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Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

the three pillars of expertise 

1. technical exercises.
this covers basic technique, the foundational movements and actions, moving upward into more complex structures. simple rest strokes, hammer ons, hand positions, moving upward into scales, arpeggios. Under this heading would also be work on rhythm, familiarizing oneself with keeping a steady beat, familiarity with the various subdivisions of rhythm, and finally the specialized compas of various palos.

2. etudes.
more complex than a simple exercise, it is midway between strict technique and a piece. it is a piece of music designed to bend technique to an expressive purpose. For example, the etudes by Carcassi, Sor, etc. for classical guitar, or graded falsetas compiled or composed by flamenco teachers.

3. repertoire.
the learning of actual performance-level falsetas or pieces.

There is another factor--perhaps the fourth pillar... that is actual performance itself.

Practicing scales and other technical exercises provide a necessary "gymnastic" background for further development. With this foundation, etudes will fall into place naturally, as a "next step." Without it, each etude will be a struggle, techniques will have to be re-invented and learned constantly. The pracitcing and learning of repertoire itself is not sufficient because it has not been created with didactic purpose. Therefore intermediate steps will be skipped, making the development of technique impossible or very difficult.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 27 2004 19:21:18
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Miguel de Maria

Mike,
I'd agree that this breakdown of guitar playing might be applicable to being able to play faster runs etc, and generally be more proficient, but I still maintain that technique is not the inroad to Flamenco guitar.
I hear a lot of foreign Flamenco guitarists on the internet, and sure they have a great technique, but a hell of a lot less "aire" than some of the most basic Andalucian players I hear.
Why this is?
Everybody has their own views, but one thing I am pretty certain about is that more technique doesn't equal better Flamenco IMO.
I've said this before...I bet Vincente Amigo could accompany an old style singer, in an old style peña in front of an old style audience and do it brilliantly, without the use of any Latin American or Jazz chords or fancy syncopation.
But so many people want to jump the gun.
I bet right now, there is some good guitar player, who has never heard flamenco before who has discovered and bought a Vincente Amigo CD and is slowly working the stuff out off the album thinking that once he gets that tune down, he'll be playing great Flamenco guitar.
When in fact he's only just taken the first step on a long, long road.
You can be a great driver, driving a great fast car, and the more time you spend behind the wheel, the better driver you become.
But if you don't know where you're going then you're lost IMO.
I'm not saying this to you personally Mike, just a general thought which IMO applies to me and probably everybody else.
To me, getting a grip on the music is so much more difficult than technique.
(Or as Henrik says Technik...Teknnique...Tecknikq....aaaayyyyyaaa!!! LOL! )


cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 27 2004 21:06:27
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Miguel de Maria

Yes, my little "article" was really more about guitar than about flamenco. To be honest, I've devoted a lot more of my time to guitar than to flamenco, specifically. It's not commercially feasible for me to spend all of my time on flamenco. Also, my interests do wander. For example, right now, I'm working on a couple of classical pieces, "Las Abejas," a fast arpeggio study by Barrios, and "Capricho Arabe," a Spanish classical guitar classic.

But for someone in the middle of the American Southwest, devoting hours a day listening to cante and trying to learn accompaniment is--I feel--foolish. I won't be going to Spain again anytime soon. In fact, I know some people who think it's very important to keep up with what's going on in Madrid, and really following them. If a falseta is too old-fashioned, they'll say so, say "No one's playing that way in Madrid right now." Or... "The choreography nowadays is a lot more complex." Blah, blach. I live in Arizona, why should I care?

The aire of a true flamenco guitarist is a wonderful thing to behold. My interests naturally pull me more in the direction of virtuosic display...in flamenco as well as other forms. Maybe someday I'll be able to play some compas chords and sound good.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 27 2004 21:28:13
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Miguel de Maria

It's OK Mike, I know where you're coming from and I think you are sensible about how Flamenco fits into your repertoire.
I was just trying to force the puro aspect to annoy you. LOL!

"Maybe someday I'll be able to play some compas chords and sound good."

Not until you take the holy path.



cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 27 2004 21:38:02
 
Jon Boyes

Posts: 1377
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
 

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Ron.M

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ron.M
I hear a lot of foreign Flamenco guitarists on the internet, and sure they have a great technique, but a hell of a lot less "aire" than some of the most basic Andalucian players I hear.
Why this is?


As I've said before, I think its simply phrasing. Of course saying 'simply' probably isn't helpful!

The more I listen to flamenco, the more I think I am noticing the little things that count, the phrasing nuances that Spaniards employ that lend authenticity, and make them sound different to us white boys, even if we are playing the same thing. These little things never seem to be appear in method books/videos, as phrasing is notoriously difficult to transcribe and discuss.

Timing is one important aspect. Not keeping compas, let's take that as read, but as Todd pointed out on another forum recently, the way a Spaniard keeps in compas but 'swings' with the rhythm. Swing is very important in flamenco as it is in blues and jazz, and the flamencos seem to have their own way of doing it.

Music tends to be notated/transcribed 'metronomically' for simplicity (ie swing is ignored), and I doubt whether most players are even concious of it, so this doesn't get discussed.

Another one is the interesting use of dynamics. Again, I'm not talking about the obvious stuff but have you ever watched Paco or Tomatito finger chords in the middle of a piece but not actually play them? I call these ghost chords - they use them as transitions and the effect is incredibly subtle, but very powerful. It helps move the rhthym along and imply certain harmonies.

Watch PDLs final solo in the Light and Shade video (can't remember what it is) to see him do this loads.

Combine the two ideas and watch Tomatito do a bulerias - he often sounds like two guitarists with guitarist one 'up front' belting out some fancy pulgar lines whilst guitarist two 'accompanies' him in the background softly tickling the upper strings, sometimes barely audible. And boy does that accompaniment swing!

I think that guitarists, especially those reliant on tab, often don't use their ears enough. They tend to focus on WHAT notes are being played rather than WHY it sounds the way it does.

Jon
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 9:43:22
 
Jim Opfer

Posts: 1876
Joined: Jul. 19 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland.

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Jon Boyes

Hi Jon,
I think this is an important observation.

quote:

Paco or Tomatito finger chords in the middle of a piece but not actually play them?


I don't read notation and have not been trained as a classical guitarist would have. I have good pals who are classical guitarists and it's obvious right away, when I watch them play that their education and training has taught them to be able to think of the fingrerboard as a whole series of 'individual' notes. So when they play, their left hand fingers are working hard, and sometimes doing all sorts of seemingly impossible things to grasp individual notes.

I believe that your observation highlights the fact that most (not all) flamenco guitarists learn to play by absorbing chord patterns. At least this is the traditional way and is very economic and easier to learn. The interesting thing about thinking in chords, is that any chord placement instantly provides a whole array af scale notes right there under your fingers without having to find them. They're all there for you to exploit without having to know their names, A flat, F sharp etc.

Paco and Tomatito (you mention) learned this way. The other thing is that there are a lot of sympathetic harmonics that these 'ghost' chordings give off and that helps fill the background space in any piece.

I guess these things are just taken for granted when you learn through chords and it's interesting to read the observation from a trained player.

Cheers
Jim.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 12:17:32
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 12:34:35
 
Kate

Posts: 1827
Joined: Jul. 8 2003
From: Living in Granada, Andalucía

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

ORIGINAL: Miguel de Maria

But for someone in the middle of the American Southwest, devoting hours a day listening to cante and trying to learn accompaniment is--I feel--foolish. I won't be going to Spain again anytime soon. In fact, I know some people who think it's very important to keep up with what's going on in Madrid, and really following them. If a falseta is too old-fashioned, they'll say so, say "No one's playing that way in Madrid right now." Or... "The choreography nowadays is a lot more complex." Blah, blach. I live in Arizona, why should I care?



LOL that's what they say in Granada as well.
Kate

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 12:34:47
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Jon Boyes

Great posts Jon & Jim.
One thing I like about these "Blues" films of Martin Scoserse is watching these old timers play. They've got these big beat-up hands and totally inelegant technique with fingers flaying and fumbling the strings and a big heavy thumb banging away on an out of tune guitar and the sound is brilliant. I've never heard any white guitarist ever come close to that sound, always too prissy or contrived IMO.
In fact even a couple of younger black guys in the film, both country blues players, (I guess in their late thirties or so), just didn't really have the same "drive" to their style.
Aye, there's a lot more to music than just playing the notes, that's for sure.

cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 14:01:33
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 15:26:14
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Miguel de Maria

Hand strength, that's interesting. I have never really tried to develop that, I am more of the school of efficiency. when I want to play loud, I don't play "hard," I just dig in more, which does produce volume. I don't know if it gives a "manual laborer" or "fragata" sound, though. I would say my way is a more "martial arts" technique. I have always kind of felt sorry for the flailers--there are quite a few of them here in Phoenix. My hand hardly moves when I play, I have good economy of movement, although perhaps it doesn't sound too flamenco.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 16:48:58
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

about talent (in reply to Miguel de Maria

On the "other forum," I have had some correspondence with Dominico Caro. Although he's a gentleman, I vehemently disagree with his point of view! I wanted to post this here, too.


Hola Miguel:
Every body has SOME talent, call it "gift", if you will, but there are varying degrees of "more or less" of this talent, like intelligence and perception. Also, There are many variables affecting peoples lives like Ambiente [Andalucia}, Ambition, Carisma, a pretty face may be an asset to succeess. If you have some talent without the hunger to succeed, to make it big, you may still be a good musician or dancer with less success, that's all.

I beg to differ with Bach and you, talent is not shared egually, that sounds like communism. Talent is not the amount of time you spend practicing, that's something else
altogether. Look up the words 'aficion', 'desire' and 'talent' in the dictionary and then we will discuss The
Gifted Person. There are people that can sing well and others that can't; William Hung can't sing no matter how famous he becomes, Tiny Tim had balls not talent [well, he had some degree of it].

I know that "Aficion" is a deep love for the art because I know several people that have aficion for forty years [I say aficion because they actually do flamenco, not just talk about it] but they do it badly, let alone the 'cante'. I know what flamenco sounds like and what they do is not good, yet I can't think of people that love, have aficion for flamenco more than these folks do. An aficionado can be anybody, in any language, but doing flamenco is a calling where not every body is "equally" talented. You sound offended by my comment and it was not intended that way at all.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 17:44:38
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: about talent (in reply to Miguel de Maria

Mike,
I think "success" and "talent" sometimes become confused. (unless you have a talent for success I suppose?)
Anyway, everybody knows Tiny Tim could sing and it was William Hung who had the balls.

cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 28 2004 19:59:31
 
Billyboy

 

Posts: 389
Joined: Aug. 18 2003
 

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Guest

quote:

being back into kung fu for over 2 years it is dramatically changing my playing just from the extra strength. Perhaps improved flexibility is helping too in some way that I am not

I would think chopping those Breaze blocks would damage ones hand, I know a person who damaged the ligaments of his right hand doing Kung Fu, also Kung Fu is a full contact high impact Martial Art. Now I was a Bodybuilder for many years, even competing at one time, and I remember weight training seemed to tire my hand, since I stopped the endurance and strengh of my fingers has increased.
Cheers
dave
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2004 17:27:44
 
Jon Boyes

Posts: 1377
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
 

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Billyboy

quote:

ORIGINAL: Billyboy
I know a person who damaged the ligaments of his right hand doing Kung Fu, also Kung Fu is a full contact high impact Martial Art.


Ther are hundreds, if not thousands, of different styles of Kung Fu, ranging for the very soft arts that focus on using your opponents strength against themselves using a range of blocking and grappling techniques, or striking vulnerable body parts using hard parts of the body; through to the hard arts that develop strength and focus on kicking and striking techniques.

The full contact/high impact stuff you mention is only a tiny part of kung fu, and really only relates to a westernised sport approach to the discipline. A good example of this is Lau Gar, which in this country is basically kick boxing, but in China the real Lau Gar is completely different.

Jon
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2004 8:47:36
 
Billyboy

 

Posts: 389
Joined: Aug. 18 2003
 

RE: the three pillars of expertise (in reply to Jon Boyes

Iam proved wrong yet again, I should learn to keep my mouth shut in future.
Dave
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2004 14:24:00
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