Right hand technique: a new perspective

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Lawler
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Lawler » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:15 am

I love playing with a metronome. The metronome feels like a heartbeat to me.

Of course, in real life heart rates change constantly. Maybe a metronome app will be invented that senses the player's physical response and adjusts the BPM (beats per minute) accordingly. Just kidding.

But this thread is about Ortega's perspective on right hand technique so I'll stop there.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:12 pm

Lawler wrote:But this thread is about Ortega's perspective on right hand technique so I'll stop there.
True - and, though I get the feeling that Scott doesn't really pay much attention to what we write, I'll stop after this too.

As a member of the loony minority here on this issue - I won't expect to change anyone's entrenched opinion. The suggestion though, that for everyone, a metronome is some sort of prerequisite for becoming a musician is patently false. How on earth do we imagine a musician's life unfolded before Winkel and Mälzel ... did they just meandering around in the background like some free jazz group, unable to find the pulse? They must have laid awake night after night, praying for some mechanic to come along and invent the Acme Inflexible Conducting Device.
prawnheed wrote:If you ever wish to play with others, practise with a metronome.
Well - that's quite a strong comment. How do you back it up? Are you saying that I won't be able to play in ensemble unless I take up the metronomic yoke? I'll say a polite thanks, but no thanks to that advice.
Tom Poore wrote:In my experience, amateur players who never practice with a metronome are easy to identify.
Tom - I find that amateur players who work extensively with the metronome are equally easy to spot. I spent a large part of my working life in ensemble situations and as an accompanist. I can state outright that metronome monsters (whilst delightfully simple to rattle along with) are easily the most unmusical and most difficult to support due to their often not having an internalised pulse.

In a way, it doesn't matter to me - I can comfortably accompany a human, a metronome or a cement mixer - but it's a shame, especially in examination situations for instance, when a technically adequate player is unable to make use of available support through lack of musical communication.
Tom Poore wrote:Here’s what a former student of Chopin wrote:
“In keeping tempo Chopin was inflexible ... the metronome never left his piano
As you might guess, I'm well aware of discussion around Chopin's time keeping, his favouring of contrametric over agogic rubato etc. We could swap contradictory quotes all day - for instance Berlioz famously said:
Hector Berlioz wrote:... Chopin simply could not play in strict time.
Maybe if he'd kicked the metronome down the street? But it's all beside the point - as was, I accept, the Beethoven stuff. I just wanted to highlight what a shyster Mälzel was.
Tom Poore wrote:By the way, tell an experienced chamber music or orchestral player that practicing with a metronome is a waste of time. The polite ones will suppress a smile and change the subject. The less polite ones won’t.
Hmm, right up until Prawnheed informed me that I can't possibly be, I considered myself to be an experienced chamber musician ... City of London Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Fibonacci Sequence ... harpists, flautists, string quartets ... I could make a list as long as your arm.

Oh well - each to their own.

prawnheed

Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by prawnheed » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:00 pm

I think equating the terms “If you ever want to play with others, practise with a metronome” and “Mark cannot possibly be an experienced chamber musician” is, at best, irrational.

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eno
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by eno » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:06 pm

To me this whole issue with metronome is plain simple. It's not a prerequisite. There are people with good sense of rhythm who don't benefit from using metronome at all. I'm lucky to belong to them, I never used metronome. But I met many people with poorer sense of rhythm saying that a metronome really helped them, and I have no reason not to believe them. On the other hand, like everything else, one can easily overuse/misuse a metronome and become a "metronome monster".

So a reasonable recipe is:
- find out if you have rhythm problems (and people who do usually don't notice it so they need someone else to listen to their playing and tell them)
- find out if a metronome would help fixing them or if you can fix them yourself without a metronome
- if you want to use a metronome, don't overuse it

So the bottom line is: use it if you need it and if it helps, don't use it if you don't need it.
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JRichard Wolf
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by JRichard Wolf » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:42 am

Thank you all for contributing to such an interesting thread. I appreciate the thought put into each post. The differing perspectives help me to slow down to evaluate my own thoughts and incorporate them into my own process.
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Tom Poore
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Tom Poore » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:53 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:The suggestion though, that for everyone, a metronome is some sort of prerequisite for becoming a musician is patently false. How on earth do we imagine a musician’s life unfolded before Winkel and Mälzel ... did they just meandering around in the background like some free jazz group, unable to find the pulse? They must have laid awake night after night, praying for some mechanic to come along and invent the Acme Inflexible Conducting Device.
If everyone was happy with things as they were before the metronome, why did Jean-Baptiste Lully beat time with a heavy staff at rehearsals? The mere fact that the metronome didn’t yet exist doesn’t mean that no one ever beat time. It only means that no one had a reliably precise way to do it. The metronome was invented and caught on because it filled a pressing need.
I spent a large part of my working life in ensemble situations and as an accompanist. I can state outright that metronome monsters (whilst delightfully simple to rattle along with) are easily the most unmusical and most difficult to support due to their often not having an internalised pulse.
Really? They’re harder to work with than players who can’t keep a beat at all? My experience is far different. I’ve encountered players who, when playing in common time, will blithely careen between measures of four beats, three beats, five beats, whatever. Doesn’t bother them in the least—they’re entirely unaware that anything’s wrong. Invariably, they're the ones who’ve never used a metronome. Do you honestly consider them better off than players who at least can keep a beat?

Practicing with a metronome results in rigid playing only if one takes a rigid attitude. The solution isn’t to ban the metronome. Rather, the solution is to be creative with its use. As I pointed out earlier, we can play tempo rubato against a steady beat. We can also turn off the metronome and vary tempo, trusting that we always know where the beat is and how far we can push it musically. We know our sense of the beat is reliable because we’ve put it to the test—the metronome gave us constant and accurate feedback.

A further advantage is when chamber musicians practice their parts at home. When preparing for rehearsal, it helps to know the tempo at which your fellow musicians will be playing. What better way to communicate this than with a metronome marking?

There’s an old saying: “If you want to really know something, measure it.”
In a way, it doesn’t matter to me—I can comfortably accompany a human, a metronome or a cement mixer—but it’s a shame, especially in examination situations for instance, when a technically adequate player is unable to make use of available support through lack of musical communication.
You’re ignoring reality. Much of our practice time is spent alone. This imposes on all of us the need to, on our own, develop a good sense of rhythm. Those who are lucky will find good players to practice with as often as they can. Obviously that’s the ideal situation. But in the real world, how often can we do this? We’re still faced with the necessity of practicing alone most of our time. So in the usual absence of working with live musicians, what’s the next best way to learn to listen carefully? Put a metronome on your stand. Practicing with a metronome forces us to listen to something outside ourselves. That’s an essential first step to musical playing. Those who never practice with a metronome in the solitude of their practice room are locked inside their own heads. They must rely entirely on their own innate feel for rhythm. If they already have an accurate feel, then good for them. If they don’t, oy vey.

Do you truly believe that one who has little or no feel for rhythm and tempo is better off practicing without a metronome?

Tom Poore
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USA

ronjazz
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by ronjazz » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:02 pm

The metronome is a tool. Measuring progress is one of its most important functions, as well as forcing one to practice slowly and mindfully. The ones who claim to never use it or not need it are a very small minority, and no doubt some of them are fine without it, but it's very bad advice for most students. The tonebase lessons make frequent use of the metronome by the world's top guitarists, and as far as ensemble goes, classical guitarists are far behind most other musicians simply because they have so few opportunities. Metronome practicing at an advanced level also strengthens rhythmic sub-division and sight-reading.
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Crofty
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Crofty » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:37 pm

Metronomes:

Since this is a thread by Ortega [from which he is conspicuously absent] I thought I'd start a separate discussion on players' views on using a metronome.

As someone who really enjoyed my time as a duo partner with Mark, I have long been aware of his disdain for them - which I don't share. Interestingly, as a user working with a non-user, we never had any problems with tempi, or anything else that I can think of - apart from the logistics of distance and Mark's teaching workload.

Anyway, new Fred starting soon.

Paul

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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by CarbonElitist » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:55 pm

This is a very interesting technique, especially for somebody like me who is experiencing joint trouble. Thanks for posting!
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:34 pm

I just edited this post to replace the video with a new one in which the tremolo is much better:

Not great, I'm fully aware, but I am now able to hack through some things to the extent that I can reasonably prove what I am claiming below:



Radically increasing the degree of these 2 parameters, "lightness and tightness", which have a symbiotic relationship.

If you think the presentation of the finger to the string is light enough, make it lighter still. If you think the degree of the tightness of the tip joint's subsequent contractive trajectory (during that joint's  sole activatoin) is tight enough, make it tighter still...and then, make it still tighter, again. ["Tightness" not to be confused with "tension". Explanation of this parameter is found just a few paragraphs down]

When you hit upon the correct degree and combination of the 2 parameters of this clearly symbiotic relationship, "lightness and tightness", the miracle happens: 

1. lightness of presentation the finger to the string (from the main knuckle joint)...

2. ...followed by the subsequent "tightness" or "narrowness" or "immediacy" of the tip joint's contractive trajectory during that joint's sole activation (together with simultaneous relaxation of the middle and large main knuckle joints)...

...in both rest stroke and free stroke, it all comes together. 

Re: "TIGHTNESS":

This "tightness" parameter can be envisioned as follows: it is as if there is a piece of sticky dust that is stuck upon the underside of the plucking finger's nail, and from feather light presentation status we are attempting to fling this imaginary piece of sticky dust straight up so that it sticks upon the underside of the plucking finger's own large/ main knuckle joint...

...but we are only activating the tip joint to do so, and only from feather light presentation status, simultaneously relaxing the middle and main/ large knuckle joints.

I was absolutely wrong about the i finger being the cornerstone all of the right hand fingers. We must observe these axioms, but the finger that is in fact the potential cog in the works is the finger that immediately follows p or is used simultaneously with it, which ever the case may be. 

The same is true for rest stroke as it is for free stroke, the only thing that changes with rest stroke is the orientation of the hand, such that the follow through of the rest stroke is artificially terminated at the adjacent string.

When done correctly, the string is directed downward into the top of the instrument, this in spite of the fact that we are using the tip joint to attempt to direct the string towards the main knuckle joint.

The laws of physics and geometry dictate that the string will interface with the fingertip or fingernail such that the string becomes the subject of an opposing force, NOT an engaging one. The string is thus displaced down, into the top of the instrument;

This is true only if we activate the tip joint in the matter that I describe.
Last edited by Ortega on Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:08 pm

Out shopping for Christmas, just had to get this right!

Happy Holidays to all!

Scott


Ortega
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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:33 pm

Here I have fixed the original video from yesterday's post:


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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:37 pm

Crofty wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:46 pm
It's a bit like reading a blog by someone claiming to have found the cure for cancer - but then frequently adding more and more posts to say that they've just worked out the very last element that will, this time...... definitely make it work.
Yes, that's an excellent analogy and precisely the sort of thing that is happening. Of course a cure for cancer would be a far greater thing on every level.

But this IS the cure for what ails the classical guitarist's right hand technique.

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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:15 pm

Happy holidays, everyone!


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Re: Right hand technique: a new perspective

Post by Ortega » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:55 pm

Happy New Year to everyone!😀


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