The Importance of Tremolo?

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:57 am

Even Segovia was apparently not a fan of tremolo. I heard him say in 1981 to a student about to play Una Limosna (Barrios): "Very nice. This is the only tremolo piece besides Requerdos that you should play on the guitar." Ironic given the conventional wisdom claiming his lack of respect for Barrios' work.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:06 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
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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Is that one piece? Or a book of pieces?
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by celestemcc » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:39 pm

Is that one piece? Or a book of pieces?
It's a book of mandolin-guitar duets, all arrangements of standard Classical music repertory. Recuerdos is, I recall, the only classical guitar piece, and it works very well. I've played through most of them, that one's my favorite.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:53 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:39 pm
Is that one piece? Or a book of pieces?
It's a book of mandolin-guitar duets, all arrangements of standard Classical music repertory. Recuerdos is, I recall, the only classical guitar piece, and it works very well. I've played through most of them, that one's my favorite.
I think you'll find there's some confusion here, if the enquiry was re "P. 7" that's one of the Dowland fantasias, which has a repeated note, for all intents and purposes, tremolo section near the end. 'P' stands for Poulton (Diana).
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by CactusWren » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:39 pm

IMO tremolo is more a symptom of decent technique than a prerequisite. It's a slightly specialized technique based on the most basic RH pattern. I would like to see some examples of competent players who can't do it after investing even a small amount of time working on it. It is not speed; it is a trick. If someone has tried and can't, that probably highlights a flaw in their general technique.

Fast apoyando scales, and fast scales in general are far more challenging because of much higher coordination requirements.

Tremolo: 4 notes--1 LH configuration
Scale: 4 notes--4 LH configurations

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:52 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:53 pm
celestemcc wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:39 pm
Is that one piece? Or a book of pieces?
It's a book of mandolin-guitar duets, all arrangements of standard Classical music repertory. Recuerdos is, I recall, the only classical guitar piece, and it works very well. I've played through most of them, that one's my favorite.
I think you'll find there's some confusion here, if the enquiry was re "P. 7" that's one of the Dowland fantasias, which has a repeated note, for all intents and purposes, tremolo section near the end. 'P' stands for Poulton (Diana).
I'm no musicologist, but I wonder if this one section of one piece with a repeated note at the end is enough evidence to claim that Dowland used tremolo. (Sorry, apparently I'm in a nit picky mood.)
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:34 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:52 pm
I'm no musicologist, but I wonder if this one section of one piece with a repeated note at the end is enough evidence to claim that Dowland used tremolo. (Sorry, apparently I'm in a nit picky mood.)
Well no its a perfectly sensible enquiry, but far as I know there is no straight answer to how it would have been played; I think the consensus would be that the 'a' finger would not be employed by a renaissance lutenist, so the best guess would be pimi. There's no doubt the notes are there to be played, and at what time value.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:29 pm

Good point Stephen; I stand corrected. If it waddles like (my) tremolo and quacks like (my) tremolo...it's tremolo.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:59 pm

Guitar Maniac wrote:
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...
Yes, of course, GM, but allow me to stand firmly in the camp that will occasionally use tremolo in an improvisational piece but never as a "showcase" piece in performance as in the referenced music above. You are, perhaps, too young to remember the Ed Sullivan show but whenever he had a performing musician, the pieces played were always acrobatic and gymnastic. I remember when Jose Feliciano was first introduced to television audiences, he played "Flight of the Bumblebee" . . . not that's there's anything wrong with FOTB but it's not my evening martini! Playing again . . . Rognvald
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:53 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:Good point Stephen; I stand corrected. If it waddles like (my) tremolo and quacks like (my) tremolo...it's tremolo.
I think that one may draw a distinction between repeated notes utilised to create the illusion of continuous melody and those of a single pitch used as an accompaniment figure as in Carcassi Op.60, no.7 and Dowland P.73 (from the Matthew Holmes lute books).

You may be interested to know that there is an example, of the technique not the musical intention, in the Board lute book which explicitly gives the fingering for us i.e. pimi

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by StGeorge » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:48 am

As someone who plays a fair amount of flamenco, I love tremolo, and use it regularly. 8)
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Smudger5150 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:12 am

From my limited knowledge of tremolo compared to many of you people, I thought that the technique was devised (?) to mimic a sustained note longer than the CGs natural ability.
So the focus on it's usage in many of these discussions, from my perspective. appears to be about 'the illusion of continuous melody' as opposed to judicious use to create an occasionally sustained note such as one might hear in the, say, a solo by Carlos Santana.
So I'm wondering if there is scope for more usage in this way? I'm not familiar with any pieces that do this but then, comparing classical guitar music with a blues/rock/latin solo is a bit chalk n cheese but then again, I don't see why a piece couldn't be written in this way, especially if it was to be a modern-influenced piece for (nylon-string) guitar.

So apologies if I've misunderstood the distinction between a continuous melody and the odd sustained note but to me, there is potentially the scope for using tremolo judiciously like this, or rather, writing pieces that would need this.
I'm trying to make a distinction in my mind because the famous tremolo pieces all seem to follow the continuous-melody style to the extent that it seems to have become a fashion to only use tremolo like this or not in other ways.
Or am I moving into more of a general 'right-hand technique' usage as opposed to the 'inferred' idea of tremolo among CG people (i.e. continuous melody)?

Of course, 'preference' for tremolo to be composed/used in a certain way is a different thing altogether i.e. preference for a style of music, and we know how subjective that is....
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Smudger5150 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:16 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:53 am

I think that one may draw a distinction between repeated notes utilised to create the illusion of continuous melody and those of a single pitch used as an accompaniment figure as in Carcassi Op.60, no.7 and Dowland P.73 (from the Matthew Holmes lute books).
...
Smudger5150 wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:12 am
From my limited knowledge of tremolo compared to many of you people, I thought that the technique was devised (?) to mimic a sustained note longer than the CGs natural ability.
....
Maybe this is what Mark was alluding to?
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:43 pm

"From my limited knowledge of tremolo compared to many of you people, I thought that the technique was devised (?) to mimic a sustained note longer than the CGs natural ability.
So the focus on it's usage in many of these discussions, from my perspective. appears to be about 'the illusion of continuous melody' as opposed to judicious use to create an occasionally sustained note . . . " Smudger


Yes, exactly, Smudger, and it is in this context, in my opinion, that I classify it as a "guitar trick" rather than a natural expression of the guitar. As a former working sax/flute player, sustain, and vibrato were natural expressions of these instruments and these musical expressions defined the instruments. Contrawise, tremolo is not a natural expression of the CG and certainly does not define the instrument. So, the bottom line is that if tremolo is important to you as a CG player, then, by all means, use it. However, one could spend a lifetime pursuing CG repertoire without ever feeling the need to play a tremolo piece and have an extremely rewarding musical life and be regarded ,by all, as a consummate artist. The use of tremolo DOES NOT DEFINE AN ARTIST. Playing again . . . Rognvald P.S. It is my personal belief that many defenders of tremolo do so because of the inordinate amount of time they have devoted to developing this technique with, in my opinion, negligible musical results. However, some like Vodka while others prefer Scotch. It's your choice.
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

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

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:43 pm
P.S. It is my personal belief that many defenders of tremolo do so because of the inordinate amount of time they have devoted to developing this technique with, in my opinion, negligible musical results. However, some like Vodka while others prefer Scotch. It's your choice.
It is exactly the opposite. Some guitarists hate the tremolo because they have invested an inordinate amount of time in it without result.

"...There's no doubt about it, the tremolo is one of the most beautiful effects on the guitar. But that's not the only reason we practice it.
We practice it because it is an absolutely honest diagnostic tool. It'll tell you precisely where you are in your level of mastery..." (" The art of virtuosity for guitar", Philip Hii).

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