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Unread 11-21-2011, 09:10 PM   #1

Joined: Nov 2011
Location: New Zealand
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Question HELP!!!! strumming issues

I am a beginner and am learning the guitar so I can play worship songs for myself.
My only resources are what I can find on the internet. So far the only song I can play is 'blessed be your name'.

I can find the chords I need, but am having trouble finding reliable sources for the strumming techniques of songs. I have tried to figure it out myself but don't know enough about guitar playing in order to make it work.

Here is a list of songs I am currently searching for the strumming patterns for and would be highly grateful for any help.

Awesome God (Rich Mullins)
Wonderful Cross (Chris Tomlin)
God of Wonders
God is able
From the inside out
I can only imagine
Happy Day
Mighty to save

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Unread 01-22-2012, 10:32 PM   #2
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I am relatively new at playing an acoustic and strumming chords. My advice would be practice, practice, practice. If your playing chords I concentrated on over playing the chords, or over strumming. And also worked on my up strum. This has worked for me and also get a metronome and just play. Hope this helps. Good luck to ya.
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Unread 01-22-2012, 11:58 PM   #3
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It really depends what style, speed, situation you're playing those in.

Do you know many basic strumming patterns (in general) at the moment?
~ Josh
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But He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 09:29 AM   #4
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My advice is to not look for "strumming patterns" until you're familiar with how to count out the quarter notes of the song and listen for the 'groove' of the song. When you know how to count through a song and can identify the groove, you'll have the strum pattern.

Some people do not like the fact that music is math-based...it's all numbers at its core...so I like to think of music as food. Most people like food. I like food.
All music, every song, is made up of a series of measures. Measures are how every song is divided up into small, typically-redundant timed segments.
So, if music is food (yum!), a song is a long row of pies (pick whatever you like; cherry, lemon, beef, etc...) and each pie is a measure of the song and we're going to cut up the pies to define 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes and 1/16 notes in the measures.
All of the songs you posted above, except one (Indescribable), are all in 4/4 time. Indescribable is in 6/8...more on that later.
4/4 means that every 1 beat is equal to 1 quarter note and there are 4 beats per measure, so there's this reoccurring 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 ...happening through the measures of the song.
If you can count the quarter notes in a song, you're off to a good start. It's like taking that row of pies (remember, food?) and cutting each one into 4 equal pieces. Each slice is one beat or quarter note.

Start with the song "Mighty to Save".
In the chorus, many of the words drop right on the quarter notes:
Sav-Ior, He can Move the MounTains, my God is Mighty To savE, He is Mighty To savE, for...
...E-Ver, Author Of salVaTion, he Rose and Conquered The gravE, Jesus Conquered The gravE

I can't stress enough how important it is to be able to count and feel the basic quarter note beat of a song.
Practice it with every song that you can until it becomes natural.
Once you know that, you can find the groove of a song. The groove is the feel of the rhythm and how it's established around the quarter notes. Sort of like how we further slice up the pieces of pie into smaller sections.
Again, "Mighty to Save" as an example (the original live Hillsong United version), it has two distinct grooves:
the verse has a 1/16 note feel w/ accents and the chorus and bridge have a solid 1/8 note traditional 'rock' feel.
1/8 and 1/16 notes are just smaller divisions of the 1 2 3 4 - beat I described above and it could be displayed like this:
1 . - . 2 . - . 3 . - . 4 . - .
The numbers are the quarter notes, the dashes are 1/8 notes and the dots are the 1/16 notes.
You'd count it as follows:
1/4 notes; 1 2 3 4
1/8 notes; 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
1/16 notes; 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a
The quarter note count remains constant for all three...the original 4 slices in the pie remain unchanged...but the space between the quarter notes gets identified and counted...we slice the pie into smaller equal sections.
The pie didn't grow, it didn't get faster, it didn't stop practicing with a metronome (hint!)...it just got divided up more.

On the verse of MtS, the drums are playing 1/16 notes w/ accents, the lead guitar is playing a redundant 3-note riff in 1/16 notes, the other lead is playing choppy 1/16 note chord fragments and the acoustic guitar is strumming 1/16 note chords. Even the bass is playing 1/16 notes!
It gives the song the feel of fast, steady motion without the tempo having to be too fast. The song is only 73 beats per minute...relatively slow to mid tempo for a song...but the 1/16 notes played in the verse help move it along without feeling like it's a ballad.

On the pre-chorus, chorus and bridge, the drums play an 1/8 note feel. Listen to the high hat; it goes "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and". The electric guitars play more of an 1/8 note rhythm, but the acoustic plays a combo of 1/8 and 1/16 note strums.
This is where being able to count the quarter notes and divide them up into smaller pieces comes into play.
If you can count "1 2 3 4" and then "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" and finally "1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a" then you should be able to hear/learn/develop a lot of strum patterns.
Oh, there are 1/32 and 1/64 notes, too, but don't worry about cutting the pie into such small segments right now. Save those for people who are on a diet...

There's a lot more to be said about tempo/feel/groove than this, but it's essential that you understand these basics first.

"Blessed by Your Name" is a very simple 1/8 note strum, down-up-down-up with each down being the 1/4 note and each up being the 1/8 note.
If you listen to the song, the high hat should be playing 1/8 notes. Listening to the high hat and snare are good ways to get the feel/groove of a song.
Again, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and = down up down up down up down up
I'd probably play the 2 and 4 downstrums a little harder/heavier to be in sync with the snare drum, emphasized in bold above.

"Indescribable" is in 6/8 time.
1/8 notes get the beat and each measure is 6 beats.
It's counted 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 etc...
The acoustic guitar strums in 1/16 note beats.
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and
Every number is a downstroke, every "and" is an upstroke and stronger accents are played on the 1 and 4.
The song has a VERY fast feel to it.
I have a youtube video lesson of this song on my page, but I noticed that you can't see my strumming hand at all in the video.
I'll go fire the director...
gtrdave teaching Tomlin's "Indescribable" in Bb (capo 3) - YouTube

Hopefully, all of these words have made some sense to you and anyone else reading them.
Lead, follow and get out of the way.

cd baby

Last edited by gtrdave; 01-23-2012 at 12:11 PM.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 11:03 AM   #5
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Mmm... pie... Great analogy, Dave!
. . . j o n : [ FLICKR \ BLOG ]

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Unread 01-23-2012, 12:48 PM   #6
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Well that explains a lot, I suck at dividing.
I dont really bother with trying to get the strum, my understanding was you can do what ever you want as long as its
4\4 if its that 3\3 if its that etc
i am forever his freind
i hope he can rest in peace
Originally Posted by scared2mosh View Post
I honestly would have guessed the actual Kentl was mulletman and vice versa...
Originally Posted by jeepnstein View Post
Apparently, he gave you persistence by the truckload.
Originally Posted by TFK14 View Post
Ok, the fact you spelled that right proves it.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 02:14 PM   #7
tele time
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Start simple and slow.
Add complexity after you've got that locked in.
It sounds like an oversimplification and it probably is.
You can do it, though. Everyone has natural rhythms, they govern our heart beats, breathing.
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Unread 01-24-2012, 02:19 PM   #8

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Location: New Zealand
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Wow thanks guys that has given me a lot to work on/think about. I think I am perhaps just trying to learn it all at once cuz i want to be able to play these songs now. Your posts have been very helpful and thanks so much for the time you put in to replying.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 04:54 PM   #9
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If you are looking for online resources check out Worship Artistry. (Shameless plug but i think it could help) Most of those song lessons are available as well as detailed lessons on strumming, practice loops, etc. you can use the promo code "YOUTUBE30" and try it free for a month. Let me know how it goes.
Jason Houtsma
Guitar Instructor

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Unread 11-08-2012, 07:04 PM   #10
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Beginning guitarists always get hung up on strumming patterns. I can't tell you how many times someone has asked me something like "so is it up-down, up-down-up-down?" To which I normally reply, strum as you FEEL the music. It's something I never honestly think about.

If you want to see strumming patterns, you need to just jump on youtube. There are two routes you can travel here:

SEARCH 1: blessed the the name cover

Searching for the name of a song and the word "cover" will without fail produce dozens of at home guitar players doing their thing. Some great, some mediocre, some stick to the original, some get creative. It's hit and miss, but once in a while you find a real gem.

SEARCH 2: blessed be the name lesson

Again, skill levels you will find will vary. Believe it or not there are also dozens of at home guitarists that will give you tips and tricks on how to play songs, either as recorded or their own version. WIth looking at covers you kind of have to "feel" the music the way the youtuber plays it, searching for an actual lesson may be helpful if you truly can't get off the ground on your own.

Youtube is where it's at man. I taught myself to slap and pop on the bass all from youtube, and right now I am actually drumming in a worship band, having only ever taught myself drums via youtube. After you get a few songs under your belt, you will be able to pick up the strumming patterns by ear.
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