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Thread: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

  1. #1
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    So I was really thinking of posting this over on the Newbie page, but you can't put inline graphics in your post over there, so I decided to just put it here. Forgive my ignorance.

    So I've mostly been picking out melodies on my mandolin, and want to learn some backup chord playing, so I got this book, which is supposed to teach me 20+ strum patterns. It just came today, and I'm looking it over. There's a few confusing things, and there's no backing tracks to go with this book, so it's hard to figure out on my own.

    In the book, they show a strum pattern, then a tune to use it with.

    On p. 9, the song is Amazing Grace. Above the notation, where they show the strum pattern, there is a symbol that looks like a kind of squared off quarter note. This isn't in the strum pattern at the top, and isn't explained earlier in the book. What is it?

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    On p. 7, they show one pattern at the top of the page, and something completely different on the tune (Wade in the Water). This is confusing. Any thoughts?

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    Then, on p. 16 (Wildwood Flower), the squared off quarter note again, plus the patterns look completely different.

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    If someone will help me understand, I'd be very grateful. Especially when it comes to what that funky looking quarter note means. All the other pages in the book look pretty straight forward.

    Sue

  2. #2
    Registered User John Gardinsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I'd guess the squared off quarter note is their representation of strumming the given chord for a quarter note (which the / also represents). Another possibility is that it represents the root bass note of the chord which makes more sense on the guitar than mandolin but can be accomplished if you know lots of chord shapes.

    I am not sure why the book gives one example above and then a different one within the song but I'd be inclined to learn them both, try them both, then mix and match to your liking.

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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I am surprised that the book's author does not explain these symbols, maybe in an intro. I don't think they are a part of a "standard" notation for strums (and I am not sure if there even is such an animal).
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Yeah, right. There's a "Symbols Used" at the beginning of the book that shows the slash mark ("A sweeping down stroke across the strings...") and the down-up symbol ("A down stroke immediately followed by an up stroke of equal length"), but not the funky quarter note. If it means the same thing as the slash, why use two symbols? This supposed to be a newbie type book, and it starts out showing G C and D chords, so I don't think they are expecting you to really know lots of chord shapes.

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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I’d guess the squared off means pick the bass note and slash means strum the full chord. As marked Wildwood Flower would be a boom-chuck-a-boom-boom which seems to be a reasonable strum. Strumming the entire chord on the one beat would be overkill.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    So whatever chord note you're fretting on the G string then?

  7. #7
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coronado View Post
    I’d guess the squared off means pick the bass note and slash means strum the full chord...
    That seems pretty reasonable to me.

    Being a dedicated non-perfectionist (and sometimes bass player!), I'd go so far as to say, at least w/in these examples, that whatever "bassiest" note you can get should suffice, regardless of whether it's the chord's root or not. That would mean that, say, under a D chord, you should feel free to play the A at the G-string's 2nd fret. On mandolin, it's an accomplishment to just "get the idea of bass"
    across, and that should serve nicely. Of course, all may not agree ...

    (Edit) To answer Sue's question just above: Yep, that what I often do!
    - Ed

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Okay, thanks guys, I'll go with that for now, it seems to make sense. As for the mismatched strums, I'll go with what John suggested and see what seems to work. I wish there were audio files with this book, though.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Don't hesitate to send an email to Mbay. They are excellent in responding and being helpful. I've done that a couple of times on issues I've had. You can link to a msg right on their site.

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    My guess is that the funky diamond note is trying to not be a normal note, not make you think that there's a note way up there, that it's trying to convey a pitchless quarter note.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I too would go with John's and Ed's suggestions, Sue. A single bass note at the start of each bar would give you a picking pattern a bit like the backing guitarist might play using alternating basses - in a 4/4 pattern the bass note would come on 1 and 3, then strummed chord on 2 and 4. Maybe on the mandolin the writer is suggesting a bass note just on 1. But a caveat - I am guessing this as I have not seen this sort of notation coding elsewhere.
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  14. #12
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    My guess is that the funky diamond note is trying to not be a normal note, not make you think that there's a note way up there, that it's trying to convey a pitchless quarter note.
    Jim, what is a pitchless quarter note??

    BTW still working on your scales and excercises

  15. #13

    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I kinda made up the term on the spot, I suppose, but it's based on how there are two categories of percussion instruments: "pitched" (meaning you can play notes, eg you can get a C# out of a marimba) and "unpitched", like cymbals and drums.

    I was meaning that the author was trying use a note-head that would specify a quarter-note length of time without specifying a particular pitch. (Diamond-shaped notes are usually for harmonics, however, which obviously isn't his goal.)

    Anyways, it's just a guess, based on what I think he's trying to tell you.


    And thanks!

  16. #14

    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    I am not sure if this is what is intended, but rather than playing the bottom note in these examples, it sounds a little better if you played the actual written note. Every time there is one of the square quarter notes play whatever the melody has at that point then do the strums. That way the melody is sketched into the accompaniment.

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  18. #15
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confusing stuff in Mel Bay "Fun with Strums" book

    Carl, that sounds like a cool thing to try!

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