The Importance of Tremolo?

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MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:34 am

I would never deny that each instrument has its own characteristics, capabilities and limitations. Certainly, each instrument has its own range, timber, dynamics, etc. You are absolutely right about that.

But the context with which you to use the term “natural expression” seemed to be referring more to the way composers use these capabilities/limitations to create expressive ideas. This is where the problem is. Whether a particular type of writing or a particular technique is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is very much a social/cultural construct that has evolved over time. When you say, “how can composers write anything of value without knowing the natural expressions of the instruments?” Well, they do have to know the limitations and capabilities of each instrument, but beyond that, value is a very subjective term. For example, how do you think Mozart or Bach would have felt about extended techniques? Would they have called them natural? Yet, today, most Western educated (as opposed to the people you call the “brain dead public”) musicians/composers accept and value them as part and parcel of playing or writing for an instrument. Many prominent composers have incorporated extended techniques into their works. Who’s to say a flute can’t be effectively used as a percussion instrument? Musicians have always pushed the idea of what ‘natural expression’ means. This is why I say there is no objective way to look at natural expression. Your use of the term is rooted very much in common practice period ideas. Just because someone wrote something in an orchestration textbook doesn’t make it absolute truth.

“Wagnerian horn passages could not possibly be played by the strings since the effect would not be the same.” Sure, I agree—the effect wouldn’t be the same, but who’s to say which is better. I know which one I prefer, but then, I’m also very aware that I’m listening with very western enculturated ears. Maybe guitar tremolo doesn't sound natural to you because you are hearing it from the perspective of a trained flute/sax player. This actually makes a lot of sense. For those who have been immersed in classical guitar culture for most of their lives, tremolo is (though maybe some don’t like it) perfectly natural to the guitar. Guess maybe I just live in the fifth dimension....I like it here though.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:38 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:34 am
..... Just because someone wrote something in an orchestration textbook doesn’t make it absolute truth.
...
MG has it right all the way here. I was going to write something similarly elaborate, but its already been done better ... but here is the gist. Years ago when I was studying orchestration the standard thing was that an oboe is hard to play quietly in the top octave, it tending to come out shrill. Not that much later in the scheme of things I was sorting on the score layout for a composer who used the same software as me and didn't have the time, it was a big orchestral piece to be played by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the Netherlands ... and lots of the oboe writing seemed impossibly high and out of character. When I heard the recording, it all worked beautifully - because the oboist was easily good enough to overcome the instrument's natural tendencies. So writing like that for the CBSO was fine; trying it with your local amateur orchestra would be a bad idea.
Similar principles apply across the board, and are often used in contemporary scores.
The guitar too has natural tendencies but they are subject to the development of control and a change in the attitude of the players and composers working with it. Not that long ago it was commonplace to hear players say, 'oh you don't damp the basses, its against the nature of the guitar' - or things to that effect. But you simply work on it and develop the technique - as everybody here working through Mr Delcamp's material knows very well.
So I would think that tremolo has become a natural part of the sound and technique of the instrument simply because a great many players have worked on it and seen benefit in using it - simply that. Pretty much everything we do involves an element of make-believe, smoke-and-mirrors, and that includes the creation of the illusion of sustain and the exercise of controlled swell-subside that we can do with tremolo.
Oops, looks like I said it all anyway :desole:
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Smudger5150
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Smudger5150 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:41 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:12 pm
Rognvald wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:45 pm
... However, based on my experience, tremolo is considered by many to be a necessary tool for a "complete" classical guitarist. I don't agree.
Well it is of course all opinion, and we can all remember to respect others' opinions, and when ours are contradicted, not just keep re-stating our own.

I would point out though that since tremolo is a guitar technique, and it is used in several well known and important repertoire items (not just Recuerdos!) really by definition, a complete technique has to incorporate tremolo - or not be complete. I certainly do not regard my technique as complete, because my tremolo is well below par and while in the past I have performed Regondi Nocturne Reverie and of course Recuerdos, and all three of my efforts in the genre, I would not normally do so now, and feel that is a restriction and impairment of my capability ... an incompletion, so to speak.
Not disagreeing with you, I'm just curious about your definition and just have a question for clarification.

Are you saying that a complete technique would need to include tremolo because there are tremolo pieces in the accepted/standard repertoire? And therefore, if there were no pieces 'accepted' into the repertoire then it wouldn't need to be considered in this way?

I'm just wondering because I too want to be able to play tremolo but I always wanted to be able to do 'tapping' (hammer ons using the left and right hand as I'm sure you know) and to be able to do rasgueado strumming reasonably well too.

But 'tapping' is not something I know of in the repertoire so does that mean one can have a complete 'Classical guitar' technique and not be able to do it? Same could be said of the full gamut of flamenco techniques and maybe other techniques that have cropped up over the years like folk/new-age style percussive techniques a-la Micheal Hedges etc.
Dyens and Gary Ryan are a couple who come to mind who have introduced some of these things so one could argue that they are needed for the repertoire (unless their pieces aren't considered essential but merely curiosities...)


To be honest, I don't think it really matters even though I'm curious about your definition because I think it all comes down to what our goals are as musicians i.e. What do we want to be able to play? Do we want to 'pass' exams? Do we want to prove to ourselves that we can do x, y and z technique to feel a sense of accomplishment, regardless of what we want to play etc.
Plus I guess one could go on forever with all sorts of esoteric techniques but as some have said, one can be an accomplished (classical) guitarist and not be able to do tremolo (whether complete or not!)
Last edited by Smudger5150 on Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:47 pm

Smudger5150 wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:41 pm
...
Not disagreeing with you, I'm just curious about your definition and just have a question for clarification.
...
I would think it is probably simply because the tremolo technique has been around for well over a century, is regularly used in concerts and recordings, and all round has a place in the tradition of the instrument. More recently developed (or rather, borrowed from other styles?) things such as percussion or two-hand tapping have yet to become established in the same way, but certainly, if at some point enough pieces using such techniques were played and recorded by enough players, they would end up being by default accepted as normal techniques in the way tremolo is.
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Rognvald
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:18 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:05 am
"then we are truly living somewhere in the Fifth Dimension."

Where bellbottoms and Nehru jackets reign supreme. And so do the Supremes!

Great!
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Rognvald
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:33 am

"I think it all comes down to what our goals are as musicians i.e. What do we want to be able to play? Do we want to 'pass' exams? Do we want to prove to ourselves that we can do x, y and z technique to feel a sense of accomplishment, regardless of what we want to play etc." Smudger


I like your sentiment, Smudger, and I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Many times, classical musicians, in general, are so obsessed by pedagogy that they cannot see the forest through the trees(how do you like that?? Two bad cliches in two sentences!). However, your point is well taken and it has been my own since I started this mad musical journey over 50 years ago. I started as an "ear musician" on guitar until I discovered its limitations musically. I then switched to tenor sax/flute where I discovered if you wanted to get jobs in working bands, you had to read as well as improvise. When I switched to the CG in the early 90's, I did so since the sax was a linear instrument and without playing in ensembles, at a time in my life where that was impossible, it didn't make sense. When I began studying the CG seriously, I was fortunate to have two outstanding teachers/players of international repute that helped me with technique although my knowledge of music theory, performance, and general understanding of music was well advanced for a beginning CG. So, your statement is an important one to anyone who wants to pursue this infectious madness . . . and to be completely bound by the tight restrictions of contemporary pedagogy is, in my opinion, a mistake of the highest order. What are your goals? Most CG's, even those who have studied seriously for decades, will never be concert level musicians but is there a life outside the clouds? Absolutely, and it is this understanding that will allow you to be fulfilled musically and give meaning to the hard hours we spend in the chair. Tremolo . . . o.k. but why? . . . or, why not? 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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Non Tabius
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Non Tabius » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:56 am

For me its just one of those mountains I have to keep climbing.But I would never go as far as saying that "If he can't do tremolo" he isn't a full on cg player.The fact remains though as has already been stated here, that the general public still ask."Yes, but can you play "Alhambra" you know' the one where the fingers move so fast?"This could be the deciding factor between being booked or not from a clients perspective.

Then, of course, there is the element of personal achievement which is also part of the cg learning process, of not giving up that easily.Of course, this is relative to the goals one sets for oneself and the time available realistically to achieve them.Maybe we should learn something from cricket "bowlers" though they seem to be happy being "fast", "medium pace" and "left or right arm spin" whatever the case may be, and the public seems to be happy with that including the general cricket fraternity.For some odd reason "must tremolo" = the good cg player".Maybe a psychiatrist on the site can be of assistance regarding these rather odd ingrained beliefs which exist pertaining to the cg per se.The other guitar genres don't seem to be too perturbed pertaining to this so called vital element, neither the audiences they perform to it would seem.The influences of the Tarrega School of thought could be
relevant here, as far as an established public mind set is concerned. Sticking to the modern and rather reluctant to shift to the contemporary as is the case with the other Arts.This is of course not Tarrega's fault!

errrtoffie
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by errrtoffie » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:32 pm

I think it helps in terms of control and speed but it depends on how it practice if the student/teacher just focusing on pami pattern i think they're missing the big picture there, instead of practicing it pami try to add the pam pma pim pmi pia pai pattern of course there's another problem will come out sooner or later the unwanted accented finger than the other or less accented than the other the solution i've made to myself is to change the first note to the less accented note intstead of pami I change it to mipa pattern so that i can "feel" the stroke of the m finger compare to the other.


After I learn the tremolo many pieces that focuses on left hand is easier than before specially the pim ami arpeggio pattern.

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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Henny » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:40 am

i looked with astonishment to the conversation, not that i am saying tremolo is an easy thing to do but more the fact that
when you look at any beginners book of flamenco (f.e emilio medina ) from the first lessons on wards there are tremolo exercises as part of the daily practice routine. no special attention or explanation is given to the exercises. just practice , practice, practice, practice.
we as classical guitarists can learn a lot from the flamenco tradition.(and visa versa) ..keep on practicing daily with simple exercises like you do for your scales and slurs that is the lesson i can take from it.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:10 pm

tremolo is very important. I played and recorded it a lot, actually used it in 1000 or more of my pieces, but lately my right hand got some health problems and my tremolo becoming less satisfactory for me. Yes - tremolo is a great technique but as every technique it is easy to achieve for young and healthy hands, but with the age ... it is more difficult to achieve and maintain.
Therefore everything what is important - is important at a proper time and condition, but when this time is gone - it could be irrelevant :)
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Rognvald
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Re: The Importance of Tremolo?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:13 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:10 pm
tremolo is very important. I played and recorded it a lot, actually used it in 1000 or more of my pieces, but lately my right hand got some health problems and my tremolo becoming less satisfactory for me. Yes - tremolo is a great technique but as every technique it is easy to achieve for young and healthy hands, but with the age ... it is more difficult to achieve and maintain.
Therefore everything what is important - is important at a proper time and condition, but when this time is gone - it could be irrelevant :)

Well said, Andrei! A performer must carefully guard his hands and for many of us that are involved in other areas of life beyond the CG, the potential for trauma is high . . . if even in an accidental way. With age comes arthritis, tendonitis, carpel tunnel, etc. and a player should be well versed in his playing to circumvent an event which would render one's tremolo either inept or non-existent. The insurance policy for this is, of course, being a well-rounded player. 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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