L1: Simple 4/4 Strums

Relevant symbols from The Key:

P = downstroke with thumb
Π = downstroke with index, middle or both
V = upstroke with index, middle or both
– = placeholder for half of a beat (let chords ring unless otherwise indicated)

What you need to know

By far, the most common time signature is 4/4, which has four beats per measure with a quarter note taking up one beat. If you split each of those beats into two eighth notes, a measue of 4/4 has eight possible attacks. For the time being, we will limit ourselves to just three kinds of attacks, downstrokes, upstrokes and downstrokes with the thumb. There is also the possibility that nothing happens on an attack, in which case you let the strings ring.

CHALLENGE

Earn your Strummer Level 1 patch by demonstrating the following simple strums in 4/4 time: ALL of the named strums plus three more strums of your choosing. You may use a song or songs you are working on to demonstrate the strums, or the following chord sequence taken from the Level 1 Chords: C – – – C7 – – – F – – – G7 – – – (one measure per chord, repeated at least two times). Demonstrated strums should keep a consistent beat with no noticeable pauses between chords. Patterns may be played straight or swung. These represent all 16 possible 4/4 combinations of Π – and Π V, plus Simple Thumb Strums and the Aggressive strum (for rock, punk, etc.).

P – P – P – P – (Simple Thumb Strums or STS)
Π – Π – Π – Π – (Simple Downstrums or SDS) **
Π V Π V Π V Π V (Changalanga)
Π Π Π Π Π Π Π Π (Aggressive in straight time)
Π – Π V Π – Π V (Country Strum 1 or CS1)
Π – Π V Π V Π V
Π V Π V Π V Π –
Π – Π – Π V Π V
Π V Π V Π – Π –
Π – Π V Π V Π –
Π – Π – Π – Π V
Π V Π – Π – Π –
Π V Π – Π V Π –
Π – Π – Π V Π –
Π – Π V Π – Π –
Π V Π – Π – Π V
Π V Π – Π V Π V
Π V Π V Π – Π V
Π – – – Π – Π V

the extra mile

Once you feel comfortable with the above patterns, feel free to experiment on variations by choosing any pattern and replacing . . .

. . . a Π with a P
. . . a V with a Π
. . . a V with a P

You’ll soon realize that even with just these three strumming elements and the ‘placeholder’ there is large set of variations: 65,536 (as a matter of fact). Let’s limit the possibilities by removing the thumb strums and assuming that upstrums will happen only on the ‘and’ or second half of a beat. Now there are only 256 possibilities (still a lot). Not all of these are going to be ‘useful’, but, just for fun, here they are:

|| Π V  Π V  Π V  Π V ||  Π V  Π V  Π V  Π – ||  Π V  Π V  Π V – V ||  Π V  Π V  Π V – – ||  Π V  Π V  Π –  Π V ||  Π V  Π V  Π –  Π – ||  Π V  Π V  Π – – V ||  Π V  Π V  Π – – – ||  Π V  Π V – V  Π V ||  Π V  Π V – V  Π – ||  Π V  Π V – V – V ||  Π V  Π V – V – – ||  Π V  Π V – –  Π V ||  Π V  Π V – –  Π – ||  Π V  Π V – – – V ||  Π V  Π V – – – – ||  Π V  Π –  Π V  Π V ||  Π V  Π –  Π V  Π – ||  Π V  Π –  Π V – V ||  Π V  Π –  Π V – – ||  Π V  Π –  Π –  Π V ||  Π V  Π –  Π –  Π – ||  Π V  Π –  Π – – V ||  Π V  Π –  Π – – – ||  Π V  Π – – V  Π V ||  Π V  Π – – V  Π – ||  Π V  Π – – V – V ||  Π V  Π – – V – – ||  Π V  Π – – –  Π V ||  Π V  Π – – –  Π – ||  Π V  Π – – – – V ||  Π V  Π – – – – – ||  Π V – V  Π V  Π V ||  Π V – V  Π V  Π – ||  Π V – V  Π V – V ||  Π V – V  Π V – – ||  Π V – V  Π –  Π V ||  Π V – V  Π –  Π – ||  Π V – V  Π – – V ||  Π V – V  Π – – – ||  Π V – V – V  Π V ||  Π V – V – V  Π – ||  Π V – V – V – V ||  Π V – V – V – – ||  Π V – V – –  Π V ||  Π V – V – –  Π – 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