Insight 6 Swing Your 1/8th's

In today's Insight video we discuss a little right hand technique and how you can swing where you place your upbeats to create a slightly different feel to your strum patterns.  In our Insight 2 video we discussed how we create rhythm on the ukulele by playing a set pattern of strums against a constant beat or pulse that's happening in the music we play.  I like to think about building strum patterns as a subtractive process where we start with a foundation of alternating down and up strums and take certain parts away to create a pattern.  Remember that our hand should be continuing to move in a constant down and up motion to keep us in tempo and we just decide when we play the strings.  So what happens when we alter that foundation slightly by moving where we place our upbeats?  We get what we call "swung" or "shuffled" 1/8ths.

STRAIGHT 1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +

SWING 1    +2    +3    +4    +

So the downbeats occur in the same place but the upbeats get shifted to be closer to the next down beat which can create that "swing" feel to our rhythm.  Now we can remove certain parts from both these foundations to create patterns and they will technically be the same but have a different feel because of where we place the upbeats.  Give it a try, take some strum patterns that you already know and try swinging those 1/8th's to give you little bit different sound and feel.  Thanks for watching! Thanks again for all of the support and be sure to check us out on social media, like and subscribe to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired.

Also feel free to email me any links or files for your own performance videos or videos that inspire you and maybe we will feature them!

Insight 2: Rhythm

In our last Insight video we talked about 3 fundamental elements of music:  rhythm, harmony, and melody.  Today we go a little more in depth into the first of these, rhythm.  Let's explain some foundational concepts and give you an exercise to help develop and strengthen your sense of rhythm.

Remember, when music is playing there is a natural pulse or beat that occurs and how we create rhythm on the ukulele is by playing a pattern of strums or sounds against that pulse.  The strum pattern that you hear me play is a certain ordering of down and up strums, this is the pattern:

D, D, U, U, D, U

But more specifically this pattern occurs in relation to that natural pulse in the music. When I play the first down strum my hand needs to travel back up to the top of the strings in order to play the next down strum.  The same thing happens when I play the next set of 2 up strums but in the opposite direction.  When you watch my hand play the strum my hand will be moving in a constant down and up motion and only playing the strums when they occur in the pattern, IN RELATION TO the natural pulse of the music.

So our foundation with our strum below it looks like this:


D     D U    U D U

So this strum pattern is created from an alternating pattern of down and up strums played in 1/8th notes,  so what are 1/8th notes?

That natural pulse in music usually occurs in cycles of four.  There are four beats then it repeats.  These four beats are called 1/4 notes because there are four of them in one cycle or measure.  Now if we divide each one of the these beats into two parts we end with 8 parts per measure or 1/8th notes.  So we can count it like this:

1/4 notes:     1  2  3  4

1/8th notes: 1+2+3+4+

So we connect it to our foundational pattern and our strum pattern it looks like this:


1  + 2  + 3  + 4  +

D    D  U    U D U

If we want the opportunity for more complexity in our strum patterns then we can divide each quarter note into four different parts to get 1/16th notes that we can count like this:


Learning how these different notes sound and how they feel to play is really important because they are the foundation for creating different strum patterns.  Try out this exercise of alternating between playing 1/4, 1/8th, and 1/16th notes.

D     U     D      U

1      2      3      4


1  +  2  + 3  + 4  +

D U D U   D U D U  D U D U  D U D U

1  e  +  a  2  e  +  a  3  e  +  a  4  e  +  a

Remember the pulse remains constant just how you divide it changes ;)

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