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

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by guit-box » Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:01 pm

Julian Ward wrote:
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.
In the Segovia scales there are left hand shifts where you might play the 1st and 3rd finger and then shift to the first finger--say from 3rd position to 6th position. This is a large jump in the middle of the scale. Shifting 3-1 or 4-1 on an ascending scale is less fluid. If you need to play scales fast and legato, then only doing one shift (at most) per string where you use a fingering that's 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 is better than doing a shift that changes LH fingers. If you're using the Segovia scales to practice shifting, then great, but using them as a model to play the most efficient, fast, or fluid scales is bad. There are better ways to do this with ami/3-note-per-string scales.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Gordon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:24 am

That's what a 'shift' is. Comprendo. What is the technical name of the technique where one slides the fretting finger up and along the string for a few frets and the note that is produced keeps changing all the way up the string? It always sounds 'bluesy' to me. I think is is an Italian word but I can't remember it.

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

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:54 am

Gordon wrote:What is the technical name of the technique where one slides the fretting finger up and along the string for a few frets and the note that is produced keeps changing all the way up the string?
Glissando is the common Italian term Gordon - aka "slide".

There's another term, portamento, which means something subtly different depending on the era (and the composer using it). Basically using the arm to shift an already fretting finger along the string - carrying a second finger into place where it will take over the job. Very common in romantic period playing a la Tárrega but also used before that by e.g. Sor and Aguado.

Some folks use the terms (and techniques) indiscriminately and interchangeably - a shame really as we lose some of the subtlety of phrasing and distinctive period character (if you care about such things - others might argue that they can't hear the difference).

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

Post by Wuuthrad » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:59 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:54 am
Gordon wrote:What is the technical name of the technique where one slides the fretting finger up and along the string for a few frets and the note that is produced keeps changing all the way up the string?
Glissando is the common Italian term Gordon - aka "slide".

There's another term, portamento, which means something subtly different depending on the era (and the composer using it). Basically using the arm to shift an already fretting finger along the string - carrying a second finger into place where it will take over the job. Very common in romantic period playing a la Tárrega but also used before that by e.g. Sor and Aguado.

Some folks use the terms (and techniques) indiscriminately and interchangeably - a shame really as we lose some of the subtlety of phrasing and distinctive period character (if you care about such things - others might argue that they can't hear the difference).

I don't think portamento is even possible on a fretted instrument, although I could be wrong. I've always thought that Guitar was almost, shall we say, 'limited' to glissando, so to speak. Of course if we think about the Guitar from the Electric Guitar perspective, this is probably not the case at all. (Whammy bar and pitch shifting pedals for example.) Or even Pedal Steel.

But this is after all, a Classical forum, so I must digress.

Playing with positional shifts, for me anyway, is absolutely essential for developing guitar technique, and also learning new methods, and that these variety of technical methods help immensely to facilitate expression, which for me is the ultimate goal of any technical exercise- to help broaden the ability to express myself musically, such that I will often repeat and improvisé on a simple exercise using different shifts and different fingerings, adding bits and pieces such as open strings or different harmonic or melodic parts.

I find it a very valuable exercise to play using suggested shifts, but also to occasionally use different positions or fingerings than what are suggested, and using ones that aren't easy or make sense logically at first glance, as are many of the ones originally suggested, in an attempt to shake up my preconceptions and my muscle memory, and also to shift my mind and make it open to the new sounds provided by the nearly infinite voicings and timbres available within the guitars sonic pallete, as sublimely subtle as they may often be.

All that being said, if you think some shifts are weird, you should hang with me and my mates sometime around the campfire jam- that might surely get your head scratching, in a good way of course!

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

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:58 pm

Wuuthrad wrote:I don't think portamento is even possible on a fretted instrument ...
You're correct Wuuthrad, strictly speaking it isn't possible in the manner of a singer or violinist by our current definition - nonetheless, that's exactly the technique that instrumentalists came to emulate, thus the term does stand up in describing music of a certain period ... and beyond sometimes - Segovia, for one, used to say portamento when he meant to convey "slide".

Words are annoyingly capricious - it's why I underlined carrying in my reply. You probably already know that portamento means carrying in Italian, but not in the same sense that an analyst of Tárrega's technique would use it (as I did) in describing the arm/hand/finger mechanism.

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

Post by Crofty » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:42 pm

Julian Ward wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:16 am


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.
I was confused also Julian and asked the OP to explain exactly what he did, in an earlier post - something he declined to do.

I assume Mark's guess is as good as any - as is his advice.

Paul

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

Post by Christopher Langley » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm

Crofty wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:42 pm
Julian Ward wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:16 am


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.
I was confused also Julian and asked the OP to explain exactly what he did, in an earlier post - something he declined to do.

I assume Mark's guess is as good as any - as is his advice.

Paul
Hey now. I explained myself multiple times. I responded to your post and to Julians.

It's not easy.

I come from a blues background.

We almost always slide into or out of a note when moving up or down the fretboard. A slide is all I know to call it. It's essential to how we play.. So this finger switching during a shift is a foreign idea to me.

Celeste figured out exactly what I meant in like the second post. This thread is basically over. I had my suspicions confirmed. It's to do with minimising hand movement.

It's not the large jump that messes me up. It's the large jump coupled with finger change that is hard to do with a good sound and accurately.

I'll get it.
Last edited by Christopher Langley on Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:00 pm

Crofty wrote:... Mark's guess ...
Guess? The very idea ...

I was specifically answering Gordon by the way - not the OP.

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

Post by D.Cass » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:12 pm

Using the pinky to play the B and C notes seem awkward.

About shifts. There are times when we shift with the whole hand. Times when we slide with the pinky to grab the adjacent note. Times when we slide with the index to grab the adjacent. Times when we use open strings to shift the whole hand. The idea is to practice all of them so we have all of them in our back pocket to pull them out when needed.

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

Post by guit-box » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:14 pm

Christopher Langley wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm
... So this finger switching during a shift is a foreign idea to me.

... It's to do with minimising hand movement.

...It's not the large jump that messes me up. It's the large jump coupled with finger change that is hard to do with a good sound and accurately.
I think you're correct to question the need to do a shift with a finger change like Segovia does in his scales. If there's a need to do this in the piece for whatever reason, then do it. If there's no reason to do it, then shift with the same finger like you've been doing. Your intuition is good. Also, whenever you can manage shifting from say 1-1 or 4-4 in the left hand while leaving the thumb fixed, it's going to be better because your hand remains anchored to the neck.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Christopher Langley » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:27 pm

guit-box wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:14 pm
Christopher Langley wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm
... So this finger switching during a shift is a foreign idea to me.

... It's to do with minimising hand movement.

...It's not the large jump that messes me up. It's the large jump coupled with finger change that is hard to do with a good sound and accurately.
I think you're correct to question the need to do a shift with a finger change like Segovia does in his scales. If there's a need to do this in the piece for whatever reason, then do it. If there's no reason to do it, then shift with the same finger like you've been doing. Your intuition is good. Also, whenever you can manage shifting from say 1-1 or 4-4 in the left hand while leaving the thumb fixed, it's going to be better because your hand remains anchored to the neck.
It is a little awkward isn't it? I know I'm not crazy :P Like you say, it only makes sense if you are doing it for some particular reason. A few members have attempted to explain why it might be necessary. Personally, I'm gonna need to see it within the context of a piece to truly understand why we might finger a slide/shift in this way. Ergonomically it makes more sense to use the finger that is closest for any given movement. But, we have to consider the full picture. I can imagine situations where maybe these shifts could be useful.

What do you mean by 1-1 or 4-4.. while leaving thumb fixed I'm having trouble digesting that bit. I'm a visual thinker it can be hard to turn words into an image some time. If you can't think of another way to describe, I understand. I struggle to put things into words some times too. You might be describing exactly how I approach slides.

I'm almost tempted to make a video of how I am playing. It's not with one finger, as some have been lead to believe by my poor description. I use whatever fingers are closest. If I'm going up the scale tends to be pinkie sliding up. If going back.. it tends to be first finger. I utilize the other fingers too, of course, before I start sliding either way. It's.. working for now. If a piece calls for a shift, or if the maestro tells me to play a scale with one.. I'll tackle it then. I don't think I even have to worry about this for a while yet. Getting ahead of myself bigtimes.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by celestemcc » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:22 pm

A few members have attempted to explain why it might be necessary.
It's because you kinda haven't been there yet, Chris, that's all. Check this video of Caprichio Arabe. Beautifully fingered so no large obvious shifts in the beginning. But if you watch for the first large descending scale after the theme, Dyalla shifts several times to complete that scale. He's using Tarrega's fingerings to the best I can see, or close to them; he's preserving a certain sound by playing notes that otherwise could be done on open strings fretted instead. First example that popped into my head. These aren't large shifts here. Moving the whole LH via shifts is faster than sliding fingers in this case. (Video of Marcin Dyalla below).
I'll get it.
Yep, you will!

Point being, shifts happen for a musical reason, typically. In scales it's purely and simply a way to move up the neck, to get the widest range possible on the instrument for a given scale. And it teaches you shifting. Sometimes shifts are the best way to get from A to Q, lol, but as you said, it all depends on context. And as someone above said, a lot of music doesn't include scales (Caprichio Arabe happens to.)

Watch various guitarists playing Bach: pick a piece -- eg, Prelude to BWV998. There are many ways to finger it and it depends on what you hear, what you want to bring out, in the music. At some point or another everyone does it the same way for some measures, and then they diverge again.

In time this will become clear as you move up the neck to learn the entire fingerboard.

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

Post by Christopher Langley » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:39 pm

Wow,

Light-bulb moment guys :)

It seems to me that we more or less use a shift if we will follow the jump with notes played higher.. If we are going to come back and play low notes.. A slide is more in order. Just makes sense.

I see Marcin using both within the first minute.

Great example Celeste.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by guit-box » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:52 pm

Christopher Langley wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:27 pm
What do you mean by 1-1 or 4-4.. while leaving thumb fixed I'm having trouble digesting that bit.
If the last note you play before a descending shift is with left hand finger 1, use 1 for the next note. If possible, avoid shifting from finger 1 to any other finger, and avoid letting the thumb move unless it's absolutely required. See the first descending scale in the Tarrega video. You'd be surprised how many frets your left hand can span without shifting positions with the thumb. The thumb base joint acts like a hinge and it can deliver the fingers to the position they need to go unless it's a really large shift, then of course the thumb has to move too. Avoid finger splaying, instead bring the finger to the fret/string.
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Re: Why do we finger shifts/slides in such a weird way?

Post by Christopher Langley » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:31 pm

guit-box wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:52 pm
Christopher Langley wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:27 pm
What do you mean by 1-1 or 4-4.. while leaving thumb fixed I'm having trouble digesting that bit.
If the last note you play before a descending shift is with left hand finger 1, use 1 for the next note. If possible, avoid shifting from finger 1 to any other finger, and avoid letting the thumb move unless it's absolutely required. See the first descending scale in the Tarrega video. You'd be surprised how many frets your left hand can span without shifting positions with the thumb. The thumb base joint acts like a hinge and it can deliver the fingers to the position they need to go unless it's a really large shift, then of course the thumb has to move too. Avoid finger splaying, instead bring the finger to the fret/string.
Yes,

This is basically what I do. Excellent.
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