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Old 11-16-2012, 03:59 AM   #1
depaysment
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Bla-bla-bla How do you play chords?

I bet you read the title and thought it was a ridiculous question. It is, but let me elaborate.
I have been playing classical guitar for six years. I've had a few teachers along the way who all taught me classical pieces and techniques. I know how to play chords as well, per say- as in I know how to form them and then play them. I even know one rhumba song which has chords interspersed. But sometimes I'd like to be able to play something not classical, maybe folk music like some Woody Guthrie. But for some reason I just can't comprehend how one plays the chords to make them sound nice. How many times do you strum? How do you know the pattern and the speed? Especially with online tabs which don't give you the strum pattern or the time?
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:21 AM   #2
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short answer is you listen to the piece of music you're trying to learn
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:32 AM   #3
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Most people are concerned with the left hand and how to properly fret the chords, but actually it's the right hand that makes all the difference. Consider this: once you know how to fret a chord, and you can do it with speed and precision, then that's all there is to it... and with the exception of things like vibrato or bending strings here and there, the action of the left hand really just produces the same result every time. Now on the other hand (no pun intended) the way the right hand is used to strum can produce a lot of variations and add a tremendous amount of character to a chord.

Hitting hard or soft, slow or fast, closer to the bridge, using up-strokes, etc etc etc gives you a lot of variety... and of course I speed up for emphasis, as well as throwing in some individual notes between the chords to add texture where appropriate. I love folk, especially 60's and 70's stuff... and playing chords is relatively easy and fun.

Best regards,

Jean
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:28 PM   #4
depaysment
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Thanks for the response! But Exactly! I'm perfectly fine with the left hand- it's my right hand which is problematic. I don't understand how to do any of that variation correctly. Sure, I can hit soft or hard, slow or fast, but I don't know when because...well, I'm pretty tone deaf and terrible at picking out specific instruments in a song. So it's impossible for me to begin to distinguish when there's an up stroke and when there's a down stroke.
Any tips on that?
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:01 PM   #5
depaysment
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Ooh, also. For strum patterns which are note-. If for example the pattern says 'DDUDU', is that for each chord? Or one stroke per chord? Or is that per specific number of beats?
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:06 PM   #6
tuxs
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Sounds like there are some serious holes in your musical knowledge.

Pop over to "justinguitar.com" and you might be able to plug a few up.

If you are poor it's free, if your not you can pay a donation. Anyways its one of the better

learning tools on the nett.Cheers
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:38 AM   #7
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It's really hard to give any more specific advice... there are just so many situations, and it's sort of an intuitive thing... it just takes a lot of experimenting and messing around.

There are times when you want to keep the wrist stiff and let the arm do the work, and other times when you want to flick the wrist... Usually I use a harder stroke on the first hit of a new chord to emphasize the fact that the key has changed... I also like to add an upstroke to double up the hit on the high E when the tempo slows down... we all develop little tricks like that, I guess you can say.

Best wishes,

Jean
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prescott_Player
Now on the other hand (no pun intended) the way the right hand is used to strum can produce a lot of variations and add a tremendous amount of character to a chord.



Jean


And that's especially true with folky/blues music.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by depaysment
I bet you read the title and thought it was a ridiculous question. It is, but let me elaborate.
I have been playing classical guitar for six years. I've had a few teachers along the way who all taught me classical pieces and techniques. I know how to play chords as well, per say- as in I know how to form them and then play them. I even know one rhumba song which has chords interspersed. But sometimes I'd like to be able to play something not classical, maybe folk music like some Woody Guthrie. But for some reason I just can't comprehend how one plays the chords to make them sound nice. How many times do you strum? How do you know the pattern and the speed? Especially with online tabs which don't give you the strum pattern or the time?



I had the same problem a few years ago, and I think you are approaching the problem the same way that I did; by waay overanalyzing strumming patterns.

The best way to fix this is to just loosen up and play what you feel. I know that's a very vague answer, but it is really the best solution.

-----What I've written above answers your strumming problem. Everything below here is recommendations to help you play Woody Guthrie songs.-----

However, if you are going to play old school country like Woody Guthrie (great choice, btw) you are going to want to learn a special technique called flatpicking that combines picking and strumming. The emphasis is on the picking because some styles of flatpicking don't have any strumming at all.

To start flatpicking you can do a simple google search for a flatpicking lesson or tab and find one that you like and practice it. I will give you some resources that are my personal favorites to start you out

A good place to start is by learning any "Talking Blues" song. There are literally dozens of these. I would even go as far as to call it a subgenre of blues or old school country. Here are a few examples:

(by Jack Elliott - friends with Woody)



If you listen to each of these songs you will notice that they have extremely similar bass lines. This is an extremely simple flatpicking technique/riff that you can learn to start you off.

I have to cut it short here because I'm running late for something, but if you have any questions just let me know! Best of luck!
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