Any tips about how to hear the picking/strumming pattern and the chords out of a song?

For example, I am trying to get the picking pattern and the chords out of this song - luckily you can slow the video down and watch (the pattern and the chords), but my picking pattern still doesn't sound as his does.

Or would just just say: practice? learning a lot of patterns to recognize them? If yes, just leave a comment and I will delete this question.

PS: If you find out the picking pattern - it would be really great if you told it to me then :-)

2 Answers 2


The first thing I do is figure out the time signature of the song so that I can know where to accent the notes and how to count the beats. Then I need to know which beats are quarter, half, whole, eighth, and sixteenth, and I need to count each note accordingly. When playing individual notes using alternate picking it can be difficult to hear up or down strokes, but when strumming a chord, I can usually hear up strokes and down strokes by the sound of the chord when it is played. As a suggestion, when learning to do this, start simple and get some experience before trying to tackle anything complicated. The finger picking patterns seem to be Travis picking patterns developed by Merle Travis and there are several places to learn this style online. Since this is a song written by Paul Simon, you might also enjoy looking for his very similar version and watching it also.


I have a similar problem in trying to learn Mark Knopfler's style and what I found helpful is to look at some of the YouTube picking lessons for that song, in your case this one looks pretty promising as he really details the intricate hammering (I might start to learn it myself.)

I understand the lessons may not be exactly as the Josh Turner video but I'm betting the lesson videos will put you far closer to closing the performance gaps.

And I even see one with tabs:

(And, finally, I see some people incorrectly spell it as Cathy's song.)

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