Dynamics In Strumming
Have you ever been learning a new song or writing one of your own and thought to yourself, “Man… something is just missing from my playing?” Well, in this little article we are going to talk about dynamics and how using them in your playing can really bring some extra life and feeling to your strumming patterns and songs.
As my music professor, Dr. Randy Snyder, used to say, “Music is alive, it has it’s own natural spirit, an ebb and flow if you will.” Many times, as guitar players, we simply strum through whatever song we are playing or writing without giving much thought or attention to the overall “shape” of the music. Paying attention to your dynamics on different parts of songs, and even within the individual strokes of strumming patterns, can transform a stale lifeless passage into something very special.
So how do you start making your playing more dynamic? Well, the first step is to simply be aware of dynamics as a tool at your disposal and remember to use it in your playing. Try to be aware of the dynamics that you are using the next time you are playing through one of your favorite songs or writing one of your own.
There is a simple exercise that you can do to start actively using dynamics more in your playing. Here is what you do. Make any chord you like. Now start strumming at a medium volume. Slowly back your strumming volume down to the absolute quietest that you can possibly get it and cruise there for a while. See how quiet you can get your strumming and then very slowly start to bring your strumming back up to the same medium volume at which you started. Once you are back to that medium volume, slowly raise your strumming to a very loud volume. Now slowly come back down to the medium volume again.
Revving your strumming volume from super quiet to super loud will give you a good idea of the overall dynamic range of your guitar and your strumming. It will also help you to remember to consider dynamic strumming as a tool for giving your music more life and color.
As you listen to and play music this week try to listen for and think about dynamics. How do you hear it being used in the music that you love? How can you use it in your playing? Next time we will take a look at how to apply some of the technical things that we have been talking about to a fast triplet strumming pattern.