Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

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Soundminer
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Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:32 pm

Hi guitarlovers ,

Bit of a post here but I think it's worth reading...and since I'm new here I would like to start off with a bang :idea:

I've been reading the guit-box thread with all the slo-mo vids. I think it's very interesting and I admire someone sinking his teeth into something.

My main goal with this thread mainly concerns the way guitar is taught and understood.

I also think there is an underlying technique or principle at work regarding to plucking a string correctly. All good players get this right in one way or another.

Wether it's concious or not.

We are all subject to physics and HAVE to abey to it's laws to get that string to sing to us.

I feel it is time to get to the core of the main underlying principle, understand it, and TEACH it in a logical, understandable way.

I'm talking about the plucking motion from beginning to end here

I know library's have been written on the subject and it's a fairly complex one...but in this day and age, it doesn't have to be anymore. Resources are all around and everybody can put in their two cents :discussion: . Until you finally and hopefully arrive at that core skill and it's fabrics so to speak.

The best I've come across until now is..Play from the Big Knuckle..or as guit-box and others believe...from the Middle Knuckle. Then there's the rigid tip or flexible tip...and many many other focus points. Which all have their purpose and value, don"t get me wrong.

But...what leaves me, well annoyed to be frank, is the fact that the main skill and it's physics and logical order, steps lets say, are never adressed fully, logically and understandable. It's nothing to be vague or incomplete about in my book..after all, This is the stuff music is made of, the bricks that build the house. Shortly..the absolute starting point for a guitarplayer . Yet...this is so overlooked and surrounded by vagueness.

Some get the gest, and tell a little part of the story. This is no good for the student...and can cause heaps of trouble and frustration for them..often leading to giving up altogether. Let's tell the whole story and do it right is what I am proposing.

Now, I don't claim to have this knowledge for a fact..but I do have some simple and understandable ideas I would like to share with you. I am also hoping for feedback from you. In short...I wonder if we can give the pedagoge on the subject a new impuls or maybe even a new standard.

Remember, if you poses a skill, it seems easy enough for you. The real challenge lies in teaching it to others who don't. This takes brutal honesty and self reflection on the teachers part.

Ok, i would like to start with a free stroke and how I believe it really works, and what actually is going on.

4 relative easy to understand steps. ( I like to use these terms: BK= big knuckle, MK= middle knuckle, TJ= tipjoint or little knuckle)

1. The BK brings the finger to the string, it lands/contacts in it's middle range of motion or there about.

2. The BK energizes the string by rotating inwards, by this I mean displaces it. The MK holds it's position. The TJ does too...or it gives completely. This is a choice.

Now !! step 3 and 4 are poorly described and understood overall in my opinion and the reason I made this thread

3. :!: The MJ and TJ relax completely but are hold in place by the BK which does not relax. So, no actual movement comes from this relaxation. It's non detectable from the outside but muscles on the inside of the hand and arm are relaxing. It is crucial they are in order for them to aid in step 4

4. The BK gives the final push by rotating a little more inwards, a final twitch so to speak. While the BK does this, the MK actually 'gives' upwards. It can only do so because it is relaxed..The same goes for the TJ . It holds no tension while it is being moved by the BK...

Then...because it is relaxed and has no choice to do otherwise..and contact with the string has ended due to the movement of the BK...The TJ whips around and over the string, like an arrow leaving it's bow..creating a 'plopping' sound....followed by sound. And not just any sound...but musical sound. The result of the right amount of energy, relaxation and uncontrolled accelaration. All in their rightfull place and order.

Step 4 happens at lightning speed and, in my opinion, is impossible to see with the naked eye.Even if reviewed frame by frame. this is the magical bit. One has to feel it to understand...I mean physically feel the sensation (by feel it i'm not talking about emotion perse)

So..I believe the fingertip is catapulted away and because of this gains the speed needed to overcome the resistance of the string and create that wonderful sound. :casque:

I would love to hear your thoughts! :merci: ( English is not my native language so please forgive any spelling mistakes and such)

James A. Showalter
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by James A. Showalter » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:41 am

"what leaves me, well annoyed to be frank, is the fact that the main skill and it's physics and logical order, steps lets say, are never adressed fully, logically and understandable".

I like the concept of putting it all into organized logic for the novice like myself to envision,... Oh but if it were so.

guit-box
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by guit-box » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:23 am

Well, it's a worthy cause, but you will likely find issues unrelated to technique that make collaboration counterproductive, issues that get in the way of seeking the truth. Btw, I'm not necessarily an advocate of any technique, I have no personal preference, but I do favor a technique that's based on the common movements that are shared by all the great concert guitarists. Most techniques have large variabilities, but some techniques are common and all the pros move that same way, more or less. Both variabilities and commonalities among concert guitarists are useful for developing a method for right hand technique.

Issues with creating consensus about a right hand technique:
1. Money -- If there is bad information out there (there is) you will be hard pressed to find anyone correcting it. If a teacher is selling materials and has refined or changed their ideas about technique they could loose a lot of income by making the old materials obsolete
2. Credibility -- An established teacher may not want to admit their earlier views on technique were proved to be incorrect, it puts into question their credibility as an expert and ultimately points back to 1.
3. Resistance to change -- old ideas will persist and some teachers and players will always point to their golden age of guitar playing when people did it the right way.
4. Guitarists don't agree about technique, they never will. Everyone thinks the way they do it or their teacher does it is the best way. It's a highly contentious and biased topic.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

astro64
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by astro64 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:37 am

If the string catapults the fingertip away, then there is not going to be much sound....Just displace the string, relax the finger, and let the string push the finger tip away. Whatever joint does the work, the fingertip with nail has to pull through the string to make it sound. So it is the finger that catapults the string away, not the string that catapults the finger away.

dtoh
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by dtoh » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:21 am

astro64 wrote:If the string catapults the fingertip away, then there is not going to be much sound....Just displace the string, relax the finger, and let the string push the finger tip away. Whatever joint does the work, the fingertip with nail has to pull through the string to make it sound. So it is the finger that catapults the string away, not the string that catapults the finger away.


Seems to me that someone (maybe Newton) said that for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.... when I jump the earth moves. Same with the string and finger. They are both creating force and causing the other to move. So maybe what's happening (and I'm speculating) is that we adjust the tension in the MK and TJ to change the relative force of the finger, which in turns affects the movement (deflection) of the string.

guit-box
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by guit-box » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:37 pm

Yes, Newton's law of inertia. If you throw a ball at a wall, the wall exerts an opposing force on the ball. The technique for free strokes and rest strokes as far as the finger movement goes are the same. The main knuckle taps the string and at the exact instant the tap occurs the middle joint takes over. On a table top it would be a tap-scratch. The tap on its own creates no sound when done at the guitar, the scratch is the producer of the sound. Spending years practicing with the mental imagery that it's the main knuckle joint doing all the work and trying to follow through from the main knuckle joint can cause tension and potential injury. The later is commonly accepted pedagogy, but it's wrong and dangerous.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Soundminer
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:51 pm

guit-box wrote:Well, it's a worthy cause, but you will likely find issues unrelated to technique that make collaboration counterproductive, issues that get in the way of seeking the truth. Btw, I'm not necessarily an advocate of any technique, I have no personal preference, but I do favor a technique that's based on the common movements that are shared by all the great concert guitarists. Most techniques have large variabilities, but some techniques are common and all the pros move that same way, more or less. Both variabilities and commonalities among concert guitarists are useful for developing a method for right hand technique.

Issues with creating consensus about a right hand technique:
1. Money -- If there is bad information out there (there is) you will be hard pressed to find anyone correcting it. If a teacher is selling materials and has refined or changed their ideas about technique they could loose a lot of income by making the old materials obsolete
2. Credibility -- An established teacher may not want to admit their earlier views on technique were proved to be incorrect, it puts into question their credibility as an expert and ultimately points back to 1.
3. Resistance to change -- old ideas will persist and some teachers and players will always point to their golden age of guitar playing when people did it the right way.
4. Guitarists don't agree about technique, they never will. Everyone thinks the way they do it or their teacher does it is the best way. It's a highly contentious and biased topic.

This is all probably very true!...I'm looking for those brave souls though :)

guit-box
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by guit-box » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:02 pm

Yes, but world class concert guitarists don't lurk on forums, and those are the people who need to sit down and watch the slow motion videos, and give their thoughts. There are maybe a few semi-professionals here who play quite well, but I'm interested in the technique used by the world class players. What good is advice on right hand technique from someone who can't play the virtuoso classical guitar repertoire? It may get you to their level, but it could be advice that has built-in limitations.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Soundminer
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:42 am

Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:15 pm

astro64 wrote:If the string catapults the fingertip away, then there is not going to be much sound....Just displace the string, relax the finger, and let the string push the finger tip away. Whatever joint does the work, the fingertip with nail has to pull through the string to make it sound. So it is the finger that catapults the string away, not the string that catapults the finger away.
This is basically what i am saying in my first post, so I agree very much. But...catapults is the term to focus on here. A whipping motion that is the result of relaxation on the tipjoints part. The pulling happens further down the chain I believe. I think this is what it's all about...

What part displaces?
What part relaxes?
What part plucks?

I think there are several 'chains of joints' so to speak that can get this job done and therefore can be used...Including usage of wrist, elbow ect.
I'd like to focus on the chain I described first

What happens when/first?
How is the tension controlled?
How is it released?

There has to be a release at the final end...a certain amount of relaxation that is greater then the force driving it, or one would never get through the string.

When you get the 'popping' sound on release, you know you are doing it right. If not....well

step 2 needs some more thinking on my part. I think the BK needs to relax after contact. That means another part needs to do the displacement or energizing. This can be the MK...I need to think about it and examine.

The whipping 'sweep' by the fingertip that is induced by another joint and enabled by IT's relaxation in the proces is still my main point for now.

I think that part is greatly overlooked and poorly understood....and it's the most important part of the pluck!


Back soon with a slight revision of the four steps

Soundminer
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:29 pm

guit-box wrote:Yes, but world class concert guitarists don't lurk on forums, and those are the people who need to sit down and watch the slow motion videos, and give their thoughts. There are maybe a few semi-professionals here who play quite well, but I'm interested in the technique used by the world class players. What good is advice on right hand technique from someone who can't play the virtuoso classical guitar repertoire? It may get you to their level, but it could be advice that has built-in limitations.
You don't have to be a virtuoso to play good music..I'd like you to think about that :wink:

But you do have to use the physics, play with it as you will, the same way they do..not a 100% but surely within a certain margin. After all it's your voice you are looking for...not theirs!

Virtuoso's and their individual skills , while to be enjoyed and amazed by, are not at all what I am looking for in this thread.

I want to know how the brick is made...not how the marvelous castle is build. Do you know what I mean?

Mr Kite

Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Mr Kite » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:34 pm

I like Stanley Yates's approach - he says things like "it's probably impossible to determine an exact formula to describe how this works. Again we simply listen carefully to the rhythms we're playing and through repetition learn to associate the desired one with the accompanying sensation produced in the hand". That quote relates to control of the compound stroke in tremolo, but there are other similar comments in his recent book.

If past methods were based on explicitly teaching beginners that the KJ moves the fingertip through the string, I think that was wrong twice over - once in the approach of trying to teach the mechanics directly, and once in the misunderstanding of the mechanics. Correcting the understanding of the mechanics only fixes one of those mistakes, and when it is presented as a new way of learning (which it is in this thread, not so much in the main thread) it reinforces the other one.

I think many world-class players will have got where they are by listening carefully to the sound they are producing while listening at the same time to their bodies. Let the body and its tacit knowledge take care of the mechanics - it will do a better job than we can ever do by trying to take conscious control of the details, even if we have a very sophisticated understanding of how world-class players' fingers are moving.

This thread is a bit like trying to understand how the brick is made by looking at its molecular structure...

Soundminer
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:38 pm

MSGuitar wrote:"what leaves me, well annoyed to be frank, is the fact that the main skill and it's physics and logical order, steps lets say, are never adressed fully, logically and understandable".

I like the concept of putting it all into organized logic for the novice like myself to envision,... Oh but if it were so.
Soon my friend! I really don't think it's that out of reach, it just takes honest exploration, revision and no evolvement of the ego

You know, things humans are super good at :wink:

guit-box
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by guit-box » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:41 pm

Soundminer wrote:
guit-box wrote:Yes, but world class concert guitarists don't lurk on forums, and those are the people who need to sit down and watch the slow motion videos, and give their thoughts. There are maybe a few semi-professionals here who play quite well, but I'm interested in the technique used by the world class players. What good is advice on right hand technique from someone who can't play the virtuoso classical guitar repertoire? It may get you to their level, but it could be advice that has built-in limitations.
You don't have to be a virtuoso to play good music..I'd like you to think about that :wink:

But you do have to use the physics, play with it as you will, the same way they do..not a 100% but surely within a certain margin. After all it's your voice you are looking for...not theirs!

Virtuoso's and their individual skills , while to be enjoyed and amazed by, are not at all what I am looking for in this thread.

I want to know how the brick is made...not how the marvelous castle is build. Do you know what I mean?
Of course, but that technique might not get you to play Rodrigo or any of the virtuoso guitar repertoier. Playing nice music is a worthy cause and good enough for most of us, but then what happens when you want to take it further and your technique won't support it?
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Soundminer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:42 am

Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by Soundminer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:54 pm

Mr Kite wrote:I like Stanley Yates's approach - he says things like "it's probably impossible to determine an exact formula to describe how this works. Again we simply listen carefully to the rhythms we're playing and through repetition learn to associate the desired one with the accompanying sensation produced in the hand". That quote relates to control of the compound stroke in tremolo, but there are other similar comments in his recent book.

If past methods were based on explicitly teaching beginners that the KJ moves the fingertip through the string, I think that was wrong twice over - once in the approach of trying to teach the mechanics directly, and once in the misunderstanding of the mechanics. Correcting the understanding of the mechanics only fixes one of those mistakes, and when it is presented as a new way of learning (which it is in this thread, not so much in the main thread) it reinforces the other one.

I think many world-class players will have got where they are by listening carefully to the sound they are producing while listening at the same time to their bodies. Let the body and its tacit knowledge take care of the mechanics - it will do a better job than we can ever do by trying to take conscious control of the details, even if we have a very sophisticated understanding of how world-class players' fingers are moving.

This thread is a bit like trying to understand how the brick is made by looking at its molecular structure...



exactly!!

probably impossible...I really don't think so. I think it's a skill in the first place that can be taught effectively but only if you tell the whole story in a way that makes it possible to ENVISION the process for students. Never underestimate people's imagination and will to learn..more importantly, my goal in this thread is to find out how to not undermine or sabotage those things, even if it is with the best intentions.

I'd like this thread to be a work in progress..everything I say are just MY idea's and opinions. Let's see if it leads somewhere and try and convince each other.

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scottszone
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Re: Right hand technique~what REALLY is happening

Post by scottszone » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:53 pm

I think it's a bit like learning how to walk, at first it's awkward and you stumble. Through the process of learning etudes and paying attention to your hand and finger movements you eventually fall into a groove that works for you. Hand position and finger movements are slightly different for everyone, there's no one perfect way. Minimizing motion and consistency helps, and lots of focused practice. Over-intellectualizing it will only get you so far, technique is ultimately a learned instinct.
Last edited by scottszone on Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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