I have to accompany a singer on guitar for a wedding and I am having trouble finding a good rhythmic pattern that fit nicely under the melody. What should I pay attention to regarding the melodic line to figure out what I could play ? How do you determine what beat should be emphasize, and what beat should not ?

For reference the song is "Oh happy day" and I'm using this music sheet.

1 Answer 1


There is no one 'correct' or 'best' rhythm pattern here. Start by simply strumming 4 down strums in each bar, as the song is in 4/4, and then try various little changes to that. Such as catching the strings, or at least the top 3 or 4, as you move the pick back after each down strum.

That gives several options. D,D,D,D is the original. Then you could get really busy with DU,DU,DU,DU, which is too much - and doesn't allow much time for any chord changes. D,DU,DU,D works well, but by trying out the options, you'll find two or three that work well for you. By keeping the basic 4 downstrums in each bar, changing on the fly will not interrupt the flow of your strumming arm. Good luck - and practise with the singer before, if poss!

  • Is sticking to the "one bar, one chord" bit required ? Or should I consider changing chords in a more "syncopated" way ? like changing from C to G on the last off-beat of the bar labelled C ? Jun 16, 2017 at 9:12
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    Yes, consider that, and try it out. Not all the time, but experiment. Bear in mind that the anacrucis will generally come on an upstrum; don't do it with a down, as it'll interrupt the arm pattern. Doing that will cut your chord changing time by half, though. Unless you're already a really good rhythm player, whereby you can swap the pattern around. But then, you probably wouldn't be asking...!
    – Tim
    Jun 16, 2017 at 11:20

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