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How can they play that fast?

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PeteBoom 01 Oct 01 - 09:55 AM
Aidan Crossey 01 Oct 01 - 10:53 AM
Fortunato 01 Oct 01 - 11:15 AM
M.Ted 01 Oct 01 - 01:13 PM
John Hardly 01 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM
Burke 01 Oct 01 - 08:07 PM
Aidan Crossey 02 Oct 01 - 07:41 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Oct 01 - 12:37 AM
M.Ted 03 Oct 01 - 12:56 AM
alanabit 03 Oct 01 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,Vixen @ work 03 Oct 01 - 02:18 PM
alanabit 03 Oct 01 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk 03 Oct 01 - 02:59 PM
Justa Picker 03 Oct 01 - 03:12 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Oct 01 - 04:50 PM
Cappuccino 03 Oct 01 - 05:46 PM
M.Ted 03 Oct 01 - 07:09 PM
Mark Clark 03 Oct 01 - 10:35 PM
blt 04 Oct 01 - 12:20 AM
M.Ted 04 Oct 01 - 04:48 PM
Jon Freeman 04 Oct 01 - 09:22 PM
DADGBE 05 Oct 01 - 02:21 AM
GUEST,Fortunato 05 Oct 01 - 08:40 AM
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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: PeteBoom
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 09:55 AM

One thing I learned a long time ago is to not make things too complex. There have been MANY good suggestions and comments in this thread. Here's what I have found in drumming (and teach), and have applied it successfully in many other areas (whistles, etc.,)

Start slowly and be precise.

Make sure every move is spot on perfect.

Have NO excess movement at ALL. No extra flourishes, keep fingers down as close to the instument strings, holes, whatever, as you possibly can.

RELAX anything that is touching your instrument, or that is connected to something touching the instrument or that is connected to something connected to something touching the instrument (you get the idea...)

Get a good, digital metronome, play with and pay attention to it - it won't vary, you might. When you have the rythm dead on, pick the pace up. Continue to pick the pace up until you reach the tempo you want.

When you get to tempo, don't be surprised if you find yourself with PILES of time between notes - because you have reduced everything to get to the speed you want - which will give you plenty of time to get the things you WANT in (dynamics, "warmth", etc.,) where you want them.

Off to work.

Pete


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 10:53 AM

Mmmm ...

This weekend I was listening to two albums, The Chieftains' collaboration with a whole bunch of Canadian artists "Fire In The Kitchen" and Martin Hayes' "Under The Moon".

On Fire In The Kitchen, the opening collaboration is a great set (Madame Bonaparte/The Devil's Dream/The Mason's Apron) with Leahy taking centre stage. When the change to Devil's Dream is made, the set takes off at a frantic pace. What follows is furiously fast fiddling, highly ornamented and yet fluent as can be. Great stuff.

But a contrast with Hayes' work which is - on the whole - languidly slow and low on ornament.

And which is better?

Neither. Fast and furious or slow and thoughtful. As long as each is done well, then each is equally valid.

My tuppence worth ....


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Fortunato
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 11:15 AM

Great Thread, like old times, eh?

This may be too obvious, but having a regular accompanist makes a difference. I practise scales every time I sit down to play. I work out my leads and runs and fills and grace notes alone, but everything comes together when my wife and I begin to practise the piece at 2/3 speed. Gradually it comes up to speed.

I don't mean to say I come close the the group Rick describes above, far from it. But even at age 55 I can increase my speed and clairity of note through daily scales and practise with Susette.

One final thought. IMHOP it is the emotional content in each of Doc's notes that gives his playing it's transcendent nature, though his speed and clarity are miraculous. I attempt to emulate that 'human voice-like' quality.

Chance


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 01:13 PM

I am thinking that that business about a "sixteenth of an inch above the strings" may be counter productive advice--

You can move your fingers downward more quickly, nimbly and with more force than you can move them up--too close to the fretboard will require you to move the fingers up before coming down on another fret or another string--At any rate, fretting the strings is not as critical for speed as sounding the strings, which you do with the other hand entirely--


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: John Hardly
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM

I wanted to say the same thing as M. Ted just did. I avoided it because I was afraid I might sound a bit too argumentative, but...

Although I believe economy of motion is a good idea, I think how far off the frets one comes will be arrived at naturally, and it may, as M.Ted said, be counter-productive as a matter of practice to worry about.

As evidence offered within this thread, may I point out that the fellow who suggested the concept, Bill D, said " I watched thru binoculars Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Tony Rice and Dan Crary playing together,,,but ONLY Doc kept his fingers to minimum height...I guess not being able to see forced him to not get too far from his next note! "

Maybe it's not stating the obvious. Norman Blake, Tony Rice, and Dan Crary are all at least as fast as Doc.


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Burke
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 08:07 PM

Don't forget about this thread


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 07:41 AM

The following story appears at Pay The Reckoning

The story goes that a young piper had been making the rounds in Ireland and causing ripples in the traditional music world. The exuberance of his piping, his ornamentation and his dexterity caused many the piper to catch their breath.

And so it was engineered that the new piper would be introduced to Seamus Ennis, the daddy of all pipers.

Ennis turned up one night to a Dublin pub, where the new piper was in full session. Friends glanced nervously at each other and back to Ennis. And less nervously after a while when it became obvious that the great man was impressed.

After he'd piped his last, and had unbuckled his instrument, the piper was introduced to Ennis. The old-timer gripped his hand and pumped it furiously. "That was massive piping, young fellow. Grand altogether. And Seamus Ennis should know, for sure way back in the mists of time, way back in the days of the good, gentle folk, way back then, sure didn't Seamus Ennis invent the piping." (He was given to rambling.)

The he pulled the new piper closer to him and, now deeply serious, said. "I've only the one observation for you. Why do you play so fast?"

And Finbar Furey - he who had been causing the stir - replied without a moment's pause, "Because I can!"

Pay The Reckoning December 2000


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 12:37 AM

I remember seeing the movie Woodstock, when I was young and impressionable. Alvin Lee (10 cc.) was in the middle of his very very fast (and sloppy) solo on "Goin' Home". I thought my date was going to expire from the sheer passion she obviously was feeling for the guy up on the screen.

Sometimes it would be nice to play that fast!

Rick


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 12:56 AM

In those days, I used to be completely annoyed by Alvin Lee--oddly enough, over the years, I am sort like listening to some of his stuff, but Rick, you are so much better than that--he was not fast, so much as frantic--which is just another cheap trick that anyone can learn!


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: alanabit
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 04:05 AM

Phew! Someone's just said what I always felt about "Goin Home". I don't think I'll ever be an Alvin Lee fan either, although he had the odd good riff and "Hear Me Calling" has some good dynamics in it. Give me Kieren White or Mick Taylor any day from our Brit blues guitarists...


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: GUEST,Vixen @ work
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 02:18 PM

Wow--Lots of terrific pointers here that I'll have to try, and a couple of comments...

1) I have a "tempo" for *every* new piece I learn, regardless of instrument: it's "geriatico" (i.e. andante with a walker and oxygen bottle)

2) there's something to be said for *NOT* playing a piece for awhile. I've been struggling with Miss McLeod's Reel for about 20 years (no foolin'). I work at it for six months or so and give up in frustration. (I still practice other material though) When I come back to it a month later, I usually find that whatever was hanging me up has somehow fixed itself, and I've got a different problem to rassle with.

$0.02, fwiw. I've been playing (you name it) on and off for over 30 years, and I'm still striving for speed, precision, and feeling on every(any?) instrument. Haven't succeeded yet, but still trying!

V


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: alanabit
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 02:33 PM

Just looking back at Rick's last post, I'm wondering if Alvin Lee was not playing with Ten Years After rather than 10cc... One of the perils of Mudcat that.. There's always some pedantic SOB out there waiting to correct you...


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 02:59 PM

A truly brilliant strand - much good advice. Some tunes do sound better at speed. Much has been made of metronomes and drum machines. Is this a better strategy than playing with another rhythm instrument or a recording of another instrument?

Do I have to pay much for a tape recorder that plays back without changing pitch?


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 03:12 PM

Good points Vixen!

There are several tunes I've been working on for almost 2 years, if you can believe that, that only now are beginning to sound like "music" to me.

Another point to maybe touch on here for a second, is the FINESSE aspect. It's one thing to learn a song, and be able to play all the notes. It's another thing to be able to bring it up to speed, and play it with feeling or dynamics while nailing every single note perfectly.

It's the finesse thing, that really requires the extensive practise, and is a never ending, ongoing battle or a labor of love (in my case.) Some people (JP Cormier and Lenny Breau come readily to mind) were born with such an innate God-given talent, that it ALL came together for them, very early on. The majority of the rest of us, (including Chet Atkins admitting to this as well) while having varying degrees of musical ability, just have to practise our asses off to achieve a level of "virtuosity", in order to make complex things look easy.


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 04:50 PM

Of COURSE it was Ten Years After! Thanks Alanabit. be as pedantic as you like when it comes to music info. You won't get any complaints from me.

Rick


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Cappuccino
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 05:46 PM

There's a very entertaining bit on the Alvin Lee live version of Goin' Home - his solo is thundering along at several hundred notes a second, and you can quite clearly hear him mutter "s**t!* as he misses one.

I would like to be able to play that fast... but I should also like to have the taste to know when to do it, and when not.

- Ian B


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 07:09 PM

Missed one?--you could open a clam bar with all Alvin Lee's missed notes-


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 10:35 PM

I only just discovered this really terrific thread! Is it time to start paying attention again? Great ideas here. I don't think I have anything to add but I'm sure going to add this to my personal page.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: blt
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 12:20 AM

I was very relieved to hear that someone else has been practicing a certain tune for at least 20 years; I taught myself Blackberry Blossum out of a column in Acoustic Guitar (I think that was what the magazine was called) over 20 years ago and I still work on it. Even on the songs I write and find the notes for, I struggle to get the pace just right. It definitely, for me, is not in the speed as much as in the precision and expression. I do practice scales (after hearing, years ago, that Doc Watson did so)but I've never owned a metranome--always meant to buy one because I probably would play if not faster at least steadier. Over the years, I've found that playing tunes at different speeds helps. I don't know if this was mentioned, but of course action and the shape of your hands to the shape of the neck of your guitar all matter, as well as the tension in your hands. In the beginning of learning a song, my hands are much less relaxed until I've memorized the movements from chord to chord; gradually I drop the fingered notes I don't need as I gain confidence in where I'm going. I used to always try to practice with my eyes closed so that I could find my place without looking, just by sensing the placment of my fingers (what I think of as body memory).

Another problem I have is that the pick flies out of my hand at inopportune times, or slips down into the sound hole--I've had this problem more when I've tried to play faster than I should (usually when I've had a double latte before I start to play). It's always entertaining to get the pick out, it's a real crowd pleaser.

blt


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 04:48 PM

blt, I am glad to hear that someone else wrestles with Blackberry Blossom--I can't say that I have been diligent, but someone showed me how to play it once, and I go back to it from time to time, try to get it both right and up to speed, and then set it aside again--


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 09:22 PM

Les, the playing along with others has 2 problems:

1: You have to find that other.

2: Having found that other, you need to be sure they are playing in time.

Also, and just a thought. When people are playing live with people I think there is a certain amount of ability and or tendency of others to react to changes of tempo so everything holds together even if timing has drifted and perhaps sometimes none of the players would realise they had gone out against a metronome. So I'd guess if you really wanted to be strict, the mechanical device is the sure way.

Jon


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: DADGBE
Date: 05 Oct 01 - 02:21 AM

Such a lot of good ideas here! Starting slow and pushing the metronome speed about 5 beats per minute once each week seems to work for many. The hardest part for me is continuing to listen critically to what I'm doing. Each time I speed a tune up, some weakness in my technique causes me to lose it at some point in the tune. Each time I play it, it'll foul up at the same point. If I'm listening well, the recurring mistakes point to problems that need fixing.


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Subject: RE: How can they play that fast?
From: GUEST,Fortunato
Date: 05 Oct 01 - 08:40 AM

BLT. You probably already know this. But theres a product called Gorilla Snot (Don't Lose Your Grip) you can order that adds some stickiness to your finger and thumb. I've used it with good results.


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