The purpose of this article is
to notate and strum consecutive quarter-notes.
You have read “Feeling The Pulse” and understanding what this means. You should have a metronome.
Notating The Pulse Grouping
In “Feeling The Pulse” you became aware of feeling a steady pulse, organizing this pulse into a repeating group, feeling two events per pulse, and feeling three events per pulse. All of these things can be visually defined using Rhythmic Notation.
The grouping of pulses is defined with vertical lines called “Bar Lines“. The space between each bar line is officially referred to as a “measure” but is commonly referred to as a “bar“.
The number of pulses (also referred to as “beats”), in each group (now each “bar”), is defined by the “Time Signature“:
The top number of the time signature defines how to group the pulses. The bottom number defines how these pulses (beats) are visually represented (notated). The number “4” on top asks you to feel the pulse “in 4”, and the number “4” on the bottom indicates that each pulse – when notated for rhythm guitar – is visually represented with a “quarter-note slash“.
The Quarter-Note Slash
A quarter-note slash is a solid “slash” with a “stem” attached. In the following example there are four bars, with four beats per bar. Each beat is notated using a quarter-note slash.
The chords that are to be played for these quarter-note slashes are written above the bars as chord symbols. A chord symbol is written at the location of the first occurrence of the chord, and stays in effect until another chord symbol is indicated. In the following example, you are being ask to strum an E chord on every beat for bars 1 & 2, and an E7 chord on every beat for bars 3 & 4.
There are also markings to indicate whether you should strum up (up-stroke) or down (down-stroke). These are generally only used in an educational context. In music that has been notated for performance this is often left up to the performer. Also, in the context of strumming, “down” and “up” refer to “physical down” and “physical up”, not “aural down” and “aural up”. Therefore, when strumming down you are hitting the strings from the lowest sounding to the highest sounding, or said another way, “bottom to top”. When strumming up, you are hitting the strings from the highest sounding to the lowest sounding or, said another way, “top to bottom”.
In the following example you are being asked to strum all down-strokes. (You will only be asked to use down-strokes throughout this article.)
Creating A Good Feel
Creating a good, steady feel playing quarter-notes with all down-strokes is critically important. It is the foundation upon which all other rhythms you play will be built. Focus on distinguishing beats 1 & 3 from beats 2 & 4. Try strumming the lowest sounding (bottom), strings of the chord for beats 1 & 3 and then all the strings, or the remaining strings, for beats 2 & 4:
Therefore, when playing a chord that uses all six strings, you are strumming the 6th string and/or 5th string and/or 4th string for beats 1 & 3, and either all of the strings or the remaining strings for beats 2 & 4.
When playing a chord that doesn’t use the 6th string, you are strumming the 5th string and/or 4th string and/or 3rd string for beats 1 & 3, and either all five strings or the remaining strings for beats 2 & 4.
When playing a chord that doesn’t use the 6th string or 5th string, you are strumming the 4th string and/or 3rd string for beats 1 & 3, and either all four strings or the remaining strings for beats 2 & 4.
Use your metronome and play just one chord until you can achieve a nice, steady, relaxed quarter-note groove. Then see if you can create this same groove with the chord progressions in the practice loops below. If you can create the groove while playing one chord but lose the groove when playing a chord progression, your issue is “Fret Hand Finger Weight & Movement Awareness“. Any hesitations or unsureness in your fret hand will create rhythmic/strumming issues with your pick hand. Slowdown.
Practice Loop 1
Practice Loop 2
Practice Loop 3
Practice Loop 4
Practice Loop 5
Practice Loop 6
Practice Loop 7
Practice Loop 8
Recommended next article: “Eighth-Note Feel” or “Rests, Half-Notes & Whole-Notes”.