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Left Hand Damping at Fast Tempos

BonesBones Moderator
edited June 2013 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 3,320
Do any of the rhythm players have any advise on this? Lifting my fingers every beat to damp makes it tough to keep up with faster tempos and also causes muscle fatigue so I think my technique must be wrong.

thanks
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Comments

  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Bones, at the risk of posting a platitude, the only difference I see between a fast tempo song and a slow ballad, is how much ROM I allow my wrist and arm. I try to let my wrist throw my arm, and not the other way around, and as a consequence of the tempo, it's just a tighter arc, naturally. I try to be as relaxed at these tempos, as at the slowest tempo I play.

    I'm very much a work in progress, so take it with a grain of salt. I will say that every now and then, just to check my body/mind and its habits, I will play at a zany clip; I watch for a building tension of unnecessary muscle "help," and very consciously sort of scan my body (and my mind), and let go....so as much as possible, even at hyperspeed, everything is taking place more or less with a relaxed focus, keyword, relaxed.

    I can't think of any other way to work this, than to work for perfect sync between the left and right hands, and drain habitual tensions, starting at slower speeds and working up. Every time I find a progression (for me, it's Nous'che's use of the pinky in rhythm change major and dominant voicings...from long practice, my pinky is definitely "dead" relative to its mates) and/or tempo where I'm tensing up to "help," I go back and deconstruct the process at really slow tempos, try to perfect minimum effort for as perfect a tone and timekeeping as this very imperfect player can muster.

    Sorry if this isn't helpful...I don't know of any technical means other than a vow to achieve both a focus and a state of ease, at all times.
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Hi Paul,

    That's great advice for sure but I think you are talking about the right hand? I need to work on that too but I was curious about the left hand damping.

    Thanks
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    I'm sorry, Bones, yep, you're right, my mind was mostly on the right hand. Or, probably better, on tension wherever I find it likes to creep in (e.g., at fast tempos, or playing a weak area for me...my legs can become stone, if I don't consciously let them go...weird places in the bod).

    I think also, what I was thinking on your question, is that regardless of tempo, the only way to achieve good rhythm is perfect coordination of the right and left hand...which is so obvious, I fear it's a platitude for me to say it. But I've not found anything as a way "in", except starting slow, and working up, maintaining relaxation.

    One thing I did recently discover is to really play with how little left hand clamping I need to get a clean, solid sound...and it's much less than I found "necessary" when first learning rhythm. I don't know...because Nous'che is really important to me, everything in my desire is light, dry...yet powerful And coming from a performing background, with a pretty substantial history with Alexander Technique, other sorts of body-mind things, how much can be achieved with how little effort.

    Sorry again if this is not helpful, buddy. I guess it could have been said with a lot less words...regardless of tempo, it has to be relaxed, right? And whether a ballad or a blazing Dark Eyes, left and right hand in perfect sync, with both employing as little effort as possible, to achieve good sound....and the only wayu I know to get there, is to start slow and try to push the envelope a bit, constantly.

    (BTW, for me, oddly, strictly in terms of "dryness," I find it worlds easier at fast tempos than slow tempos...I'm almost certain it's because I use a really loose right wrist...and am constantly dropping picks, still...loose wrist, but seeking a controlled attack, a very square, even sweep, my "flopping" wrist nothwithstanding...sometimes words fail so miserably in describing life!)
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Yes, I think that you are right about the tension. I guess I should just slow down until I can stay relaxed and then try to build speed from there as long as I don't tense up. I do feel like I am having to work to hard at it at faster tempos and likely it is due to muscle tension.

    BTW, since this vid has been discussed lately and it is at a fast tempo I was watching it at half speed to try to figure out the left hand damping. It seems like very little movement between on and off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtMVoYxX-VE
  • You are on it bones.

    I start to fatigue after about 5 minutes of 250 ish rhythm and then the timing goes and I sound like crap.

    At one time I was up to about 10 minutes of this before I started to go.

    I remember at DFNW when Rosenbergs were there at the bar jam Mattieu Chatelain was calling for help from Nous'che as after a few long fast numbers his hand was starting to go.

    Speedy left had is physically very demanding and probably takes years to get to the point where one can do lots of it
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Exactly, when the fatigue sets in it's hard to stay clean and in time....
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    For me, and this does come, I think, from the Alexander work, it's not an issue as much with the hands, i.e., the muscles that are supposed to be engaged; it's all the habitual places of tension that come into play as a kind of learned, faulty, "helper role." So, weirdly (probably because I still feel weak here), with latin stuff, my legs tend to "help." Fast tempos, tends to be my right shoulder...and if I consciously let these go, I find endurance is not really much of a problem. Best thing I try to keep in mind, is watch a baby, or a cat: two creatures who know what they want, and have not learned to do anything but use the muscles needed, and the tension needed, and no more.

    So often we talk of relaxation - but it's obviously not total relaxation, else we'd be puddles on the floor. It's playing (or working, or doing sports, or practicing sword cuts, or stirring...) with the right muscles engaged, to the right degree - the right tension, not absence of tension and not superfluous tension.

    Anyway, I'm probably beating a dead horse. It's something I deal with all the time, habitual, bodily loci of tension...so find it's a great subject, Buco. Thanks for raising it.
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Tlhinking about this a bit more :shock: Avalon ...most of the chords I use are down toward the nut end which requires slightly more pressure due to nut proximity....some of the wierd chordal stuff I do on Minor Swing up in F9-F12 territory longer movement initially on changing chords...mute stroke on same chord is same anuwhere but when the fingers move there is more motion against a little resistance.

    Anyway, even though I play with a pretty soft touch, I find that no matter where I play really fast rhythm is a workout for me. Funny, the more I practice it, over a few week period, the easier it gets. :mrgreen: I need a day job as a rhythm player :lol:
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    Everyone cramps after a while. Even Nous'che has to deal with this although it takes a long time before it happens to him. Focus on making small efficient movements and you can always do solo breaks :)

    Stochelo once told me he was playing with a famous rhythm player once and even he stopped playing in the middle of a really fast song. He said that Nous'che was the only rhythm guitar player he knw that could play very, very fast tunes for a long time; just a matter of training and staying relaxed while you're playing.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Haha, yes I need to get better at soloing so someone will let me take a break :-)

    Thanks for the input guys. I guess there is no magic bullet, just slow steady practice.
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