Hey everyone. I'm very much a novice at the guitar. I often try to play by ear. And I need a little help with some music-related terminology.

From what I've seen, there are two ways to play a song on a guitar: (a) play chord progressions by strumming strings; or (b) plucking individual strings.

While most amateurs just strum strings, ultra-professionals like The Edge of U2 picks individual strings.

Check it out at 0:22-0:30 seconds and at 5:40-5:45 minutes:


What is the proper musical term for "plucking individual strings instead of playing chord progressions"? Is it called "arpeggio"? Or is it just called "note-picking"? Is there such a term for it?

I hope you can clear this up for me.

Nice attempt.
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Quote by Jericho-79

While most amateurs just strum strings, ultra-professionals like The Edge of U2 picks individual strings.

I'm going to put this very simply for you.

1) Yes you can play strum chords or pick individual strings, but there are other techniques such as:
hammer-ons--> play an individual note then hit a fret above it with your fretting hand, without repicking
pull-offs--> like a hammer-on, but down the fret board (hold 2 frets on the same string and release the higher one)
tapping--> use your picking hand to tap a note much closer to the body- this is often used in conjunction with hammer-ons and pull-offs

2) playing individual strings, hammer-ons and pull-offs is by no means something only "ultra-proffessionals" do - I would expect almost any guitar player to start learning by playing individual notes as it's so much easier.

3) You play a note (single string) and a chord (multiple strings)

4) An arpeggio is playing the notes in a chord individually and in order, although some may be missed- a good example of this is the intro to "Come Clarity" by In Flames

5) Finally, The Edge is not the best guitar player out there. I know you didn't say he was, but he's not the best example to use of an "ultra-proffessional". A lot of his sound is created by the use of a wide range of effects pedals (circuits that go in between guitar and amp to alter the sound). Try listening to bands like:

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Led Zeppelin

Black Sabbath

see if you can spot the differences between chords and single notes in these. Note how they are both used in riffs, whereas solos are predominantly single notes