5 Popular Guitar Strumming Patterns - Music Theory for Guitar

To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?

Michael Jackson American singer

The song is a fascinating phenomenon in the music world. These are the sounds that merge together with the verses. It can be assumed that the guitar gained popularity due to the song genre. Thanks to its compact design and wide range, the guitar is the number one instrument for accompaniment and for people who love to sing along with the guitar. The guitar is an indispensable tool for professional musicians playing in different music styles, from rock or blues to samba, jazz, and fusion music.

We have already discussed the topic of accompaniment (Right Hand Arpeggios). This is a wonderful guitar playing technique that adds lightness and lyrical spirit to the songs. But what to do when the song is active, with an assertive sound, and we want to create a contrast between the verse, chorus, or bridge?!

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to master the rhythm guitar technique. Today's lesson is about guitar rhythm and guitar strumming patterns.

The Laws of Rhythm

You need to play correctly, read the guitar strumming patterns, and understand the principles that professional guitarists appeal to. It all starts with understanding the theory of note durations.

Read the article: Time signature and Beats - Music Theory for Guitar

Try to follow the guitarist's right-hand moves as he plays the guitar rhythm part. You will notice that the guitarist's right-hand plays up and down. Memorize two symbols in guitar theory.

downstroke and upstroke

  1. Right-hand downstroke
  2. Right-hand upstroke

How To Play The Guitar Rhythm: Quarter

We take the 4/4 measure as a basis and write four quadruple notes in it. Each recorded note is a right-hand downstroke.

quater notes

Remember that quarter durations are played with a downstroke. I often give a great example in classes: when playing, kick with your leg every quarter beat. If you do so, you will notice that the movement of the guitar pick and leg are the same. You can listen to your favorite song by kicking to the beat, noticing that the song pulse comes with a kick down.

How To Play The Guitar Rhythm: Eighth note

Let's write down the eighth durations in a rhythm.

How To Play Eighth notes

We will analyze the movement of the right hand.

For the downbeat (1 –  2 –  3 –  4), we have downstroke, but we have eights and in this case, the right-hand plays upstrokes on the upbeat. It looks like the effect of a pendulum when the hand plays each beat downward and upward.

Remember the leg example, play and kick each beat to notice the complete coordination of your right hand and your leg. When you play downstroke with your hand, the leg goes down. When you play upstrokes on the upbeat, the leg goes up. This is an important principle of playing strumming patterns. It is the basis. Let's look at some examples.

Strumming pattern #1

Strumming pattern #1

This is the first pattern I recommend learning and experiencing the accents magic. Add some accents to the second and fourth beats and feel how the nature of the strumming pattern has changed dramatically.

Strumming pattern #2

Strumming pattern #2

The first beat is the quarter in strumming pattern #2. In this case, we need to continue moving up and down, even when we do not need to stroke the strings or skip the strings on the "and" of the first beat.

Strumming pattern #3

strumming pattern 3

Strumming pattern #3 is the same. The only different thing is that we miss strings stroking after the first and third beats since they are also quarter beats. You must continue to move upstroke and downstroke, even when you do not need to strum the strings.

Strumming pattern #4

strumming pattern 4

There is nothing miraculous about strumming pattern #4, but I would like to add some creativity by combining the previous two variants. Try to combine strumming patterns and this will add interesting sound to your parts.

Strumming pattern #5

strumming pattern 5

Strumming pattern #5 is so popular that it would be a big mistake not to include it in the example. Note that the third beat is connected by a slur, which means that the sound is not played, but sounds. When the third beat is encountered while playing, continue moving downward, but do not stroke the strings.

As an example, listen to this popular song and try to hear strumming pattern #5.

In conclusion, I would like to note that I wanted to share the principle of playing strumming patterns. This is an extremely fascinating topic, but it often raises a lot of questions. It is important to play each pattern with the metronome until the right-hand automatism is developed. I wish you all to achieve the desired goals and feel creative inspiration.  

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