Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

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windyday
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Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by windyday » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:34 pm

Has anyone tried to leave Right arm elbow away from guitar top edge in your playing? I sometime try it and my RH fingers feel more independent, especially with tremolo precticing. Then I maitain that feeling with elbow common position.

Is it on earth right or wrong? Thanks for sharing and suggestions.

Polifemo de Oro

Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:45 pm

Generally, I tend to keep my right elbow on the edge of the guitar. I think that this promotes good balance in holding the instrument and--most importantly--it provides a counterbalance that keeps you from having to apply too much pressure on the left hand thumb. This is crucial and the benefits accruing from this are not fully appreciated until after you've spent decades playing classical guitar.

Addendum:

Regarding the tremolo more specifically, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Scott Tennant's new publication: Tárrega - Recuerdos De La Alhambra. It is excellent and contains exhaustive tips on learning and playing the tremolo. In addition to this, I've found that playing scales using m-a and also practicing rasgueado both serve to strengthen the tremolo.
Last edited by Polifemo de Oro on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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robin loops
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by robin loops » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:31 pm

The right elbow is one of the principal points of contact for securing the guitar. Generally speaking the guitar is held with the legs and elbow (never the hands) but any part of the body other than the hands can be used. One really comfortable posture I have found is qa variation of flamenco and involves wrapping the left leg across the front bottom of the rear bout. So if you have some other method (that doesn't use the elbow) to keep the guitar secure while playing this could work for a while but for me at least, holding the arm suspended in mid air for over 4 hours a day would be exhausting. (Edit: I originally misread the part about you only doing this for a bit and then returning to normal posture).

To check if the guitar is held securely enough, try playing scales and some simple pieces (such as Lagrima) without using the thumb at all. When fretting without the thumb the guitar neck won't move backward much if it's held securely. You can also grab the headstock and wiggle the neck forward and back. It should not feel like it isn't gonna fall out of your lap even when dong this vigorously. Not having the guitar secure is one of the principal causes of tension in the left hand (especially with barres) because we end up using the left hand thumb to hold the guitar in place and secure it.

I would personally avoid any period of practice that the guitar wasn't properly secured unless I am specifically practicing alternate posture (that are sometime required in certain settings). For example when I used to go to the park and play with friends I would practice a posture that was sitting cross legged on the ground like we had to do in the park so that I was prepared for it when playing there. Many times I've found that if practicing a particular technique requires me to do things 'out of the ordinary', that I simply am not ready for that technique yet and need to work on the fundamentals first. And regarding tremolo specifically found that until my right hand was particularly strong (technically) that attempting tremolo was a futile effort. After developing right hand technique, tremolo became quite easy. A tip for tremolo: practice or think of them like they are one string arpeggios. But if you haven't been playing for at least a couple or few years, leave tremolo out of the loop for now.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

Polifemo de Oro

Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:12 pm

One really comfortable posture I have found is qa variation of flamenco and involves wrapping the left leg across the front bottom of the rear bout
Whoa! Left leg, eh? I will be sure and add this suggestion to my upcoming book: The Kama Sutra and the Art of Guitar Playing. :mrgreen:

windyday
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by windyday » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:15 am

(Edit: I originally misread the part about you only doing this for a bit and then returning to normal posture).

...Thanks Robin. I do mean it's for only a try for a while, maybe 3 minutes. I can't play with right elbow away the guitar for the whole playing. It's truely not stable for balance of guitar. But the question is, if guitar balance doesn't require LH thumb and right elbow, or the balance has been done without them. Will a suspended elbow be applied and it's not "improper" anymore? I think maybe some players still rest elbow on guitar and others suspend their elbows without consciouseness.

windyday
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by windyday » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:26 am

Polifemo de Oro wrote:Generally, I tend to keep my right elbow on the edge of the guitar. I think that this promotes good balance in holding the instrument and--most importantly--it provides a counterbalance that keeps you from having to apply too much pressure on the left hand thumb. This is crucial and the benefits accruing from this are not fully appreciated until after you've spent decades playing classical guitar.

Addendum:

Regarding the tremolo more specifically, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Scott Tennant's new publication: Tárrega - Recuerdos De La Alhambra. It is excellent and contains exhaustive tips on learning and playing the tremolo. In addition to this, I've found that playing scales using m-a and also practicing rasgueado both serve to strengthen the tremolo.
Thanks for recomending the book, I will look for it. "m and a" do need more practice and it's very important. Carcassi no.3 is a good choice and only one I could find so far.

RockyWestTexas
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by RockyWestTexas » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:36 pm

I share a similar experience you mentioned. Lifting my right elbow off the lower bout makes the movements in my right fingers feel more relaxed and free (albeit, in certain playing positions). My understanding of this effect can be understood in terms of the following figure (from Fernando Sor’s book). Viewed from above, POINT X on my right forearm typically slides/pivots on the edge of

Image

the lower bout (POINT B) allowing me to adjust the position of my right fingers relative to the strings. The effect of raising my elbow (POINT M) is to make my forearm (LINE FM) more parallel to the surface of the soundboard which, in some playing positions, reduces the need to bend my wrist and thus lowers the tension in the fingers. You asked whether this is a right or wrong way of playing? I don’t know. I just experiment to gain a better understanding of how I can play a classical guitar better.

A representative playing situation I’m referring to is shown in the following photo. For reasons unimportant here, I currently play a small (home-made) guitar. The guitar is secured to my body with straps and its stability relies very little on either of my arms.
Image

dbeau
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by dbeau » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:14 pm

Although never "free" from the guitar, the weight of my arm is usually not entirely on the bout but has allows some weight to be transferred (felt) upon the hand/fingers in contact with the strings. I feel that this allows greater flexibility and freedom in that the fingers are not pushing to apply force to the string(s) but rather transmitting some of the weight/force of the arm. Of course this is accompanied by micro lifting of the forearm. Hard to explain but not that it is free but also not pinned either. My position is similar to RockyWestTexas in use of very short seat with both feet on ground.

Luis_Br
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:47 am

I play with my right arm totally free and once I got used to it, I feel regular posture hinders my RH.
There is a famous player who also felt it nice and then he decided to develop a whole new posture and technique because of this. His name is Paul Galbraith.
I studied for a couple years with Everton Gloeden, a close friend of Paul, they played together in the Brazilian Guitar Quartet for several years, and Everton also decided to change his technique following Paul's path.
I followed my teacher and I've learnt to adopt the posture without the need of the cello-like end pin. It is possible to achieve the posture with an Ergoplay, Muratta or similar at the back of the guitar (search youtube for BGQ videos you can see my teacher in action).
We also play with the guitar more in a diagonal position, to achieve more RH angle, instead of Paul's frontal attack. I play it even more diagonal than my teacher. I think I play in a posture similar to some players like Adriano del Sal or Gabriel Bianco, I just twist the guitar up a little bit, so I can free up the right arm. And with the twist, I think I can get more angle than they do, but I've been playing with less angle lately...
Another important tip is that we use a suction cup on the side of the guitar, tied to the pants or around the leg, to prevent guitar from slipping (so you don't need to hold the guitar with right arm).
With the guitar more up, diagonal, or cello-like, right elbow is low, so there is no problem holding it. It tires a bit at the beginning, but after around 3 months I got used to it and it is fine to play several hours with no problem. Actually I think this final posture is ergonomically better than the traditional one, where in the latter we tend to twist the spine, move the shoulders to the front or have trouble reaching higher frets. Big problem to me, in the new posture, is keeping good RH angle and tone. Paul's tone is not the best to me, I think it is a bit brighty and thin to my taste.
Finally, I think it is really tricky to find out good posture with this, specially if you consider there are almost no references. I don't think I would be able to learn it that fast without my teacher guidance. My teacher really likes it and he admires Paul a lot. He says freeing up right arm is the next step after Tarrega's removing pinkie from soundboard... But he never forces his students with this posture. He keeps teaching them regular posture unless they ask to change. I know only one guy besides myself who also really adopted this new posture.

Another comment, a problem with the strap posture above is that full the body contact with the back of the guitar may prevent full vibration and full sound of the guitar. Paul used to hold the guitar with his legs and toward his body when he began with free right arm thing. After an observation by Sergio Abreu that it was hindering guitar vibration, Paul ended up changing to the cello-like posture with the pin. A lot of people think Paul reached that posture imitating from cello. But it was not like that. It was a whole process of freeing up right arm until he finally reached the cello-like style.
People also think the 8-strings Brahms guitar has to do with the cello-style. But they are also not connected. Paul just ended up developing both things more or less at the same time. My teacher plays regular 6-string as I do, with this posture. So did Paul in the beginning. My teacher ended up playing the 8-strings Brahms in the quartet, to extend possibilities of the 4-guitar arrangements.
So it is a pity a lot of players don't try Paul's ideas because it seems complicated with a cello-pin and 8-strings guitars. If they just knew it is possible to try it with a regular guitar and regular accessories...

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Mark Featherstone
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Mark Featherstone » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:44 pm

Luis_Br wrote:(search youtube for BGQ videos you can see my teacher in action)
Yes, that's an amazing style, and obviously works well for your teacher and Galbraith (and you). I'm curious about something: this vertical posture necessitates that the RH fingers be perpendicular to the strings, as is apparent in the video (i.e. the whole right forearm is perpendicular to the strings). This seems to contradict what I thought was a basic necessity of CG playing, namely that the RH fingers sweep the strings at an angle in order to produce a rich tone (in conjunction with ramped nails). Any comments on how or why guitarists adopting this posture are still able to produce a lovely tone?

Mark
Francisco Navarro Concert Classical, cedar top, 630 mm scale, 50 mm nut

"The trouble with normal is it always gets worse."
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Luis_Br
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:31 pm

Baoyu wrote:
Luis_Br wrote:(search youtube for BGQ videos you can see my teacher in action)
Yes, that's an amazing style, and obviously works well for your teacher and Galbraith (and you). I'm curious about something: this vertical posture necessitates that the RH fingers be perpendicular to the strings, as is apparent in the video (i.e. the whole right forearm is perpendicular to the strings). This seems to contradict what I thought was a basic necessity of CG playing, namely that the RH fingers sweep the strings at an angle in order to produce a rich tone (in conjunction with ramped nails). Any comments on how or why guitarists adopting this posture are still able to produce a lovely tone?

Mark
Well, for the first point, I would say my teacher does not use a complete perpendicular attack. As you can see in some videos, his forearm is more or less parallel to the floor, but the guitar is diagonal. So hand/finger to string is not perpendicular. It would be completely perpendicular attack with guitar completely vertical and perpendicular to the floor while forearm parallel to floor, which is not the case. Galbraith use more perpendicular attack, but it still isn't completely perpendicular either. I used to play in this posture with much more angle than my teacher. You can adjust the guitar to be even more diagonal and you get more angle. I can reach the same angle of David Russell, for example, if I want to. But too much diagonal may loose some ergonomic benefits of the posture.

On the second point about requiring angle for good tone, I totally disagree. I think it requires more accuracy both placing the fingers and nail shape to get a nice tone with less angle. It is easier to get fuller tone with angle. So I think it is easier to teach a beginner to simply put more angle. But as you can notice, there lots of examples of players that use more perpendicular attack with great tone, so it mustn't be a rule. IMO, Segovia, John Williams, Evangelos Assimakopoulos are examples of great tone with more perpendicular attack. What about this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTUe7CbTwkM
But this may be very particular to each player fingernails shape, nail hardness and finger tips length or width.
I even tried an Ida Presti style of attack with Paul's style posture. It is nice because I can get it very easier without the need of too much wrist deviation. I could get a nice tone and a very vertical guitar position like Paul's, but I couldn't get used to the feeling of a short "a" finger using this reverse hand posture. So I gave up. Maybe if I had the opportunity to make some lessons with a player who uses this kind of attack...

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Mark Featherstone
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Mark Featherstone » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:35 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply, Luis. I guess it proves once again that the only rule in CG is that every rule can be broken. Thank you so much for that link. Such a wonderful performance!
Francisco Navarro Concert Classical, cedar top, 630 mm scale, 50 mm nut

"The trouble with normal is it always gets worse."
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Luis_Br
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Luis_Br » Tue Jan 27, 2015 6:14 pm

Baoyu wrote:Thanks for the detailed reply, Luis.
Your welcome.
I would like to add that I don't think the sound of my teacher is so great when playing with the quartet. I think it is a bit brighty and not so full. But IMO it is the 8-string guitar. When he plays other regular great guitars, it is awesome. Actually now he uses a new 8-string from a Brazilian luthier who made a great job and the sound is much better.

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BugDog
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Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by BugDog » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:50 pm

I tried it last night. Happily it wasn't a huge departure for the RH as it seems my right arm seemed pretty mobile anyway. The surprise was that it effected my left hand. I found I had to use thumb pressure much more as there wasn't any counter balance from the right arm.
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Polifemo de Oro

Re: Right arm elbow free from guitar, ever tried?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:03 pm

I found I had to use thumb pressure much more as there wasn't any counter balance from the right arm.
Careful. You DO NOT want to mess with your left hand thumb. Whatever you do, work to keep the pressure off of it. I alluded to this in my posting, above.

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