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Video:

Tuning G Standard down to D

 

 

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Playing with Two Strumsticks
Two strumsticks of the same kind can play together really easily, even if the players are both beginners. Here are a few experiments and MP3 audio examples to get you started! You could use two Standard (G) Strumsticks, or two Grand (D) Strumsticks. If you have a Grand and a Standard, see Playing a Grand and a Standard Together below.


Exercise # 1 Two Strumsticks Together (playing at random)
Review for a moment the basic way to play the Strumstick when you start: Strum all three strings while fingering any note, with one finger, on the first (highest pitched) string. Strum a steady beat, or a simple repeating rhythm, and change notes (randomly) every so often. It is a good idea to get several strums in on each note before you move to another.

Two people can do this same thing, just keep the same beat. You do not both have to play the same exact rhythm, as long as the beat is the same. The simplest rhythm to start with is simply a steady beat, 1 2 3 4). with the beat going, each person can start to change what note they are fingering (yes, at random). At first, change notes slowly, not too often. Even though you do not know what the other person is playing, some very interesting and fun sounds will be happening. By the way, you should have your strumsticks tuned together for best results - match the strings on one with the strings on the other.

MP3 Audio Example 1: time 1:14 Played on Standard Strumstick
SS 1 starts a steady beat,
SS 2 joins in.
SS 1 starts changing notes, SS 2 just keeps going.
SS 2 starts to change notes too, both at random. Keep that steady beat steady, though!

MP3 Audio Example 2: time 1:26 Played on Standard Strumstick
SS 1 starts a steady beat,
SS 2 does some kind of rhythm to that beat.
SS 1 plays some kind of rhythm, too.
Both SS play simple rhythms (not necessarily the same) to the same beat.
Then both start changing notes at random as they strum.

If you do not have two Strumsticks (or two players), we have recorded one Strumstick doing Exercise # 1 (for both the Grand and the Standard) so you can try this out immediately. Listen to:
Audio example #5 Std or
Audio example #6 Grand
,

and play along. Also, you could record yourself playing one part, and then listen to that while you play another. In addition, you migh try playing as a third Strumstick with the other examples, or just listen tothe left or right channels as you play along.

If you want help with strumming different rhythms, look at “More Strumming and Rhythms” on the Advanced Instructions page.

Exercise # 2 Rhythm and Lead
That brings us to the second stage of playing together. One person will be “Rhythm” Strumstick, the other “ Lead” Strumstick (take turns, no fighting!). The Rhythm Strumstick will play some kind of rhythm over and over, and some kind of little melody pattern over and over. The melody pattern should just be 3 or 4 notes, a simple repeating phrase. The Lead Strumstick will syncronize with the beat of the Rhythm Strumstick, and then play notes at random with the rhythm strumstick as a background. Very cool, you are jamming!

MP3 Audio Example 3: time 1:02 Played on Standard Strumstick
Rhythm Strumstick...rhythm, then a repeating melody.
Lead Strumstick joins in.
Rhythm Strumstick changes the repeating melody by accident, decides to stay with that version.

Exercise #3 Dueling Strumsticks!
Assume a fencing pose with your Strumstick extended in front of you in your right hand, and your left hand in the air behind you...oops, wrong instructions.
Dueling Strumsticks is a “follow the leader” game. The object is to pass short musical phrases back and forth. Both Strumsticks start with a steady beat, or a simple rhythm. One person plays a simple phrase of a few notes while the other keeps the rhythm going. It helps if you give each note a few beats so they do not go by too fast. Then return to the rhythm. The other person then plays those same few notes, or as close as they can get. Half the fun in this gane is what happens when the second person does NOT get it exactly right. You can decide if you want to switch roles after every phrase, or stay in the same positions for a while. It really helps to have both people keep strumming the whole time, that holds it together. The object is to listen and have fun (perfection not required!).

MP3 Audio Example 4: time 0:58 Played on Standard Strumstick
Two SS play a beat ( they play the beat the whole time).
SS 1 plays a melody and then just some beat
SS 2 repeats the melody and then just some beat
SS 1 plays a different melody, and then just some beat
SS 2 repeats that melody, etc.

When you get comfortable doing this, a nice variation is to play a phrase, person 2 repeats it, and then changes one note; then person 1 repeats the new patten, then changes one note, and so on as you pass it back and forth. This may sound complicated, but if you give each note 2 or 4 beats, and keep the phrase simple, it is a lot of fun.

MP3 Audio examples #5 Std and #6 Grand for you to play along with.
Steady beat, random play on Standard (MP3 Audio example #5 Std) or Grand (MP3 Audio example #6 Grand). When two people play together, they are both listening and playing, and both are adjusting their beat to stay in step with the other. When playing with a recording, only one person (that would be you!) can adjust the timing to stay together, the recording is not listening! So a little extra attention to listening is necessary when playing with a recording.

Playing with one Standard and one Grand:
If you have 1 Standard and 1 Grand Strumstick, there are several ways you can play together.

The first is to just play them in their separate keys, but follow the instructions above. Strange and interesting sounds will occur, you decide if you like it (some do, some don’t).

Another way is to tune the Grand up to F (F C F), and the standard down to F (F C F), and play together in F. Key of E (E B E) is a possibility too (Grand up, Standard down,).

The Third way is to put a capo at the third fret of the Grand. That will put it into key of “G” to play directly with the Standard. A variation on this is to capo the Standard at the third fret (giving “C”) and tune the Grand down to C (C G C) and play together that way.

The Fourth way of playing Grand and Standard together is to tune the Standard all the way down to D (DAD). Video instructions how to do that are at Tuning G Standard down to D

Strumstick®: Two Strumsticks Together

Audio:

MP3 Audio Examples:
Hear Two Strumsticks!
(played on a Grand Strumstick)

Example #1
Example #2
Play along with a Standard (Ex #5 Std )
Play along with a Grand (Ex #6 Grand)
Example 3 Rhythm and Lead
Example 4
Dueling Strumsticks