The Importance of Tremolo?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:49 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:29 pm
In the class the David Starobin and Jack ran that both myself and Stephen attended in 1996, he did spend most of the time indulging in ridiculously long-winded anecdotes. He repeated the same long tale about Aliro Diaz on two consecutive days, and we all, including David Starobin, had to pretend to laugh at the punch-line the second time around. ...
At least David had the decency to try to get things moving as much as he could and get people playing. The only comment I recall JD making, after somebody played a Bach fugue, was that it was 'a bit relentless'. He didn't have much else of help to say to anyone as I can recall, DS did all the real work.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:30 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:There is nobody else in the guitar world who elicits such strong reactions, either for complete respect, or the opinion that he was a self taught opinionated old fool.
I can think of one (although I might exchange "fool" for something less complimentary).

Never exchanged a harsh word with JD myself, but then I do share his opinion of (classical) tremolo. I find the various permutations to be useful as exercises and always have three of the better known works in memory, just in case, but I've never heard a rendition (including my own) that made me think "that sounds lovely" ... and I just hate the way that it gets used inappropriately as in Carcassi Op.60, no.7 (and even sometimes no.2) - yuk.

Adrian & Stephen - how on earth do you remember exactly when you attended something like that? I was at Cannington (having picked up ads from Guitar International I think - could have been the other magazine), only went to the concerts at Bath but there's no way I can put a year to any of the memories. I didn't know about the falling out or Oatridge - maybe I was out of the country - what's the story there?
Last edited by Mark Clifton-Gaultier on Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Adrian Allan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:45 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:30 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:There is nobody else in the guitar world who elicits such strong reactions, either for complete respect, or the opinion that he was a self taught opinionated old fool.
I can think of one (although I might exchange "fool" for something less complimentary).
The festival was originally called Cannington, but then it became Bath Guitar Festival. It was run by Tom Kerstens when it became Bath Guitar Festival and it even ran a competition which was sponsored by Rose Augustine, which lasted for three years and launched the career of Ana Vidovic. I suspect that the falling out with John Duarte was not just a clash of personality, but I have heard of rumours about unpaid fees and other stuff that might be potentially libellous. I know that when I rang St Andrews University about Bath Guitar Festival, they also had issues about fees when they hosted a mini festival up there. I think there are huge opportunities for embezzlement in such situations. So John Duarte set up a rival festival in Scotland that ran for a few years, but I don't know how successful it was. I think that the golden age of guitar festivals in the UK has perhaps passed, and I think that Bath Guitar Festival merged into electric/acoustic styles, which was against the original aim of Cannington of course, which was only classical. Perhaps Stephen knows why the guitar competition ended, as I know it was supported by Rose Augustine and Guitar Review.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:03 pm

oops

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:12 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:21 am
Briant wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:15 am
Another question that i have been pondering is whether the study of tremolo helps with other aspects of play.
A tremolo can be called an arpeggio on one string. The RH position is important as is the nail shape if you play with nails. A good sense of legato is also required.
It would be interesting to hear views on this from experienced teachers.
In my experience, most, probably all serious, high-end players/teachers would say even if one never intended to actually play a tremolo piece, a good tremolo technique is worth having because of the control in engenders. And few such would ever consider a player 'complete' unless they are able to choose to play Recuerdos or any of the various others.
Of course, among the guitar community tremolo pieces can be a divisive thing, but they are extremely popular with the general musical public.
Hi, Steve,
I would agree with your first statement concerning the positive control factor of tremolo practice but I do not believe that the ability to play "Recuerdos" or a "perfect" tremolo in any way determines that a guitarist has arrived musically. Historically(yes, even today), the brain dead public likes to be entertained with gymnastic musical performances: the 6-year-old pianist that plays Beethoven, the opera singer who hits high notes, the trumpet player that plays Flight of the Bumblebee and yes, the guitarist who plays "Recuerdos." Give them bread and circuses and they're happy! I confess that when I first learned "Recuerdos," I never hated a piece with such intensity. Firstly, because it was given to me by a teacher that grossly overestimated my skill level at the time and secondly because although I like my pancakes with Maple syrup, I don't like my music that way. So, I belong to the School of Guitar Music that believes the listening world can survive very well without tremolo and it in no way reflects your level of musicianship . . . however, perhaps YOU like your guitar like your pancakes . . .now that is a completely different matter. Playing again . . . Rognvald
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Tomzooki » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:26 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:21 am
In my experience, most, probably all serious, high-end players/teachers would say even if one never intended to actually play a tremolo piece, a good tremolo technique is worth having because of the control in engenders.
I agree, but I would say the reverse relation: one with a good right hand technique has automatically a good tremolo. And in that sense I think it is worthless to work on tremolo technique, particularily if one's right hand technique needs improvement.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:23 pm

Tomzooki wrote:... I would say the reverse relation: one with a good right hand technique has automatically a good tremolo.
That's a good point and, in my experience, mostly true.

I put great store by amim / imam and pi / pmi etc. scales using a relaxed but rhythmically precise tirando - those students who are diligent in practising these rarely, if ever, run into a "tremolo wall."

Ironically, what can cause problems are some of the arcane "solutions" found on the internet.

Rognvald - I bet that you would really enjoy hearing Nana Mouskouri singing Recuerdos. Running again ... Mark

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Pede » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:34 pm

I think the tremolo technic is not so important. You can professionaly live very well without. My former teacher on the conservatory was a top level player but could not play the tremolo at all.
On the other hand, there are some fine compositions which use this technic, I don't think of Requerdos here or Barrios things, but Ponce for example.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:15 pm

"Rognvald - I bet that you would really enjoy hearing Nana Mouskouri singing Recuerdos. " Mark


Hi, Mark,
I listened to Nana's rendition of "Recuerdos" on Youtube that she performed in a fog/mist, with female dancers dressed in traditional Spanish dresses while the Herd was holding sparklers in their hands while she sang. Frankly, I was waiting for Yanni to appear but he must have been in some outdoor cafe sipping Ouzo and eating flaming Saganaki. However, I am very biased against this song and it is difficult to get past those feelings. However, if I were to envision an instrument that would give it the most justice it would probably be the clarinet. In my opinion, it is the closest instrument to a human voice and a selective vibrato would complement the composers musical intent/vision. Thanks for the link. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:35 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:21 am
... a good tremolo technique is worth having because of the control in engenders. ...
Rognvald wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:12 pm
I would agree with your first statement concerning the positive control factor of tremolo practice but I do not believe that the ability to play "Recuerdos" or a "perfect" tremolo in any way determines that a guitarist has arrived musically....
Exactly right, which is why I was only talking about technique, control, not musical ideas.

Personally, despite being in many circumstances highly averse to sentimentality and Romantic interpretation, I regard Recuerdos and indeed other pieces very fondly and have played the former to audiences that have had quite a strong reaction (despite my quite poor tremolo technique), and ended up writing three, increasingly accessible tremolo pieces, one of which you may like to sample here (and no, the tremolo is not that good).

Youtube
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:49 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:30 pm
Adrian & Stephen - how on earth do you remember exactly when you attended something like that? I was at Cannington (having picked up ads from Guitar International I think - could have been the other magazine), only went to the concerts at Bath but there's no way I can put a year to any of the memories. I didn't know about the falling out or Oatridge - maybe I was out of the country - what's the story there?
Funnily enough I thought it was 1995! Suppose I could dig the diary out. But one reason would be it was the only year I went there - before that I went to GBISS - Garcia-Biberian International Summer School from 1990 - ...

It was the year Judicael Perroy was there, and played La Catedral at the end of a 2 hour student concert ... and got an encore ... the video is on my channel. Other highlight was Franz Halasz; and Starobin spending half the concert wiping himself with a towel - it was hot!

Certainly there was bad stuff, and ancient history thought it is we'd better not drag too much up - but I heard of people not being paid for concerts and tuition they had been contracted for. According to Hamlet, one may smile and smile ...
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:57 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:35 pm
Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:21 am
... a good tremolo technique is worth having because of the control in engenders. ...
Rognvald wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:12 pm
I would agree with your first statement concerning the positive control factor of tremolo practice but I do not believe that the ability to play "Recuerdos" or a "perfect" tremolo in any way determines that a guitarist has arrived musically....
Exactly right, which is why I was only talking about technique, control, not musical ideas.

Personally, despite being in many circumstances highly averse to sentimentality and Romantic interpretation, I regard Recuerdos and indeed other pieces very fondly and have played the former to audiences that have had quite a strong reaction (despite my quite poor tremolo technique), and ended up writing three, increasingly accessible tremolo pieces, one of which you may like to sample here (and no, the tremolo is not that good).

Youtube


Nice job, Stephen! Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by celestemcc » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:23 am

Is there a quote somewhere that that says something like using tremolo can turn a $20K classical guitar into a $200 mandolin?
There is a superb duet arrangement of Recuerdos in the book "Cantabile" by John Mock and Butch Baldessari. Faithful to the original, the mandolin has the melody only. I gave it to a mandolinist friend who adores classical guitar and was thrilled to play it -- and it was a big hit when we performed it together.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Guitar Maniac » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:25 am

@Rognvald: "Recuerdos" is not the only piece that uses mainly tremolo technique. There are still other pieces with beautiful melodies...

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Tom Poore » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:16 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote: Not a lot of tremolo in Bach.
Correct. But if you go back a bit further, you can find it in John Dowland. Tremolo is used in P. 73. There’s some doubt, however, that this is by Dowland. (I think it is—just a gut feeling.)

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