Essential Strumming Patterns Playing Eighth Note Rhythms

Many guitar teachers relate the story of the student that comes to them saying 'I learnt over a hundred guitar chords but I can't seem to make music.' After a very short listen the reason is generally obvious - the rhythmic feel is not there. A truly great rhythm player has developed that great rhythmic feel using many - often very subtle – techniques developed through years of playing experience.

This lesson will get you started on this road by allowing you to have heaps of fun learning and playing your favorite songs.

Let’s get started:

Bit of Musical Theory

We will try not to bore you with unnecessary stuff just the basics to get you on your way.

Read through the next paragraph and then watch the video lesson that will reinforce these important fundamentals for you. rhythm theory

Three Essentials Bits to Know:

1. Quarter Notes
The quarter note receives one beat. If we were to count a steady 1 2 3 4 and play a chord on each count, then we would be playing quarter notes.
2. Eighth notes
An eight note receives a half of one beat. Similarly if we were to count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & and likewise play a chord on each count, we would be playing eighth notes. You would have noticed we actually played eight chords.
3. Time Signatures
Time signatures are placed at the beginning of a piece and tell you two things. The top number tells us the number of beats in each measure or bar. In our example the top number is four therefore our piece will have four beats in each measure. The bottom number tells us the type of beat. In the case of our example the bottom number is four so the Quarter note is the beat unit.

The time signature in our example therefore suggests that each measure should equal the value of four quarter notes.

Symbols for Picking

Down Stroke

The string is struck with a downward motion of the pick.

Up Stroke

The string is struck with an upward motion of the pick.

Playing Up And Down Strokes

Points of interest to watch while viewing the video:

The right hand acts as a type of metronome when playing a continuous eight-note pattern.

Even though some of the down up movements don’t require the strings to be struck - the right hand continues with its eight-note pattern - effectively keeping the time.

Down strokes will be on the beat. For example they fall on the 1 2 3 4.

Up strokes will be off beat. They are played as the picking hand returns for the next down beat.


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