Saturday, 25 May 2013

Confession #19 - The Secret Strum! (Shhh!)

Have you ever looked at a TAB like the one below, and wondered, how does the guitar player make that chord change while still getting all the 16th notes to sound?

(Click to Enlarge)

The answer in many cases is that they are not getting all the 16th notes to sound.  It's more likely that they are really playing something like this:

(Click to Enlarge)

The strum of the open strings on the last 16th note is called the secret strum.  Hitting the C chord on beat 1 of the second measure cleanly is very important, so the guitar player uses the secret strum to buy some time to make the chord change.

It's important that you don't overthink this!  Just focus on strumming the series of four 16th notes, and making a clean chord change to the C.  The secret strum will happen naturally.

The other thing to note here is that if you only hit strings 2, 3 and 4 on the secret strum, you'll be playing the notes B, G and D which are the notes in a G chord!  You're not strumming all  six strings  so the chord voicing will be different, but it will still be a G chord.

Don't worry if your strumming isn't that accurate.  Even if you catch some other strings, the duration is so short that it won't sound bad.  In fact the slight variation in sound is actually interesting to our ears.

The best example of this is 'Gloria' by Them.  Gloria uses a 1 bar chord progression and strumming pattern.  The secret strum is used on the 'and of beat 3' and the 'and of beat 4'.  This is what gives the song its pulsing feel.

Next Week's Confession - Palm Muting! (Part 1)

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