Need help on speed bursts

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
guit-box
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Need help on speed bursts

Post by guit-box » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:58 pm

CactusWren wrote:
Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:59 am
I agree that it's not relaxation, per se, but coordinated movement. Coordinated movement as I understand it means using the right muscles at the right time and by extension, _not_ using the wrong muscles or the right muscles at the wrong time, etc. Basically you need to be doing the right thing (the movement) and not do the wrong thing (tensing other muscles in a counterproductive way).

You see lots of flamenco players executing these scales faster than virtually all the CG repertoire at FF, so we know that speed and volume are not inversely related, as is sometimes said.

Did you learn free strokes first, and did you start your musical journey in classical guitar? The reason I ask is I have long felt that CG and its demand for purity of tone (and for perfection) seems to stunt the free, strong movements that virtuosity requires. Also, it seems to me that people who start out with free strokes seem to have a knack for overcomplicating rest strokes and building in counterproductive tension in them.
It's true, many of the flamenco guitarists can play ridiculously fast rest strokes and free strokes and many of them have pinky fingers sticking way out. It looks very tense but they get the job done. I personally don't like the feeling of holding that kind of tension in my hand and I work really hard to get my pinky to follow the ring finger. Still, we can't ignore the fact that these players are playing fast scales with at least some un-needed tension.

I don't remember if I learned rest strokes first or free strokes. I started in the Frederick Noad Solo Guitar Playing book. I likely started with single line rest stroke alternation but also did free strokes early on too. I was taught to think of the strokes primarily as a flexing movement from the large knuckle joint. Shortly after my first lessons, William Kanengeiser came out with his Effortless Classical GUitar and that totally cemented in my mind and hand that playing exclusively from the MCP (large knuckle joint) was the absolute correct movement. I tend to agree with you that too much rest stroke early on is bad for a person's technique. It's just too easy to use too much MCP flexion and not enough movement from other joints when doing so and that builds tension and heaviness into the hands.

It's interesting to me that over in the flamenco forum that you and I also participate in how locked into this large knuckle joint centric playing the players are. I showed that one great flamenco player a video of his own hand playing fast rest strokes where he moves the middle joint of his index finger way more than the main knuckle joint and still he insists he's only playing rest strokes with the main knuckle.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

CactusWren
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Need help on speed bursts

Post by CactusWren » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:06 pm

guit-box wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:58 pm
CactusWren wrote:
Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:59 am
I agree that it's not relaxation, per se, but coordinated movement. Coordinated movement as I understand it means using the right muscles at the right time and by extension, _not_ using the wrong muscles or the right muscles at the wrong time, etc. Basically you need to be doing the right thing (the movement) and not do the wrong thing (tensing other muscles in a counterproductive way).

You see lots of flamenco players executing these scales faster than virtually all the CG repertoire at FF, so we know that speed and volume are not inversely related, as is sometimes said.

Did you learn free strokes first, and did you start your musical journey in classical guitar? The reason I ask is I have long felt that CG and its demand for purity of tone (and for perfection) seems to stunt the free, strong movements that virtuosity requires. Also, it seems to me that people who start out with free strokes seem to have a knack for overcomplicating rest strokes and building in counterproductive tension in them.
It's true, many of the flamenco guitarists can play ridiculously fast rest strokes and free strokes and many of them have pinky fingers sticking way out. It looks very tense but they get the job done. I personally don't like the feeling of holding that kind of tension in my hand and I work really hard to get my pinky to follow the ring finger. Still, we can't ignore the fact that these players are playing fast scales with at least some un-needed tension.

I don't remember if I learned rest strokes first or free strokes. I started in the Frederick Noad Solo Guitar Playing book. I likely started with single line rest stroke alternation but also did free strokes early on too. I was taught to think of the strokes primarily as a flexing movement from the large knuckle joint. Shortly after my first lessons, William Kanengeiser came out with his Effortless Classical GUitar and that totally cemented in my mind and hand that playing exclusively from the MCP (large knuckle joint) was the absolute correct movement. I tend to agree with you that too much rest stroke early on is bad for a person's technique. It's just too easy to use too much MCP flexion and not enough movement from other joints when doing so and that builds tension and heaviness into the hands.

It's interesting to me that over in the flamenco forum that you and I also participate in how locked into this large knuckle joint centric playing the players are. I showed that one great flamenco player a video of his own hand playing fast rest strokes where he moves the middle joint of his index finger way more than the main knuckle joint and still he insists he's only playing rest strokes with the main knuckle.
Well, I probably had been playing free strokes only for about 10 years before I ever played a rest stroke, and I still don't find apoyando very instinctual. For some people, it appears very natural and relaxing and simple.

I have gone back and forth about how to think about the anatomy and what joint does what. When it comes to rest strokes, I think a lot of it might be semantics. Almost everyone agrees that both joints participate in the stroke. There is disagreement as to the relative weight and importance of what each does. My current thinking is that R. is probably right in that rest strokes are knuckle-joint centric. But if the other joints aren't doing their job, then it doesn't work. I feel the task of the student is to use whatever works--whether that be a certain method, progression, image, feeling, video, perhaps--that gets the desired results. And if it's not working, they should probably try something else.

guit-box
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Need help on speed bursts

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:08 am

Flamenco guitarists certainly are using more force for rest stokes than some classical guitarists, so in that sense I think they are likely using more flexion effort from MCP. That said, every flamenco guitarist's rest stroke scales I've studied show them moving the middle joint the most for index finger. It makes sense because that finger is shorter and needs to reach more. From what I can tell, in general, the MCP is providing some momentum and speed, it's what gets you to and from the string quickly, but it's the other joints that actually let the string be released so a note is produced. No middle joint flexion equals no sound, but because the initial impulse and speed comes from the MCP bringing the finger to the string (still highly important) guitarists seem to not notice the fact that it's the other joints that let the string go.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

CactusWren
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Need help on speed bursts

Post by CactusWren » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:32 pm

guit-box wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:08 am
Flamenco guitarists certainly are using more force for rest stokes than some classical guitarists, so in that sense I think they are likely using more flexion effort from MCP. That said, every flamenco guitarist's rest stroke scales I've studied show them moving the middle joint the most for index finger. It makes sense because that finger is shorter and needs to reach more. From what I can tell, in general, the MCP is providing some momentum and speed, it's what gets you to and from the string quickly, but it's the other joints that actually let the string be released so a note is produced. No middle joint flexion equals no sound, but because the initial impulse and speed comes from the MCP bringing the finger to the string (still highly important) guitarists seem to not notice the fact that it's the other joints that let the string go.
I agree, and I think I developed a problem of not realizing that the pushing down MCP motion and the release provided by the middle (and I think tip) joint were almost, in a way, discrete phases. So my stroke became very musclebound while not actually even being very loud. I suspect struggling with my nails also contributed to some of these issues.

Now I dig in or not to modulate the volume, and use the finer middle joint to get through the string. It seems to me that if you aren't playing concerts and needing to project, you could get away without ever digging in at all. After all, the length of the nail can depress the string a significant amount. But I think it's good to practice pushing in the string, too. It seems to help unify the playing mechanism.

guit-box
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Need help on speed bursts

Post by guit-box » Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:50 pm

CactusWren wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:32 pm

I agree, and I think I developed a problem of not realizing that the pushing down MCP motion and the release provided by the middle (and I think tip) joint were almost, in a way, discrete phases. So my stroke became very musclebound while not actually even being very loud. I suspect struggling with my nails also contributed to some of these issues.

Now I dig in or not to modulate the volume, and use the finer middle joint to get through the string. It seems to me that if you aren't playing concerts and needing to project, you could get away without ever digging in at all. After all, the length of the nail can depress the string a significant amount. But I think it's good to practice pushing in the string, too. It seems to help unify the playing mechanism.
I think there is something important about the effort from MCP, but I'm on the fence about whether or not it's more pressure that MCP is really providing. It seems to me that beyond the necessary MCP holding pressure, I'm not sure it really adds as much as people claim. THere's no question that MCP can position the finger tip on the string very fast, so that fast preparation ability is extremely important. I tend to side more with your argument about nails displacing (or simply gripping) the string more before release and that has some impact on tone and volume. Although, flamenco guitarists seem to have very short nails and so it's sometimes the flesh that's pushing as much or more than the nail, but for classical players with longer nails, the nail is definitely contributing to downward displacement of the string. Also, many modern classical guitarist are using less rest strokes for fast scales than previous generations. Check out the recent post of etude 7 being played with very fast free stroke scales here. viewtopic.php?f=6&t=80875&start=1365 I actually prefer this free stroke fast scale sound to the heavy sound of rest strokes.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”