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flyeogh

Posts: 447
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

Finger memory 

For “stop-start” beginners, even beginners like me with years of stopping and starting: As often I’ve had a gap of 2 or 3 years not trying very hard, with long periods not playing at all. But yesterday I started playing a Juan Martin Solea and found my fingers seemed to remember various sections and falsetas. I hadn’t seen it or tried to play it in ages. Seriously I couldn’t have written the notes on a tab, but they were there in those fingers.

Does anyone else get the feelings that their fingers have long term memory?

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nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2019 11:12:50
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2659
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

Definitely. I recently relearned a classical piece I hadn't played in 13 years and it came back much quicker than I would have thought.
Of course it's all in the brain, not the fingers. Focal dystonia is a really strange condition where it seems like the fingers "lose their memory", or just refuse to cooperate, but the muscles of the fingers themselves are perfectly fine. It's just that (as I understand it) your brain is anticipating actions of your fingers and confuses that with actual sensory input, because it's used to being sort of on auto-pilot. You have to retrain with very deliberate movements almost like starting again as a beginner.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2019 14:25:38
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1539
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

Yes, definitely: my experience has been the same as yours. I’ve have several cases when my brain couldn’t remember what came next, but my fingers knew.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2019 18:32:14
 
JasonM

Posts: 874
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

A good friend of mine will pick up my Blanca and play Juan Martin Solea falsetas. He learned them ~18years and then stopped playing guitar completely 1 year later. It’s the only thing he remembers, but it’s been 17 years since he quit playing! I’m aleays amazed how the brain can do that.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 2:27:39
 
flyeogh

Posts: 447
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

Cheers all for the replies. I do think "finger memory" should be a great encouragment for those who gave up awhile back but want to get started again. As I retire I now at long last have more time. And sadly my Spanish MIL, now back home after a stroke with many complications, ties me for many hours to the house, thus again more time (It helps my MIL thinks I play rather well )

So my three guitars are now spread around the house so I really have no excuse.

But I didn't expect to make as much progress in a week as I have.

Andy sorry to disagree but I think little brains in each finger is how it works

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nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 7:59:02
 
gerundino63

Posts: 1408
Joined: Jul. 11 2003
From: The Netherlands

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

I have had the same experience.
It even works better if you do not try to remember, not use the consiousness of the brain.
Not think, just play, and piece for piece you will remenber it.

Did you ever heard from the four steps of learning?

1 ucnonscious incompetence

2 conscious incompetence

3 conscious competence

4 unconsious competence

I think finger memorie starts developing in fase 4. If you know something unconsious competence

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 9:39:50
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1539
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Finger memory (in reply to gerundino63

quote:

ucnonscious incompetence


Old joke:

Q: Can you play the piano?
A: I don’t know, I’ve never tried.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 18:45:10
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2556
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

Yes, "fingers" have long term memory. I'm inclined to think it's the part of the brain that controls the fingers, or perhaps some higher order structure that has the memory.

An even stranger case happened to me. I had laid off several years due to numbness in 3 and 4 of the left hand, but had started back a couple of years before the event. I was learning the classical piece "Homenaje" by Manuel de Falla.



The piece consists of a number of relatively short sections, each novel at its first occurrence. The piece has been called the first classical guitar piece written in 20th century harmony.

I was working through, taking each section as it came, getting to where I could play the initial part of the composition about halfway through. Then I went on a trip. I was gone a couple of weeks.

When I picked up the guitar to work on Homenaje, I played it all the way through, without a pause, though I had never worked seriously on the second half of the piece. Some of the second half reprises the first half, but the part I played without working on it contained novel material.

I had spent a long career working on difficult math, physics and engineering problems that sometimes took weeks or months to solve. I was well acquainted with the phenomenon of going to bed without a solution, but waking up in the morning with the answer. Many mathematicians and physicists have recounted the experience of their subconscious mind solving a problem. But I had never heard of learning a piece of music subconsciously.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 22:06:17
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2659
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

quote:

Andy sorry to disagree but I think little brains in each finger is how it works


Some days my "dedo torpo" needs a tiny cup of coffee to wake it up...

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2019 23:29:26
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11036
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Finger memory (in reply to flyeogh

We have discussed finger and brain connections and theories much on foro in the past. Especially about the focal dystonia thing. In regards to this topic here, I will say that when this thing creeps in to my fingers as a pro player, it scares me. I know it works for just knocking around at home, but if you want to perform in front of an audience, relying on this thing is very dangerous. If you get stuck at home you just start over or whatever and surprise yourself, making through entire pieces you thought were lost. On stage it’s a train wreck if you get stuck.

RHYTHM plays a big role in getting rid of the muscle memory taking over. In fact I would go as far to say that it is this muscle memory thing that screws up people’s timing most of the time. Don’t let the fingers be the boss, especially LEFT hand (or fretting hand) fingers. If I screw up a non flamenco thing on stage, like Bach say, I can improvise through a phrase by letting the rhythm carry me to the next phrase I am solid on. That way you never train wreck on stage, plus I find I learn material and retain it much better in the long term. Starting off on the right track to start with is the best way, internalizing phrases such that you could sing them to the beat. I think if you have say a falseta where you notice your fingers flying over the neck and you don’t have a clue how it’s happening, it’s a good idea to strip it down to basic phrases sooner than later. Here is a good way to do it:



It seems tedious, however it works very quickly. I was able to use this method to learn the Bach Chaconne in a few weeks with the time I had on hand.

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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 8 2019 18:01:09
 
jg7238

 

Posts: 2802
Joined: May 11 2009
 

RE: Finger memory (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

RHYTHM plays a big role in getting rid of the muscle memory taking over. In fact I would go as far to say that it is this muscle memory thing that screws up people’s timing most of the time. Don’t let the fingers be the boss


When I studied flamenco guitar in the nyc area with Jose Ramos at the start of the millennium he said something similar. My rhythm suffered because of this muscle memory stuff. He told me that I had enough technique and to just let go and not worry. I was carrying the classical guitar mentality into it I believe. I listened to his advice and it sure has helped.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 8 2019 19:08:55
 
Escribano

Posts: 5846
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England

RE: Finger memory (in reply to Ricardo

I'm with Ricardo on this. If I may include electric lead guitar, finger memory is our enemy. It does what it does, when all else fails.

This works against doing anything new and most likely slots you back into old, bad habits.

The difference between noodling at home and performing is most distinct in this matter.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 8 2019 19:34:58
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1539
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Finger memory (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

I think if you have say a falseta where you notice your fingers flying over the neck and you don’t have a clue how it’s happening, it’s a good idea to strip it down to basic phrases sooner than later. Here is a good way to do it:

[…]

It seems tedious, however it works very quickly. I was able to use this method to learn the Bach Chaconne in a few weeks with the time I had on hand.


Thanks, Ricardo.

Whose transcription did you learn? Segovia’s? (There’s a bastard of a B♭ chord in that where you have to barré at the 1st fret and get the 6th fret on the 4th string with your pinky…)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 9 2019 17:36:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11036
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Finger memory (in reply to Paul Magnussen

quote:

ORIGINAL: Paul Magnussen

quote:

I think if you have say a falseta where you notice your fingers flying over the neck and you don’t have a clue how it’s happening, it’s a good idea to strip it down to basic phrases sooner than later. Here is a good way to do it:

[…]

It seems tedious, however it works very quickly. I was able to use this method to learn the Bach Chaconne in a few weeks with the time I had on hand.


Thanks, Ricardo.

Whose transcription did you learn? Segovia’s? (There’s a bastard of a B♭ chord in that where you have to barré at the 1st fret and get the 6th fret on the 4th string with your pinky…)


I had miss placed my segovia score. I used Bach original manuscript actually. Later I learned that segovia ripped off busoni piano version for his extra harmony. What I did was take Bach triad or 4 note chords and fleshed them out with standard flamenco grips as needed. The Bb in question is a simple barre chord. The reason he uses it is cuz of the next A sus chord.... I just use open 5th to jump. Also Incase you wonder... original Bach score says “arpeggio” over block chords in two sections so I take to mean any arps I want, so I experimented and at this tempo settled on basic pimapima...4:15


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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 10 2019 17:37:27
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1539
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Finger memory (in reply to Paul Magnussen

Thanks again, Ricardo.

quote:

There’s a bastard of a B♭ chord in that where you have to barré at the 1st fret and get the 6th fret on the 4th string with your pinky…)


Brain-fart. I should have said “6th fret on the 1st string”.

P.S. For those who may be unfamiliar with the history, this is from Christopher Berg’s blog:

quote:

Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) didn't transcribe the violin score. He transcribed something in the 1920s, published it in 1934, performed it in Paris in June of 1935, and recorded it in 1955, but it wasn't based exclusively upon Bach's violin score. Segovia transcribed parts of Ferruccio Busoni's transcription/arrangement of the Chaconne, a transcription made in 1891-1892 while Busoni was living in Boston, and premiered by him in that city in 1893. Busoni published new editions of it in 1902, 1907, and 1916, continually refining his ideas.

[…]

Incidentally, this wasn't the only time Segovia failed to correctly attribute the source of his edition: Segovia based his 1945 edition of twenty studies by Fernando Sor on a nineteenth-century edition by Napoleon Coste.

[…]

To my knowledge Segovia never indicated that he based his work on Busoni’s and we have no statements to that effect
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 10 2019 18:52:20
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