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Author Topic: Playing fast  (Read 12837 times)

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #60 on: June 15, 2013, 12:37:21 PM »

Thanks to George for bringing me back on track:
I think it's been mentioned previously, but nerves can play an important part in this. I often try and consciously start at a reasonable pace ( maybe even a touch slower than normal ) so as to overcome the nerves and possibly stop myself going off too fast and then unravelling half way through when a tricky bit catches me out.
Q
« Last Edit: June 15, 2013, 12:43:04 PM by Thrupenny Bit »
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

playandteach

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #61 on: June 15, 2013, 02:17:08 PM »

There is some research to suggest that the reason nerves bring on faster tempi is the increased heart rate, and some subconscious tie in between the relationship of one's normal speed for a piece and the rest rate of the heart. When the heart beats faster, there is some sort of sympathetic increase in the tempo to keep it company.
I actually know someone who deliberately practises after exertion to synthesize this in preparation for big concerts.
After adding my comments about how to practice, I have started following my own advice. It's great therapy apart from anything else. And there's no pressure to be able to play things well, because the worse they are the bigger the progress.
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george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #62 on: June 15, 2013, 02:36:31 PM »

 I think there are mainly 2 factors that cause speeding up during a tune.

- being nervous resulting in a subconscious desire to get it over and done with as quickly as possible and before you make a cock up of it!

- bad mannered players  who instead of following the speed  set by the 'starter' of a tune insist on 'taking over' and whipping it up to a frenzy!   In extreme cases of this in sessions I lead I call a halt  mid tune and we restart and follow the person who started the tune even if they are a bit on the slow and shaky side  - and if anybody doesn't like it the are welcome to bugger off!

george ;)
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #63 on: June 15, 2013, 02:54:36 PM »

P&t: interesting idea about heartbeat and speed. That makes sense to me!
George: stopping and re-starting might learn 'em! Takes some doing though if the tune's steamrollering along  :D
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

arty

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #64 on: June 15, 2013, 04:21:04 PM »

A good tip is to play short chunks repeatedly , you can build up the speed of these chunks - but you still have recovery time between repetitions.

Let's say it was a C major scale you were trying to play - then you could play 5 notes - CDEFG, CDEFG 4 times in total, with as much rest in between as it took to play the notes - then try it with a click or metronome at around crotchet = 60. Then move up a note; DEFGA, DEFGA etc. and up. Then slip the metronome up a notch or two. Then go back to the first tempo, but play the notes twice as fast - allowing a longer recovery. This combination of finger speed and mental recovery is important. You need to be practising things accurately or you will achieve the very opposite of what you intended.
Remember also to stick to the fingering you would use in the real passage - don't just move your hand into a better shape as you go up.

Once you've done that, play the longer passage or scale at a very slow tempo but with a very snappy dotted rhythm - so the basic tempo is slow, but you are playing pairs of notes very close together (starting with a: slow, quick-slow, quick-slow pattern. Then reverse the rhythm so you start with the quick note (a scotch snap).

If you then play the passage in context you'll be upset how it still isn't any better, but the next day your brain will have assimilated the learning.

The good thing about chunking the music is that you don't just learn a tune up to speed, but you develop the technique to play other things faster (better) too.

I find it best to separate technique from trying to learn tunes. It saves frustration, but use the tricky bits to design your own exercises - they will then have the most targeted effect on your progress.

It really is hard to put exercises into words.If you can read music I could type out some exercises like this for you to try, but the basic concept is to use a variety of rhythms for the same set of notes. If you were really interested (bearing in mind that I am anything but a skilled melodeonist) I could demo a passage in practice.

Finally - I don't actually practise (no pun) what I preach very much on the melodeon, but I did on an instrument I needed to play well. The same techniques apply to any instrument - and seeing that the melodeon is largely free from tone and intonation input from the player, building clever fingers is well worth it.

Thank you so much for this advice - I have been trying your suggestions and I can see that I will benefit greatly. It's also quite a fun thing to do. Cheers!!!
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arty

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #65 on: June 15, 2013, 04:36:14 PM »

In addition to all the sage advice given above, I would say that the most important factor in being able to play fast is economy and efficiency of movement. If you don't play in an efficient manner then playing fast will always be a struggle. If you struggle with your instrument then you can't be efficient and economical.

On the box I would look carefully at how you are handling the bellows and how your right-hand fingers are moving around. Watch great players - ones that make it look easy - and ask yourself what looks different about how they do it.  And keep working towards that goal of efficiency and economy.


A lot of good advice here that makes perfect sense I think. Thank you.

I have been looking through past posts on this site, hoping to find advice or better still instructional videos about bellows control, how to achieve it and practice it but I can't find any. Does anyone know instructional videos on You Tube that show this economy of movement both with the bellows and right hand finger movement? If there are none, then what player or players would be good to watch and emulate?
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Marje

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #66 on: June 15, 2013, 05:54:25 PM »

I'd be making enquiries amongst friends to see if there was an alternative session around...


eg Newcastle's Cumberland Arms (referred to obliquely in Lark on Strand thread) nowadays offer and "anything but Irish" session, which I try to get to when I see my Mum. People respect that; it works.

It is inconceivable that a folk music session that is so blatantly discriminatory would happen in Ireland.
I guess that says an awful lot about our respective societies!


I run just such a session - well, we call it "mainly English" but we do include Scottish, French, Swedish, etc tunes at times. And do you know why? It's because there is  - or was until recently - another session in the town that was exclusively Irish - the occasional Scottish tune was tolerated as long as it was played too fast, but English tunes (any speed) were taboo. I felt that in England it was nonsensical to have a folk session that excluded music with local roots, and that's why I set up what is now a very successful session.

So maybe you're not aware that such "Irish-only" sessions are fairly common in England. It's because of this that there is a movement to reestablish and promote English music and song.

As for Irish music being "more difficult" - well, that's your opinion. It is usually played faster than other folk music, largely because it has lost much of its the connection with dance, whereas English musicians are usually very conscious of the dance that underlies the music, and how the tune would fit if you were dancing to it. I'd contend that to play a tune - any nationality - in a way that makes the listeners want to get up and dance is a skill that's often overlooked. It's arguable that English tunes are easier to play badly than Irish tunes (although I can play lots of Irish tunes badly!), but more difficult to play really well.
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Marje

george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #67 on: June 15, 2013, 06:29:52 PM »

  too.

I .

 - and seeing that the melodeon is largely free from tone and intonation input from the player, building clever fingers is well worth it.

I didn't know that!!

george  :o
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Lester

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #68 on: June 15, 2013, 06:38:23 PM »

Does anyone know instructional videos on You Tube that show this economy of movement both with the bellows and right hand finger movement? If there are none, then what player or players would be good to watch and emulate?

You could probably do worse than look at any Andy Cutting video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqi8d2VqiQ

Stiamh

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #69 on: June 15, 2013, 06:54:27 PM »

It's arguable that English tunes are easier to play badly than Irish tunes, but more difficult to play really well.

Arguable? Come on, then, let's hear you try to back up your case (:)





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george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #70 on: June 15, 2013, 06:55:55 PM »

tips for fine control of bellows include in no particular order

-  proficiency in operating the air button,   Pre plan where to use it in a particular tune.

- using above to keep bellows 'tight' eg between 2 and about 10 inches open depending on tune etc but never open more than necessary

- playing staccato on both treble and bass as this uses less air

-  using wrist rather than arm movement for the delicate and sometimes rapid ins aand outs whilst sometimes at the same time using the coarser arm movement if the bellows need to travel some distance in the same direction.

george

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arty

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #71 on: June 15, 2013, 07:25:19 PM »

Thank you George, lots to practice.......!
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Sage Herb

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #72 on: June 15, 2013, 07:44:08 PM »

As a reaction to this Rod Straddling along with The Old Swan Band issued a seminal lp called 'No Reels' simply because the tunes were not diddly speedy stuff but stumpy rhythmic English tunes. About 1968/70? Along wih Flowers and Frolics they raided the old boy's tune repertoire and kick started English music revival.

Rod Stradling is still playing in this style as seminally as ever. He'll be appearing at Whitby Folk Festival this year with the band Phoenix.

Cheers
Steve
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #73 on: June 15, 2013, 08:59:22 PM »

Hi all. I am a beginner (bought my Hohner D/g in March2013) and have joined Wickham Morris which is the nearest to me from Gosport. (If I lose my place I find it hard to catch up, but that is just starting to come together).
All great people and very encouraging.

I have followed all the tips and hints with great interest and will try to use them to improve my playing and speed. I have been practising at slower speeds to ensure the accuracy of the tune and to get muscle memory embedded in this ancient brain. This has been working for me.

The session after a Morris evening is still out of reach in terms of knowledge of the tunes and courage to join in at those speeds, I'm afraid. But I'll get there. (Any other beginners around Gosport fancy an evening out with a pint?)

Thanks again to all for the tips and encouragement to we beginners.

Alun



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Marje

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #74 on: June 15, 2013, 09:09:40 PM »

It's arguable that English tunes are easier to play badly than Irish tunes, but more difficult to play really well.

Arguable? Come on, then, let's hear you try to back up your case (:)

To back up my case, I'd need to take you to a few sessions and show you  - as if you didn't know! - the difference between the beginner who can plod through an English tune quite soon after first hearing it, but badly (been there!), and the expert who can make a simple English jig or hornpipe bounce and lilt along, so that you never want it to finish (haven't got there yet!). People who say English tunes are "too simple" or "too easy" are usually closer to the first of these than the second, if you can get them to actually play one.
With Irish tunes, on the other hand, the speed which they're habitually played puts many players from other traditions off even trying to join in - the music sounds difficult because it's fast, whereas English tunes sound easier, because they are catchier and more melodic, and (usually) played at a more easy-going, song-like pace. You can't "plod" your way into a fast Irish tune-set, you have to dive straight in at the deep end (although once you do this you may find you can get away with leaving out lots of the notes, as many session players do). It's all about the perception, the "image" of the music compared with the reality, and the subtleties of interpretation.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #75 on: June 15, 2013, 09:49:09 PM »

To add to Marje's comments:
What we've learnt about English tunes is that they are written as a rough simple 'scaffold' of the tune, kept simple and played at a steady pace ...... but the written version's not necessarily how you play them!
There's 'space' between the written notes to allow you to improvise, add twiddles, go off-piste and return to the tune whilst someone else is leading it onwards. Remember, Thomas Hardy played with his father 'at the Big House' and longway set dances were played until Squire and lady danced all the way down the set and all the way back.....15mins? to one tune.
Therefore they improvised like hell or went bonkers at the boredom of playing a simple tune for that length of time!
We're now realising that after Straddling/Swan/Flowers etc. started it off. It's taken a long time to realise that they are simple to allow improvisation but now we're getting there.
It is difficult to improvise, add twiddles, go off piste etc if the tune is going so fast that all you can do is just about keep up with the notes roughly in the right order.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #76 on: June 15, 2013, 10:38:04 PM »

I think there is a great deal to be said for ''keeping it simple'' whether the tune you are playing is English, Irish, Scottish or whatever.  The prime way to make it listenable, danceable and generally sound good  is to concentrate on the rhythm ( primarily coming form the treble end), the phrasing and the dynamics.   After that  careful  and very selective application of ornamentation, twiddles etc etc can be added  but only where they really enhance the tune and never 'just because you can'!
 
Some of the older trad Irish players were  very selective about ornamentation  and I understand that 'over ornemetation ' is penalised in the irish fleah competitions. (sorry am not sure how its spelt).

The problem with a lot of session playing be it Irish, English of mixed is that ornamentation/twiddles  and speed  are seen by some as good musicianship or dead clever or aren't I good or something on those lines

George   (keep it simple) G ;D
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malcolmbebb

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #77 on: June 15, 2013, 11:09:39 PM »

I think there is a great deal to be said for ''keeping it simple'' whether the tune you are playing is English, Irish, Scottish or whatever.  The prime way to make it listenable, danceable and generally sound good  is to concentrate on the rhythm ( primarily coming form the treble end), the phrasing and the dynamics.   After that  careful  and very selective application of ornamentation, twiddles etc etc can be added  but only where they really enhance the tune and never 'just because you can'!
Well said that man. I absolutely agree. I find that ornamentation is very personal, I have heard people far better than me playing and abandoned listening to the tune half way through because I didn't like the ornamentation of an otherwise perfectly good (and danceable) tune.
As Q made very clear, even if that wasn't his point, ornamentation is often put there for the musician's entertainment rather than the dancers'. Fine if you're playing for your own entertainment, selfish if you're playing for dance.
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #78 on: June 15, 2013, 11:50:15 PM »

The problem with a lot of session playing be it Irish, English of mixed is that ornamentation/twiddles  and speed  are seen by some as good musicianship or dead clever or aren't I good or something on those lines

There's a real and enjoyable challenge in playing a tune simply (i.e. without excessive ornamentation and variation) but making it have the same effortless musical flow as if sung by a good singer. Key to that approach is that you are "selling" your audience the  tune, not your playing.

Or as someone said, I think in a book entitled Psychology For Musicians - you know you've done well when people afterwards don't say how well you played, but how beautiful the music was.

With much of the sort of music I play, this often translates into making people want to get up and dance, and I love it when they actually do.
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #79 on: June 16, 2013, 01:46:01 AM »

Claiming that one cultures musical tradition is "easier" or "more difficult" seems ridiculous to me. Every culture has loads of tunes from simple ones to more complex tunes but to say one is "easier" groups all those tunes together under one stereotype.
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