I am new to sheet music and I am basically a programmer. I am trying to blend technology with music and display the tabs on the screen like so for my son's YouTube channel. Now I want to integrate strumming patterns as well.

I can get lead tabs right, but guitar strumming patterns are hard to create in tablature. I created a sheet music for the single guitar strum audio like so. This is as close as I can get. But seems I am way off course. How can I get more accurate at strumming on music sheet close to the actual?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Are you asking about the notes, the rhythm, or the notation itself? Just know, questions involving transcribing from audio are off-topic here.
    – Aaron
    Aug 9, 2021 at 14:21
  • Agreed, @seccpur, it will help if you clarify what you're concerned about. But I spot one issue: Although your measure contains 4 beats, they're beamed unusually. I can't access the audio at the moment, but if the note values here are really what you intend, you would want to re-do the beams so that every beam is contained within one beat. Aug 9, 2021 at 14:28
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    @seccpur Thanks, but it still needs a bit more clarity. Maybe your question is one of these: 1) "How can I get more accurate at strumming the rhythm I intend?"; 2) "Is this an accurate transcription of what I recorded? (this one would be off-topic); 3) "What rules govern the beaming of rhythms?" Aug 9, 2021 at 14:34
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    @AndyBonner: sl# 1 is exactly that I want. Thnaks.
    – seccpur
    Aug 9, 2021 at 14:35
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    The issue you're going to run into with this question is that it requires figuring out what's happening in the audio. That's considered "transcription" for the purposes of this site. A question like "Is there a standard strumming pattern for this rhythm?", that just relies on your notation, would pass muster IMO. You could still include the audio as a reference point.
    – Aaron
    Aug 9, 2021 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


There are two standard notations for guitar strumming: one for general use, and one primarily for instructional use.

Up/Down bowing notations

These symbols come from bowed string instruments, representing up and down strokes, and have been adopted by guitar writers as well. This is the standard notation.

  • The open, inverted box downbow symbol represents a down-stroke.
  • The V shape upbow symbol represents an up-stroke.

Bowing symbols used for guitar strumming (IMAGE SOURCE)

These notations are also discussed in

Up/Down Arrows

These mean exactly the same thing as the up/down bowing notations, just different symbols. Arrows are used primarily in guitar instruction materials, such as the below image.

Arrows used to indicate strumming (IMAGE SOURCE)

Sometimes arrows (above the notation) are used in conjunction with the letters U (up) and D (down) (below the notation).

U for up; D for down. Again, these are used more for instruction, and typically in conjunction with arrows.


What follows is based on the notation example given, not a transcription of the audio.

The way your example is beamed makes it very hard to read the rhythm, because it obscures the beat, and because up/down strumming coincides with beats, it's especially hard to place the strumming motions.

Re-beam it first so you can see beats in 4/4 time. Strumming should be down on down beats and up between beats. But, because there are sixteenth rhythms, you should divide the up/down strokes again. In other words, put down strokes on the eighth note level, then use up strokes between eighth note divisions of the beat. Using violin bow direction marks for up/down...

enter image description here

...the rhythm then is...

enter image description here

To get the feel of the timing trying thinking of "silent" down strokes where you bring your strumming hand down without actually strumming the strings - swing your hand/arm just a bit above the strings. If those "silent" strums are put in parenthesis, it looks like this...

enter image description here

You could play those "silent" down strokes with an actual strum in the beginning, and then when you get the feel for the timing of the upstrokes make them truly silent. The end goal is to have your hand/arm moving evenly up/down, sort of like a pendulum and either strumming the strings or silent depending on the specific strum. Also, try counting the beat out loud as soon as you can coordinate it with the strum. That will really help tighten up your timing and rhythm.


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