Tremolo

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Impresario
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Re: Tremolo

Post by Impresario » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:30 am

Great video, Dave. Thanks a ton.

davekear
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Location: California

Re: Tremolo

Post by davekear » Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:20 am

Thanks Impresario.

Conall
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Location: Scotland

Re: Tremolo

Post by Conall » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:36 am

There is not really any grand secret to tremolo in my opinion - or need for heavy tomes.

Just:

1. Ensure your free stroke is perfect before attempting tremolo,
2. Aim for evenness once you have found the tremolo pattern that suits you (I prefer pmia to pami because I found it easier to make even),
3. Once even (and only then) try to gradually increase tempo until fast enough to sound convincing - with the aid of a metronome if it helps.

The problem is most guitarists seem to aim for 3 before managing 2 or even 1.

I'm not going to repeat the basics of good tirando technique here. But eveness is best achieved (after point 1 mastered) by practicing tremolo on a single string eg play 4 even pami (or other tremolo pattern) free strokes on 1st string (including thumb). I then extend that by playing (4) repeated note scales (especially chromatic) on all strings eg eeee (pami), ffff, f#f#f#f#, gggg etc.

Once the above exercises are as good as 100% even (though the tone of the thumb won't ever sound the same as ami - but the rhythm can do) you can then start to play a lower string with p. I would start with 1 string below the tremolo ami alternating with the same string ie p on 2nd string, ami on 1st alternating with pami on 1st. You should be able to hear if the p on a different string matches the rhythm of p on the same string as ami. If not, go back to improving pami on one string.

Next exercise I used (when I spent an entire Summer decades ago trying to learn tremolo) was to play p twice in every tremolo ie p,a, p+m, i. This also helps rhythmic evenness because it's easier to play 2 even eighth notes with thumb than 4 16ths pami.

I then played Recuerdos & other tremolo studies (my own too) using the above exercises before finally attempting to play the tremolo pieces as written & eventually up to an acceptable but not excessive speed (similar speed to other players' recordings).

I haven't fretted about tremolo for decades & never feel the need to warm up other than you would need for non tremolo playing.

I do recommend trying pmia or pima or all other possible combinations before deciding which suits you best (ie which you find you can play most evenly). Theoretically we should be able to play any combination well but life is too short & realistically most players will stick with one. There's no reason why it must be pami. As I said, I prefer pmia. I think I find pami harder to play evenly because you're plucking the weakest finger immediately after the strongest finger. This often results in a fractionally longer time gap between p & a or worse, p followed by pause, triplet! Pmia is the order of my strongest to weakest finger & feels most natural to me.

It's not rocket science, as they say.....

Impresario
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Tremolo

Post by Impresario » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:15 am

Conall, would you find it excessively brutal on my behalf if I asked you to post a video substantiating your claims with regards to tremolo technique mastery?

Conall
Posts: 398
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Location: Scotland

Re: Tremolo

Post by Conall » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:58 am

Impresario wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:15 am
Conall, would you find it excessively brutal on my behalf if I asked you to post a video substantiating your claims with regards to tremolo technique mastery?
Good point: - I don't claim to be a master, just a player & teacher for decades. I've regularly played Recuerdos & similar in public with no worries (other than the odd memory lapse).

I'll try to get round to posting at some point - but in the meantime - anyone here who is struggling with tremolo (but has solid tirando technique) and who has many free hours (preferably a whole Summer!) & lots of patience feel free to try my approach (no doubt similar to some other teachers') - particularly if another approach has not worked for them. I don't believe I'm proposing anything radical, just good tirando, logic, time, practice & maybe experimentation with tremolo patterns other than pami.

Conall
Posts: 398
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Location: Scotland

Re: Tremolo

Post by Conall » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:15 am

I forgot to add that I also play chromatic single note scales using pmia (or pami / whatever). That gives you a very good indication of evenness or lack of it!

Hunt-man
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Tremolo

Post by Hunt-man » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:12 pm

As I remember Anna Vidovic tremolo's using imim only.... she's an ok player, right?
;)

guit-box
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Re: Tremolo

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:21 pm

Impresario wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:30 am
Great video, Dave. Thanks a ton.
Agreed, Dave's tremolo instructional is good, and involves moving the fingers independently.

That Denis Azabagic tremolo master class I posted opened my eyes to the idea of just moving the fingers. I was telescoping with my arm and wrist too much when practicing tremolo. Azabagic points out how he keeps the same wrist position for an ami arpeggio on the 1st three strings as he does for an ami on a single string. He just adjusts the index and middle fingers out to meet the string. He makes the fingers adjust, not the wrist, and that allows him to keep the same tone for tremolo and arpeggio. Then, of course, he has a highly developed free stroke that is strong and coordinated so you need that as well.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Impresario
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Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Tremolo

Post by Impresario » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:07 pm

Conall wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:58 am
Impresario wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:15 am
Conall, would you find it excessively brutal on my behalf if I asked you to post a video substantiating your claims with regards to tremolo technique mastery?
Good point: - I don't claim to be a master, just a player & teacher for decades. I've regularly played Recuerdos & similar in public with no worries (other than the odd memory lapse).

I'll try to get round to posting at some point - but in the meantime - anyone here who is struggling with tremolo (but has solid tirando technique) and who has many free hours (preferably a whole Summer!) & lots of patience feel free to try my approach (no doubt similar to some other teachers') - particularly if another approach has not worked for them. I don't believe I'm proposing anything radical, just good tirando, logic, time, practice & maybe experimentation with tremolo patterns other than pami.
My question was not whether you are a master or not.
Either you master the tremolo or you don't ?
And if you do, post a video .
Like Dave Kear who seems to be the only person who does.

dtoh
Posts: 296
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Tremolo

Post by dtoh » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:13 am

davekear wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:21 am
It's important to practice in the correct way in order to make good progress.
Here's a little video I made that might help you with your tremolo.
Just a couple of suggestions that have helped me, and my students:
Nice vid. Very helpful.

Conall
Posts: 398
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Location: Scotland

Re: Tremolo

Post by Conall » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:21 am

Impresario wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:07 pm
Conall wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:58 am
Impresario wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:15 am
Conall, would you find it excessively brutal on my behalf if I asked you to post a video substantiating your claims with regards to tremolo technique mastery?
Good point: - I don't claim to be a master, just a player & teacher for decades. I've regularly played Recuerdos & similar in public with no worries (other than the odd memory lapse).

I'll try to get round to posting at some point - but in the meantime - anyone here who is struggling with tremolo (but has solid tirando technique) and who has many free hours (preferably a whole Summer!) & lots of patience feel free to try my approach (no doubt similar to some other teachers') - particularly if another approach has not worked for them. I don't believe I'm proposing anything radical, just good tirando, logic, time, practice & maybe experimentation with tremolo patterns other than pami.
My question was not whether you are a master or not.
Either you master the tremolo or you don't ?
And if you do, post a video .
Like Dave Kear who seems to be the only person who does.
Oh dear.

I thought the primary purpose of this part of the forum was to ask for and offer help on matters of guitar technique & similar.

I believe that's what I tried to do by explaining what has worked for me & my students. However some responses give me the impression that my slight criticism of the fact that so much is made of a technique that is really just an extension of free stroke (in my opinion: 4 tirando strokes, 3 on the same string, all 4 attempting to sound even & fast enough) has met with some irritation or demands of aural & visual proof.

If I have annoyed anybody for apparently belittling something many guitarists find difficult & others have spent time, effort & money writing methods for I apologise. That wasn't my intention but I can see some might see it that way. I did mention it took me an entire Summer holiday to achieve an even & satisfactory tremolo (hours over a couple of months) so I am not denying it is a difficult technique, merely that perhaps it is made more of than it needs to be.

There are of course a couple of other aspects I didn't mention in a previous post - the need for a tension-free continuous tirando technique as well as the ability to control dynamics particularly in ami for example. I suppose if you go into the minutae of all that (& the basis of good general tirando) then a course book & video would be beneficial to some students.

As to the reason I haven't yet posted a video - if you check my recent other posts you'll see I wore down my nails recently preparing for a series of concerts (6, finished now) & decided to play 3 nailess (which I don't really want to repeat but I was playing with a pianist & didn't want to risk breaking artificial nails by playing loudly in concert).

My nails just about grew enough for the last 2 concerts but the thumb nail is still too short for a good sounding tremolo. I had intended to play a tremolo piece of my own for the 6 concerts but abandoned that idea as I'm not fond of nailess tremolo or partly catching very short nails primarily for the resultant poor tone.

As I believe I said in a previous comment on this thread I will post a short video (probably from my not great sounding phone) of my tremolo if there is a genuine desire for me to do so. But I'm going to wait until my nails are of a decent length first - and my nails do not grow quickly! If you look at the enclosed picture you will see the length of my thumbnail is too short & my index isn't much better.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

guit-box
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Re: Tremolo

Post by guit-box » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:02 pm

I'm always interested in watching a good video on tremolo. If it has closeups of the fingers and an instructional component with new ideas on technique that's even better. I think a video demonstration of technique always holds more weight than advice without video demonstration, and in some rare cases it makes it clear we shouldn't follow that advice.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Conall
Posts: 398
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:26 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Tremolo

Post by Conall » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:36 pm

guit-box wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:02 pm
I'm always interested in watching a good video on tremolo. If it has closeups of the fingers and an instructional component with new ideas on technique that's even better. I think a video demonstration of technique always holds more weight than advice without video demonstration, and in some rare cases it makes it clear we shouldn't follow that advice.
Ok, as I said - give me a couple of weeks for my nails to grow & to find a moment! Watch this space. I won't promise it'll be a work of art but some students might find it useful. In the meantime if students haven't tried it I hope they try to tremolo on one string to check out their evenness - if they don't already do something similar.

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guitarrista
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Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tremolo

Post by guitarrista » Thu Aug 02, 2018 4:31 pm

Conall wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:21 am
Oh dear.

I thought the primary purpose of this part of the forum was to ask for and offer help on matters of guitar technique & similar.

I believe that's what I tried to do by explaining what has worked for me & my students. However some responses give me the impression that my slight criticism of the fact that so much is made of a technique that is really just an extension of free stroke (in my opinion: 4 tirando strokes, 3 on the same string, all 4 attempting to sound even & fast enough) has met with some irritation or demands of aural & visual proof.
I would not worry about it. The points on tremolo you made were entirely reasonable and very helpful. The stiff-toned demands for visual proof sounded exactly the way you interpreted it. You don't owe the forum anything.
Last edited by guitarrista on Thu Aug 02, 2018 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

guit-box
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Re: Tremolo

Post by guit-box » Thu Aug 02, 2018 4:33 pm

I recently purchased Scott Tennant's edition of Recuerdos de la Alhambra. It's much more than an edition, it also has practice techniques that start with very specifically fingered arpeggios that weren't included in the version of Pumping Nylon I have. In Pumping Nylon he goes straight to the repeated note tremolo and speed bursts, but I'm finding that what I really needed was to develop the alignment that these arpeggio exercises offer. Maybe the latest edition of Pumping Nylon has these arpeggio/alignment exercises, but he clearly thought it was something missing because I believe the Tarrega edition is more recent.

For me, doing these exercises and getting solid with them seems like the first step before attempting the single string staccato exercises. He does present them as the first step and I believe he's correct about that. There are 11 exercises that are basically as follows:

All open strings with p a m i:
1. 4-1-2-3
2. 4-1-2-2
3. 4-1-1-2
4. 4-1-1-1
...
8. 4-3-2-1 (must still be pami !!!)
9. 4-2-2-1
10. 4-2-1-1
11. 4-1-1-1

From these exercises I'd extrapolate that practicing the following exercise would be helpful for finding the optimal hand position and holding that position. I think the key is once the hand position is chosen, only the fingers find the string, the wrist and arm must remain stationary.

4-3-2-1-4-1-2-3 with fingering pamipami
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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