Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Full Version)

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el.toro -> Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 22 2012 3:49:04)

I had my first lesson last Tuesday. I played some rock guitar once 30 years ago... so basically I don't know anything but some chords.

I have never ever played fingerstyle. I am having great difficulty being able to play the string on alternate i and m fingers.

As an exercise, my instructor suggested I try picking i and m and progressing through the strings 1-2-3-4 ect. He suggested using a metronome too.

Needless to say, my fingers aren't listening to my brain very well.... even without the metronome.

Does anyone have some tips that might help?




FlamencoD -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 22 2012 4:00:15)

That exercise is called the inchworm. Use a metronome and start out very, very slow. That is the only way to get good at picado (and any flamenco techique). Eventually the speed will come...here's how. Put the metronome on about 60 bpm and play quarter notes picado. Once you're comfortable with that speed go up to 65 bpm, then 70, and so on. Tap your left foot on the beats. When the tempo gets too fast to tap quarter notes comfortably, drop your tempo back down to 55 or so and do 1/8th notes on picado, still tapping quarter notes with your foot, alternating, working your way up in speed (60,65,70,75,etc.). Eventually work up to sixteenth notes and reset your tempo to 60 bpm and continue increasing tempo as you get comfortable with the tempos. This method works. I'm not a professional like some on this forum, but right now I'm actively doing this technique. I can do picado sixteenth notes at 90 bpm up and down the scales. Picado is probably the technique that takes longest to master and is one of my weakest techniques. When the inchworm gets too boring you can do this with scales. Start out with a basic position, then start moving the positions around.

I use this metronome training method for all techniques. Picado, tremelo, apreggios, rakes, etc. It really works, it helped my rakes immensely after only about 3 hours of direct metronome practice.




el.toro -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 22 2012 4:05:13)

So by "inchworm" you mean fingering the frets on each string 1-2-3-4 ... like my teacher instructed?

I find it challenging to focus on right hand technique and get used to left hand technique at the same time. It is sort of the walking and chewing bubblegum dilemma... lol.

I haven't really touched a guitar in 20 years so I am getting used to the fretboard fingering all over again.

Thanks for your tip! I will give it a shot!




Escribano -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 22 2012 6:47:08)

Welcome to the forum and a new adventure




rombsix -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 23 2012 6:53:33)

Here are a couple of interesting videos...







el.toro -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 24 2012 2:42:46)

Wow ... really? Are those videos correct? If so, it would seem you need incredibly strong fingers to pick quickly.




el.toro -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 0:59:28)

Anyone?




Erik van Goch -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 1:40:03)

Personally i wouldn't recommend the picado technique demonstrated in the video :-)

To me spending some quality time investigating how fingers work (focusing on biomechanics, relaxation, economy of movement while adding various energy levels) seems a better way to connect with the fingers than focusing on playing full scale (picado) exercises with unwilling fingers. At least try to do both :-)




chester -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 7:57:29)

quote:

it would seem you need incredibly strong fingers to pick quickly.

You do. [8|]

Picado isn't easy and takes some getting used to (just like alternate picking). Just take it slow and don't rush. It can take years to get to a point where you're completely comfortable with your technique.

A sentiment that has been going around in the foro lately has been 'enjoy each step of the journey'. That's great advice for any musician.

Erik has a good point - spend time examining your movements closely. This is something that is applicable to technique in general and will prove extremely useful while you progress.

One last thing -
quote:

Does anyone have some tips that might help?
Keep going.




n85ae -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 14:39:20)

Be really patient, it's gonna take a loooonnnnnggggg time.

One thing I think is neglected in a lot of these discussions is muscular
development in your fingers. You can practice all day every day, and
make gains, but you won't get to where you want to be until the
muscles develop. There's no solution to this either except for time
to pass. This has been my experience. Look at any good flamenco
guitar players extensor muscles in their right hand fingers and you'll
see what I mean right away.

Regards,
Jeff




Ricardo -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 16:01:19)

Simple speed limit trick is to work on staccato. That means just play open strings, any rhythm, but when you alternate don't make sound "bing bing bing..." make it sound like "bip bip bip..." very detached with a blade of silence between each note. THe way you do it is after you play one finger, the next finger comes to rest and stops the string from sounding IMMEDIATELY. This trains your fingers to prepare super early for efficiency and get a good sound and control volume and ultimately rhythmic control which truly what speed is about. No muscular strength is needed it is all mental control of twitching reflexes. Use metronome as suggested to keep track of your limits and try to push past your limits little by little.




n85ae -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 16:46:22)

I really hate to disagree with somebody like Ricardo because he's a really
great teacher, and player, not to mention one of the consistently nicer
people on the forum but ... :)

I personally think you will do yourself a disservice, if you expect that you
can just mentally control it up to Paco speed. It won't happen and you'll be dissapointed. You need to develop the muscles, primarily on the quick
twitch side of things. This is the same as anything athletic. Expecting
pure mental control control to do it won't happen.

Regards,
Jeff

quote:

No muscular strength is needed it is all mental control of twitching reflexes.




jg7238 -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 16:53:38)

Here, this can help a bit... Play each note staccato. When playing with I for example, stop the note with the M finger. Then play with M finger and stop with I, etc..... This minimizes movement with IM. It also helps with control.







Ricardo -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 17:10:22)

quote:

ORIGINAL: n85ae

I really hate to disagree with somebody like Ricardo because he's a really
great teacher, and player, not to mention one of the consistently nicer
people on the forum but ... :)

I personally think you will do yourself a disservice, if you expect that you
can just mentally control it up to Paco speed. It won't happen and you'll be dissapointed. You need to develop the muscles, primarily on the quick
twitch side of things. This is the same as anything athletic. Expecting
pure mental control control to do it won't happen.

Regards,
Jeff

quote:

No muscular strength is needed it is all mental control of twitching reflexes.


I never said you will match Paco...but rather you will find your limits. The physical part is worked out by the fingers when doing staccato and letting your mind control it all. control is key, it's not mindless imo. Some people have fast fingers and with no control they sound sloppy and never get it together. Further I believe there were some medical based topics on this subject where we learned from guys much more knowledgeable than me that there are NO developed muscles actually involved in the fingers moving, it's tendons. When I play fast I dont' feel like when working muscles during running or sprinting. I don't feel muscles are being developed with picado, but maybe I and others are wrong about it. Perhaps muscular "strength" I imply for big muscles and twitch muscles are different? I don't don't see "strength" as a good description of what's developed vs control of movement. Exercise balls or finger grippers etc should be enough then to develop picado speed but they don't work better than the method I described.




z6 -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 17:11:14)

Ricardo is correct.

No need to think about muscles. Bip, bip, bip.

My experience is that one must be 'ripe' for particular advice to 'take hold'. But if you just go bip bip bip, you will get there.

Speed will not and cannot come, in any meaningful way, until you have learned to play 'picado'.

For me, the shape of the nails made all the difference. Everything changed when the nails got worked out properly. But I've played classical for more than thirty years and tried to learn flamenco for almost two years. My technique was already quite relaxed (not from classical, but from the last two years).

People will tell you it's not about speed. And they will be right. It took me an awful lot of work to get 'a' picado. But I'm in no hurry. It feels fast, it feels easy. It'll get faster or not, I don't care. But I can run up and down all day without any effort now. It's an addictive feeling. But getting the nail shape right was everything for me.

It's about separating the gold from all the noise. It's about applying advice 'when' it makes a difference. Erik has some great posts that apply to people like me, people who can play and must unlearn before they can learn.

Keep it simple... bip bip bip. That's all you'll ever need. It's like magic. Ricardo's advice was a great gift to me. Trust it.




n85ae -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 18:21:02)

Well here's a simple explanation of how and why your fingers move. It's
not so simple as bip-bip-bip, BUT if you just bip-bip-bip, you will eventually
develop the appropriate "things" to do what you want, (within your personal
hereditary limits that is - We cannot all be Paco).

http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s3/chapter01.html




mark indigo -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 19:49:06)

quote:

Look at any good flamenco
guitar players extensor muscles in their right hand fingers


got any pictures of that?

if you look at any good anatomy book you will see that the extensor (and flexor) muscles that move (flex and extend) the fingers are not in the fingers, and also not even in the hand, they are actually in the forearm.



quote:

there are NO developed muscles actually involved in the fingers moving, it's tendons.

no flexor or extensor muscles in the fingers or hands, yes, but without muscles the tendons don't move. It is muscles attached to the tendons that power the movements. The muscles are in the forearm, the tendons fun through the wrist and hand to the fingers.

There are however muscles in the hand and fingers that abduct and adduct the fingers (move them from side to side), so when you make eg. a five fret stretch and then return to fingers within two or three frets you are using abductors and adductors in the hand and fingers.



quote:

No muscular strength is needed
technically this is incorrect. I know it's gonna sound like splitting hairs etc. but some muscular strength is needed, just not very much. I guess I it might depend on your definition of "strength" but for sure you need muscle activity to create movement. You just don't need very much to play a thin nylon guitar string![;)]


pretty much everyone is gonna have more than enough strength in their hands and fingers, so yeah, it is all about learning to control and use those muscles, or as you say
quote:

it is all mental control
[:)]




chester -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 21:37:00)

quote:

some muscular strength is needed, just not very much. I guess I it might depend on your definition of "strength" but for sure you need muscle activity to create movement. You just don't need very much to play a thin nylon guitar string!

Maybe not for one picado stroke, but running scales up and down the neck will probably exhaust your forearms.




mark indigo -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 21:57:46)

quote:

quote:
some muscular strength is needed, just not very much. I guess I it might depend on your definition of "strength" but for sure you need muscle activity to create movement. You just don't need very much to play a thin nylon guitar string!

quote:
Maybe not for one picado stroke, but running scales up and down the neck will probably exhaust your forearms.


i'm talking about the amount of muscular power required to play a string - it's not much.

when you are talking about repeated small fairly light movements, I don't think you are going need big powerful muscles to do that. So "strength" in that sense is not needed.

to avoid exhausting your forearms you need minimum movement and generally efficient and co-ordinated use of the muscles required, in other words "control", or as Ricardo says;


quote:

I don't don't see "strength" as a good description of what's developed vs control of movement.




el.toro -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 23:10:59)

This video was really helpful. I guess this is what Ricardo refers to as the BIP BIP exercise. I will try practicing that. I have been letting the strings ring while doing the inchworm. My left hand is quite weak at the moment. I get some buzzing when fretting with the ring and pinky finger




chester -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 23:44:28)

quote:

to avoid exhausting your forearms you need minimum movement and generally efficient and co-ordinated use of the muscles required

No matter how much mental control you have over your tiny movements, you're still going to get tired unless your muscles have enough endurance to keep up.

You're right that you don't need to be able to deadlift 400 lbs in order to be able to play fast, but there is quite a bit of physical training involved. Even what you're referring to as 'mental', is actually physical. You can't just simply will yourself to play fast.

quote:

My left hand is quite weak at the moment. I get some buzzing when fretting with the ring and pinky finger

That's perfectly normal, just make sure you rest and don't play through the pain.




n85ae -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 25 2012 23:54:56)

Play a chromatic scale til your right hand burns, then say it's all about
training your mind. It's not.

Regards,
Jeff




z6 -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 0:28:47)

quote:

My left hand is quite weak at the moment. I get some buzzing when fretting with the ring and pinky finger


Forget the left hand. Mute the strings with the left hand. There's too much to think about. Coordination is a whole other thing, as is left hand strength.

Forget 'minimum movement' of the i and m fingers as well. Minimum movement is such a seductive concept but, and this is just my 'belief', the effort at minimum movement can introduce tension into the hand(s) in all but the most experienced players. Try it high and wide. (Think about the way electric bass players do it.) Go for the bip but don't try to do too many things at once. All this talk about muscles and tendons and such will not make it happen.

Relax. Place or press your RH thumb into/onto a lower string. Mute the strings with the left hand, or let them ring... doesn't matter. Bip.... bip... bip. Jg728's video is spot on, but bear in mind that he is an extremely advanced picado man. It would be normal for your fingers to show huge movements. Just go with that for a while. Seriously, the effort at the 'bip' sound will take care of everything without having to think about anything else.

It's magic. Don't think... just bip.




z6 -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 0:55:21)

quote:

Play a chromatic scale til your right hand burns, then say it's all about
training your mind. It's not.

Regards,
Jeff


Jeff, I'm not rying to be cute but what burns when you play chromatic scales? I almost never play them. I hate them. But what burns? Is it the tips of the fingers or the joints, the back of the hand, what?

Picado feels, to me like tapping. Almost like hammering down on the string. There's a nice feeling of potential in it. But my hand never burns, ever. Are you talking about going super fast? Because I can't do that.

I tend to be of the 'mind' school here as well, but I'm not super fast or anything. It seems to me that 'getting' a picado is the tough part. Impossible for me for many, many years, but once one has it then it does seem to all be in the bonce.

One might say that over years I've built up strength, but that's not how it happened. I only made progress when I started to play without nails (I had a hook). Then, at Ricardo's suggestion, I grew them, filed them flat across and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I applied glue.

Then the magic happened. Bip bip bip. All in the mind. In fact, I'm so used to not being able to play fast and clean and controlled for long runs I have to devise ways to convince myself to accept that it's really happening. An actual picado that increases in speed of its own accord.

But now that it's there, it's the ease, the feel of it that matters. It's a wonderful feeling of power and control. It's such a lovely feeling I sometimes do it for hours and hours. (Please, no monkey spanking jokes) The end joint on my index can hurt a little bit but that's all. No burning.

I don't think analysis in these matters is helpful at all. We give ourselves too many bum steers on these things. Glue, filing, bip.

It's so easy. It only took me thirty years to get to the stage of a proper beginner.....




FlamencoD -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 1:46:34)

quote:

It's so easy. It only took me thirty years to get to the stage of a proper beginner.....


Haha, this made me laugh. I think the point Ricardo is making about the muscles is that you don't need to worry about the muscles, they will develop as you practice the proper technique. Obviously, it takes muscles to move a joint, but don't think about the muscles. Think about proper movement as they've indicated. I know when I practice tonight I'll be trying the bip bip bip...this is the first I've heard it, and being that I've been playing flamenco less than 2 years, I am not a flamenco master.




n85ae -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 2:16:18)

Ah, this is the internet, it's easy to argue about mundane stuff. It's not a big
deal. To me figuring out what makes the finger really go fast is an interesting
argument. BUT in the end, it's really not important. Proper practice is what's
important.

Not to mention that if I actually go to this Boot Camp, I don't want to have the
Drill Instructor (Ricardo) with a predisposition against me :)

Best Regards,
Jeff




jg7238 -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 3:05:47)

Here is a fun picado exercise that can help you as well. If you can control this one, then most picado patterns will be fairly simple.







el.toro -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 5:42:39)

quote:

jg7238


I tried the technique jg7238 posted with his video tonight while practicing.

The bip-bip thing is harder than it looks. [:-]




NormanKliman -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 8:51:04)

Good advice and observations from everyone, but other people's solutions usually address their challenges, not necessarily yours. My solution is to concentrate on minimizing the distance between fingertip and string, especially when moving to a lower-pitched string. It's the only constant I've observed in good rest-stroke picado of different guitarists. So my recommendation is to avoid the habit of automatically raising a finger after it plays a note, because it will just slow you down when moving to a lower-pitched string. For example:

-------
-1-0---
-----2-
-------
-------
-------

After playing the C, you should leave that finger on the third string because it's going to play the A.

I've got a useful exercise for this:
http://www.canteytoque.es/pmiexc.htm#picado

Scroll down to Exercise 8. Alternate striking fingers at all times. Start the exercise with your index finger and then try starting it with your middle finger.

In any case, regarding the OP, it might take a couple of years for you to feel more confident about your picado (and other techniques) so you have to be patient and avoid bad habits.




XXX -> RE: Picado. New to guitar and flamenco (Sep. 26 2012 11:09:36)

Bip bip bip.




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