Romeros and tip joints

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guit-box
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Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:49 pm

I have Pepe Romero's method book and Angel Romero's DVD. Both of them talk about tip joints using terms like "give" and "collapse". Pepe describes less give for free stroke and more for rest stroke, and he has very specific instructions how to collapse the finger during the plant/pressure and then it regains firmness. Angel describes how there is tiny amount of collapse on free stroke and that the joint gives a little. I'm paraphrasing both here, so I may have something not exact, but this is the basic idea as I read it.

The thing is, I can't see Angel's fingertips in the video, and Pepe's book doesn't have any pictures that show what it looks like. My first assumption is that they both mean the tip will collapse away from the hand (hyperextending momentarily). When I watch videos of them, to my eyes, it looks like their tips are mostly firm and only occasionally collapsing, and any collapsing is on rest stroke mostly. On free stroke I don't see it. Has anyone here studied with them and asked them about this or seen it up close? I'm also wondering if it's possible (for free stroke) that they are using the term "collapse" or "give" to mean a flexion--towards the palm, or in other words, collapsing INTO the palm. Is that possible?
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Jim Thompson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:07 pm

I was taught that on rest strokes, the fingertip should be relaxed. That's the key. My teacher had very flexible joints and her fingertips would bend noticeably away on rest strokes, less so on free strokes. The motive power should come from the upper parts of the fingers. My fingertips won't bend back unless you apply vice-grips. And that's OK as long as the tips are relaxed.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:32 pm

I was taught a similar thing. My tips are quite flexible too, especially my m finger. My m finger feels very uncontrolled on free stroke if it's allowed to relax. I think it's pretty clear that on rest stroke a lot of players allow the tips to collapse. I've watched dozens of youtube videos, slowed them down, and it's easy to see collapsing. Free stroke is another story, the hand is curved and the tips are usually hidden. There's some really clear video of Paul Gallbraith's right hand on youtube. I slowed that down and you can clearly see him collapsing on rest stokes, but on free strokes it looks just opposite. He's plucking towards the palm with the tips.
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:37 pm

I think basic movement should come from finger knuckle, and tip joint collapsing or not is a matter of final sound/tone you look for. You may both collapse or fix them, depending on the angle of playing and type of sound you look for, or to adjust angle according to hand position for a specific passage or arpegio. With the collapsing or not you can adjust angle and move string more toward the soundboard, or not. I recomend practicing with collapsing and non-collapsing tipjoint and feel/listen to the result.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Praeludium » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:49 pm

Tip joints aren't supposed to do that. Whether it's at the piano, the guitar, in the everyday life, whateve, don't do that : it's unhealthy, can lead to injury, and I've been told by my physiotherapist that it was very complicated to correct.
Now they can be firm while being relaxed. But they aren't supposed to collapse.
Some famous musicians might do it but it's really not a good idea - and I'm pretty sure many terrific guitarists don't do that.
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Macleod410

Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Macleod410 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:00 pm

This should answer your question, I did it after recording the Aranjuez

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NTB0PBlzxB0

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:05 pm

it's unhealthy, can lead to injury, and I've been told by my physiotherapist that it was very complicated to correct.
That's a very interesting comment, never heard that before. Can you elaborate on what the physiotherapist said and/or where they found this information.

On rest stroke, I've seen more famous guitarists that (momentarily) collapse to some degree than don't. I think the collapsing is more about being able to play rest stroke and free stroke in more or less the same position. The collapsing allows you to keep the fingers more curved and only make a slight adjustment to get a rest stroke from free stroke position. On free stroke, as I said in my earlier posts, it's difficult to see in videos. Also, if it's only a tiny collapse of free stroke (as the Romeros describe), maybe it can't be seen at all.

I definitely can and have experimented with both ways and I can hear tonal differences. The string being pushed into the sound hole is also very apparent and the tone is full with a collapse. I'm really more concerned with the free stroke, because it seems pretty awkward for my hand. For me, I don't think of it as a firm tip, I can feel a slight plucking with the tip, even though the tip joint can't move very much. It feels like this is where the precision of the pluck comes from. If I were to collapse, all precision is lost.
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:16 pm

Macleod410- your i,m rest stroke technique is impressive. My observation is that your tips collapse on the rest strokes, but it's very little. I can't tell if they collapse on the free stroke.

Perhaps the issue here is not as simple as to collapse or not, but more about if your tips have a lot of natural movement or very little. I feel like if I allowed them to relax on free stroke, it would be too much movement, maybe for someone else it wouldn't be a problem.
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by sphinx » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:59 am

I agree with Praeludium, it may result in injury as it involves training away muscles meant to stabilize the joint on impact. In addition it results in some loss of control over the stroke. I don't know what Angel and Pepe said but from their Youtube clips I can see that both keep their finger tips firm as they hit accross the string during rest stroke runs.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:34 pm

Pepe Romero from his method La Guitara talking about free stroke and the tip joint:
Each finger's curvature should be maintained throughout a stroke. (There is one small exception: each time a finger plays--touches the string, applies pressure and releases it--a small shock is produced. This shock must be absorbed by the flexibility of the distal interphalangeal joint, which gives at the moment the initial pressure is being applied. If this joint is instead held stiff and rigid, a harsh tone is produced.)
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by guit-box » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:45 pm

Pepe Romero--From his method La Guitara about Rest Stroke and tip joints:
The major difference between the rest stroke and free stroke is in the amount of flexing in the distal interphalangeal joint. Be careful of when and how much you flex. The flexing should serve as a shock absorber. if it happens the moment the sound is produced, the string will be plucked slower and the tone will be mushy and out of focus.

The correct way to flex is this: As you begin to apply pressure to the string, the interphalangeal joint gives a little. Then, when you release the string, the joint regains some of its strength
I'm not sure how Pepe is meaning the word "flex" in this quote. It seems like he's using the terms flex and give to mean passively hyper-extend, so that's how I'm interpreting his words. It sounds like he's saying the tip joint should collapse a little on the pressure, and then perform a flexion at the release. I can hear and see that collapsing on the pressure pushes the string down more, but thinking about collapsing and then flexing during one pluck is pretty complicated. On the other hand, Pepe is quite detailed in his description, so it's difficult to just dismiss it.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Luis_Br » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:13 pm

Praeludium wrote:Tip joints aren't supposed to do that. Whether it's at the piano, the guitar, in the everyday life, whateve, don't do that : it's unhealthy, can lead to injury, and I've been told by my physiotherapist that it was very complicated to correct.
Now they can be firm while being relaxed. But they aren't supposed to collapse.
Some famous musicians might do it but it's really not a good idea - and I'm pretty sure many terrific guitarists don't do that.
I will try to check that with my physiotherapist.
It is important to notice it is not a collapsing up to the maximum, in the way I see it. Finger shouldn't either rest strongly over next string with collapsing tip puting whole arm weight over it. I've mentioned in other topics I am against arm weight. It is a controlled amount of collapsing, can collapse a bit or not. When collapsing, the finger is already very relaxed to release the string, the finger should only caress the string when collapsing. Another point is that this view I built up from my teachers here in Brazil. I don't know if it is related to Romeros point of view.
Last edited by Luis_Br on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Ramon Amira » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:14 pm

I hate to disagree with my old friend Pepe, but I feel the tip joint should never collapse, whether apoyando or tirando.

If that joint collapses the force of the stroke is dissipated, and you will get a weak stroke. This is related to where the impetus for the stroke comes from – another subject of wide debate and disagreement.

The impetus for the stroke should come from the large knuckle, the one closest to the hand. The tip joint should be kept in a firm slightly flexed position throughout the stroke, and not allowed to collapse.

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Larry McDonald
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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Larry McDonald » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:44 pm

Prominent Critic wrote:I hate to disagree with my old friend Pepe, but I feel the tip joint should never collapse, whether apoyando or tirando.

If that joint collapses the force of the stroke is dissipated, and you will get a weak stroke. This is related to where the impetus for the stroke comes from – another subject of wide debate and disagreement.

The impetus for the stroke should come from the large knuckle, the one closest to the hand. The tip joint should be kept in a firm slightly flexed position throughout the stroke, and not allowed to collapse.

Ramon
I completely agree with Prominent Critic -not that he needs my support; I have never understood why one would want to cultivate a floppy tip joint. I't can only un-focus the sound and make for a slower stroke. With the exception of Kevin Gallagher (a BIG exception), I've never seen this done with any satisfactory result.

Christopher Berg in Mastering Guitar Technique: Process and Essence, pgs 12-15 gives a detailed and very convincing anatomical reasoning about why the tip joints should have a momentary firmness, and then immediately empty the tension.

When a student comes to my studio with floppy tip (DIP) joints, I ask them to read the Berg mentioned above, and then seriously consider repairing the stroke.

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Re: Romeros and tip joints

Post by Bill B » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:45 pm

Prominent Critic wrote:I hate to disagree with my old friend Pepe, but I feel the tip joint should never collapse, whether apoyando or tirando.

If that joint collapses the force of the stroke is dissipated, and you will get a weak stroke. This is related to where the impetus for the stroke comes from – another subject of wide debate and disagreement.

The impetus for the stroke should come from the large knuckle, the one closest to the hand. The tip joint should be kept in a firm slightly flexed position throughout the stroke, and not allowed to collapse.

Ramon
now, isnt the strength of the note directly related to the deflection of the string and the manner of release? i mean, i think the issue of what the knuckles are doing is relevant to the sound only in so far as they effect this. it seems to me that the finger collapsing and then regaining stiffness before release would not sound different from a finger that simply maintained the same stiffness, if everything else were the same.
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