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Musical technique hints and tips

Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 16 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,johnmc 29 Mar 16 - 06:16 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Mar 16 - 06:54 AM
Will Fly 29 Mar 16 - 06:59 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Mar 16 - 06:59 AM
Will Fly 29 Mar 16 - 07:06 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 16 - 07:11 AM
Will Fly 29 Mar 16 - 07:28 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 16 - 07:37 AM
Backwoodsman 29 Mar 16 - 07:52 AM
Sean Belt 29 Mar 16 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Mar 16 - 10:54 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 16 - 11:12 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Mar 16 - 11:34 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Mar 16 - 11:37 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Mar 16 - 11:39 AM
Will Fly 29 Mar 16 - 11:56 AM
punkfolkrocker 29 Mar 16 - 12:31 PM
meself 29 Mar 16 - 12:40 PM
gillymor 29 Mar 16 - 01:04 PM
punkfolkrocker 29 Mar 16 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 29 Mar 16 - 05:35 PM
Dave the Gnome 30 Mar 16 - 03:50 AM
Johnny J 30 Mar 16 - 04:54 AM
Backwoodsman 30 Mar 16 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Mar 16 - 07:47 AM
Johnny J 30 Mar 16 - 07:50 AM
Will Fly 30 Mar 16 - 07:53 AM
Backwoodsman 30 Mar 16 - 10:45 AM
gillymor 30 Mar 16 - 11:45 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Mar 16 - 01:13 PM
Marje 30 Mar 16 - 04:23 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 Mar 16 - 06:12 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 Mar 16 - 06:14 PM
Tattie Bogle 31 Mar 16 - 04:22 PM
Jack Campin 31 Mar 16 - 07:22 PM
Will Fly 01 Apr 16 - 03:11 AM
leeneia 01 Apr 16 - 07:37 AM
TheSnail 01 Apr 16 - 07:39 AM
gillymor 01 Apr 16 - 08:12 AM
gillymor 01 Apr 16 - 09:09 AM
wysiwyg 01 Apr 16 - 12:14 PM
Mark Clark 01 Apr 16 - 03:36 PM
gillymor 01 Apr 16 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,DrWord 01 Apr 16 - 08:40 PM
JenBurdoo 02 Apr 16 - 12:53 PM
Will Fly 02 Apr 16 - 01:26 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Apr 16 - 01:29 PM
Will Fly 02 Apr 16 - 01:33 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Apr 16 - 01:36 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Apr 16 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,DTM 02 Apr 16 - 03:23 PM
Backwoodsman 02 Apr 16 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,DrWord 02 Apr 16 - 05:33 PM
Will Fly 03 Apr 16 - 04:45 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 16 - 05:01 AM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 09:19 AM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 09:29 AM
Jack Campin 03 Apr 16 - 09:29 AM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 09:48 AM
meself 03 Apr 16 - 11:03 AM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 01:51 PM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 02:28 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Apr 16 - 03:12 PM
The Sandman 03 Apr 16 - 04:12 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Apr 16 - 05:28 PM
The Sandman 04 Apr 16 - 03:58 AM
The Sandman 04 Apr 16 - 08:09 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Apr 16 - 08:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Apr 16 - 08:42 AM
gillymor 04 Apr 16 - 09:56 AM
punkfolkrocker 04 Apr 16 - 10:12 AM
GUEST 04 Apr 16 - 01:07 PM
gillymor 04 Apr 16 - 01:19 PM
The Sandman 04 Apr 16 - 04:52 PM
The Sandman 05 Apr 16 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,DrWord 05 Apr 16 - 09:33 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Apr 16 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,DrWord 06 Apr 16 - 03:04 PM
Marje 06 Apr 16 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,FloraG 07 Apr 16 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Apr 16 - 10:16 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Apr 16 - 07:04 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Apr 16 - 07:15 PM
The Sandman 08 Apr 16 - 03:34 AM
Brian May 08 Apr 16 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Apr 16 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Peter from seven stars link 08 Apr 16 - 01:12 PM
Jack Campin 08 Apr 16 - 07:08 PM
Steve Shaw 08 Apr 16 - 08:37 PM
AlbertsLion 09 Apr 16 - 06:49 AM
The Sandman 09 Apr 16 - 07:32 AM
Steve Shaw 09 Apr 16 - 08:34 AM
meself 09 Apr 16 - 01:02 PM
The Sandman 09 Apr 16 - 03:52 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Apr 16 - 04:33 PM
punkfolkrocker 09 Apr 16 - 04:48 PM
Jack Campin 09 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,DrWord 09 Apr 16 - 07:46 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Apr 16 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Apr 16 - 03:54 AM
The Sandman 10 Apr 16 - 03:59 AM
Jack Campin 10 Apr 16 - 06:55 AM
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Subject: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:02 AM

Last week my accordion teacher told me something I would never have thought of on my own. When playing a single note repeated a number of times, as in 'Blaydon Races' in this case, using separate fingers instead of just stabbing the same key with the same finger, results in a better separation of the notes.

How many more things like that are known to all you good players out there? C'mon, give us poor learners a break and share your advanced techniques here. Be it keyboard, strings or nose flutes, give us some good tints and hips :-)


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,johnmc
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:16 AM

Having played guitar for years, I thought I'd take up fiddle.
One useful lesson was to keep a finger on a string if possible so that you can repeat that note having played another. It is not something that came naturally as, unlike on guitar, the string doesn't keep ringing.
My other hint is don't expect quick results when trying to play the violin.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:54 AM

When playing the harmonica, relax your lower jaw almost into a semi-yawn. Tilt the harp at a slight upward angle (back end upward in other words). Make sure it's quite deep in your mouth. Huff and draw, don't blow and suck. Your nose is your air button. Your harmonicas will last much longer, you'll be louder, you'll get a great tone and you'll project your sound much more effectively. Force is anathema!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:59 AM

My useful tip - for any instrument - is: practice, practice and practice again. and then when you've practiced, practice some more.

One tip I got from my old mate Alan Day, when pootling around with an Anglo concertina was: concentrate on getting an equal distribution of sound/volume on the push AND the pull. He could always tell if someone was a beginner by the fluctuating volume on the pushing and pulling.

As far as fiddle fingering is concerned, my own teacher also advised me to keep fingers down where possible - not only for lessening unnecessary finger movement but also for retaining position. Guitars have frets and fiddles don't, so finger positions are crucial for intonation. Interestingly, in a Chris Newman guitar workshop, Chris advised taking fingers off rather than leaving them on. We then all had an interesting conversation about contrasting fiddle and guitar techniques!

My tip for tenor guitar players: you can get away with the first 3 fingers on a mandolin for much of the time, but use all four fingers is a must for the longer scale tenor (both tuned in 5ths). So, exercise that little finger because it's going to work harder. [See my YT video Playing the Tenor Guitar (CGDA).

Finally, a controversial tip for fingerpicking guitarists: DON'T rest your little finger on the face of the guitar - it restricts movement. And, YES, I know that people like Merle Travis, Woody Mann and Duck Baker rest their little fingers... :-)


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:59 AM

And don't listen to Dylan's harmonica playing!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:06 AM

Here's another tip for any instrument. Concentrate on making every note sound as it should - and play at a speed which is appropriate to do so. In other words, start slowly and only build up to the requisite tempo when every note still sounds perfectly. If you fluff a note at higher speed - reign in the speed.

Use a metronome of equivalent to regulate your speed. Set the temp slow at first and then increase as necessary. After 50+ years of playing, I can still feel myself speeding now and then - carried away by the energy of the moment(!) - and I often record using a Garageband bass track to keep myself reg'lar.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:11 AM

All good stuff so far but I am not sure if we should include what you use to facilitate movements, Will :-)


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:28 AM

It's good to be regular! Louis Armstrong recommended a laxative called Swiss Kriss to keep regular - I prefer a metrognome myself...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:37 AM

That was one of my cousins - He built the underground railway in Paris...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:52 AM

"Finally, a controversial tip for fingerpicking guitarists: DON'T rest your little finger on the face of the guitar - it restricts movement. And, YES, I know that people like Merle Travis, Woody Mann and Duck Baker rest their little fingers"

Seconded, Will. Restrictive in terms of tone-changes, and restrictive in terms of smooth finger-movement and rhythm production. It's completely unnecessary, and it just takes a little practice to play without anchoring the pinky to the top.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Sean Belt
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:21 AM

I'll second Will's suggestion of practicing with a metronome. I often play in jam sessions with folks that I can tell practice/play alone without a metronome. They tend to speed up on the parts they know well and slow down on the more difficult parts or parts they don't know as well.

I'll also recommend an aphorism from my friend and a great old-time banjo player, Dave Landreth, "Practice slow to play fast." When learning a new tune or a new lick, practice it more slowly than you think you need to; once you've got it nailed you can bring it up to speed. Practicing something new at speed leads to sloppy playing.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:54 AM

Keep your instrument in your living area, on display and handy to pick up.

Play the harp with your thumbs high in the air.

Sean, I like your tip about speed. I'm trying to play for dancers now, and speed is my big problem.

Dave, congratulations on learning accordion. I love accordion.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 11:12 AM

I'm trying, leeneia! I have had one for years and messed about with it but it is only in the last 30 months or so that I have taken it seriously. Which brings me to one more tip - Don't learn bad habits. They are a bugger to break!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 11:34 AM

I've never used a metronome and I don't speed up. Whilst I struggled for years with what I'd call internal timings, or internal rhythm if you like, I can maintain a steady tempo right through a tune. I don't go along with what I'd call the received wisdom of the value of metronomes. To me, a metronome helps you to play in time with a metronome. My way of training myself to keep both tempo and good internal rhythm was to latch on to a good melody player and stay with them. Unless you're playing solo most of the time, active listening and interactions with good musicians is the best education.



And don't tap your feet! Your metronome is in your head.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 11:37 AM

Don't learn bad habits - true! And don't practise your mistakes either. Stop and sort them out, slow them down, whatever, but always play the right notes in the right order!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 11:39 AM

ARE the best education. I need grammar education.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 11:56 AM

I know what you mean about metronomes, Steve. In actual fact, I often create a nice bass track for a new and complex tune in Garageband - and then play along with that. Much more humane!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 12:31 PM

I've always been a rhythm guitarist since first struggling to learn guitar playing along to Shadows LPs
with my mate who bagsied being Hank Marvin.

Then along came Wilko Johnson and my role as a guitarist in bands was sealed forever....

That and years working in Dark Rooms counting elephants gave me a very reliable precise internal clock.

Though I think the springs and cogs need a little attention and oiling these days....

My tip for young electric guitarists...

Those knobs on your guitar actually do something useful.
THEY DON'T need to be dialed permanently to 10...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: meself
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 12:40 PM

Relax. Seriously. Seriously relax. Especially if you play the fiddle.

But as for bad habits - as someone on Fiddle-L once said, Stick with them long enough and they become your style ... !


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 01:04 PM

I play stringed instruments so I'm not sure if this applies to accordion players but practice loud. You can always get quieter but it's not so easy to increase volume comfortably when playing with other people. It will also increase your dynamic range and will give you an idea of what your instrument is capable of.

As for anchoring the pinky my philosophy is to be flexible. Most of the time now I don't anchor but occasionally, when I do old time fingerpicking or country blues, I drop the pinky on to the top to help get a heavy back beat.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 01:10 PM

BTW.. too many brand new strat/tele style guitars suffer from terrible earthing problems,
so as soon as your little finger touches or rests on the plastic Scratchplate / Pickguard
you'll soon enough know why to try to avoid doing it again...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 05:35 PM

Slide the fifths into fourth...


Sincerely,
Gargoyle

the legs are always intended for the crew.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 03:50 AM

Sorry, Gargoyle, I don't understand your post :-(


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Johnny J
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 04:54 AM

Something which I've only grasped fairly recently is that it's sometimes NOT best to stick rigidly to the rules regarding technique.

Yes, it's important to learn them but also useful to break them from time to time. Quite often the standard forms of fingering(applies to all instruments) just don't work very well on certain tunes or they feel very awkward. So, if something slightly different works better for you on a particular piece then why not? As long as you are aware of what you are doing and not just slipping into bad habits of course....

This revelation came to me when learning the harp and, to a lesser extent, the piano accordion, where you have to "plan ahead" as regards fingering. Depending on how the tune is arranged there are many different possibilities(not all players necessarily choose the same fingering although there are some basic rules). I then started to think a bit more about what I was doing on the mandolin and fiddle..although with most tunes the fingering still comes naturally, it does help with the trickier ones to try something a little different.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 07:03 AM

"Something which I've only grasped fairly recently is that it's sometimes NOT best to stick rigidly to the rules regarding technique."

I'd go along with that - re the comments about not anchoring the picking hand to a guitar top, it's obviously necessary, for instance, when playing a blues or rag where a damped and percussive bass-line is called for, to use the heel of the hand to dampen the bass strings at the bridge.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 07:47 AM

I never anchor my pinkie. Here's why:

Go to this famous image of God creating Adam:

art


Now imitate God's hand reaching out. Next bend your pinkie downward. If you are like me, you will feel your palm become hard and rigid, and your other fingers will get stiff. Just what you don't want in playing music.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Johnny J
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 07:50 AM

WHen playing the harp, I never use it at all. ;-))


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 07:53 AM

I'd go along with that - re the comments about not anchoring the picking hand to a guitar top, it's obviously necessary, for instance, when playing a blues or rag where a damped and percussive bass-line is called for, to use the heel of the hand to dampen the bass strings at the bridge.

Erm, without being picky (ho ho), I rather think they're two separate things. Using the heel of the hand to damp the strings is a perfectly valid technique for getting a particular sound, whereas sticking the little finger rigidly on the guitar face is, to my way of thinking, an unnecessary restriction.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 10:45 AM

Completely agree, Will.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 11:45 AM

Here's Tommy Emmanuel doing what he has to do to get his desired outcome. Everybody has to follow their own path but, and this is a serious question, why leave tools out of the toolbox?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 01:13 PM

My teacher Harry and his star pupil Thom.

Maybe in 40 or so years. When I have topped the ton...

:D


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Marje
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 04:23 PM

I was once at a workshop with John Kirkpatrick, who told us to practise a new tune slowly and staccato. That certainly works for melodeon, and may well work for other instruments. It prevents you from fudging and smudging over the tricky bits.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 06:12 PM

I've barely touched a guitar this year due to time & energy consuming concerns about my old mum..

So I just picked up a Strat style guitar which was one of my go to instruments,
just to remind myself of my playing 'technique'...

My wrist automatically rests behind and just on the bridge, so palm muting is my default position
for dampening strings and coaxing pinched harmonics.

Only lifting off the strings when I want sustain to swell out into ringing notes & chords...

Particularly effective with vintage circuit fuzz boxes & treble boosters.... 😎


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 06:14 PM

meant to type "bridge saddles"


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 04:22 PM

Phrasing and dynamics: these are what distinguish a musical tune from a mechanical string of notes. It is quite a rarity to see any phrase marks included in written-down scores of trad music, while it is the norm in classical music: but this doesn't mean you shouldn't try to phrase your tune. If you are an ear player, you will hopefully be able to feel where a musical phrase naturally ends, and the next one begins: a bit like taking a breath while singing. And never be afraid of brief silent gaps between notes: used appropriately, these will undoubtedly enhance your playing and also help you to keep the right timing: shortening long notes often leads to speeding up.
By dynamics, I mean louds and softs and all shades in between: for accordionists this means learning to use, or restrict use of, your bellows. Sometimes you can give an extra push or pull in the middle of a long note, which will add a new dimension to the tune.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 07:22 PM

When playing the flute, point your feet 30-45 degrees to the right. This will bring the flute round so that it's lined up right side to side, parallel with the front of the stage. Ditto if you're playing seated: swing the chair round to the right, don't point it straight at the audience. The result will be a better posture for breathing and the flute will project straight out ahead.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 03:11 AM

A tip from guitarist Chris Newman at a workshop - wear a strap when playing guitar, even when sitting down. It will rest at a good angle for playing and relieve possible tension on neck and back. It's not a piece of advice I've always followed religiously, but I certainly do when playing the tenor guitar, which has a smaller body.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 07:37 AM

"shortening long notes often leads to speeding up."

I intend to remember that.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 07:39 AM

Slightly off the main subject but, as club rep, I was sitting in at the beginning of the workshop Will mentions. When Chris gave that advice, our mutual friend Ian snuck back to his case to get his strap. On the way back he turned to me and, in a stage whisper, said "He's very good!".


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 08:12 AM

One of the best tips I've gotten is simply "dance the rhythm".


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 09:09 AM

This may seem obvious but when moving a chord up or down the neck to a different chord shape find a finger that remains on the same string as the chord you're moving from, if possible.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: wysiwyg
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 12:14 PM

If you're playing autoharp tabletop, save your joints by using a tilted surface. A pool noodle under your case can work. When you strum or pick, curve your paw into a claw and dig under the string(s) as you start, if you want volume and/or clarity. Then it's wrist and shoulder motion. Remember that pressure from each paw must balance-- the harder you press your strings, the harder you'll need to dampen out the unplayed strings via your chord bar pressure. Finally, swishing artistically sounds crap, better switch to brush-played snare drum cuz that's all we'll hear. (You hear it louder cuz you've aimed the sound hole up to your own ears.)

Pick weight seriously matters on 'harp-- so try many, to learn what sound qualities are available.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 03:36 PM

In my experience, when Will Fly says some piece of technique is a good idea, it's a good idea. This can be true even if it runs counter to my own practice.

But…

That planted pinky thing means when your pinky is forcefully braced on the top restricting the movement of your hand. It doesn't mean your pinky mustn't touch the top at all. Many notable guitarists allow their pinky to touch and glide, ever so lightly, on the top as a depth gauge for flatpicking. As Will notes, it must never be allowed to restrict the hand.

Merle Travis famously planted three fingers squarely on the pick guard of his guitar, much the way a left handed pool player might form his "bridge." But Merle played mostly with his thumb and index finger and most of his work was on electric guitars that a) weren't sensitive to acoustic damping and b) the pick guard wasn't attached to the top of his (electric) guitars. If you watch the film clips of Merle with his Bigsby-Martin, he's less rigid with his right hand placement.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 07:04 PM

Here's something Stefan Grossman posted on his forum last August regarding right hand position.:

"It's all down to the sound you produce. It can be very helpful to rest your pinky and/or ring finger on the face of the guitar when playing fingerstyle blues. But it is not necessary if you can produce a strong sound without doing this. There are several examples I can cite:
1) Check out videos of great white/black traditional players, i.e. Rev. Gary Davis, Miss. John Hurt, Lightnin' Hopkins, Skip James, Son House, Mance Lipscomb, Merle Travis, Doc Watson etc. They all rested their pinky/ring finger on the face of the guitar. They're NOT pressing down but rather resting in this position which helps greatly to get your palm to sit on the bass strings to dampen the sound. Also most of them only used their thumb/index fingers to pick.

2) I played for years with John Renbourn. A great guitarist with his own sound BUT when he would play Cannonball Rag by Merle Travis (or other American fingerstyle instrumentals) he would change his right hand classical position to that described in #1.

3) There are NO rules. The criteria is the sound you make. During Workshops we usually start with having everyone play and we (me and the other students) listen and comment on the sound that is being produced. If we like it we don't recommend any changes - no matter what right hand position is being used. If we think the sound could be improved the first suggestion is usually to play with more commitment (which simply means to play stronger). Once we can hear the wood and strings of the guitar we then try to work on the nuances of the sound. When playing traditional fingerstyle the bass dampening can be very important and adds so much to your sound. At that point we check out the right hand position and see if this can be changed - presuming as listeners the sound isn't "turning us on".The acoustic guitar can have lots of sound and by resting your pinky/ring finger on the top can help dry out the sound so that you as the musician add richness, i.e. vibrato, dampening etc.

It is the sound you produce that is the most important element in music. Check out players you enjoy and watch their right hand positions and try to imitate. It's easy to play lots of notes but difficult to play music.
In my limited experience of 50 years of playing as well as recording/producing guitarists I would say that in 98% the resting of the pinky/ring finger is found in most players. It ain't no myth."

I don't advocate it, in fact I don't often do it but if I play a tune where I'm more comfortable dropping the pinky on to the face I do. My approach is similar to John Renbourn's as described in item #2 (Heavens, I hope no one is thinking I'm comparing my humble self to the late, great guitarist).


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 08:40 PM

If Will Fly suggests … hmm ~ I just watched Will's Bach piece [again] and noted the strap, even when seated ~ I Will Try that advice.
I wouldn't agree with the NEVER tap your foot|feet|toes. Sorry Steve. It's a good rule, perhaps, but some styles and genres, it don't hurt nothin'. And given the number of learning styles is roughly equal to the number of humans on Earth, for some of whom kinaesthetic stuff _does_ help with rhythm issues, I wouldn't be dogmatic about it.
Off to up the 'views' on that sweet tenor work, Will. So cool that Richard is getting his own!
keep on pickin'
with your strap
no, I mean use your pick
& use your strap
dennis


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: JenBurdoo
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 12:53 PM

I do struggle with speed, tending to speed up. I'll look into metronomes. I will also try using a strap, but does anyone have suggestions for holding a ukulele? I have the same issue of an arm getting tired. At the moment I lean on an armrest or against a table while playing to deal with it. Another method I've found is to sit with one leg crossed and angled upward.

Practicing every single day has made a huge difference in my playing -- I heartily recommend it, even if you only do it for a few minutes.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:26 PM

Just a reminder that my original post regarding resting the finger actually was:

Finally, a controversial tip for fingerpicking guitarists: DON'T rest your little finger on the face of the guitar - it restricts movement. And, YES, I know that people like Merle Travis, Woody Mann and Duck Baker rest their little fingers... :-)

I was aware that my own personal advice might be controversial - and I remember being gobsmacked when, after years of just hearing Merle Travis, I saw his picking technique on YouTube! But I don't do it myself because I find it really does restrict my fingerpicking. However, being the possessor of a crappy plectrum technique, I do tend to rest part of my hand on the guitar face when using a pick - alas!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:29 PM

OK, DrWord, but your human metronome is in your head, not in your leg muscles. Just try to not tap your feet for a while. You'll be amazed at how good you are without doing it. After all, by tapping all you're doing is sending brain signals down to your feet, a waste of energy (works the beer off I suppose). Next time you go to see a symphony orchestra, count how many people on stage are foot-tapping. I rest my case!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:33 PM

I recall, many years ago, sitting right in front of Spider John Koerner while his size 12 foot stamped out the rhythm of the blues he was performing!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:36 PM

As a keen beginner, age 15; as soon as I got my own acoustic guitar for Xmas I tried to finger pick like Donovan
[ he was on the telly a fair bit in the early to mid 70s and I became a fan]..

Couldn't manage it, so have been a plectrum player ever since.

Never been too fussy about pick gauge or materials.
Most of the time I just used whatever I found discarded on stages and rehearsal room floors.
I never needed to buy a pick for over 30 years....

Last year I treated myself to a tin of Fender plectrums.

The mediums seem alright.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:38 PM

I remember an occasion at Bodmin Folk Club, when it was at the Garland Ox. I was called upon to play a couple of tunes on the harmonica, on my own. The stage was made of rather thin and flexible boards. Contrary to my own advice, I was tapping my foot. It proved severely counter-productive, as for every tap of my foot the stage rebounded and hit the bottom of my shoe, completely out of time. I got a good laugh out of it - and refrained from tapping for my next tune!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 03:23 PM

One of the best bits of advice I've been given was about strumming the guitar. This was it....

Most amateur guitarists concentrate mostly on their 'chord' hand. Few give any significant attention to their strumming (style and weight).
Go have a listen to Bruce Welch's strumming styles on the Shadows recordings.

It certainly helped me.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 03:44 PM

I don't tap my foot. I use two hands to play, my brain to remember the words, the tune, and what to play, and my voice to sing. That's more than enough going on without having to think about tapping my foot in time - it's an unnecessary complication, IMHO.

Fender mediums are **OK**, PFR. But BlueChips are the best, IMHO, My preference is a TP35 or TAD35. But at $35 each, I won't be surprised to learn that you won't be trying one! 😄


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 05:33 PM

Hey Steve ~ ain't this a great thread? You are [probably] blissfully not exposed to the Canadian legend "Stompin' Tom" Connors! Yeah the metronome IS in your head ~ it took me forever to develop rock solid rhythm. I find a "click track" more hindrance than help. I do note Will's use of accompaniment and love it when he backs his tenor with his guitar, but in the Bach 'cello piece, I wonder if the software track is tantamount to a metronome; i.e., machine timing ? Agree, Steve, that a great rhythm model is a good vocalist and live players to be preferred to canned stuff. Keep the comments coming, good 'catters

the strap thing ~ YES! Rarely bothered, 'cause the tenor is just a little thing, but you're right Will, even when seated. Would probably be indicated for the uke too   And yes, THE tip at the TOP is daily work. Love the thread DtG
keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 04:45 AM

Hi Dennis - yes, the moving bass line in my Bach arrangement is metronome-ish - which is what I wanted my initial foray into the piece. I did create a reasonably interesting counterpoint in terms of bass melody (I hope), which makes it a little less like a click track.

I'm currently looking at the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 in G - no bass line for this one because the bulk of the piece is constructed on a lovely arpeggiated chord sequence - including a bass line which tells its own story. There's also a very important pause/accent about 2/3 of the way through, which precludes a constant rhythm.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 05:01 AM

By the way, Dennis - don't underestimate the amount of creative energy required to create an interesting bass line. Every note had to be decided on and put in it's melodic place - with length and volume - and then played back by itself over and over again to test it out. And then played back with the tenor over it again and again - to further test it out.

It would have been nice to have had a live bass player to play that line, which was written out in musical notation first - but, alas, my bass skills, such as they are, don't stretch to that level.

My next musical tip: Play with other people!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 09:19 AM

PRACTISE A MAJOR SCALE ON THE CONCERTINA ALTERNATING FINGERS ON EACH BUTTON,Practise the same scale, going up in thirds, for example g major scale, gg bb aa cc etc alternating fingers,Dave I am sure i have mentined that before on concertina threads.
some advice for guitarists for flatpicking or thumb index finger picking, practise rght hand seperately, try up down on strings 65 54 43 32 21, then come back 12 23 34 45 56 down up then 64 53 42 31.
with finger picking thumb index , come back down 12 23 34 45 56.
then make a c major chord, try playing an octave scale starting 4 string cd de ef ga bc using hammering on when necessary, thumb index, or plectrum up down ,filling in a harmony note string above on an up or occasional brush, this is the bass for maybelle carter style, you can of course use middle finger too on an upwhen inclined


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 09:29 AM

another useful flat picking exercise is this make a c chord, play c on 4 string down then g string open up,then d open down, then g open up, then e 4 string 2 fret down, then g string open up, then f natural down[3 string 3 fret] then g string open up, this way you practise., jumping one string and two strings with plec.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 09:29 AM

I've been slowly learning how to stamp my foot. It isn't something I used to do at all. Dick Hensold relayed a useful idea about it to me from David Greenberg the Cape Breton fiddler, who stamps his foot a lot. The foot is a bit like a metronome, but the point is that the accents in the tune DO NOT have to correspond to the stamps - the idea is that the tune flows around them, with the accents pushed or pulled, but the overall tempo doesn't change.

Good foot stamping takes practice.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 09:48 AM

Good foot stamping takes practice"paticularly if treading grapes


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: meself
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 11:03 AM

In most Canadian traditions, it is usual for, and expected that, a fiddler will at least tap a toe or heel along with his music - how could you not?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 01:51 PM

even better way to play kind of carter style guitar is use thumb for melody, and always use index to pluck harmony on string 3 middle to pluck harmony on string two and ring to pluck harmony on string one, even if thumb plays one string, fingers always playing up, thumb down


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 02:28 PM

Steve Shaw,To me, a metronome helps you to play in time with a metronome."
it depends how you use the metronome, it is useful to take a tempo listen, then switch it off.
playing with a metronome has one other advantage it teaches you not speed up between parts of a tune, it can help to steady playing, but nothing beats listening to other people and playing with them


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 03:12 PM

Well I agree with the last bit. As for that internal rhythm thing, not speeding up between parts of a tune, etc., I found that recording myself was instructive. Like wearing a hair shirt. Of course, not everyone will be their own best critic. Let someone else have a listen too, a good musician, and give you tough love. Metronomes are like stabilisers on bikes, except that we're not toddlers and we can't learn like they can. The best metronome on the planet still lacks the humanity that is true music. Not a small thing.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 04:12 PM

I agree, Steve, recording oneself is instructive, but I would also say that if you learn to listen to a metronome you will learn to listen to people that you are playing with,
however playing along to good players on you tube] which was not avaialable 30 years ago is much better .
I sometimes do this particularly, Chris Droney or Seamus Creagh,


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 05:28 PM

I share your taste in great players. But YouTube can't interact with you. Not saying it can't be useful, but the best thing is the experience of interacting with good players. It did it for me, that's all I can say. Yeah, I have a bash playing along with YouTube myself occasionally, I must confess.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 03:58 AM

here is a useful exercise for 5 string banjo which also helps with finger picking guitar, practise drop thumbing across the strings on the banjo 12 13 14 15 index then thumb then try middle and thumb. then reverse starting with thumb.
Steve, unfortunately great players are not always available in the flesh, listening and playing with them on you tube is the next best thing.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:09 AM

practise the voice as if it was an instrument,use breathing exercises[ [playing the harmonica helps], use vocal warm up exercises before singing,
Steve, your harminca tips are good, presumably by huff you mean play quietly and likewise draw instead of suck


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:29 AM

Just breathe through the instrument without forcing air through. Force is the quickest way to wreck harps and it won't make you any louder. A very nice bloke I know got drunk one night, and in a fit of bravado he seized a harmonica from my table and blew down it just once. Bye bye seven-blow, bye bye harmonica.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:42 AM

For those wishing to play along in the comfort of their own homes The BBC session is pretty good. Cautionary tale though. I have tried it with 'Planxty Irwin' and found myself coping quite well. When I tried it with a a good guitarist friend of mine it was a lot more difficult! Something about others watching I guess?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 09:56 AM

That's a great site, Dave. I learned the one they called Slow Barn Dance in A as The Road To Glountane in D some time ago and forgot all about it.

Wearing a strap while seated is a revelation for me, helps hold my instrument in the desired position, frees both hands to work on computer, encourages me to get up and walk around which gives my poor sacrum some relief. One drawback though, I splashed marinara sauce on my banjo head while cooking dinner last night.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 10:12 AM

Is Skype [or similar conference cam apps] reliable enough to have informal sessions with other players ?

Or are there still problems with latency and lag... ???


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 01:07 PM

Don't worry, gillymor - you're doing great: wearing a comfortable strap, getting the right position, relieving muscle pain - and the banjo will taste even better!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: gillymor
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 01:19 PM

It did taste good, GUEST, and with a goatskin head it would probably have been better but, alas, I'm a vegetarian.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 04:52 PM

This from Jim Carroll
Subject: RE: warm up vocal exercises
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 07:12 PM

Hi Cap'n
Yes, I have examples of MacColl's exercise programme.
They fell into several parts.
1.   Four basic vowel-type sounds
The objective was to produce them in a pure, open, relaxed and unrestricted tone in order to work out where your 'natural' voice was being produced in order to have control over it.
2. A number of singing exercises to handle different aspects of the voice. They consisted of:
Two short pieces of Wagner ('Tis Ended' and 'By Evil Craft') to help with the handling unfamiliar (small and large) intervals and unusual tunes accurately.
One short piece of Gilbert and Sullivan (Rising Early in the Morning; from The Gondoliers; but similar G&S will do) for precise articulation while singing at speed.
One piece of Mouth Music (Tail Toddle - 2 choruses and one verse sung in one breath) for speed and articulation also breath control (sometimes Rocky Road To Dublin was substituted - one chorus and one refrain sung in one breath).
These can be memorised in a week, once learned, never forgotten, still can do most of them after forty years, though breath control is not as good as it was (takes at least 2 breaths for Tail Toddle and Rocky Road nowadays)
3. Series of relaxation excercises (neck, shoulders arms, back, legs) to help control tension (starts off as full exercise, but once mastered, full exercise is seldom needed and tension can be contolled wherever it appears) Probably the most useful work I was ever given; can help with activities other than singing.
All the exercises came with full explanation of their purpose and uses, along with a breakdown of the theory of their necessity.
They might sound complicated, but they come automatically once learned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 06:17 PM

refresh.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 09:33 PM

Hey 'cats! My longest post ever ~ to this thread ~ lost in the æther somewhere the other night. So, 2 b brief: Will, I wasn't being critical,I loved the Bach! B cool to hear it with your bass track; cooler still to find a bassist! I was merely noting the non- human aspect.
glad to see others benefitting from the strap advice. Just got my first _real_ amp ~ it has "reverb"!, so I'll be pickin' and grinnin' more than ever. But I will pause to check on this thread, so keep the tips coming …
here's one: if you can't remember when you last changed your strings, change your strings.
keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 04:40 AM

Easy on the reverb. As Ron Kavana used to say, all you need is "a little touch of magic!"


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 03:04 PM

Lol, Steve, I thought you'd catch the inverted commas and all ~ the reverb reference with a bang [!] suggested, I had hoped, a little smile. I have zero use for any effects for my personal playing, but I now have a better amp than the garage sale/pawnshop junk I've had. Keep the thread fresh, folks. Look forward to Will's next tenor video. You are an inspiration. [So are all of you who share here!]
keep pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Marje
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 03:15 PM

The thing about a metronome is you can't blame it for speeding up or slowing down. If you play with others, you may think, "Someone keeps speeding this up, who is it?" or, "Why do they all keep dragging?", but if you try things on your own with a metronome, you may find you're the one who always rushes that third line or holds a certain note too long.
And if you don't discover any flaws in your timing, you have the satisfaction of knowing that when things get out of joint, it's NOT YOUR FAULT!
Marje


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 10:16 AM

Play the tune as slowly as you can but still sounds right.
Play it as fast as you can before it sounds fudgey.
Find the speed that is best for the tune within those 2. Work on learning it at that speed and then add twiddley bits.

PS An accordion base is often too heavy - play fewer base notes and play them light.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 10:16 AM

Several years ago, the metronome drove me nuts. My brain just couldn't integrate it with my playing, so I put it away and forgot about it for several years. But recently I got it out again, and it's helping. Who knows why?

Thoughts on speeding up and slowing down:

As someone said above, watch out for people who don't play long notes long enough.

People may speed up on easy passages, such as runs that go up or down the scale, thinking, "I can play this! Watch me go!"

People may slow down unconsciously for harder parts, such as those that have big jumps or unexpected accidentals.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 07:04 PM

Speeding up in a tune, or playing scale runs of short notes too fast, are the results of inexperience and/or failure to get feedback on your own playing, best achieved by recording yourself and listening back with a critical friend. A metronome will not fix these things once you have to do without it. Achieving a good sense of rhythm and tempo is an integral part of learning to play your instrument. It's all about control and technique and hearing yourself. Music-making is an organic thing, not mechanical. If you don't believe me, listen to any midi file. You use crutches because you can't walk, not to teach you to walk.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 07:15 PM

A good tune for helping with rhythm and tempo is the Belfast Hornpipe. Plenty of arpeggios, triplets and long runs of fast notes, and you have to work hard to give it good lift.

Incidentally, I don't agree that you should be learning a tune and then adding the twiddly bits later. The ornamentation of a tune IS the tune. Play the ornaments right from the outset and you'll make them second nature in no time (as long as you also listen to lots qof good players who play idiomatically).


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 03:34 AM

For the english concertina practising co ordination between left and right, practising percussion techniques like the 5 stroke roll, can help.
likwise for thew violin practisng the pencil exercise for good wrist control
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj_dx-ZgQWU
it is my opinion that one cannot be too didactic about how to play trad music or how to learn it, what works for some does not work for others, in the end as regards ornamentation the tune must have variety and hopefully spontaneity, playing silences and leaving ornaments out is as important as putting them in,
my aim [which I do not always achieve is to play the tune differently each time], but that is only my opinion. Iagree the belfast hornpipe is a good exercise so is atholl highlanders and meggys foot and madame bonaparte with nothumbrian variations


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Brian May
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 10:45 AM

It's taken me over 50 years to play as badly as I do . . .

Never took a lesson and it shows . . . that said, unbound by other peoples' rules I've had a ball and I please myself. Sometimes someone else (probably with low standards).

I used to be apologetic about not being able to play like other people, then i realised that all the 'great' players all said basically learn enough to be able to play like YOU.

Good advice.

There are tips galore on YouTube, but then they're subject to other peoples' opinions and they almost certainly will disagree with each other.

Have fun - disregard everybody!!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 11:30 AM

I play with a fiddler who does that, and it's no fun.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,Peter from seven stars link
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 01:12 PM

I tried using metronome and click track for recording but could,nt get on with them without first laying down a simple drum track to it. Obviously the fault is with me but I was unwilling to spend who knows how many hours needed to get it right!.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 07:08 PM

I don't agree that you should be learning a tune and then adding the twiddly bits later. The ornamentation of a tune IS the tune. Play the ornaments right from the outset and you'll make them second nature in no time (as long as you also listen to lots of good players who play idiomatically).

C'mon, you know you're havering.

Tunes cross idioms or are made to serve different functions all the time. Almost all the oldest tunes in the Scottish repertoire started out as songs (and we can locate the words) - nobody sings the ornamentation that a piper or fiddler would use whan playing them as dance tunes. You've probably learned tunes that you play on the moothie from players of many other instruments - you don't do the semitone-wide glissandi that whistle players use routinely ("smears"), you don't have any way to get the sound a fiddler makes by ringing an adjacent string, and you can't do a slide that leaves 5 adjacent scale steps all ringing before you hit the melody note, as a harpist can. It's still the same tune, no matter if a harpist, moothie player or fiddler plays it, but the ornaments CANNOT be the same.

Breathnach's collection tries to allow for that by presenting a sort of abstract ornamentation system - identify the points in the tune that get ornamented, leaving out the instrument-specific details of how to do it. This is sensible, until you get to the point where the same tune is being used for different functions (e.g. a different kind of dance). Breathnach would probably write the reel and polka versions of the tune out as two different tunes, as his system doesn't have a way of marking an ornament "only do this for the reel version". An experienced player would just know to play the tune differently for the two different uses.

There are very, very few occasions in traditional music where an ornamentation pattern is genuinely idiosyncratic to a specific tune. In practice patterns of ornamentation are specific to particular styles - learning the style is about learning how to fit the pattern to any tune you come across. It doesn't have to be learned with the tune. One of the standard tunes in the Highland pipe repertoire is GS MacLennan's 3/4 march "The Kilworth Hills" - it's an adaptation of the Russian song "Stenka Razin". You can bet the Russian sailors GS learned it from weren't singing Highland pipe ornaments.

Example. The strathspey "Stirling Castle" (a "traditional Irish strathspey" according to the dumb fucks at TheSession). This is a minimally ornamented and rather boring take on it (Jeremy Button, fiddle):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLleYyDXSPE

This melodeon version (Curly Mackay) doesn't have much more ornamentation, but it's helluva dramatic thanks to the stretched dotted patterns:

http://www.raretunes.org/recordings/DeesideMelodies/

And this (John MacDougall, Cape Breton fiddle) makes it into a solo display piece, maybe not as danceable, but every detail of the tune is made to express something with unbelievably dense ornamentation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2K7nvmnb_k

A version as a "Donegal Highland" - not much ornamentation, very much straighter rhythm than any of the others, but presumably it makes sense for that kind of dance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcyUZYR5Mnw

That makes three versions of the same tune I could make an argument for as worth learning. But nobody in their right mind would try to learn MacDougall's version as an isolated artifact. What you'd learn would be two independent things: the tune itself, and how to play tunes his way. Having learned those, you are most of the way to knowing both how to play that tune in other styles, and how to apply MacDougall's style to other tunes.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 08:37 PM

Whoa, Jack, not for one second was I implying prescriptiveness in the matter of ornamentation. I'm disappointed if you think I came across that way. All I meant was that the concept of learning the bare bones of a tune (a notion I don't actually recognise), then bolting on the ornamentation, is not the way to go. The underlying concept is that ornamentation is integral in traditional music. The beauty is that, just as it is with the barebone notes of the tune, it's your call as to how much or how little you use it, how you play around with it from one playthrough to the next (along with variation) and how you adapt according to the expressive capabilities or limitations of the instrument you're playing. Above all, how you respond to the knowledge and experience you've gained by having immersed yourself in your chosen genre of traditional music. This is not bullshit, Jack, as you'd quickly realise if you've ever had the misfortune of playing with a dyed-in-the-wool classically-trained musician who's used to playing from a script.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: AlbertsLion
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 06:49 AM

"It's taken me over 50 years to play as badly as I do . . ."


exactly Brian May - although I think I might be getting a bit better, others may disagree!


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 07:32 AM

"Whoa, Jack, not for one second was I implying prescriptiveness in the matter of ornamentation."
yes, you are because you are saying that it should be learned as part of the tune.
What matters is the final music, how people learn ornamentation is going to be different for everybody what learning system works for one may not work for others.
As i understand it ornamentation was often used by musicians because they had to play a certain tune over and over for dancing and the musician SUBSEQUENTLY introduced twiddles to stop dying from boredom.
you try playing the same tune 30 times for a dancing competition where the same tune has to be used [so that it is fair for the dancers],to play the same ornaments as if you learned it as a tune is as boring as playing the tune without ornaments.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 08:34 AM

You are misunderstanding the exchange I had with Jack. I am not saying that ornamentation (and variation while we're at it) should be learned as part of the tune (because it IS the tune), nor am I saying that the same ornamentation should be played over and over again. The very opposite, if you read my last post. I'm actually arguing AGAINST rigidity, which has no place in the playing of the tunes. I don't learn to drive by getting in the car and making it go forward in a straight line, then learn about the gears and brakes later. The gears and brakes constitute an integral part of driving the car. You learn about ornamentation and variation by playing with and listening to good players of your genre, getting the music under your belt as an organic whole and developing your own style, flexibility and confidence. I understand what you say about about different learning systems, but I think that you make it much harder for yourself if you learn a tune first as a separate process from using ornamentation. In fact, I can't do it, and I wouldn't mind betting that you, as an experienced musician who has learned hundreds of tunes, don't do it that way either. So why advise anyone else to do it?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: meself
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 01:02 PM

(While there are obviously similarities, I wouldn't call that strathspey played by John MacDougall 'Stirling Castle' - but I have no idea what the correct name for it would be. I suspect it's in the old books somewhere; maybe Skinner. Btw, that clip is well up on my top ten. Nothing against the big names in Cape Breton fiddling - but John MacDougall should be prominent among them.)


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 03:52 PM

Steve, I am stating an opinion which is that musicians have introduced ornamentation as a way of preventing boredom after they have played a tune incessantly for dancing.
I am not advising anybody to do anything other than what works for them.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 04:33 PM

Let's change the subject. I know what you meant about getting bored.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 04:48 PM

I'm a punkrocker... I find ornamentation boring...
no effin guitar solos and get the song over and done with in less than 2 minutes.. 😜

1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. rama lama thrash bang.. the end.... applause

1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. next near identical song...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM

Is there a standard ornament sign for "gob over the mosh pit"?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 07:46 PM

Ain't that an upside-down skip-beat sign?


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 08:10 PM

Moving swiftly on...


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 03:54 AM

I think of the twiddly bits as making the tune your own. There are certain musicians that you nearly always recognise within a few bars of listening - how do we do that?
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 03:59 AM

I agree Flora, an old irish friend of mine used to call them flutters, he used to teach the tune without any flutters first, however I am not saying that his system was right or wrong another good musician friend taught the tune with the ornaments, both of them were good players.


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Subject: RE: Musical technique hints and tips
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 06:55 AM

Cane clarinet and sax reeds last about ten times as long if you store them in alcohol. I use the Co-Op's own-brand white rum in medical sample bottles - these are big enough for anything up to a tenor sax reed (some have a little projection inside the cap that you need to snap off to get a tenor reed in). Independent chemists usually stock the bottles, about a pound each. Or pick one up free next time you visit the STD clinic. The plastic is a bit fragile, you have to treat them carefully.

I use synthetic reeds most of the time nowadays, since I switch instruments a lot (you don't need to wet a synthetic reed). People have different preferences, I like Legere Signatures.


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