I am new to guitar and confused between strumming patterns. I know that 4/4 have 4 beats in it and 3/4 have 3 beats in it. I can't differentiate between them, e.g : 3/4 : D DUDU D DUDU 4/4 : D D UUDUD DU or DDUU DU DDUU DU or D UDUD UDUD DU how can I learn to correctly identify between them (if a strumming pattern is written in U's and D's form), whether it is 3/4 or 4/4 pattern?

  • I am not exactly sure what you are asking, but I think that the difference you are looking for has to do with where accents are placed. In 4/4 time the "one" and the "three" get the accents, with the "one" slightly stronger: ONE two THREE four.... This differs from 2/4 time: ONE two ONE two.... In 3/4 time the "one" gets the accent: ONE two three....
    – ex nihilo
    Mar 20 '18 at 14:31
  • I didn't learn the music theory, but what I am asking is, if someone writes down a strumming pattern to me in form of U's and D's, then how do i identify whether it's 3/4 or 4/4 in general. Mar 20 '18 at 14:59
  • "e.g : 3/4 : D DUDU D DUDU" -- there really isn't enough information in a strumming pattern like this to be able to assign a time signature to it. This could be 3/4: ONE two & three & ONE two & three &, or it could be 4/4 if the first D corresponds to a whole note and the DUDU corresponds to four quarter notes. Strumming patterns carry very little information.
    – ex nihilo
    Mar 20 '18 at 15:11
  • thank you !! atleast half of my confusion has been removed you. Mar 20 '18 at 15:13

You can work out the time signature by attempting the following:

  • Listening to where the first beat of each bar is - usually, this is apparent by listening to the drumkit or by feeling where each bar starts. As long as you can figure out ONE ????? ONE ?????, where the question marks are the beats in between, that's the first step.
  • Once you've worked this out, you can count how many beats are in between. Is it ONE two three ONE two three, or ONE two three four ONE two three four?

Try to ignore what the guitar is doing when you're working out the time signature. Non-boring guitar is all about rhythmic embellishments (something like D DUDU instead of just D D D in 3/4), which can be distracting. Working out music is easiest when you strip away all of the embellishments and complexity, and just focus on the bare-bones of the song. You can work out all of the intricacies later.


Use a very basic DDDD for 4/4 and DDD for 3/4. The first D will often be more emphasised. So, if you hear the 4th D louder, it's because it's 3/4!

Sort out about U later. Let's face it, after each and every D there's going to be an U in order to strum D again...And, remember, the Ds are the basic 1234 (or123) in each bar/measure.

Those U can be put in whenever and wherever you like, but beware of the U just before a chord change. So many self taught guitarists strum U with open strings as they can't change the chord quick enough, and it is so amateur.

  • A quick open string up stroke is intentionally used in some genres like punk. But ideally we would be able to use it intentionally when desired and avoid it completely when trying to play cleanly and clearly. Mar 20 '18 at 16:52
  • Could I guess why punk uses it..?
    – Tim
    Mar 20 '18 at 16:53
  • IMHO cause it sounds pretty badass and rude. In "American Idiot", Green Day does it when they aren't even changing to another chord, just to punctuate the end of the line. Mar 20 '18 at 16:54

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