Choosing best position

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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GabrielSilva
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Location: Brazil

Choosing best position

Post by GabrielSilva » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:29 am

Is there some technique or method to choose the best position to play a section when position shifting is not indicated in the scores? I have some trouble with shifting between positions and I tend to use only the first position even when it produces uncomfortable finger movements...

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Choosing best position

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:47 am

GabrielSilva wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:29 am
Is there some technique or method to choose the best position to play a section when position shifting is not indicated in the scores? I have some trouble with shifting between positions and I tend to use only the first position even when it produces uncomfortable finger movements...
Mastering fingering is an important part of developing technqiue. What I have discovered is that guitarists refinger everything so that they can play it securely with minimum risk. The first position is actually the most difficult, because the frets are the furthest apart. Playing a passage higher on the fingerboard can often simplify left-hand fingering and drastically change the tone quality.
In the beginning, analyzing left-hand fingering is very difficult. I sit down with a piece of graph paper and map out the exact movement of each finger between chord A and chord B. You want all these movements to be as close to the natural position of the hand (without stretching) as possbile. With practice, you can just play the transition from one note or group of notes to the next, and observe carefuly what happens to each finger. You want as few fingers changing strings as possible. Remember that all fingering is about preparing to get to the next group of notes with maximum smoothness and security.
Right-hand fingering is equally important. I only learned right-hand fingering very recently from Marco Tamayo's book (which I recommended to you in a different post).
Now, as for shifting: Marco Tamayo says always shift slowly and glissando (with one finger playing the in-between notes). You may not want to perform pieces that way, but it is great for developing smooth technique. Once it becomes second nature, you can slightly lift your guide finger if you do not wish to play the in-between notes. Hope this helps.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

GabrielSilva
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Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:55 am
Location: Brazil

Re: Choosing best position

Post by GabrielSilva » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:09 pm

Thank you, Yisrael van Handel!

I can notice the mechanical difficulties in being stuck in the first position... Some passages suffer from unwanted pauses or lack of smoothness when I need to do complicated finger movements to play it in the first position. The only reason I do that, I think, is due to a more comfortable knowledge of the fingerboard in that region (the first one I have learned). I think I just need a soft way to get out of my comfort zone.

I have appreciated and I will try your technique of fingerboard mapping. I had not thought about the right-hand fingering, but I am sure there is room for a lot of improvement in this hand technique as well, I will look for Marco Tamayo's book. Thank you very much for your hints, they are very helpful!

Derek Hasted
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Location: Havant, UK

Re: Choosing best position

Post by Derek Hasted » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:31 pm

There's no such thing as a perfect fingering, of course :-)

The first position, despite the big stretches and thin tone, has one big plus - the open strings are right there for you, and able to provide some of the notes. As you go up the neck, the open strings get left behind in pitch, and incorporating is not only more awkward, but also their tone is different.

One tip I'd give you for a passage that is hard to "get in the right position" - go to somewhere where, because of the notes, the position is well-determined, and then finger backwards towards the front of that passage - this will often give you a fresh insight on where to change position, or at least more choices that you might have overlooked when fingering it "from one position to a new position"....
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Luis_Br
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Re: Choosing best position

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:12 pm

The final choice should be the musical result. A more difficult fingering may result better articulation and sound. Nonetheless if it is too difficult you might not be able to use it well and it will sound bad, so easier fingering would be better.

Best fingering will change with your technical and musical evolution. If you have difficulties on shifting, you should study and solve it. Some players may choose more difficult fingerings to keep voicing articulation or reach some sound result (eg Julian Bream).

There is an interview with Christopher Parkening to Guitarcoop at youtube where he sais it is a pitty modern players avoid horizontal playing and they do not use to play melodies on the same string anymore. They do not explore the sound of the guitar.

If you check some Parkening arrangements and fingerings, he is a master choosing the most difficult ones...

Tonit
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Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 1:44 am

Re: Choosing best position

Post by Tonit » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:34 pm

Luis_Br wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:12 pm
The final choice should be the musical result. A more difficult fingering may result better articulation and sound. Nonetheless if it is too difficult you might not be able to use it well and it will sound bad, so easier fingering would be better.

Best fingering will change with your technical and musical evolution. If you have difficulties on shifting, you should study and solve it. Some players may choose more difficult fingerings to keep voicing articulation or reach some sound result (eg Julian Bream).

There is an interview with Christopher Parkening to Guitarcoop at youtube where he sais it is a pitty modern players avoid horizontal playing and they do not use to play melodies on the same string anymore. They do not explore the sound of the guitar.

If you check some Parkening arrangements and fingerings, he is a master choosing the most difficult ones...
Right. Absolutely agree.

Given that, the best sounding position is a sort of catch 22-ish game.
Suppose you have two fingerings for a phrase: "Easy" one where you can play effortlessly and flawlessly, and "Difficult" one where you cannot play it without making any buzz or other issue that requires you to work on for a while.

If you try both "Easy" one and "Difficult" one as you stand, "Easy" one inevitably sounds better than "Difficult" one overall, because the tune sounds more complete in the first place. So any fair comparison at this stage is impossible. Teacher or your guitarmate can possibly play "Difficult" one without a sweat for you to decide, but they are not you yourself.

So what happens to me oftentimes is that, I start off with the best out of I can already play, throughout the tune. Then eventually I spot out what I am not happy with in the course of 2-3 years playing the tune, and then try to improve them without changing their respective positios.

Failing that, I finally start explore something I really have to work on, i.e. "Difficult" one(s).

It is not just once that I have to go through this, but many times over the 2-3 year period to arrive at provisional bests at the respective times. In fact I allocate vast majority of time exploring ways to improve my performance of a tune, most notably trying many "Difficult" ones.

So, it's a good start to play in a position where you can play the phrase no problem.

Good luck.

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