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What are grooves? On guitar, what is a strumming pattern? Is it the same for any song? Also, what are beats? What is one and two, two and four and one two?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Meaningful Username, nonpop, Tim, Dom, Bradd Szonye May 3 '14 at 22:07

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

There are many questions here. Maybe you can split them into many different questions; it would be easier to reply – Shevliaskovic May 3 '14 at 8:05
I've written quite a bit about guitar chords, grooves and a bit about strumming patterns in my answer below. Sorry, I haven't really explained beats; there is plenty of info about this elsewhere. And, I'm afraid I didn't understand your last question. – Bob Broadley May 3 '14 at 20:33
I recommend that you search on YouTube for some basic guitar lessons, and just follow them through. They will help in understanding a number of basic questions you might have. Then come back if you have more specific questions that can easily be answered here without having to give a full feature lesson on music theory basics like Bob bravely tried to do for you ;-) – awe May 5 '14 at 11:59

You ask several related questions here. The answer I would give to your first question, "Should I be learning groove skills if I am not even good at chords?" is yes, definitely!

I'll get onto an explanation of what grooves are and how to practise them in a minute, but first let me explain my emphatic "yes" above. I'm guessing that you are just starting to learn to play the guitar. Playing chords is a central part of guitar playing (particularly for Rock, Pop, Jazz and other Popular Music styles), but it isn't easy to do well. Chords can be frustrating; difficult to get your fingers around, difficult to change between and difficult to play with all the notes coming through clearly. For this reason, it's tempting to simply play one chord in a bar, or struggle through a chord sequence in a very unmusical and unrhythmic way when first learning. This might gradually help you to learn to play chords, but it doesn't help you to get into the feel, the groove of the music; this can be quite unsatisfying.

But you can get into the feel of any music that has chords that seem difficult; just start off by playing only the root notes of chords, or simplified chords with only two or three notes, making sure to follow the rhythmic feel of the music. I think you can develop musical skills more easily by playing in a way that follows the rhythmic feel of a song/piece, even if chords are simplified somewhat, rather than simplifying the rhythm too much, which makes the music sound bland. Or, of course, you can start off by playing interesting music that you like, with interesting grooves that don't have chords; in other words, the grooves are based on single line riffs.

To sum up: I think it's a good idea to play single root notes, or chords with less notes, when first learning a song/piece, so that you can play the music with rhythmic fluency and without stopping too much.

So, what is a groove…?

Well, there are plenty of definitions out there; it's a relatively loose concept, that contains two main ideas. Firstly, it is the general character of a piece of music, the sum total of all the little nuances of rhythm, melody, articulation and so on. Secondly, it is specific patterns, often rhythmic, used in the music. This second definition relates directly to your question; a groove could be a repeated drum pattern, a repeated guitar strumming pattern or a repeated musical pattern in any of the musical parts.

Putting this into practice…

Below is a practical example of how this approach can be used by somebody learning to play the guitar. The song Wonderwall by Oasis has a distinctive introduction, combining chords that most beginners would find difficult to play, with an equally distinctive strumming pattern. This rhythm of this strumming pattern could be thought of as a groove. The two-bar guitar introduction is repeated, with some variation, throughout much of the song; it contributes a great deal to the overall feel of the song. This introduction is shown below:

enter image description here

A beginner could spend many months learning this introduction, finding it difficult to change between the chords, get all the notes to sound and to achieve the rhythmic feel. And in the meantime, little has been gained musically by playing this introduction in a stilted, unrhythmic way. But I would argue this would still be an excellent song for a beginner to learn, as long as a different approach is taken.

Arguably, the chord voicings and strumming pattern both contribute equally to the distinctive sound of this guitar part. So, I would argue a beginner guitarist would gain a great deal from dealing with these separately. By simplifying the actual music played, a beginner guitarist can more easily attempt to play along with the recording; I feel this has great benefits, developing musical skills far more than by simply struggling through something which is too difficult, in a detached, unmusical way.

To learn to change between the chords of this piece, to get a sense of the overall pace of chord changes and to be able to listen carefully to the sound of chords being played, it would be sensible for a beginner guitarist to play the following, ideally with the recording:

enter image description here

To understand the rhythmic characteristics of the song, to feel its groove, it would make more sense to play just the bass notes of these chords, but with the correct rhythmic pattern:

enter image description here

Again, as this is simplified, the player should be able to play it with the recording, gaining a great deal from the process.

After managing to play these bass notes, two-chord notes could be played, moving even closer to the actual guitar part:

enter image description here

So, to sum up. Yes, you can learn to play guitar parts with chords and interesting rhythmic patterns (grooves), but it is easiest to do this by separating out the rhythm and chords. By simplifying the music you practise, you should also be able to play fluently along with a recording too, which can greatly enhance your musical and performance skills.

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How to play root notes? What is it – user139024 May 3 '14 at 21:24
Well, in this context, just the lowest notes of the chords. – Bob Broadley May 3 '14 at 21:27
Is a chord a combo of three notes – user139024 May 3 '14 at 21:30
One on top of another – user139024 May 3 '14 at 21:30
All the questions you are asking ARE about music theory. – Bob Broadley May 3 '14 at 21:36

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