (highest) note, you'd play it that way, and work out a strumming strategy as best you could. This actually happens a lot: quasi arpi strums have to be slower than others, triplet figures that emphasize the beat are often done DUD DUD, even though that means a quicker stroke at the end of each triplet, etc.
In the beginning, keep your strumming simple. After you've developed a good sense of timing, you can go after the harder things.
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Great, thanks Noteboat, that makes perfect sense. :)
yeah, it's really simple. it's just to keep you on the beat. it's not necessary, but it's usually comfortable.
For example, in Kroikey's "Wish you were here" example the song is strummed Dx xx Du xx Dx xx Du Du - what if it were Dx xx Du xx Ux xx Du Du - by keeping your hand moving, aren't you 'out of position' for the Up strum?
Dx xx Du xx Dx xx Du Du
Du Du Du Du Du Du Du Du
I kept the example in pairs of 'Du' to help visualise the strumming pattern. If you wanted to throw an upstrum in there on the offbeat, it'd be xU not Ux, otherwise you're already out of time. Hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say :)
just to add my two cents: it is also very important to keep tapping your foot with the beat and syncronize your hand movement with it. This means that if you play in an 8-note fashion, you'll play a downstrum each time you tap your foot and and upstrum each time you raise your foot. if you play sixteen notes the movements are doubled but still sincronized with the foot, so that when you tap your foot you have to play a quick du, when you raise your foot you must play the second couple of down and up strums. Hope it makes sense!
Thanks :) I haven't been really tapping my foot yet. I think that will help me keep time, that's an area where I'm kind of struggling :oops: Have you ever been in a crowd that starts clapping rhythmically, and it goes okay for the first 20 seconds or so, but then you notice that it has gradually begun clapping faster? Then faster and faster, until the rhythm completely dissolves? I feel like that, and am not sure how to control it.
Melander, are you using a metronome? If you don't have one there's probably a thousand online ones you could make use of if your computer is handy to where you practice.
I'm sure you've seen/gotten the advice a thousand times, but it really does work: start with a painfully slow metronome and simple rhythms: quarters first, then all eighths, then mix it up. Only speed up when you've got it nailed, and never go faster than you can handle. Only once you're totally confident with quarters and eighths and various common strumming patterns should you even think about tackling 16ths. Focus on that type of practice for 5 minutes at a time once or twice a day and in a few weeks you'll amaze yourself with your progress.