The construct of this pattern works the basic mechanics of downstrokes, which is designed to build muscle memory anda awareness of groove, and establishes fundamentals of flatpicking that will be important further down the road in your development as a bluegrass guitarist.
- We're gonna put the picking pattern to use now with a few exercises. This is picking pattern exercise one, and the goal for these exercises are to build fundamental muscle memory, awareness of groove, and the kind of thing where it's, this kind of pattern is something you want to learn and be aware of, but the more we can trust it, the less we can think about it, the less you have to think about it later down the road. It becomes an integral part of your playing, and it's subconscious, it's automatic.
These exercises will help, again, bring awareness but also help just build a trust for these things so later on down the road it is just part of our playing, and that's what we really want, and that's when you know you've gotten to this point, being able to trust it. The last thing I want to think about in the middle of a solo is what needs to be a downstroke or upstroke. This is just like walking here or like when banjo players learn a roll or drummers learn the basic paradiddles of playing, and so this is a good chance to build new habits for experienced players, to kind of relearn some things, or to address some potential issues in your playing.
And so we'll jump straight in here with a pick pattern exercise one. You'll notice that it starts with everything we talked about before, the basic pick pattern. I've not written these in here. I'd like you to, basically, if you can print these out and write it in if you need to, but notice that the downbeats of every measure are going to be downstrokes and then the numbered notes that follow. So the first measure one and two and three and four and, there's eight eighth notes there, so that will follow as down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up.
So notice that the first two bars of this exercise are this basic pick pattern at its most fundamental level. And so I'm gonna play this whole exercise and then get into a little bit more what's going on here because, again, we want to start thinking about ways that the pattern is used because you notice that everything that you play is not going to be just a consistent pattern of eighth notes. There's spaces and breaths in the phrasing that we want to be aware of, but yet the pattern will not break. So I want to play this whole exercise at 80 beats a minute. (metronome ticking) One, two, three, go.
(guitar strumming) Okay. What's going on there, notice the first two measures are the consistent eighth note pattern.
At measure three, we break that pattern with a downstroke on beat one, and then the next note that's played is beat two, so you got two downstrokes in a row. A tendency for some players is to think, "Well, okay, the pattern is just up, down, up, down," but we're thinking more about the inner rhythm, trying to build inner dynamics and an inner sense of groove and what to trust as players. And downbeats are always going to be stronger than like we mentioned, sort of the subdominant upbeats.
And when you think about pocket, you think about dun dakka da-ta when these notes have a bit of a grove, a bit of an inner dynamic to themselves that means that's not just a flat da da da da da da they sort of rise and fall and they have kind of a rhythmic feel to the whole thing. And so as we break the pattern we don't want to lose that so that's the importance of numbered notes being the downbeats, being the downstrokes that's the trust that we're building so in measures three and four, it's down, down, up, down up, down, up, (guitar strumming) and you can even practice it where those downstrokes are in fact a little heavier which working from our forearm we're just allowing that to kind of be a little more stronger as opposed to the other notes so that becomes the most important note of that measure is the (guitar strumming) and so moving down into the end of the second line there in measure five it continues to sort of take that basic idea of leaving the continuous stream of eighth notes.
Now we're looking at downbeats on beat one and three and then in the next pair of measures downbeats on one and four and so what's going on the whole time though even though we're not playing each one of those eighth notes I'm allowing for it with my sense of what the groove is so when there is a downstroke there's an upstroke just like when the singer sings and times their breath. You can think about that like in measure five, down, down, up, down, (guitar strumming) and there's that upstroke that set's up that downstroke and when that's all in time even though we're not playing it my arm and the machine that is my picking arm never leaves that groove and so that's what's important about what we can establish with these patterns here in these exercises is that down, down, up, down.
(guitar strumming) And in the last two measures basically a reverse of measure five and six down, up, down. (guitar strumming) You can here me giving a little bit of emphasis to those downstrokes and that's again that's this awareness of how to make a certain sort of rhythmic consistency to your playing so it's not all one dynamic, there it sort of comes and goes and there's louder notes and softer notes but they all fall within this sense of what the groove and the pocket can be, and as people that are new to this sort of style it's important to be aware of that if you're more experienced with this style it's actually more important to be aware of this kind of a thing because it can immediately sort of add a sense of maturity to your playing.
It takes what is sort of one dynamic and adds sort of a three dimensional sense to your playing and where you are much more in control and what you're allowing to be in control is your sense of groove and your sense of trust based on this pattern. And so again we want to build to a place where we don't have to think about it so we're going to move on to a couple more exercises that will continue to challenge the pattern but I'll show you how even though we do that we're not gonna break the pattern and we're creating a sense of trust for our picking hand.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Holding the guitar
- Tuning the guitar
- Picking hand and fretting hand techniques
- Combining picking and fretting
- Practicing picking pattern exercises
- Changing chords and rhythm
- Playing traditional bluegrass tunes