Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
User avatar
Christopher Langley
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 897
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Missouri

Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Christopher Langley » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm

When playing scales, why do classical guitarists do large position shifts with what seems like rather awkward fingerings?

Would it not make more sense and sound and feel more fluid to play the notes with the fingers closest by, instead of with the fingers furthest away?

Just makes no sense to me right now. I'm sure there is a reason why large slides are practiced and played like this.. So.. Why is it? To minimize the number of times the hand has to shift overall? Even the maestro fails to get the best sound when playing slides like this.



My personal technique right now would play with the ring or pinkie and the hand would be move up as I slid up each note of the scale. It's always worked for me in the past and always just made sense and came naturally, it is accurate and the notes feel more connected this way. However, I'm willing to work to change this habit if there is a solid reasoning behind it all.


:merci:
Last edited by Christopher Langley on Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Let there be songs to fill the air.

celestemcc
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Why do we finger slides in such a weird way?

Post by celestemcc » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:17 pm

It may look weird, but it's standard. I'll state the part you already know: one reason you do scales is to learn the fingerboard, position work and shifting, which is necessary to move around on the fingerboard. In this case, the player is going to the fifth position (eg, starting with the 5th fret, 1st finger). For the record, they're shifts, not slides -- yes, a necessary technicality, because a slide implies holding a finger down on a string. In a shift you don't keep any fingers down but your whole hand does move to the required position. I know it appears inefficient; but being able to shift seamlessly across many frets, position to position, is an important part of technique, a necessary skill that you're going to need to know how to do. Sometimes in a piece you might find you have to shift from, say, 10th position to 3rd across 2 beats, and there's no good alternative fingering. Sometimes shifts will be less extreme, but often as not those shifts actually let you play more efficiently in the long run.

I didn't hear any inconsistency except for the fact that because it's a first position scale there are open strings and closed ones which do have a different timbre, but the shift was clean.

In the long run you can find many exceptions to the "rule" ultimately, but you still will use shifts more often than not, so best to just dig in and get used to 'em! :D
Last edited by celestemcc on Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

Crofty
Posts: 274
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:32 pm

Re: Why do we finger slides in such a weird way?

Post by Crofty » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:32 pm

Christopher Langley wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm


My personal technique right now would play with the ring or pinkie and the hand would be move up as I slid up each note of the scale.
I don't understand what you mean by that. Can you elaborate?

Paul

User avatar
Christopher Langley
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 897
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: Why do we finger slides in such a weird way?

Post by Christopher Langley » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:54 pm

Crofty wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:32 pm
Christopher Langley wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm


My personal technique right now would play with the ring or pinkie and the hand would be move up as I slid up each note of the scale.
I don't understand what you mean by that. Can you elaborate?

Paul
I am used to using slides. This whole shift thing is new to me.
celestemcc wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:17 pm
It may look weird, but it's standard. I'll state the part you already know: one reason you do scales is to learn the fingerboard, position work and shifting, which is necessary to move around on the fingerboard. In this case, the player is going to the fifth position (eg, starting with the 5th fret, 1st finger). For the record, they're shifts, not slides -- yes, a necessary technicality, because a slide implies holding a finger down on a string. In a shift you don't keep any fingers down but your whole hand does move to the required position. I know it appears inefficient; but being able to shift seamlessly across many frets, position to position, is an important part of technique, a necessary skill that you're going to need to know how to do. Sometimes in a piece you might find you have to shift from, say, 10th position to 3rd across 2 beats, and there's no good alternative fingering. Sometimes shifts will be less extreme, but often as not those shifts actually let you play more efficiently in the long run.

I didn't hear any inconsistency except for the fact that because it's a first position scale there are open strings and closed ones which do have a different timbre, but the shift was clean.

In the long run you can find many exceptions to the "rule" ultimately, but you still will use shifts more often than not, so best to just dig in and get used to 'em! :D
Thanks for the explanation Celeste.

I guess I'll have to get further along before it really starts making sense. I'll just take your word for it and start practicing my shifts :)

Even super clean shifts like the ones in the example above sound kinda dirty to my ears compared to a slide. I can hear the maestro choking the preceding note short a touch to make room for the shift. I'm just used to slides and how they work and sound.

I'm sure I will get more used to the sound of shifts as I start needing to use them personally.
Let there be songs to fill the air.

guit-box
Posts: 1462
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by guit-box » Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:30 am

Christopher Langley wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm
When playing scales, why do classical guitarists do large position shifts with what seems like rather awkward fingerings? ....
It's all about old-school ideas based on the Segovia scales. Modern classical guitar has moved past this old way. Get Matt Palmers book on ami 3-note-per-string scales or watch lessons on ami scales on Tonebase and YouTube. Shifting to the closes note is more sensible unless you want a glissando or special effect. This is what most all of the young virtuoso guitarists are doing now.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Dirck Nagy
Posts: 885
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:47 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Dirck Nagy » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:24 pm

Christopher Langley wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm
When playing scales, why do classical guitarists do large position shifts with what seems like rather awkward fingerings?

Would it not make more sense and sound and feel more fluid to play the notes with the fingers closest by, instead of with the fingers furthest away?
Hello Christopher

Scales are not an end in and of themselves.

As for what "guit-box" wrote here, I have to disagree:
guit-box wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:30 am
It's all about old-school ideas based on the Segovia scales. Modern classical guitar has moved past this old way....
It is pretty rare for a piece of CG music to be nothing but scales. If it is, in fact, your final goal in life to play 2-octave scales at supersonic speeds, then by all means try to minimize position changes.

However, music is more likely to consist of (scales) + (other stuff). The other stuff might be accompaniment, harmony, separate simultaneous melodic lines (counterpoint), accents, rhythmic lines, etc. These will almost certainly require shifting.

Timbre considerations might be an important consideration as well, for example: to preserve the sense of a single melodic "voice", one might want to play a scale passage on one string. This is not, as has been suggested, a "special effect"; it is a basic technique.

FYI, a "slide" or glissando might be perfectly within the style of a piece (i.e. a lot of Romantic Period music) or completely inappropriate. (i.e. a lot of earlier music)

The moral of this story: Use your whole palette. Be prepared to play them a variety of different ways!

cheers!
dirck

RobMacKillop
Posts: 3613
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:10 pm

I would not personally play with one scale fingering. There are many ways to play a G major scale, and you should explore them all. Each one will give you technical encounters that, once mastered, will be of tremendous benefit. The player in the video is fairly competent, but I wouldn't refer to him as a maestro (for the record, I don't regard myself as one either) and there are many, many more technically-gifted players out there.

celestemcc
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:58 pm

The point here, though, is shifting, which unless I misunderstood, is Chris's question. Is no one doing shifts anymore? I've watched young guitarists... they do it too (though of course there are other ways to do scales than Segovia's, but I'm old-school enough to have been raised on them, so to speak). Those scales, however archaic, did teach shifting, which is the most valuable lesson I got from them. Heck, I hate scales! But I can do really smooth shifts... :D (NOT a maestro either, but I'm good at 'em...).
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

celestemcc
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:10 pm

The moral of this story: Use your whole palette. Be prepared to play them a variety of different ways!
+1
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

User avatar
Christopher Langley
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 897
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Christopher Langley » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:40 pm

I really appreciate all the answers.

This community and all of you in it are invaluable to me.

Thanks.
Let there be songs to fill the air.

guit-box
Posts: 1462
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by guit-box » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:59 pm

Yes, I agree. The Segovia scales help teach shifting. My point was if you need to play a fast scale, thinking that the Segovia scales are the correct model for this is incorrect. You have to consider the context the scale exists in and find the way that works best. But for certain, don't think those Segovia fingerings are the model for playing scales. Watch any virtuoso guitarist from the last decade (see GFA winners) and you'll see more ami scales than im scales. It doesn't mean that im scales or shifting is bad, it is noteworthy, there's a reason so many players use ami for something like VL Etude 7. It works really well, and gives amazing results in less time than it takes to develop that speed with im.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

celestemcc
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:40 pm

Yes, I agree. The Segovia scales help teach shifting.
Oh, OK! Understand your point about the RH fingerings, yes, and point well taken. I was focused on LH.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

User avatar
Yisrael van Handel
Posts: 711
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:26 pm
Location: Modi'in Illit, Israel

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:05 am

Christopher Langley wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:21 pm
When playing scales, why do classical guitarists do large position shifts with what seems like rather awkward fingerings?
Shifts cannot be avoided. They are all over the guitar repertoire. Marco Tamayo writes in his book Essential principles for the interpretation on the classical guitar that shifts should always be performed slowly and without tension, even in fast passages. And they should always include a gliding (glissando) finger. It is not necessary to play the glissando, but I find it helps train the hand to move slowly and securely. When you have that down, you can lift the guide finger slightly so that it wil not sound the in-between notes. In the same book, Marco gives rules about when to shift so that it does not disturb the rhythm.
Notice: the book is expensive (50 euros including the shipping) and contains only 32 small pages of actual information. But those 32 pages are quite valuable. Also, the English translation is mediocre or less. If you read Spanish, get the Spanish edition.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

User avatar
Julian Ward
Posts: 311
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:52 am
Location: UK

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Julian Ward » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:16 am

RobMacKillop wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:10 pm
I would not personally play with one scale fingering. There are many ways to play a G major scale, and you should explore them all. Each one will give you technical encounters that, once mastered, will be of tremendous benefit. The player in the video is fairly competent, but I wouldn't refer to him as a maestro (for the record, I don't regard myself as one either) and there are many, many more technically-gifted players out there.
I think the OP is referring to him as such out of respect, as the player in the video is Mr Delcamp himself, and we are here discussing such things on Mr Delcamp's forum.

To be honest I don't really understand the original question, it sounded a bit like he was saying why don't we just play a scale moving our finger along one single string...Well that would be really hideous and lead to nowhere in the quest of helping us play the guitar.
Classical guitar teacher

MaritimeGuitarist
Posts: 111
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:45 am
Location: Saint John, NB

Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:39 pm

Yes, to me it seems like you are suggesting grabbing the A,B, and C (high E string 5,7,8th frets) all with the 4th or 3rd finger. The reason for the shift in the video is to get the left hand in a position where it can play those notes with the 1st, 3rd and 4th fingers. This is far more efficient than shifting on one finger. It may be working for you a slower speeds, but at higher tempos it will be difficult to play evenly and with accuracy.

A general principle for fingering scales is to minimize shifting. One larger shift is generally considered more efficient that a number of smaller back-to-back shifts with one finger.
2014 Alhambra Luthier India

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”