Riddle me this batman...

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Vonseggern
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Riddle me this batman...

Post by Vonseggern » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:23 am

If, as I am to understand, there are no muscles in the fingers, and the large muscles of the forearm are the motors of the fingers. Might it be said that I should strengthen the muscles in the forearm separately to enable increased strength in my left hand?

Could it also be said that exercising the forearms instead of the hands themselves would cause less wear and tear on my old hands?

Thank you.
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Robin
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Robin » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:20 am

Here are some interesting videos to learn about the muscles of the hand:



And this one including muscles of the entire arm; discussion of the forearm muscles begins at 8:30 in the video:



Best,

Robin
Last edited by Robin on Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BellyDoc
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by BellyDoc » Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:48 am

Good luck exercising your forearms without using your hands!

I assume you're interested in increasing strength for the purpose of playing guitar. Is that correct?

Although you're correct that there are no muscles in the fingers, and also that there are larger muscle clusters in the forearms that connect to the fingers, there are also a large number of important muscles in the HAND that control the fingers. These are referred to as the intrinsic muscles of the hand, where the forearm muscles are referred to as extrinsic. Fine control of hand and finger motion is dominated by the function of the intrinsics, and there are overlapping and cooperative roles between muscle groups, and even between muscles and their opponents. It's very complicated.

Furthermore there are 2 different types of muscle fiber, generally referred to as fast and slow twitch that are distributed differently in different muscles. Slow twitch muscle tends to have more power and endurance, while fast twitch has more speed. Forearm/extrinsic muscle tends to be slow twitch predominant and the intrinsics have a higher proportion of fast twitch fibers. My understanding of the physiologic differences is relatively superficial, but in general what I gather is that fast twitch fibers are generally harder to build up endurance in, and when muscles gain bulk, they tend to gain slow twitch fibers. If so, building strength and endurance may interfere with speed and agility.

It may be that an important part of the experience of gaining "strength" and "endurance" in the hand really just involves learning how to economize the duration of intrinsic muscle usage, and how to relax unnecessary opposing tension.
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Larry McDonald
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Larry McDonald » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:39 am

Hi Vonseggern,

You are correct, there are no muscles in the fingers. But there are muscles in the hand. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscles_of_the_hand

It is my belief that -as the student progresses, one must correctly develop the intrinsic muscles in the hand. This development plays a critical role in acquiring virtuostic technique.

All the best,
Lare
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2018 Michael Thames "Ancient Dragon" Cd/Ir
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar and Theory Instructor

Crofty
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Crofty » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:23 pm

Larry McDonald wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:39 am


It is my belief that -as the student progresses, one must correctly develop the intrinsic muscles in the hand. This development plays a critical role in acquiring virtuostic technique.

Hi Larry - any thoughts as to *how* to achieve that aim?

Paul

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Larry McDonald
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Larry McDonald » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:46 pm

Hi,
Yes, a few years ago researchers discovered that those muscles can grow new muscle fiber bundles, even in old folks like me. The type of muscle fiber bundles depends upon the demands placed upon the hands. These are slow burn, slow twitch, fast-twitch and super fast twitch bundles. You can guess which is preferable. So, I practice the twitchy style of playing for the right hand, returning the finger to its parked position above the strings as part of the practice of the plucking; I never hold the fingers in the palm.
-Lare
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2018 Michael Thames "Ancient Dragon" Cd/Ir
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar and Theory Instructor

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:36 pm

Larry McDonald wrote:... researchers discovered that those muscles can grow new muscle fiber bundles, even in old folks like me. The type of muscle fiber bundles depends upon the demands placed upon the hands. These are slow burn, slow twitch, fast-twitch and super fast twitch bundles. You can guess which is preferable.
I believe that this supports my long held belief that we should avoid teaching apoyando as the default stroke for beginners (though we may include it in the toolbox later).

dtoh
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by dtoh » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:12 pm

Larry McDonald wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:39 am
It is my belief that -as the student progresses, one must correctly develop the intrinsic muscles in the hand. This development plays a critical role in acquiring virtuostic technique.
IMHO the lack of emphasis on building the strength, independence and dexterity in the intrinsic hand muscles is a major failure of CG pedagogy. It is particularly critical for beginning students.

Crofty
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Crofty » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:46 pm

ps

I am also less than impressed by the school of thought that says certain fingers should be held inside the hand and then released together in order to develop tremolo technique.

I've never understood why - and my own fingers certainly don't seem to want to stay close to my palm in that prescribed manner!
Last edited by Crofty on Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Crofty
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Crofty » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:54 pm

Larry McDonald wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:46 pm
I never hold the fingers in the palm.
-Lare
Likewise Larry.

I also find the advice from so many "experts" about different hand positions for free and rest stroke very unhelpful. Similarly the idea that in free stroke the fingers necessarily have to go beyond the adjacent lower string is a myth, in my opinion.

Yes, they can do, but if one is not physically touching** the adjacent lower string it is perfectly possible [and desirable] for the finger movement to be limited enough that it doesn't actually travel that far anyway. If it doesn't need to then why should it?

Paul

[**I really don't like the word "rest" in this context: it has absolutely the wrong image of what should be occurring.]

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guitarrista
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by guitarrista » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:31 pm

Robin wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:20 am
Here are some interesting videos to learn about the muscles of the hand:
[...]
Best,

Robin
Thank you , Robin. I've encountered the videos of Dr. Nabil Ebraheim before, though have not seen this particular one. I like how he presents all relevant info very clearly.
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

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guitarrista
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by guitarrista » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:54 pm

Larry McDonald wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:46 pm
Hi,
Yes, a few years ago researchers discovered that those muscles can grow new muscle fiber bundles, even in old folks like me.
Larry, could you provide a reference to that paper? I tried a quick search but did not come across anything that seemed an obvious candidate for what you are saying, so clearly I don't have the right keywords..
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

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guitarrista
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by guitarrista » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:10 pm

Crofty wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:46 pm
ps

I am also less than impressed by the school of thought that says certain fingers should be held inside the hand and then released together in order to develop tremolo technique.

I've never understood why - and my own fingers certainly don't seem to want to stay close to my palm in that prescribed manner!
As you know (you were there :-)) we had a more detailed discussion recently on this with Nick Cutroneo on the "Fast and clean arpeggio" thread, starting at about here.
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

Crofty
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by Crofty » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:33 pm

Ah, Konstantin, I remember it well...

guit-box
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Re: Riddle me this batman...

Post by guit-box » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:38 pm

There are several world class guitarists who recommend practicing either rasguedo strums and/or single note rasguedo scales or back and forth with individual fingers tremolo to develop a good finger stroke. This would imply that the simply letting the finger bounce back on its own may not be the best advice. It could be that it works for some but for others we need to practice building strength and coordination with muscles that move the fingers in both directions. Tonebase has some good lessons on this.
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