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Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 2, 2011 Video Update

Short video this time. In it, I show two things I’ve been working with recently. The first is an attempt to ease my way into a longer burst:
As you’ll hear, I’m still working with light strokes, as my hand works better when I don’t try to play loud. By the way, this is similar to a speed burst exercise I tried some years ago:
The idea here was to break down a six string scale into short one string bursts. At the time, I found it fun to do, but it has the same defect of all burst exercises: it doesn’t acclimate my hand to a good feel for longer passages. So the first exercise you’ll see on the video is something I hope will ween me off short bursts and into longer scale passages.

The second thing you’ll see is a fragment of Mozart. One day during practice it struck me as a nice thing to use for my extended lite work. Since I’m doing it from memory, I may not remember it exactly as Mozart wrote it. One day I’ll dig up my CD of this music to see if I’m playing it right.

I know I promised earlier to show I could do a short burst at 200. But it wasn’t happening this morning, and I saw no point in documenting the failure. Further, I’d lost interest in the short burst approach over the last week. For now, I prefer to try slightly longer bursts, to see if I can make them work.

As an aside, I bought Matt Palmer’s “A New Approach to Fast Scales” method book. In it, he explains his right hand three finger approach to fast scales. Those knowledgeable about guitar technique will quibble with the title—Palmer isn’t the first to do this. But the book is a detailed explanation of how to apply this technique in many musical circumstances. Personally, I think this should be used and taught far more than it is. I suspect over the next few decades we’ll see more young guitarists doing fast scales with a, m, i rather than i and m. To be sure, two finger alternation will retain its usefulness—it offers a particular force that three finger alternation might not be able to match. But the three finger approach just makes sense. It enables high speed without pushing to the limit one’s speed with any given finger.

Interestingly, Palmer’s book is of almost no help to the likes of me. It says virtually nothing about how to develop finger speed. Rather, it’s written from the perspective of someone who already has speed, and wants to increase it further. Nonetheless, I did find some glimmers of information applicable to my own situation. Here’s one bit of text I found illuminating:
My preference for playing fast scales is to use a stroke somewhere between a free stroke and a rest stroke (a “frest” stroke?)
This intrigued me, as I’ve previously posted that, when switching from rest to free stroke, I couldn’t always tell exactly which stroke I was doing. So it was encouraging to see a good player say something similar.

And here’s another bit of text that jumped out at me:
I do not commit the weight of the follow-through of the attack to produce the rest stroke sound. In contrast, I commit the weight to the plant and to the attack itself. This method seems to allow my fingers to recuperate and return to their starting positions faster. Try both methods of attack to achieve a level of comfort that suits you, and the sound quality you desire. I suggest starting with a relatively light attack as you get used to the motions required to play evenly. Once you have achieved evenness, gradually increase the power of your stroke.
This seems in keeping with my extended lite approach. In my opinion, good players like Palmer don’t always realize the importance of what they say to players like me. I think the last two sentences in the above quote should be far more emphatic—indeed, they should be expanded into a chapter of their own. Instead, they’re practically throwaway lines that the average guitarist will overlook.

In Palmer’s defense, he’s probably not writing for the likes of me. But in the real world, most of those reading his book will be more like me than Palmer. It may well be that those like Palmer can’t adequately understand and explain what those like me need to hear. Perhaps it takes the likes of me to get to where Palmer is, and then explain how I did it to those who aren’t.

That at least is part of my motivation to keep on trucking.

——[My next update will be October 10, 2011]—

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