Connect 4

…sorry, couldn’t resist that title.

The Periodic Table

For right handed guitarists, that hand is relatively straightforward. The left hand is the complex one due to the multiplicity of techniques required. Within the first few lessons, pupils will have come across the following techniques:

  • Press (the string – to make a note)
  • Release (the string – to access the open note)
  • Relax (the pressure, staying on that string while playing another)
  • Re-press (the original finger on its string)
  • Plant – (a finger on a note before playing)
  • Transfer (pressure to the planted note)
  • Lean (on one note, so that another note can stop without all notes coming to an abrupt end)

There are many more to follow * and it is important that the essence of each is absorbed, as they very soon merge together.

We refer to singular techniques as elements in the expectation that they will be mixed into compounds. At the risk of repeating a recent post, the thought process of each technique it is not brought into the mix but the feeling. If one had to access the thought process behind each one the result would as disabling as the putative question to the centipede, “how do you manage to coordinate all those legs?”

Pupils seem to grasp the distinction with little problem and, in many cases, combine elements so numerous they could not be acknowledged in the time it takes to perform them. In one very popular Grade 4 piece (West Coast by Helen Sanderson) the techniques lean-release-relax-slide-pivot-contract-plant-repress appear within the space of half a beat. Fortunately this tune enjoys a laid back tempo. Exceeding the requested tempo tends to replace the San Franciscan nuances with, say, Largs or Girvan on a November day.

Time signatures (the amount of beats in the bar) also feature compounds. Compound time signatures such as 6/8, 9/8, 12/8 feature both a large pulse and smaller beats within each pulse. Whichever one you choose to perceive depends largely on the amount of detail in the passage in hand.

For example, 6/8 = 2 large beats each containing 3 smaller beats;

* I hope to post soon (in the Lesson Support Page) a glossary of techniques and concepts covered in lessons.

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