Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wild, The Innocent &
The Proud Mary Shuffle:
Beginner Right Hand Muting

Learning to play the following rhythm is a fundamental step in the development of your strumming.

Forget, for a moment, the chord. You can practice the rhythm on open strings. Right hand only.

Here is the sequence of events:

1) Strum Down
2) Strum Up
3) Mute the Strings*
4) Strum Up

Repeat until groovy.

*Right Hand Muting Details:

Because what goes up must come down, the muting of the strings takes place while your hand is swinging back down in your smooth and even strumming motion.

As your arm descends in the strumming motion, instead of strumming, softly lay a part of your palm on the strings to silence them. If you are strumming with your fingers, you can use any part of your palm you like.

If you are holding a pick, let your hand rotate towards the pinky, and place the pinky side of your palm across the strings. Be careful to make sure that as you mute the strings, the pick is poised below the first string ready for the next up strum.

The trick is to make this a fluid stop, so that your hand doesn't lose the swinging momentum back and forth.  The pendulum motion of your arm makes the rhythm precise: Nice and smooth.

Now that you've got it, go ahead back to that chord. Notice that I've been intentionally inconsistent in the notation.

The Tab indicates that the smallest four strings are strummed. The Notation indicates only two strings. I don't really care how many strings you play. But I want you to care how many strings you strike.

An E chord can be strummed many different ways.

All Six Strings.
Top Two Strings
Top Four Strings
Low 3 Only.
Hi 3 Only.
Middle 3 Only.
Which Middle 3?

Experiment with this.
Can you get very precise with the number of strings that you strum?

Can you change the number of strings you strike on different beats?
So that some strums get more emphasis than others?

Make up a simple pattern, and attempt to repeat it consistently.

Here's one possibility:

1) Strum Down (All Six)
2) Strum Up (Smallest three: G, B, E strings.)
3) Mute the Strings* (Duh.  None.)
4) Strum Up (Biggest three: E, A, D strings.)

The possibilities, and varieties in musical texture, are endless.
Go find some of your own.

Have fun!

Here's the namesake tune and it's signature rhythm:

Advancing Guitar Lessons: Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun for Beginners and Beyond


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