[ ed. note subsequent to having posted this: Quite a bit of what's below is from a post I submitted to a "fingerstyle" group many years ago, in response to a lengthy and nonsensical series of missives in which classical technique was generally derided as useless of application and even counter-productive for folk, modern fingerstyle, or anything but strictly classical music, and further, that it even somehow mitigated against ones ability to improvise- a totally irrelevant consideration. Bending notes was only one of many issues addressed. The posting immediately below originally had a reference to the midneck thumb position as having "been so decried in this forum because of its 'classical' association"-- this was one of many such references which had been edited out for the present purpose, as they obviously have no context in this forum, at Delcamp-- it was the other forum in which this attitude had been expressed. Somehow that one had slipped by - so, anybody returning after having already read this, that is the explanation of the curious seeming reference.
mcmurray wrote: ↑
Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:36 am
Proper bending requires the thumb over the neck, therefore you'll never hear a classical guitarist agree to the idea.
No, it doesn't. The thumb over position can be positively forwarded as a common method to go about bending a note-- It's a method which will certainly work, and is good if
there is not much else needful to be done at the same time. But its not THE way. The "properness" is in the bend itself as a musical phenomenon, not in the means of producing it.
It has already been noted that on nylon one gets less bend for the same amount of string displacement in comparison to what one can get from a steel string; nevertheless, a very satisfactory bend can be achieved, and this factor is to some extent alleviated in that on nylon, there is typically less tension to work against, and, because of the wider string spacing, one has more scope to move the string a sideways distance in compensation. I am among those who do so without hesitation on a classical, for playing blues, obviously, or in any other appropriate context, as do several others who have already replied to the same effect in this thread. There is no compromise to tuning as a result.
The thumb-over approach may be typical of a someone who plays exclusively in a folkish style on a narrow-necked steel string, but the assertion that this is therefore how it MUST be done promulgates a concept of leverage predicated on the misconception that the hand is only operable in its most primal instinctive mode as a grasping implement, in which to do ANYthing, its components must contract, in direct opposition, towards a central point. This is good for basic tool using, but is not very good as a one-and-only exclusive basis for left hand technique in guitar playing. It is a mode of operation that is overly conducive of an involvement of the entirety of the hand into anything to be done. In this basic mode of operation everything tends towards subsumation into over-all gesture; chords are dealt with as though they are objects to be surrounded and approached from outside of their parameters in ones grip, anything entailing a reach or stretch is thought of as difficult, and the multi-partite functioning necessary for handling anything more than rudimentary simultaneity of movement of musical lines is mitigated against. All this is exacerbated by a thumb-over position, in which the space between the palm and the neck is nearly or completely obliterated, the fingers compressed together and the third and fourth fingers reduced in function to adjuncts, the fourth in particular practically relegated to vestigial use. This is even more the situation on a classical with its wider neck. Yet this is an approach which many never transcend.
With the thumb in the classical mid-neck position lending counter-support to the fingers, in either direct or indirect opposition as occasion demands, and co-support derived from the wrist and arm, the rest of the hand is freed to be held above and to open up over the strings so that the fingers are afforded the scope to operate in an outwardly expressive manner against the surface of the fingerboard, independently of each other and with equivalency of access. There are very few situations in which it would be necessary to disrupt the advantage of this position by repositioning the thumb over the neck, and a string bend is not necessarily one of them.
In either of the positions described there is a learning process to moving beyond a contractive mode of operation to an expansive mode, but the mid-neck position is much more supportive and inculcative of that mode, and provides for all the "leverage" necessary for any operation. In bending a note this works as an oblique sliding rather than a direct squeeze, and is every bit as effective. This is true even on steel strings with their higher tension than nylon, which factor is compensated for by the lesser deviation required on steel for an equivalent degree of audible bend.
As for the finger position itself. the fingertip naturally can, and must assume a variety of attitudes, varying in accordance to the task at hand; according to whether a situation is one in which one must take care to avoid muting of adjacent strings, whether such muting of adjacent strings is of no consequence, or is deliberately employed. The tip attitude will vary in furtherance of any lateral or longitudinal reaches; in preparation for a downward slur taking into account the extent of outward reach and the combinant effect of other simultaneous actions; lateral vibrato; and, in contemporary literature, bends.