I Hate Barre Chords!

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KevinCollins
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Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby KevinCollins » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:19 am

---

The reason you are having trouble with that barre is you don't have the callus on the side of the finger yet.

Good ol' Romance, don't you love it? Eventually, you will either give up on Romance or break it down into... EVENTS! This is a concept one of my teachers, Dr. Roland Wiggins, introduced us to, called "eventfulness". As you progress, things become less eventful, but, initially, things are very eventful. Start with the events, musical and technical -- at a certain point, they blend together ['like fettuccine in your mind"]. Separate them to start and then see how they enhance each other.

Let's see, how does this work.

First of all, though, you will need to develop a new callus on the first, interphalangeal [say that five times fast] joint of the 1 finger in the left hand, in order to grab the string with the side of that joint. Remember what it was like when you started the guitar and the string would sink into the fingertip and the string would buzz, no matter how hard you pushed? Pushing more wasn't enough, was it? It took a while before the flesh firmed up enough to press the string. I am afraid you will have to keep trying until the flesh hardens and you get a new callus in that spot. Takes about a month.

Okay, let's break it down into events.

I always think of Murphy's Law: before you do one thing, you must often do something else. Therefore, the first question is, what happens in the measure before, to set it up? The A-minor half-barre at V, with the melody on 4! Okay.

That is a half-barre, true, but the measure begins with the single note, C, on the first string, VIII, played under 4. The half-barre arrives later. I would place and play the C with 4, with the wrist in relaxed position (i.e. without the half-barre) on the shift before I even considered adding the half-barre.

But wait! Before you play the high C on (1), you must must do something else, you must shift. In order to make the shift as easy (and reliable) as possible, I relax the hand and let the 4th finger fall inside the hand -- as opposed to fanning (called abduction) the hand at the same time that I’m trying to place 4 on the high C in order, to make the half-barre. Once the fourth finger is placed, then consider opening the and and adding the half-barre. By doing one event at a time, you will arrive at your destination faster. You may run them together later, but first learn them one by one.

Okay, I shifted and I am holding the C with 4 on VIII, my hand is relaxed. Now, to make that half-barre, I supinate or turn out the wrist (into the palm-up position), fan the hand (abduction), and add the half-barre. But, I place the half-barre on only the (3) and (2) strings. That is, I finger what what I play first, (3), with the tip joint collapsed backwards to hold down just those two strings, and add (2). Don’t even think about the first string yet. When I get to the A on the first string, then I will adjust the bar to hold that note, but not before. In that measure, I actually play three half-barre's, first on (2) and (3), then with a slight adjustment to pick up the first string, and then I go back to the half-barre on (2) and (3) with the fingertip. It's less work and life is short.

Once I finish the A-minor measure, the last note of the measure is the C on (3), played by 1. This is worth noting because the first beat of the next measure is also played by 1, this time the full barre. Now here is a shift that will bite you if you aren’t careful. Before you shift, though, you will have to rock that half-barre back onto the front of the 1 finger – the melody is under 4 again, the high C, and you don’t need the full half-barre, just a two-thirds half-barre, on (2) and (3) again. Follow me?

So, I shifted the weight my half-barre back onto the fingertip, on (2) and (3) -- I lean onto the front of that half-barre on V, poised, I take a deep breath, and JUMP! And I do mean “breathe”; putting a breath right there gives you the time you need to make the shift. Hide the shift musically, write it into the piece. Put a breath there and they will never know. Hide the shift behind the breath.

Making the actual shift involves releasing not just the 1 finger, but the entire arm, so that it shifts by its own weight. If you program the release of tension into your playing, the finger will jump off the string and the arm will fall. However, if there is any flexion left in the hand, the finger (hand) will not release in time and you will choke. This piece, for some reason, is exhausting for the left hand. I found I had to find every opportunity to release tension that I could, or I never made it through. Mostly, this is breathing. You know -- what happens when you don’t breathe? I try to avoid that. You have to go through the piece with a pencil and write in all the breathes, every single one, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. You will find that many of them coincide with the release of tension. Write them it, it is a comma mark. There are more than you think.

Now, the grand barre. Grab that second string with the bone on the side of the finger, that first interphalangeal joint, rock back onto the first string with the soft (not yet hard) part of the finger long enough to play that B note, while hooking the fingertip onto the low B on (6). Lean back, creating a twisting action between the thumb on the neck and the barre, and play that first and sixth string, with a slight separation, to bring out the melody.

And then add 2, no sooner. Once you got that, you can tuck 3 in there for the C, and drill that boney part of the 1 finger joint into the F#. Every time you play the F# on (2), you will have to crunch the string with that boney spot, until you get a callus there. It's not really pain, just discomfort.

The next time you play the next B, lean back as far back on the VII fret as you can, to give yourself a little angle for the reach with 4 (on the high D#). Just slap the side of that pinky on the note. (You may have to grow a new callus on the side of pinky, too.)

Then, put 3 back and play the C, drill the boney part of that joint into the F# on (2) again, add the twist for the B on VII.

Then, breathe, it’s over. Until next time.

That's enough.

Cheers,

Kevin

---
Kevin Collins, Amherst, Mass, USA All rights reserved.

brianvds

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby brianvds » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:37 am

Orion wrote:
on the 9th measure, I come across the dreaded barre chord


Romance actually has some pretty difficult barre chords for the beginner/early intermediate player, and this one in particular is difficult. I've been playing for about 3.5 years and can barre happily on other pieces (e.g. Sor's Bm) but this one is causing me difficulty as well.


I dislike that Romance so much I'm probably never going to bother with it anyway. But that level is in any event still a long way off for me. I find even the Sor Bm more or less unplayable. I need to develop much more strength and stamina and flexibility I think, before I get anywhere within shouting distance of barre chords.

stansby40

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby stansby40 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:55 am

He he I am glad I am not the only one having problems with the Barre on that B note!! I can practice it until I get a cramp in my hand, and it still buzzes! Then it doesnt get any easier in the major part after that. There are some killer finger stretches! I do like the piece so I am persisting with it.

Mark

noamboy

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby noamboy » Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:04 pm

i don't know if this has been mentioned before, but douglas niedt has something about it on his website. The main point is that you should use the power of pushing the strings coming out of your bicep and shoulder, not out of your hand.

brianvds

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby brianvds » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:54 am

noamboy wrote:i don't know if this has been mentioned before, but douglas niedt has something about it on his website. The main point is that you should use the power of pushing the strings coming out of your bicep and shoulder, not out of your hand.


This was mentioned before, but it requires that your hand and index finger be strong enough to hold the barre, which is not the case with me, and it seems lots of others also struggle with this. Seems to me one cannot get away from having to develop a minimum amount of strength and stamina in the barring hand.

pascualroch

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby pascualroch » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:14 am

Hey Kevin,

Very nice explanation!!!!!.

Pascual

Orion

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby Orion » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:50 pm

I can practice it until I get a cramp in my hand, and it still buzzes! Then it doesnt get any easier in the major part after that. There are some killer finger stretches! I do like the piece so I am persisting with it.

Mark


Yeah...those finger stretches are a killer to start with! I ended up leaving Romance alone for 6 months because I got so fed up with it, but wierdly when I came back to it those finger stretches were suddenly a lot easier. Maybe sometimes it works with piece which is slightly too advanced just to put it down for a few months and work on something else which is a bit closer to one's level.

15407

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby 15407 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:00 am

The Kevin Gallagher vid is indispensable, and he does underscore one glaring feature of Barres’: you need to expend significant quantities of blood, sweat, and tears for several months until the technique is firmly established.

Forget al the malarkey spewed about ‘…use the weight of the arm’, and other such nonsense; at the end of the day, it’s all about force and muscular endurance:

Torque = FlSin(Theta), or roughly Fl when theta is Pi/2. There’s no sidestepping the force required to produce the minimum torque.

I recommend the Sagrera’s Lessons to get yourself over this Barre hurdle. He throws you in right at the deep end in Book 2, with many studies devoted exclusively to the Barre.

Barre Rules:

-Don’t get discouraged.
-They are very, very important, and your progress with the instrument will be illusory if you do not master the technique.
-If you can’t do them, then they should be the focus of most of your study time.
-Watch the Gallagher Barre vid again, and practice, practice, practice until you get it right.
-Don’t get discouraged.

brianvds

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby brianvds » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:09 am

15407 wrote:The Kevin Gallagher vid is indispensable, and he does underscore one glaring feature of Barres’: you need to expend significant quantities of blood, sweat, and tears for several months until the technique is firmly established.

Forget al the malarkey spewed about ‘…use the weight of the arm’, and other such nonsense; at the end of the day, it’s all about force and muscular endurance:

Torque = FlSin(Theta), or roughly Fl when theta is Pi/2. There’s no sidestepping the force required to produce the minimum torque.


As I noticed when I tried Gallagher's ideas: I simply do not have enough strength in my straight finger to hold down the barre, whether I squeeze with my hand or use the weight of my arm or whatever. Which means that I need to develop a bit more strength and stamina in specific muscles in the left hand. I don't think there is any getting around that. I also think that barre chords are like math: it really, genuinely, is difficult and one does not do students a favour by telling them it's easy.

Anyway, due to job responsibilities I simply do not have time to practice anything at all at the moment, and my big adventure with barre chords will have to wait a month or two, by which time I hope to have rearranged my life in such a way as to make more time for my hobbies.

cmrl

Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby cmrl » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:32 am

Interesting. My copy of Christopher Parkening's Guitar Method came yesterday, and he says "use the weight of the arm". I'm not really having a problem with barre chords, although it takes a death grip to get all the notes clean in barre chords at the seventh fret and higher. :chaud: It sure is a lot easier on my Stratocaster!

Gruupi
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Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby Gruupi » Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:32 pm

There are a lot of good tips in this thread, but you have to realize there is no one thing that is going to make it easy. Every single barre is going to be different, it's not like once you know how to make one barre all of your problems will be solved. A combination of your physical anatomy, where your finger joints fall, and the varying neck width, make it so it can be hard for someone to teach you barre chords. You kind of have to approach each one as a separate problem to be solved.

You have several tools available to make things easier:

A.) You can vary your finger curvature.
B.) You can move your finger up or down across the fingerboard.
C.) You can find many instances where you don't need a full barre, or at least don't need to hold it very long.

So you use a combination of these variables to solve each problem as it occurs in your music. If you have to stretch with your other fingers, then maybe a flatter barre is more approrpiate. Those half barres can be really tricky, it gives you less leeway as to moving the barre across the fingerboard if you are trying to say leave the A string ringing open. You can use the momentum and weight of your arm to achieve many barres that aren't held very long. Learn when you can release even some of the pressure, you will find many ways to make things easier.

There is some strength involved in barres, but not so much that any normal person should not have enough strength to do it. Very rarely is anything in guitar a matter of brute strength. As you are practicing, don't wear yourself out by holding these positions till they hurt. Practice efficiently getting your hand in the right position with the least amount of pressure. I won't lie and say it is easy, it can take lots of study to always find the easiest way. You have to keep an open mind to find unique solutions to how your hands work. Just don't force it to the point of pain and undue stress, no one wants injuries.

Cherubini

Obsessive compulsion never works!

Postby Cherubini » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:10 pm

The thing that most of us overlook is the fact that when you do make a bar it's never required that all 6 strings be resonant, at least I've never come across a piece of music where all 6 strings need to be held down in a bar (I don't play flamenco.). It's often only the top 3 or 4, or perhaps only the top and the sixth, or the top and the fifth or some similar combination.
Why waste energy and get frustrated trying to master holding all 6 strings down when it's seldom if ever needed? Let your finger be bent if it wants to be. Just fret the strings needed.
I think the best exercise on this thread is the four-note bar moved up and down the fret board from 6 to 1 and back to 6. That's probably the most challenging bar we'll ordinarily come across, and that simple exercise will strengthen the hand muscles.
A good thing to do after you become comfortable with that one is to noodle around with the other, free fingers on the frets just above where you're holding the 3 or 4 strings down. Play a little scale up and down, extending it as skill improves.
There's one big caution in learning bar chords - NEVER work on them to the point of hand-muscle exhaustion! (Probably true for anything you're learning that's a finger-twister).
Cherubini__

brianvds

Re: Obsessive compulsion never works!

Postby brianvds » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:27 am

Cherubini wrote:I think the best exercise on this thread is the four-note bar moved up and down the fret board from 6 to 1 and back to 6. That's probably the most challenging bar we'll ordinarily come across, and that simple exercise will strengthen the hand muscles.


This thread has now become so complicated I can't work out which exercise you are referring to above. Which message was it?

Cherubini

Re: Obsessive compulsion never works!

Postby Cherubini » Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:43 pm

brianvds wrote:
Cherubini wrote:I think the best exercise on this thread is the four-note bar moved up and down the fret board from 6 to 1 and back to 6. That's probably the most challenging bar we'll ordinarily come across, and that simple exercise will strengthen the hand muscles.


This thread has now become so complicated I can't work out which exercise you are referring to above. Which message was it?

THIS one: (clip)
"Now, may i add a simple process I teach my students to master barre chords?

It is very simple .......... just hold a barre chord like G or A or the spider E and play the strings with your right hand thumb, (all down strokes if plectrum is used)

like ....
6666 - 5555 - 4444 - 3333 - 2222 - 1111 now again ......
1111 - 2222 - 3333 - 4444 - 5555 - 6666 ...... go on practicing this, it will feel pain if this is new to you.

Remember, the notes must ring like bells and must be crystal clear. The method is painstaking because you have to use a constant pressure of your left hand fingers so stop if you can't tolerate. The pain will go within few seconds now start again. Go on like this.
Don't touch any sheet music until you can do this easily for 15 minutes."
(I have no idea what he means by his reference to "the spider E".

Cherubini/

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Sobers
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Re: I Hate Barre Chords!

Postby Sobers » Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:55 pm

Cherubini wrote:THIS one: (clip)
.............. "Now, may i add a simple process I teach my students to master barre chords?


Hee! Hee! that's me.

Thanks for appreciating it.

By Spider E ........ I meant the full E chord with a barre on the 4th fret.
(4th fret barre 6th st to 1st st, 2nd finger E on 2nd st 5th ft, 3rd finger 4th st 6th ft & 4th finger 5th st 7th fret)

If you try the next Spider exercise (later bar spider) I suggested you will know what I mean.

Cheers

Sobers


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