The term Ukulele may seem Greek to some, but it is actually Hawaiian, referring to the family of stringed instruments (usually using nylon) that are played using the fingers, nails or a felt tip. You would have already got the picture of a guitar in your mind. Strumming is the act of playing such instrument with a sweeping action where the finger tips are brushed past several strings to play a chord. Strumming pattern is similar to a preset, which is employed in a rhythmic guitar. Commonly used during the rock music era, various Ukulele strumming patterns are used distinctly in Pop, Jazz and Funk too.
Having gone through enough of theory, let us now take a peek at some of the best ukulele strumming patterns. This is especially for those guitar enthusiasts who long to try something different with the string. I am going to deal with the patterns that can be easily used by both beginners and intermediate players alike. There are two distinct ways in which the Ukulele strumming patterns are written. The conventional method is based on the music theory and the other called alternative notation is based on the “up and down”(U for up and D for down) which is simple but less accurate.
Below is the list of 20 Ukulele Strumming patterns written in the alternative notation:
NOTE: In the alternative notation D stands for down strum, U for up strum. / indicate to skip a strum with a slight pause while x refers to chop strum (chunking, muting). D or U when written either in bold or underlined emphasize the strum, and the space indicates rest.
If you are beginner to strumming read this carefully. To get accustomed to the art of strumming it is necessary that you start working on strumming pattern with a metronome. Start by keeping your strumming arm swinging in a steady motion up and down, irrespective of whether you are hitting the strings. This is a good way to start practising. As you play make sure that you keep a count. Habituating this would help you a lot in the future when you gain the expertise to subdivide the beats. When you go for the down strokes, practice tapping your foot with it. This will ensure that your mind is in sync with the stroke. Don’t worry about the chord changes, practice with a basic chord and gain confidence with the strumming pattern that you’ve been practicing before moving to the next one.
Now, let us take a look at the Traditional notation for the benefit of the intermediate users. To an individual who is already aware of the traditional notation, it is a simple system of rhythm notation and doesn’t require any additional skills. All you need to know is understand how it works. Let us take a brief look at some of the notations.
- 4/4 indicates that there are 4 beats in a bar, and that every single beat is a quarter note. Typically if any time signature is absent, it is assumed that it is in 4/4 time. This is called the time signature or common time.
- You need to play some strokes with your strumming hand (finger tips) and are denoted with Rhythm slashes.
A whole note lasts for four beats, while a half note lasts 2 beats. Similarly, a quarter note lasts just 1 beat. A eighth note lasts 1/2 beat and sixteenth notes lasts for a 1/4 or a beat. Rests are indicators of silence and they possess the same note values as their respective notes. Signs above the line represent down strokes (“^”), and upstrokes (“V”). You will have 4 beats in a bar, represented by the 4 numbers beneath the line in 4/4 time. You have to play down strokes on them. To accommodate two consecutive down strokes, you also need an upstroke in between them, represented by “&” symbols in between 2 numbers. You have to play upstrokes on them.
Understanding these notations correctly is the key.