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Ways of figuring out strumming patterns?

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(@outlaw-pete)
Active Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 18
Topic starter  

Just a quick question on how you actually figure out stumming patterns. Is it better to listen the song (or youtube acoustic cover) and try and copy the strumming pattern by listening and repeating and trying to capture the flavour of song? Alternatively is it better (assuming some how I figure what time signature it's in. I normally choose 4/4) to count the beat, find the strums on the beat and those off them and then figure out up and down from knowing when the strums are? Also does any body else find it hard to hear strumming pattern when the guitar (or guitars) are part of a large band like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band?

P.S
Does anybody know where the sequel to the "Pattern Trap" is? I have no luck with the Guitar Noise search engine.


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(@lue42)
Reputable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
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I have found one of the best ways to get a strumming pattern on a song is to learn the basics of music notation. Not what the notes are, but what they mean (1/4, 1/2, whole, etc). Of course, this will only work on songs that have notation (via Guitar Pro, songbooks, etc... not just straight tab).

Over time, you will develop an ear for it, and hearing the strumming pattern in songs gets easier.

Also, I will often look for the song done as a cover on youtube. When it is just the one person playing the song, you can better hear the rhythm.

Hope that helps.

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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Well I still can't read standard notation, but over the years I've been playing, I seem to have developed a knack for working out strumming patterns. I tend to find that an acoustic version of the song really helps, when you can hear the guitar clearly. In a situation like the example you gave, Springsteen/E Street Band, where there's a heck of a lot of instrumentation going on, I don't think there's a right or wrong strumming pattern if you're playing along to the CD, or playing a solo version - just play what feels right, what sounds good to you. That, I think, is what lue42 means about "developing an ear" - it will come in time.

The hard part comes when you've got a tricky strumming pattern - try "Sweet Jane" by Lou Reed, or "Lawyers, Guns and Money" - the solo acoustic version - by Warren Zevon, and you've got to sing along as well!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Bah bah bah-de-bah-de-bah

Translation: if you can hum it, then you can play it. For strumming patterns you only need to be able to hum/scat the rhythm.

That's how I've tended to work the most. Although I gotta say having theory knowledge also helps a lot.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@joehempel)
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Translation: if you can hum it, then you can play it. For strumming patterns you only need to be able to hum/scat the rhythm.

+1, you don't have to play it exactly like the recorded version to make it sound right. Chances are, you aren't playing it right anyway but don't really know it because it sounds like the song.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


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(@lue42)
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The hard part comes when you've got a tricky strumming pattern - try "Sweet Jane" by Lou Reed

It is funny you should mention that one... I spent days trying to figure it out... and I think I have it pretty darn close... maybe not exactly like the original, but sounds pretty good to me. Darn, that was a hard one... all the upstrokes!

Chord
D D A GG B A DD
Stroke
D U U UD U U UD

Something like that... there are a muted strums/"string slaps" between most strokes too... but I haven't got that down yet. (any recommendations on the pattern is appreciated)

(yes, I am a beginner)

I recently figured out a decent version of Mad World (Gary Jules/Tears for Fears) too...

Lovin' those two songs. Great songs to learn to sing to as well.

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
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Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
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(@minotaur)
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Posts: 1092
 

I'm learning that all you guys are right. If it sounds right, it probably is, for our purposes. Even to play in front of people. I've heard artists play on recordings and then live, or vice versa, and they play (and sing) the same song differently. I obsessed (for lack of a better term) with my teacher over playing a Beatles song. He said, look it's not as if John Lennon is going to come back and say "Ya stupid fookin' bloke, ya got the bloody thing all bloody wrong" and whack me over the head. Just make it sound as close as posible.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@lue42)
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Those are my thoughts exactly.

I have yet to actually play in front of people, other than my wife, guitar instructor and a couple of friends at bbq's. For this level of playing, no one cares. If it sounds close, it's all good.

My instructor has a wonderful ability to play any song I bring her after listening to the song for only a minute... I can hear that it is not exactly "right" as per the CD... but it sounds great to me and would to anyone in an informal party type setting.

When I was trying to figure out Mad World... I found many different chords listed, and even more different picking patterns. And, all over YouTube there are still people that complain over and over that "that is not right". First off, it was a pop song by Tears for Fears, and second it was a piano song by Gary Jules. As far as I am concerned, there is no right way for a single guitar to play it strummed or fingerpicked. Last weekend, I was playing it with open chords, throwing in a few picking patterns between verses, and my friend was playing it all barre chords. Everyone was still singing along and loving it.

Pull up any album version of pretty much any song on YouTube, and then check out a few live versions by the same artist... not one of them will be exactly the same.

Unless you are actually trying to play as a "cover band"... no one will care.

If it sounds right... it is good enough.

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(@outlaw-pete)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Topic starter  

Thanks, that is some helpful stuff


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Hey lue42 are those the chords to Sweet Jane you posted? What version is that? I play the version from Rock n Roll Animal the cranked up version and there's no D in there just wondering if maybe the Velvet Underground version was in D.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@lue42)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Found the chords here:
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/g/gary_jules/mad_world_ver2_crd.htm

I found a good video here... helped me figure out the pattern...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY7aLTDyseA

Since it is really an arrangement of a piano song, there really is no right way to play it... just what sounds good.... and to me, it sounds right.

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
http://fsguitar.wordpress.com

My Guitars
Ibanez Artwood AWS1000ECE-NT
Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
Ovation CS257
LaPatrie Etude
Washburn Rover RO10


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(@lue42)
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Whoops... that was for Mad World...

This is the chords I based Sweet Jane off of... and it is Bm, not B
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/v/velvet_underground/sweet_jane_full_length_crd.htm

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
http://fsguitar.wordpress.com

My Guitars
Ibanez Artwood AWS1000ECE-NT
Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
Ovation CS257
LaPatrie Etude
Washburn Rover RO10


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(@matteo)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 557
 

hi mate

to me the key is to learn rhythms. I try to explain myself better: to learn a strumming pattern is an elusive and unseful, if not wrong, concept. What it really matters is to understand and being able top play the differnt rhythms you can find in a song. When you can do it you can surely start to recognize the different guitar parts.
I can suggest a few things:
a) learn as many different rhythms as you can (quavers, semiquavers, all kind of triplets, shuffles etc. that's where a tutorial cd could come very handy). To learn a rhythm it means to be able to play it correctly with a metronome at various speeds with both your guitar and your body (it could be singing it, playing, with hands, tapping your foot etc.);
b) then carefully listen to the drums and recognize the main rhythm of the song you're learning. You can be sure that if you play the same drum rhythm your version, even if not 100% correct, could at least be compatible with the original one;
c) then you could refine the process and adjust your pattern to make it more similar to the orginal one

of course it is a learning process so it could take a lot of months (or years since there will always be new rhythms to learn) but i can assure you that if you do so in a few months you'll be able to understand the manin guitar parts of most of the typical pop/rock songs

Cheers

Matteo

Matteo


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(@ossie)
New Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 4
 

Hi, this might be a dumb question(s) but should I stress about trying to figure out the time signature, that is 4/4 or something else? Is it safe to assume all modern rock and blues songs are 4/4? Or is there other popular timings and how do you pick them? Is there accents on differant beats in differant timings? Any help would be appreciated

Cheers
Ossie


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(@matteo)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 557
 

hi mate

you should be able to determine the time signature by yourself because, in this field, assumptions are not always correct. To answer your question: yes many songs are in 4/4 while 3/4 (the so-called waltz-time) or odd time signatures are quite rare but a lot of songs are based on triplets and that's what they give a total different feel.
Blues songs are usually in 4/4 but being played with triplets they could also be described as 12/8, the same goes for several reggae and hip-hop songs, while it is also quite easy to find some 6/8 songs (red hot chili peppers "breaking the girl", john lennon "work class hero", a lot of Iron Maiden's songs or intros etc.)
How could you determine the signature? For most of songs it is quite easy: just listen to the drums and follow the beat for a few measures tapping the hand or your foot, when you are sincronized with it, just pay attention to the bass drum that it usually mark the beginning of the measure and count how many beats divide one measure from the other. IF you're in a typical pop/rock song the drums will go like this: bass,drum,bass, drum and then start again. The sound of the bass drum is a low one while the snare ismuch higher so you could listen to something like this: dum, da, du-dum, da.
If you're in 3/4 the typical sequence is dum, da, da
Ok having said so it is time to recognize if the song is based on quavers or triplets but i think it was written before

cheers

Matteo

p.s. the above method which was suggested by my first instructional book really works: of course it is not so immediate if you're listening to dream teathers or other prog icons


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