Building speed discovery

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Robbie Flamerock
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by Robbie Flamerock » Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:17 pm

ipso facto wrote:
Tom Poore wrote:I’ve found speed bursts to be useless for developing sustained right hand speed. A short burst isn’t the same as doing a longer succession of fast notes.
Any advice on how should I go about developing sustained RH speed then, if not using bursts?

Different people seem to mean different things by "burst" / "longer succession of fast notes" etc. Where is the boundary? To put that in practical terms, I have a long term goal of playing Sueno en la Floresta.There is a fast passage in bar 87, the fastest part of which consists of 24 notes. Is that something I can approach using bursts? If I am currently able to play that bar at half tempo, how should I work on increasing the speed? I can do the LH on electric using a pick, so it is really the RH I need to work on.

How have you worked on speed in the past?

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guitarrista
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by guitarrista » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:13 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:The real reason why one can play picado runs faster when the strings are more taut - as is the case when they are closer to the bridge - is that on tauter strings there is less "give' as you press the string, so your finger comes off the string faster.

Ramon
This sounds right - I thought that too after my initial reaction. So it should be a more obvious effect for lower tension strings, and less so for on a guitar stringed with high tension strings. I would be curious to know what strings uptempo had on when he observed this.

One other thing mentioned in this thread - about the tapping - I wonder if this is less useful as a concept than one might initially assume. The motion seem to be different. I am thinking about rest strokes - tapping is as if you don't have the actual strike at all as that string is not there - it is just the stopping at the next string (the 'rest' part of the rest stroke). I was initially excited about it but now think it is not really helpful - either conceptually or as an actual physical tool.
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ipso facto
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by ipso facto » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:48 pm

Robbie Flamerock wrote:How have you worked on speed in the past?
By the ratcheting-up method, using either actual pieces or simplified patterns that involve some specific difficulty (like string crossing or exchanging a slower pair of LH fingers).

I have now come up with a new drill:

- Pick a RH combination and get it going on one string, as fast as you can without it becoming uneven,
- Pick a one-string LH pattern, such as up and down the four frets of a given position, or a scale up the neck,
- Put the two together but mute every other RH stroke, or every third one or whatever, trying to give each fretted note its full value. You obviously hear it if you hold it too long... maybe it should be hammered on to make it easier to hear if you are early.

This is obviously a synchronisation drill - it seems to me that is the biggest part of the problem.

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guitarrista
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by guitarrista » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:05 pm

Tom Poore wrote:I’ve found speed bursts to be useless for developing sustained right hand speed. A short burst isn’t the same as doing a longer succession of fast notes. That’s not to say that speed bursts are completely useless. There are situations in which speed bursts work just fine. But for learning to play long past passages, speed bursts are a dead end.
Could we explore this a little bit? I think 'old school' speed bursts meant the single string single note exercises like in Pumping Nylon - basically vary the tempo only. Later on I realized that the dotted-note exercise of doing scales has much more potential - it is basically a 2-note speed burst, except that you also go up and down a scale, so change strings etc. Then I got Gohar Vardanyan's booklet on warming up and there she introduces the extension of the dotted-note exercise - i.e. 3-4-5-6-7-note speed burst scale analogous to the 2-note speed burst, i.e. dotted, scale.

So now 'speed bursts' for me means the 2-3-4-5-6-7-burst "dotted-note" exercise. It feels like practicing it has the potential to evolve into a longer sustained speed - since this is exactly what it is doing by making the burst run of notes before the 'dotted note' longer and longer... I like it that with it you are practicing all the elements of a scale run - the LH fingerings, the string changes, synchronicity - in addition to the RH i-m alternation and RH speed itself. But doing this improves pure RH i-m finger alternation speed as well.
Last edited by guitarrista on Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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chelson
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by chelson » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:29 pm

Appreciate the sharing.
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markodarko
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by markodarko » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:30 pm

[advice removed]
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Tom Poore
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by Tom Poore » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:59 am

ipso facto wrote:Any advice on how should I go about developing sustained RH speed then, if not using bursts?
In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a video showing my top speed with extended right hand alternation. As you’ll hear, it’s not exactly warp speed:


Youtube

My experience with speed bursts isn’t encouraging. I find that speed bursts rely on excessive right hand tension for speed. In a burst of only a few notes, this tension doesn’t have enough time to upset the apple cart. For example, here I use a burst in a Renaissance jig—scroll ahead to the 0:55 mark:


Youtube

So speed bursts are fine for something like this. But in extended fast passages, speed bursts don’t work. The right hand tension necessary for a burst grinds me to a halt in a longer passage. I’ve found that I can’t treat an extended fast passage as simply a string of bursts—that’s not how good right hand alternation should feel.

I am, of course, speaking of my own experience. But I believe one can hear the difference between a guitarist who relies on excessive tension for speed and one who does it in a less tense way. In the video below, scroll ahead to the 6:02 mark, where the two players trade fast scales:


Youtube

Speed can be done either way. Given a choice, I have my own preference. Your mileage may vary.

Tom Poore
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ipso facto
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by ipso facto » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:45 am

Tom Poore wrote:The right hand tension necessary for a burst grinds me to a halt in a longer passage. I’ve found that I can’t treat an extended fast passage as simply a string of bursts—that’s not how good right hand alternation should feel.

I am, of course, speaking of my own experience. But I believe one can hear the difference between a guitarist who relies on excessive tension for speed and one who does it in a less tense way. In the video below, scroll ahead to the 6:02 mark, where the two players trade fast scales.
Thanks for your explanations Tom... and yes I'll take the fluid version please!
markodarko wrote:Does this work? Well for the sync exercise I can do 4 groups of 8th notes followed by 5 notes of 16th notes (where the 5th note is the 1st note on the next string, so string crossing too) at 170 bpm in either rest stroke or free stroke with IM / MI fingering. Is that fast enough for your needs? :D
Yup :D

At that speed do you just stick with 2-finger alternation even when crossing strings the 'wrong' way?

PS this is just the sort of thing that could go in a book of technical drills...

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markodarko
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by markodarko » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:03 am

[advice removed]
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markodarko
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by markodarko » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:09 am

[advice removed]
Last edited by markodarko on Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tom Poore
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by Tom Poore » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:09 pm

markodarko wrote:
Tom Poore wrote:I find that speed bursts rely on excessive right hand tension for speed.
With all due respect, Tom. This is wholly incorrect. I think you must be doing it incorrectly as there should be zero tension. Please see me previous post with regards to the method I use. It sounds like you've started at a tempo which is too quick.
There’s never “zero tension” in guitar playing, or any other physical activity. (But I understand what you meant to say.) And yes, I’m obviously doing it wrong. Indeed, anyone who can’t do right hand alternation reliably at speed is doing it wrong.

The problem isn’t merely that I’m doing it wrong. The problem is that the solutions usually offered to me and others who can’t do right hand speed are useless. For example:
From your video it sounds like you are playing sustained 16ths at around 80bpm, is that correct? The other way to do it would be to increase the tempo in the piece by 1-2bpm every week or two, depending on how often you practice.
I can’t tell you how often over the decades I’ve tried this venerable advice. For me, it hasn’t worked. You might reply that I’m doing it wrong. Okay, I agree. So now what? You offer more advice. I try that, and it also doesn’t work. And so it goes.

I’m not blaming you, nor anyone else. The vicious cycle I’m describing is all too familiar to those of us who can’t do speed. And we are legion. Over the years I’ve heard many class recitals of high level guitar programs. The story is always the same: a few students can do fast right hand alternation with accuracy and reliability, and the rest more or less can’t. And this extends even to well known concert artists.

Why?

Much of what’s taught regarding right hand speed fails to address the particular problems faced by those of us who can’t play fast. It may be that those who can do right hand speed have a knack the rest of us lack. So it doesn’t take much in the way of advice for them to succeed. As long as they’re not given bad advice, they do fine. I’m reminded of a conversation between Jason Vieaux and one of his students. They were discussing the quality of teaching they had gotten when they were young. Vieaux said he considered himself well taught. His student replied, “Jason, my grandmother could’ve taught you how to play the guitar.” Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic. But it raises a valid point. Did Vieaux succeed because he was exceptionally well taught, or did he succeed because he’s exceptionally talented?

I believe there has to be far more discussion between those who can’t and those who can. Too often the conversation goes only in one direction: those who can tell us what to do, and when we fail, the conversation either ends or moves on to other advice—that also fails. It’s not just the fault of those who can. Those who can’t often lack the means to describe the particular reasons for our failure. Absent that, those who can have no understanding of what those who can’t are encountering. It boils down to a failure of communication.

Fortunately, I’ll soon have a chance to work with someone who can. A former student of mine recently nailed down two teaching jobs where I live. Unlike me, he’s very accomplished at right hand alternation. Further, he’s smart, curious, and articulate. So perhaps we can start an ongoing conversation between one who can and one who can’t, with each dedicated to improving how right hand speed is taught.

We’ll see how it goes. My hope is that he doesn’t eventually toss up his highly accomplished hands and cry “Tom, you’re hopeless!”

Tom Poore
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markodarko
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by markodarko » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:27 pm

Tom Poore wrote:So now what? You offer more advice. I try that, and it also doesn’t work. And so it goes ... We’ll see how it goes. My hope is that he doesn’t eventually toss up his highly accomplished hands and cry “Tom, you’re hopeless!”
Thanks for the reply, Tom. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that you had previously tried and failed many times in the past to build up your speed, and it's an interesting thought that some people can and others can't "do" speed. I'd not considered that possibility. Maybe there's truth in what you say, or perhaps you just haven't "clicked" with how to do it yet. I guess time will tell.

I wish you the best of luck with your former student. Perhaps he'll be able to help illuminate the problems through your discussions.

All the best,

Mark.
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

Robbie Flamerock
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by Robbie Flamerock » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:49 pm

markodarko wrote:
ipso facto wrote:This is obviously a synchronisation drill - it seems to me that is the biggest part of the problem.
Bingo.

Even if you get your RH up to doing 16th notes at 180 in bursts of 4 and your LH to the same via hammer-ons / pull-offs, you may very well find that if you do them together your sync speed could be as low as 100.

There are three exercises that need to happen. LH speed exercises, RH speed exercises and L&RH sync exercises.

Why? Because you need to know that when you're playing both L & R fingers together and failing, it's not because you can't play that speed with your fingers individually, but that it's a sync problem and that your sync tempo is too quick.

You MUST do these exercises with a metronome. End of story. So, factor in 3 different exercises into your routine:

1) RH only exercises.
2) LH only (hammer-ons & pull-offs)
3) L&R hand sync exercises.

Do them all as 4 groups of 8th notes followed by 4 notes of 16th notes.

You'll have varying tempos between each exercise but ensure that:

1) your tempo is not too fast. You MUST be able to play completely in time else you may as well give up as you'll never sync your fingers together.

2) your sync tempo is LESS or EQUAL than either the RH or LH tempo, but can't be greater. This will be the slowest tempo of all three exercises until your sync is locked in.

3) increase all the tempos by 2-3 bpm every 3-4 days of playing.

4) your nails are the right shape. Forget playing quickly with nails that "catch" the strings.

5) stay COMPLETELY relaxed at all times. No tension anywhere in the arm. This is crucial.

Does this work? Well for the sync exercise I can do 4 groups of 8th notes followed by 5 notes of 16th notes (where the 5th note is the 1st note on the next string, so string crossing too) at 170 bpm in either rest stroke or free stroke with IM / MI fingering. Is that fast enough for your needs? :D

But that's not a very long chain of 16ths!

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markodarko
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by markodarko » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:09 pm

[advice removed]
Last edited by markodarko on Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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guitarrista
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Re: Building speed discovery

Post by guitarrista » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:49 pm

markodarko wrote:
Robbie Flamerock wrote:But that's not a very long chain of 16ths!
The idea is to to increase your short speed and synchronisation with this exercise. I use a different exercise to build up overall endurance.
What exercise is it and what speed do you achieve with it for sustained execution, if you don't mind me asking? I kind of missed the first time that the 170x4 speed was for a short burst.
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