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Rhythm and Strumming
Topic: For Beginners Subtopic: General Level: Beginner Number of Readers: 73356

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Rhythm and Strumming

Now that you've learned how to strum and how to change chords, you'll want to be able to strum in some kind of pattern.

'Rhythm' is music at it applies to time. Almost all music has an almost definite rhythm. If you've ever listened to a song and found yourself swinging or tapping to the 'beat' you can understand what I mean.

For those of you who don't understand what rhythm is, try this exercise. Clap your hands four times. In between each hand clap, the elapsed time should be the same. All the claps should be equally spaced. Now try this again, and make the first of the four claps louder than the rest. Now repeat this pattern over and over again. The pattern looks like this:

Loud clap
clap
clap
clap
Loud clap
clap
clap
clap
Loud clap...
etc.

Remember to make sure that the claps are equally spaced, this is very important. And try to feel the 'power' of the loud clap, feel how you get into the 'grove'. Try thinking of it as a marching band.

Also, think of each four claps as a 'group'. The first clap in each group is stressed, or make louder.

If you can do this exercise, you can now apply it to the guitar. Instead of hand claps, you will be strumming. For this lesson, you'll need to know two chords:

D Major		A Major
xxo---		xo---o
......		......
...1.2		..123.
....3.		......
......		......

Form the A chord shape on your guitar, and repeat this pattern(all downstrokes):

Stressed strum
strum
strum
strum
Stressed strum
strum
strum
strum...

Now I'm going to show you a way that I can communicate to you what we just did:

  A
4|d d d d |d d d d |d d d d |
4|        |        |        |

The 'A' indicates that you should be playing the A chord. Each 'd' indicates that you should perform a downstroke. Don't worry about the 4s for now, we'll talk about that later. It's enough to say that it's called the 'time signature'.

So you read this notation from left to right, just like writing. This one is actually pretty simple to read, all you have to do is keep on strumming the A chord.

An important thing to notice is the lines in-between each four downstrokes. Each group of four downstrokes is referred to as a 'bar'. We have the lines, which are called 'barlines' to separate these groups of four. In the example, we have 3 bars, each consisting of four downstrokes. Remember that the first downstroke in every group is made slightly louder than the rest, to emphasize that it is the beginning of a new bar.

Bars don't always have to contain 4 downstrokes. They can contain three. Consider this example:

  A
3|d d d |d d d |d d d |
4|      |      |      |

In this example, we have grouped the downstrokes in groups of three. Each bar contains three downstrokes. The first downstroke of each bar is still stressed, because we want to emphasize that it is the beginning of the bar.

Notice that the top number of the time signature is a three? That's right, that number indicates how many downstrokes or 'beats' are in each bar.

Now that you understand a bit about that, let's move on. We don't always have to use the same chord. Let's try this:

  A             D      A
3|d d d |d d d |d d d |d d d |
4|      |      |      |      |

We start out strumming the A chord, then at the third bar, we're going to switch to the D chord. At the fourth bar, we switch back to the A chord.

The tricky part about this switching chords without interrupting your rhythm. The rhythm shouldn't have to stop or slow down while you switch chords, you want to be able to switch chords quickly between strums, so that there will be no pause. That's why you should practice changing chords, which was the subject of the last lesson.

Now that you know how to arrange strumming and chords into some kind of pattern, and now that I am able to communicate these patterns to you, in the next lesson we'll be learning to play some songs. Finally, eh?

(I'm Canadian, for those who are wondering)

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. 'Rhythm' is the arrangement of music with regards to time.
2. We can divide equally spaced 'beats' into groups called 'bars'. In a single piece, there's is always the same number of beats in each bar, which is told to us by the 'time signature'.
3. In the notation I've given you, the chord names are written above each bar.
4. We can use this notation to communicate songs, which we'll look at in the next lesson.



Questions
Question posted by Marie Love on 2000-05-08
No questions, I enjoy the lessons. Mind if I give a suggestion? How 'bout (not Canadian)if after each lesson there were an oppportunity at the end of the screen to "move on to the next lesson" Thanks.
There are 10 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Elaine on 2000-05-19
I think a link to the next lesson is a good idea too. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write these lessons. I've always wanted to learn the guitar and now I am!
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Phillipe on 2000-05-27
you rock
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Russell Royer on 2000-05-31
You rule.
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by ela on 2000-06-02
How may i choose a rythm to the song?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by sam on 2000-06-03
Can you give me the guide to playing guitar like Barry Gibb ? I want the chords too, please
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Edward on 2000-07-13
how many times do i strum in a song?i mean sometimes you strum twice sometimes three and some four.. i still don't get it... in your lesson..you didn't actually state that please advice...
There are 3 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by fgh on 2000-07-21
why is the sky blue?
There are 21 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Chris on 2000-08-13
Hi, I'm just a starter but I would like to know how I can play a muted afterbeat just like you can hear in reaggae-music. Do I have to mute the snares with the same hand as I'm holding my plectrum with? Please tell me how to create that sound. P.S., don't mind the spelling
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by steve on 2000-08-17
Being I'm Disabled I want to play guitar but have trouble with B7 as I have no little finger on my left hand is there a chord which is = B7 that I can play with only 3 fingers and not 4
There are 7 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Unknown on 2000-09-14
i have no fingers on either hand, is there a way i can play guitar. i play the drums quite well though, a little duct tape works wonders, can someone help me. Stubby
There are 8 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by seba on 2001-02-25
you suck
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by adam on 2001-03-12
I am a very good guitarist, but I can not sing at all when I play guitar. DOES ANY ONE HAVE ANY TIPS THEY COULD TELL ME THANKS
There are 6 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by andres on 2001-06-03
How can I play like greenday???
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by mark spooner on 2001-07-13
hi ill just like to know how you figure out a strum pattern to apaticuler song.thanks one love.
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Mambo on 2001-07-30
What color are farts ?
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Seán on 2001-10-10
the lessons are v.good. where can i learn to read guitar tabs? thanks Seán
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by JJ on 2001-10-14
Does anyone have the strumming pattern for Good charlotte Motivation proclamation. thanks
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Cleft Pallet on 2001-11-05
Yes JJ here it is. Grab your pole and stroke up then down then up then down then up then down...you will get it.
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by jUNIOUR on 2001-12-31
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE CHORD ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SONG HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND TWIST AND SHOUT?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by ghani on 2002-01-21
what chords can I play with the (Fm)pentatonic scale ? thanks
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by GuitarDR on 2002-10-07
Where can i learn to read music. Not tab music. I already know how to read guitar tabs
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by GuitarDR on 2002-10-07
Where can i learn to read music. Not tab music. I already know how to read guitar tabs
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by elizabeth on 2002-10-24
how do you read tabs?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Kelli on 2002-11-27
Hello! How can I adjust my action on my guitar? Thanx! :)
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by dave on 2003-04-12
how can i get better ar alternating picking and i want to play stuff like black label society & pride & glory could u give me any ideas & please write me back please
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by GUY on 2003-04-17
I know how to read guitar music, but what are guitar tabs?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Avner on 2003-08-07
i want to know about guitar chords inversion, also how broken chords/irregular chords are made?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Joana Rita on 2003-11-15
I don´t know what to do with my right hand.I know how to do the chords, what to do with my left hand but i don´t know how to play.Please, help me.
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Brock on 2004-02-23
Hey umm... im been on the guitar for 2 years and i usually get the strumming pattern infront of me but how do u figure it out just by listening to the song im trying to play "wherever you will go" by the calling i can do it all but i dont know the strumming patern is for the chorus can u please just simply give me the strumming pattern for wherever you will go and or tell me how to figure it out by myself by listeniong to the song... pleaser help me. brock
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by yash on 2004-02-26
my guitar fret board has bent a little suggest me how frequently to detune the guitar ?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by huat on 2004-03-24
nice!
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Spozz on 2004-03-27
WHAT THE HELL IS A STRESSED STRUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by spozz on 2004-04-08
I reaaly enjoy these lessons,my dad even said that if i learn to play a full song by xmas i might get an electric guitar or even a set of drums!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are 136 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by pnoypride on 2004-07-10
my friend is teaching me how to play chords and he said to play e|-0- B|-0- G|-0- D|-0- A|-0- E|-0- before swithcing chords and it works really good, but is it the right way to play chords
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by aussie on 2005-11-03
does anyone know the stumming pattern for (Ill be there for you) Bon Jovi. If you do i would appriciate it. Thanks
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

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