19 November 2008

It Doesn't Have to Sound Perfect

I often see questions from beginner guitarists worrying how to strum a song. It's quite easy to find out the chords for most songs but the rhythm or strum pattern is usually not easily available. What I want to tell all these guitarists is that it doesn't really matter.

I was planning to write about this when by coincidence the Rock House Blog addressed this very issue last week in Does it Need to Sound Perfect?

I think it's true that us learning guitarists often get hung up on trying to reproduce a song just like the original. But it is really not necessary. You have to realize that until you reach a certain level of playing, and have the right equipment, you can't reproduce the exact sound of the songs you hear. Well, unless you play Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash, that is.

Trying to reproduce a song note for note and beat for beat is a useful learning exercise to test your skills at some point. But you can also learn to play lots of songs without trying to be exactly like the original. As long as you have the right chords you can make up any strum pattern you like. It's fun to even change the rhythm completely, like playing Should I Stay Or Should I Go with a reggae rhythm, for example.

Remember that music is a creative exercise, so don't be afraid to experiment, change things and make them your own. The results will be far more interesting than simply reproducing what everyone else is doing. And the bonus is it's harder for listeners to spot your mistakes ;-)

Thanks to Rock House Blog for inspiring this post.

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Sarge said...

Well put and excelent post.

Gary Fletcher said...

Thanks Curt, I couldn't have done it without you ;-)

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