Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

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
Sebastian
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:41 pm
Location: Argentina

Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by Sebastian » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:14 am

Specifically for free stroke:

There are slow passages where collapsing a tipjoint makes the sound "rounder" so in those scenarios it would be acceptable.
But in stronger and fasters passages, that might be not so good.

In many articles I read (and also video tutorials) that the answer to either collapse or not is to mainly stiff the tipjoints.
Also I've been trying to use more my middle joint (as I found in some videos and articles that it also must participate a lot during free stroke, and in some instances with more participation than the knuckle, although this last one is the one that generates the main thrust). It generates some "Plucking" but not in a way where the tipjoint makes the thrust alone, no, it only aids the complete movement. As I was discussing with guit-box via private messages (btw, hi guit-box, if you're reading this) in a way that it has similarities with the left hand pull-off movement.

So my question is that, how do YOU prevent a fingertip joint from collapsing at all, or the most possible (during free stroke, not rest stroke). Cheers.


PS1: Although the "not collapsing tipjoint in free stroke for fast passages" statement does not seem to be a very stable "law". I've seen some slow motion videos of guitarist collapsing their tipjoints and many times they do collapse. If I recall correctly, Vidovic also collapse her index finger in the alternation a little in the slow motion video. It is just a glimpse.

PS2: Take a look to this guy: How can he prevent his tipjoint from collapsing at that speed? He's producing kind of a thin sound, I get it, but other than that he's still doing a correct movement.
You're reading this.

User avatar
Sebastian
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:41 pm
Location: Argentina

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by Sebastian » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:14 pm

Hi?
You're reading this.

Conall
Posts: 776
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:26 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by Conall » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:35 am

Whether the tip joint is totally collapsed or somewhat stiffened the main movement should always come from the other 2 joints.

According to one RSI specialist (a lutenist) whose lecture I attended the tip joint should have as little tension as possible to avoid RSI and since one of my worst nightmares is to develop RSI or tunnel carpal etc I've stuck to his advice for decades and never had RH problems of the sort despite playing almost every day, sometimes for hours.

The tip may not as obviously collapse as in rest stroke but it's still relaxed and a similar action as R stroke, just at a different angle to avoid the strings physically above.

guit-box
Posts: 1490
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by guit-box » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:15 pm

Maybe if you can't control the tip joints from collapsing a solution could be to exercise and strengthen the tip joints.

Try wedging each finger tip of the right hand between the thumb so the tip of that finger is collapsed and then do a quick but forceful flexion from the tip joint and relax. Repeat for many repetitions for each finger and see if after a month of daily exercising the tips that gives you more control over them. If not, abandon the idea.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

guit-box
Posts: 1490
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by guit-box » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:54 pm

Even in this demonstration where he says one way is wrong and the other is right, he is still using some amount of tip joint flexion along with the other joints as well. What he's doing that's different in the two positions is mostly about hand or wrist or arm position. He's definitely not letting the tip joint collapse or even just stay still/passive. You can see this is true because the tip joint is more curved (contracted) right after he releases (plucks) the string
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Luis_Br
Posts: 2320
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:04 pm

To fix the tip joint should be easy, just tense it. IMO trying to focus which muscle or muscles combinations to work on does not work. We can't think on everything. Focus on tip movement path and target, and let the unconscious work the right muscles. If you can avoid conscious interference, it will work the right way. We don't think each muscle when we walk...
If you already have developed bad habits it may not work well and some control should be worked to remove bad tensiions, with guidance of a good teacher.
Maybe you can try working a stroke with tip only, no knuckle move, to get control of it. Manuel Lopez Ramos used to teach this to a beginner, before starting using the knuckle. Moving the tip will naturally move middle joint together, since it is impossible to move tip alone (the tendon that moves tip moves middle joint together).

In my small experience guiding other players, tip joint flexing is something very particular to each one's hand. Some people have a loose tip that can flex backwards a lot, while others won't flex even when relaxing and forcing back by the other hand. Some have the tip already a bit flexed inwards in the relaxed rest position.

I don't think collapsing or not would affect speed. Just check some flamenco players that play scales very fast with rest strokes and collapsing tips. What changes is desired hand position to reach desired sound. Ability to collapse or not may be an advantage if you want to both change sound while playing in same string or keep sound within different strings without changing hand position. It gives you more hand stability and flexibility to work different sounds.

User avatar
Sebastian
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:41 pm
Location: Argentina

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by Sebastian » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:44 pm

Interesting, I will reply in some hours.
You're reading this.

musikai
Posts: 485
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:32 am
Location: Augsburg, Germany

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by musikai » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:37 pm

The louder you play the more tension you need.
Eduardo Fernandez teaches to play eg. chords with
a
m
i
p
repeatedly, not too slowly, and while you play them you do crescendo and decrescendo. The louder you play you will feel that the tension required will wander up your wrist. At first all quite relaxed, then the louder you get the tension will move starting from the fingertips into the fingers, the main knuckles, the wrist. This can make you aware of different tensions in different parts.

The same is true for alternating free stokes but the tension is only in the millisecond you pluck, you always want to stay relaxed meanwhile.
Free Sagreras Gitarrenschule PDF
Free Project: LibreOffice Songbook Architect (LOSA)
See website link

guit-box
Posts: 1490
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by guit-box » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:31 pm

musikai wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:37 pm
The louder you play the more tension you need.
Eduardo Fernandez teaches to play eg. chords with
a
m
i
p
repeatedly, not too slowly, and while you play them you do crescendo and decrescendo. The louder you play you will feel that the tension required will wander up your wrist. At first all quite relaxed, then the louder you get the tension will move starting from the fingertips into the fingers, the main knuckles, the wrist. This can make you aware of different tensions in different parts.

The same is true for alternating free stokes but the tension is only in the millisecond you pluck, you always want to stay relaxed meanwhile.
Eduardo Fernandez is a fantastic player and I'd like to understand what he's teaching with this, but I haven't a clue what it means and/or how to accurately apply his advice--it's too vague. I've watch videos of Fernandez playing block chords fast and what I see is a bouncing with the whole arm, maybe that's what he means by tension. (locking the joints and moving the whole arm)
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

musikai
Posts: 485
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:32 am
Location: Augsburg, Germany

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by musikai » Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:18 am

guit-box wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:31 pm
musikai wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:37 pm
The louder you play the more tension you need.
Eduardo Fernandez teaches to play eg. chords with
a
m
i
p
repeatedly, not too slowly, and while you play them you do crescendo and decrescendo. The louder you play you will feel that the tension required will wander up your wrist. At first all quite relaxed, then the louder you get the tension will move starting from the fingertips into the fingers, the main knuckles, the wrist. This can make you aware of different tensions in different parts.

The same is true for alternating free stokes but the tension is only in the millisecond you pluck, you always want to stay relaxed meanwhile.
Eduardo Fernandez is a fantastic player and I'd like to understand what he's teaching with this, but I haven't a clue what it means and/or how to accurately apply his advice--it's too vague. I've watch videos of Fernandez playing block chords fast and what I see is a bouncing with the whole arm, maybe that's what he means by tension. (locking the joints and moving the whole arm)
It's an experiment to see how different tensions can be used or are needed when playing louder.

But I have to admit that this possibly isn't a cure to collapsing fingertips as I just experimented with it myself now.
If you place your fingers pima on 4 strings to play a block chord it really is also possible to let the fingertips collapse even at louder volume, though it is more difficult for me than just do the same and not collapse.

What do we do to pluck? You place the finger at the string, then add pressure to displace the string before you release.
The louder you want to play the more you have to displace the string (by adding pressure on it). You can test this very slowly.
Now if you let the fingertips collapse during building this pressure, then the first applied force won't do anything to the string, it will just be used to collapse the fingertip. Now it is locked and the force will be applied to the string.

If you don't let the fingertip collapse then the force will immediately be used to displace the string.

For me it is much more difficult to let the fingertip collapse when doing this. Especially when plucking block chords. It just feels strange and needs a lot of fine placement so that no adjacent strings will be hit.

There is another experiment to try: When doing block chords, try to emphasize single notes in the chord by applying more pressure on a string with the corresponding finger before release.
Pressure.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Free Sagreras Gitarrenschule PDF
Free Project: LibreOffice Songbook Architect (LOSA)
See website link

guit-box
Posts: 1490
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Free Stroke: How to prevent a tipjoint from collapsing?

Post by guit-box » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:59 pm

Pepe Romero has an interesting comment in his method book that I'll paraphrase: "The correct way to collapse is to do it before the pluck as part of the preparation, and then when the note is being released the tip joint regains some strength and assists the pluck" (or something like that). I find this description to be filled with confusion. It's not possible to always prepare the finger and collapse before releasing, so I don't know what he's talking about really, but I do get that the tip joint (while in its most collapsed state) is then in a position to add more flexion to the release.

I've been looking at the pluck lately like a person on a diving board. A diver doesn't necessarily think about pushing the diving board down, he thinks about jumping straight up in the air and as a by-product, the board is driven down. That's how I look at a free stroke today, like I'm pushing off the string, by lifting the finger away from the soundboard from the main joint while following thru with the middle and tip joints at an oblique angle to the string so that the fingernail acts as a ramp and does not hook the string. It could be done with an initial collapse of the tip joint, but that doesn't mean the tip joint remains collapsed it just delays the work of the tip joint. Personally, I try not to collapse the tip joint at this time, but I don't rule out changing my mind later about that.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”