Exciting times here behind the scenes at Strum Machine: I’m recording (and programming) a whole bunch of new strumming patterns for it!
May 2022 update: the first beta version of these new styles is out!
[December Update: various events (such as the new problems in iOS 15, the big November update that ended up being way bigger than first planned, and finding out I now have to quickly get compliant with VAT in Europe) have conspired to delay work on these new strumming patterns. I’ve made some progress but at this point it is going to be early 2022 (maybe February or March) before there are new patterns to play with. It remains my #1 goal, though!]
[Mid-April 2022 Update: So much for February or March. I won’t enumerate excuses here. But I feel like I’m now weeks away, not months! Hope to make another announcement soon.]
Yours truly, recording samples for new strumming pattern prototypes.
Before I go too much further, though, I want to hear from you, my users.
The big question is, which strumming styles are missing from the list below? It’s far easier to collect all the samples I need for each strumming pattern all at once, so I’d like to know what you’d find useful to have available.
I’d also like to hear if you have any ideas about how to talk about these strumming styles. There could probably be better ways of labelling or categorizing these styles/patterns; it’s hard to put such things into words!
If it all looks good to you, just leave a “thumbs up” at the bottom of this post.
Below are the styles I’ve got so far, with a little demo I recorded for each one.
- 4/4 “Boom Chuck”-based styles
- 4/4 Dampened styles
- 4/4 Down-Up strumming styles
- 3/4 Strumming Patterns
- 6/8 or Jig Strumming
- More potential strumming styles
4/4 “Boom Chuck”-based styles
Simple root-strum-fifth-strum that Strum Machine currently uses for everything in Standard Time (i.e., 4/4).
I’d like to add two options to this, if I can:
- Relative volume of the “boom” vs “chuck”
- Automatic bass runs (which would be available in other styles as well)
Here’s an example of this strumming style, and the two options I’m considering:
Boom Chuck with Upstrokes
The basis for almost all strumming used in bluegrass, as well as many other genres. It’ll sound like “Boom Chuck Boom-a-chuck-a” by default; you’ll be able to have more or less upstrokes by changing a setting. The pattern can be slightly randomized for interest. You’ll also be able to specify how to play the downbeats: picked bass note, “bassy strum”, or a combination of the two.
More importantly, having upstrokes (eighth notes) means we can include rhythmic swing, which will be optional.
Here’s an example of this strum, both with and without swing:
The rest of the recorded examples on this page use varying amounts of swing. Keep in mind that you’ll be able to use any amount of swing with any pattern.
Boom Chuck with Crosspicking
Similar to “Boom Chuck with Upstrokes”, but instead of a down-up-down-up strum at the end of the bar, crosspicking is used to ring out an arpeggiated (broken) chord, like so:
Syncopated Boom Chuck
Like above, but with a strong up-strum right before the second downbeat, for a 3+3+2 syncopated feel: “Boom chu-KA a-chuck-a”. There’s an extended two-measure pattern that I may implement as well, which you can hear in the second half of this example:
This is a tricky one to implement, so I’d love to know how much demand there is for it. Mainly I think this’d be used with the option to rock back and forth between a major chord and the major sixth chord, like Hank Williams does all the time, and like you can hear in this example:
Half-Time Boom Chuck
I imagine this would come in handy for some songs:
4/4 Dampened styles
Dampened Boom Chuck
In this style, the “chuck” offbeats are always dampened, while the “boom” bass note can either be sustained or cut short (or a mix of the two). Go-to pattern for Texas/Contest Fiddle style, as well as Cajun and others. Example:
Dampened Strums (better name?)
I’m talking about the kind of strumming used in swing: a strummed (possibly dampened) chord on beats 1 & 3, and a dampened chord on beats 2 & 4, like this (minus all the flubs):
La Pompe (Gypsy Jazz strum)
Kind of a combination of the above two patterns, but the little upstroke ahead of the beat is distinctive enough that it probably needs its own style… or maybe this’d just be a variation on Dampened Strums above. Note, I’m totally inexperienced with playing La Pompe, so excuse my very poor rendition of it in this example:
4/4 Down-Up strumming styles
Syncopated Down-Up Strumming
Used widely in pop music, but also as backup for reels in Celtic and other styles. Example, without and with swing:
A two-measure extended pattern:
Maybe: Down-Up with Half-Time Palm Muting (what to call this?)
I hear it in contra dances as well as popular music. Not sure if I should offer it as a pattern but it could be fun to play fiddle to:
3/4 Strumming Patterns
Simple Waltz Strum / Boom Chuck Chuck
This is what Strum Machine does currently:
Waltz Strum with Upstrokes
This one semi-randomly strikes the strings on the in-between beats for a more interesting sound:
You’ll be able to choose between having those in-between notes swung (as in the example) or straight, of course, as well as the frequency and variation of the upstrokes.
Like above but with a strong “one-two” feel over two measures:
ONE and two AND three and ONE and two AND three and…
OK, I’m not sure about this one (the name OR whether it should be an option)… but it occurs to me that when I accompany a waltz on guitar, I like to use upstrokes and syncopation, so this one combines the two…
Perhaps instead there should be an option under “Waltz with Upstrokes” to the effect of “do the occasional syncopation”…
6/8 or Jig Strumming
There’s a fair bit of syncopation in the example; you’d be able to turn that down (or up). The demo also switches chords an eighth-note early sometimes, which would be another option.
Not an experienced jig strummer myself, so let me know if you have favorite patterns you like to play with as a fiddle/melody player!
More potential strumming styles
Here are a few other patterns I thought of. Any interest in any of these?
Arpeggiated chords: For slower songs, hymns, etc.
Example in 4/4:
Example in 3/4:
Travis-style picking and so forth.
These would probably be fingerpicked, right? (Not my area of expertise…)
What did I miss?
Let me know if there’s a strumming pattern or style you’d like to see on this list! It’d be great if you could mention a recorded song example that I could look up to hear it as well, if possible.
Thank you for your input! I’m so excited by all the possibilities here!