Damping

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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kmurdick
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Re: Damping

Postby kmurdick » Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:57 pm


robert e
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Re: Damping

Postby robert e » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:42 am

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
robert e wrote: I've decided that it's best practice for the thumb to be touching a string whenever possible.

Hi, Robert.
I also discovered that thumb damping is the least mental strain. I use it extensively. I wouldn't go so far as to touch as many strings as possible when using the thumb, but certainly do that if the strings need to be damped (is that the right word?). I find it much more challenging to use other fingers of either the right hand or the left hand. It is not just another finger playing, but the motion is exactly the opposite of the motions for which the fingers are naturally and extensively trained. I find that a huge mental strain when I am playing.

I see! I'm actually coming from the opposite situation. Thanks to decades of flatpicking on electric guitars, I'm habituated to using left and right fingers (and side of palm) to dampen most strings while playing on just one or two. Thumb damping, on the other hand, is new to me, as is using the thumb (as opposed to palm or fingers) for tactile positioning feedback. Relying on the thumb for these needs is more mentally challenging for me at this point, and less "natural", but it seems more consistent with classical RH technique (not to mention more practicable). However, on the treble strings, I probably continue to use left hand flesh without even thinking about it. Maybe I should, though. I don't think my pinkie is doing much on classical, though it was often busy on electric--damping, feeling the guitar body, working the volume knob...

I suppose it would be ridiculous to recommend a classical guitarist take up electric guitar soloing just to become better at damping with fingers?

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lagartija
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Re: Damping

Postby lagartija » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:53 am

When I damp a note and how depends on a number of factors. In answer to your question, Hany, you could just reach back with the tip of your thumb pad for a microsecond to damp the E after playing the A. I use the side or back of the thumb when I have more than one bass string to damp. I have used the "quick roll" to place the upper part of the thumb side of my hand against the strings to simultaneously damp three bass strings so they are silenced and the treble notes stand out cleanly. The touch is very very quick, and then your hand is back in position. (In the Minuet I of Bach Cello Suite I, there is one place I do this to observe a rest in the bass line and damp the lowest bass string which is tuned to D, having just played a D on the second string. It is the quickest way I know to simultaneously damp the three bass strings .)

In many cases, you can play the note that follows then reach back and damp.
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Hany Hayek
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Re: Damping

Postby Hany Hayek » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:11 am

Thanks kmurdick.

Thanks Lagartija. I have now tried the quick roll and I am quite pleased with the effect. I find it easier than damping with the side of the thumb. I did play Bach Cello suite I (all of it except for the Sarabande) but with the Mandolin. No damping there. :)

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Damping

Postby Yisrael van Handel » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:28 pm

robert e wrote:I suppose it would be ridiculous to recommend a classical guitarist take up electric guitar soloing just to become better at damping with fingers?

There are some slight differences. When you are flatpicking, you have three right-hand fingers that are on vacation until further notice. When playing classical guitar, you are often in a situation that every right-hand finger is either preparing, executing, or recovering. Moreover, the right-hand fingers are well-trained that those are the motions expected of them. I find that it takes enormous mental effort to get them to do something else (to wit, damping).
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lagartija
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Re: Damping

Postby lagartija » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:23 pm

Hany Hayek wrote:Thanks kmurdick.

Thanks Lagartija. I have now tried the quick roll and I am quite pleased with the effect. I find it easier than damping with the side of the thumb. I did play Bach Cello suite I (all of it except for the Sarabande) but with the Mandolin. No damping there. :)

That's really interesting, Hany. I assume you were playing the mandolin with a plectrum? My cousin plays mandolin and my impression is that it has less sustain as well as being much brighter than a nylon stringed classical guitar. With those qualities, perhaps damping isn't as critical because the brightness of the trebles cut through any bass notes that are still sounding. I have in the past played many pieces on CG without damping (my first teacher did not really work on that with me). My current teacher gave me some guidelines and showed me in one of my pieces where the ringing basses either interfered with the harmony or muddied up the melodic line. Once he demonstrated appropriate damping, I was horrified as I played some of my other repertoire pieces in the practice room because I could now hear things ringing all over the place! :shock: :oops: So I carefully corrected the most egregious spots first, and as damping became a bit more automatic, many of the pieces started to sound a lot cleaner with voices better defined and harmonic structure clearer. I really wished I had learned to do it sooner. The main thing with damping is not to damp so soon as to lose the legato sound (unless stocatto was what you wanted), and that is why I often play the following note then go back and damp the preceding note. Play the measure using various options and listen carefully. One way will most likely sound appropriate.
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Hany Hayek
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Re: Damping

Postby Hany Hayek » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:36 pm

The mandolin has a lot less sustain. Here is my rendition of Bach prelude from Bach Cello suite I (hope I am not violating rules): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt8cfCgeAxs
I am playing the Delcamp pieces from his method because of the damping. I figured that if I don't learn that first, it will become difficult to learn later on. You'll notice some passages on the mandolin where I don't take off my left hand fingers and you see it has it's sustain. This mandolin is an Emanuele Egildo from 1923.

robert e
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Re: Damping

Postby robert e » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:59 pm

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
robert e wrote:I suppose it would be ridiculous to recommend a classical guitarist take up electric guitar soloing just to become better at damping with fingers?

There are some slight differences. When you are flatpicking, you have three right-hand fingers that are on vacation until further notice. When playing classical guitar, you are often in a situation that every right-hand finger is either preparing, executing, or recovering. Moreover, the right-hand fingers are well-trained that those are the motions expected of them. I find that it takes enormous mental effort to get them to do something else (to wit, damping).

Often, yes, but not always. Opportunism is all we can hope for, but perhaps conceptualization can help as well.

First of all, let's discard my emphasis on flatpicking as the red herring that it is--electric fingerpickers are in the same boat w/ regard to the necessity of damping.

Here's the thing: damping is a built-in feature of the standard classical stroke, at least as I was taught it. The approach that I believe is the most commonly taught prescribes touching the string with the fingertip just before the nail makes contact, in order to avoid clicking. When that string is already vibrating, it's even more important to touch flesh first, and this is technically damping, even if the delay between damping and sounding is tiny. Is it so great a leap, then, when a finger that is not otherwise engaged makes that fingertip touch earlier--even way earlier--than the forceful stage of the stroke? To my mind it isn't; but, of course, my mind is tainted by years of apostasy in electric land. If you can get that far, however, it's not much of a leap to plant that finger with no intention of sounding the string. Naturally, that first step--touching early--is going to be awkward at first to one well-conditioned otherwise, and would need to be approached progressively and patiently.

(This concept is predicated on a particular approach to RH technique. It may not be yours. Damping with LH fingers is probably much less of a leap and less dependent on method, if equally opportunistic.)

The crux of my rather facetious question was whether it makes sense to recommend electric apostasy as a development aid. And not so much for any particulars of technique as for the mindset one acquires in a context where without damping there's just mud, or at best a muddle. Of course, that idea will make a great deal of sense to those already interested in apostasy, and none at all to those who aren't. :)

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Re: Damping

Postby 2handband » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:37 pm

robert e wrote:The crux of my rather facetious question was whether it makes sense to recommend electric apostasy as a development aid. And not so much for any particulars of technique as for the mindset one acquires in a context where without damping there's just mud, or at best a muddle. Of course, that idea will make a great deal of sense to those already interested in apostasy, and none at all to those who aren't. :)


Actually, Robert, I think the background in electric guitar makes it harder, because I'm struggling to get past my innate urge to constantly dampen ANY string I didn't deliberately set into motion. It's not only unnecessary in this context, but it's slowing me down.

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Re: Damping

Postby robert e » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:44 pm

2handband wrote:Actually, Robert, I think the background in electric guitar makes it harder, because I'm struggling to get past my innate urge to constantly dampen ANY string I didn't deliberately set into motion. It's not only unnecessary in this context, but it's slowing me down.

Is this in both hands, or just one? My right hand position is so different, classical vs electric, that I think the reflex is never triggered. But then I was never a pushing-the-envelope shredder, either. For me, damping was most critical when I used a slide, but that was a way, way different RH than classical.

2handband
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Re: Damping

Postby 2handband » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:27 am

robert e wrote:
2handband wrote:Actually, Robert, I think the background in electric guitar makes it harder, because I'm struggling to get past my innate urge to constantly dampen ANY string I didn't deliberately set into motion. It's not only unnecessary in this context, but it's slowing me down.

Is this in both hands, or just one? My right hand position is so different, classical vs electric, that I think the reflex is never triggered. But then I was never a pushing-the-envelope shredder, either. For me, damping was most critical when I used a slide, but that was a way, way different RH than classical.


Mostly a right-hand thing. I HAVE to damp the bass strings. Even a tiny amount of sympathetic resonance drives me bananas.

As for the electric thing... yeah. I'm a shredder who worshiped at the alter of Malmsteen and Gilbert in my formative years.

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Re: Damping

Postby markodarko » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:29 am

2handband wrote:Mostly a right-hand thing. I HAVE to damp the bass strings. Even a tiny amount of sympathetic resonance drives me bananas.


Is it that you find it difficult to mute the strings, or that you feel that you're doing it excessively?

2handband wrote:As for the electric thing... yeah. I'm a shredder who worshiped at the alter of Malmsteen and Gilbert in my formative years.


Quite different styles. :)
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Luis_Br
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Re: Damping

Postby Luis_Br » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:09 am

2handband wrote:Mostly a right-hand thing. I HAVE to damp the bass strings. Even a tiny amount of sympathetic resonance drives me bananas.

Me too, with the bass notes.

2handband
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Re: Damping

Postby 2handband » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:28 pm

markodarko wrote:
2handband wrote:Mostly a right-hand thing. I HAVE to damp the bass strings. Even a tiny amount of sympathetic resonance drives me bananas.


Is it that you find it difficult to mute the strings, or that you feel that you're doing it excessively?



I think I'm probably overdoing it.

robert e
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Re: Damping

Postby robert e » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:38 pm

2handband wrote:
Mostly a right-hand thing. I HAVE to damp the bass strings. Even a tiny amount of sympathetic resonance drives me bananas.

I don't see the urge itself as a bad thing. But the urge to do it with the palm, yes, detrimental in CG technique.

FWIW, I'm using the early open-string exercises in Kitharologus to work on my thumb-damping chops, especially re sympathetic and resonant vibrations, as well as jumping back to damp a ringing bass note. And I'm finding the Prelude of Bach's BWV998 a great exercise in precision bass string damping--demanding enough to be rewarding, but not too. That the piece is breathtakingly beautiful doesn't hurt, either.

In short, don't waste energy fighting the urge--I expect that if you continue practicing a more efficient, more precise way to satisfy your ear, the new way will slowly displace the old habit.


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