I can read music or hear music and usually come up with a strum pattern on the guitar. Usually get close enough then perfect over time. However, recently I thought that I would like to get a certain song into the set listing, and when I found some sheet music online for Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason", it says at the top that the "strum pattern" is "6".

By looking at the music and hearing the groove, I know that it is D DU UDU, so the actual strum pattern for this song is not my question.

Where is strum pattern 6 defined? Is this defined somewhere?

  • 7
    It is almost certainly defined in the original book that sheet music came from, so you could find it by getting that book. I wouldn't worry about it though, as you have identified the strum pattern. There is no industry standard :-)
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 13:35
  • Thank you Doc! That's what I thought, but it is not a book. It is a web site that offers sheet music. The site search doesn't offer any help either. Anyway, will stick with good ole way.
    – blusician
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    That sheet music has come from somewhere. Looking at other pieces on that site there are a number of different styles and standards, so I think they have just bought/licenced them from various places
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 22:36

2 Answers 2


This sheet music was obviously made in conjunction with other references to strumming and picking patterns on a guitar instruction site. What site, who knows. It would take some googling and research and you might could find something through the information at the bottom of the sheet music. But there is no "strum pattern 6" in music notation.

I would go further to say that "strumming pattern 6" is a pattern made by someone that "works" with this song. I doubt the transcriber made this special strum pattern 6 JUST for this song. Also, I would venture to say that Tracy Chapman did not adhere to a "pattern" measure after measure, so how long would such a strum pattern be accurate? One measure? IF you are going to spend time and energy and devote brain cells to learning a strum pattern, you would be better served learning to play along with the song. As you said, you can hear it.

As far as standard notation, you are rarely if ever going to get an accurate strumming representation of a song from sheet music or computer generated software. There are just too many variables... up, down, what strings, speed of the strum across the strings (not simultaneous), volume dynamics, etc. All that for each and every strum, and that is not even talking about timing variations between strums. There is a wavy line symbol in music notation that denotes that stacked notes are strummed and not simultaneous played but that doesn't tell you the intricacies. To notate all that would be a crazy endeavor.

I use sheet music or youtube or guitar pro or whatever for quickly getting the basic solution or for structure but ALWAYS refer to the song. Inevitably, you will hear something different or missing.

  • I've seen such notation in some books of guitar music, referring to charts at the start of the book. Perhaps the sheet music had originally been printed in such a book?
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 21:40


Jump to the bottom of the post to see all 10 strum patterns.


The sheet music in question is published by Hal Leonard Corp. and included in the collection Best Rock Songs for Easy Guitar (ISBN 978-1-4950-1815-2). The strum and pick patterns are explained at the beginning of the book.

Below is an image of the first page available on Google Books. It does not show what the strum patterns are, but demonstrates where they are defined.

Page from "Best Rock Songs for Easy Guitar"

The patterns themselves, 10 for strumming and 10 for picking, are available online and appear not to be under copyright protection. Here are the strum patterns.

1.  4/4: DUDUDUDU |
2.  4/4: D DUDUDU |
3.  4/4: D DUD DU |
4.  4/4: D DUD D  |
5.  4/4: D D DUDU |
6.  4/4: D DU UDU |

7.  3/4: D DUD  |
8.  3/4: D D D  |
9.  3/4: D DUDU |

10. 2/4: D DU |

Hal Leonard easy guitar strum patterns

  • are Up Bow and Down Bow symbols usual (or even appropriate) for guitar music? Commented May 25, 2022 at 6:25
  • 1
    @ElementsinSpace they are often used for single note picking, but I'm not so sure about strumming. In fact, I don't often to see strumming notated in sheet music, and it's more often in more amateur and perhaps less standardized sources. In classical guitar sheet music arpeggios or rasgueados are rather notated with vertical straight or curly lines and arrows. Commented May 25, 2022 at 15:34

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