Two More Videos

June 7th, 2010

I recently received an email from Bob Wooldridge who pointed me to this video of George Sakellariou. In Bob’s words:

I was just watching this video that was recently uploaded by Dave Schramm. Take a look at Sakellariou’s right hand fingers. There are several points in the video where the camera is looking at his hand from the left side and you can clearly see how his fingers are attacking the strings. I think you will find this interesting:

My own continuing youtube research also uncovered this video of Douglas Niedt:

In both these videos, one can clearly see the same upward motion in their fingers, in that same circular trajectory I had talked about earlier in my Isbin post.

There’s quite a bit of hand bouncing too in Niedt’s hand, which is absolutely essential in chordal playing, but is also very much a part of this circular type of playing.

Most good players develop the circular approach to plucking naturally and intuitively. It’s something they probably don’t even think too much about.

So why is this a concern?

Because for some players, developing this natural approach may not come so easily.

This is especially true if they have been subjected to the strict playing-from-the-knuckle methodology, (plucking strictly from the knuckle) or if they have been taught to exaggerate the follow-through in their fingers after the stroke.

The inevitable result of playing only from the knuckle is a loss of fluidity in the fingers. That’s because you wind up with stop and start pendulum-type motion in the fingers.

Exaggerating the follow-through also results in the same stop and start pendulum-type motion as the knuckle stroke.

The great thing about circular plucking as I explained in the AOV is that it creates a continuous flow of motion.

There’re two parts to plucking a string, the plucking and the rebounding (to reposition the finger). As soon as you pluck the string, you have to bring it back to reposition it. So there’re two points where you have to effect a direction change in your stroke.

If you move back and forth in a pendulum-type motion, you’ll have to stop at each point to reverse direction. This is inefficient. It stops the flow of your motion and you lose momentum.

But if you loop around each direction point, you can keep the flow of your motion going even as you change direction. That’s why circular motion is so crucial to speed and fluidity.

Circular motion of course is nothing new. It’s central to Tai Chi and Aikido.

2 Responses to “Two More Videos”

  1. Bobber Says:

    Thanks for sharing my comments Phil! I think what is key is all the observations that you are pointing out with so many virtuoso players. They all appear to be playing from the finger tips and with circular motion. But for me especially, I think you really nail it when you use the word exaggeration. I think many players are unable to produce decent velocity and coordination in general because what they are taught (movement from the knuckle) produces a big motion which is more difficult to control. What helps me is to think and feel small. Playing softly also seems to help. when I play soft, I have more control and I feel the stings more and my motions are smaller. It seems better (to me at least) to not worry too much about playing loudly when first learning a piece. That will come naturally as you learn and gain control. Just my 2 cents worth!

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    It’s interesting how practice and theory seem to diverge quite significantly when it comes to right hand technique.

    I’ve always been mystified about the knuckle theory because I don’t see it in many professional players. In the early days, it was always hard to make the point but now, in these youtube days, all you have to do is click on the mouse and the evidence is right there, in front of you.

    Your observation about playing softly is right on the money too. The key to speed and power is lightness and the best way to achieve this lightness is to underplay, in other words, to play softly.

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