Re: Dumb How to play chords question
- From: Benj <bjacoby@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 00:08:49 -0800 (PST)
On Nov 30, 12:13 pm, Musicman59 <cwestbro...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Being a sax player I know how to play the notes, but an not sure what
to do with guitar chords.
so you have a measure with various quarter and eighth notes with the
chord box listed above the measure.
How is one supposed to determine whether to strum and hold the chord
for the entire measure or strum it to the beat of the song, say four
times for a 4/4 song.
If I can figure this one out I may just be able to deal with this
Thx from a crusty old musician trying to learn something new...
You aren't very clear here, but I'm guessing you are talking about
ordinary sheet music that usually consists of a double staff piano
part and above that a single staff melody and above that little guitar
chord diagrams with the name of the chords written in. This is
opposed to say a chart from a big band where you can have chord names
with strokes written in for strums or actual guitar music where the
actual notes you are to play are written out.
Generally the sheet music is like a "fake book" but the fake book is
missing the piano parts. That leaves you with melody and chord names.
So your question, I take it is how does one know when to strum the
chords or what rhythms to use? One basic hint, is that the chord
names are written on the page where the harmony changes to that chord
in the music. It's not precisely accurate but it usually gives you a
pretty good idea. The changes in the chords as you go through the song
are called the "changes" (duh) of the song. Generally sheet music is
designed for someone to sing the song with some accompaniment, either
piano or guitar. So the guitar part is really designed to be pretty
simple so the singer can just strum along with themselves as they
Figuring out how to strum (you are essentially playing rhythm guitar
to accompany your singing) is in many ways like the way a drummer
figures out what rhythms to play when there is no drum music. Your
strums are essential the "drum" part and set the rhythm of the song.
The chords you play set the harmony that goes with the melody. The
melody is what you sing. OK? So how do drummers do it? Not only
ambidextrously but also with a collection of standard beats that they
know go with various types of songs. You have to do likewise. For
hints you listen to the recording(s) of the tune in question. What do
other people use for basic beats? You also get to make up your own if
you are in the mood. It's really all about art so there are no
"correct" answers here. If your rhythms work and sound good then they
ARE good. If not, try something else. Since you already play you must
have some kind of ear for music already. And the next thing about
playing drums has to do with accents and fills (remember that your
strums are like drums?) A fill is a rhythmic pattern that is used to
fill and and carry over held notes in the melody. Accents are just
what you think they mean. On a guitar, especially a lead guitar, fills
and other melodic patterns are called "licks". Licks often give a
characteristic quality to a song that makes it instantly recognizable.
Some of those can't hurt but at your starting noob stage, fills are
probably more important than licks. Fills would be accents and changes
in your strumming patterns rather than the melodic phrases of lead
Since you already play horns I may have over-simplified things here or
perhaps not understood your questions, but I've tried to start very
basic so we are all on the same page. So my answer to what I think is
your question is that you strum according to a rhythmic pattern that
fits the song. You do not strum just one time for each chord symbol
UNLESS that fits the music. A strumming pattern might be each 1/4 note
4/4 or 1 and 3 of 4/4 (downbeats) or even 2 and 4 of 4/4 (upbeats or
called "backbeats" on drums) or it might even be a "slow-quick-quick"
1, 3, 4, 1, 3, 4etc. uneven rumba rhythm. Just listen to lots of
music and you'll get the idea.
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