Economy 2

June 10th, 2011

This is a continuation of the previous post.

Most people think of economy as simply moving in small motions. But that’s just one small part of the equation.

Much more important than that is the aspect of efficiency in economy.

In other words, it’s not how small your movements are, but how fast you get to your destination.

Take two routes to a common destination, one is a small street with many stop signs, the other is a highway which brings you straight to your destination. The small street is a shorter route, the highway longer.

Which route do you think offers you greater economy?

Or take this oft-quoted cliché – the shortest route between two points is a straight line. That’s true if all you do is move from one point to another.

But what if you have to move back and forth between two points?

In this case, you’ll have to factor in the return journey back to the starting point and vice versa. If you move in straight lines between the two points, you’ll have to stop at each point to reverse direction to go back to the other point. That’s inefficient because it stops your momentum.

So the straight line may be the shortest route but it’s not always the most economical. The more economical and efficient way would be to move in circular motion between the two points. This way, you’ll be able to keep the flow of your motion going and maintain your momentum.

To translate this to guitar playing.

When we pluck, we seldom pluck just one note. The finger has to go back repeatedly to reposition itself to play the next note and the next one after that etc.

So part of an efficient and economical plucking strategy has to factor in the return journey to reposition the finger to play the next note or what I call the rebounding movement.

To do this, the most efficient way is to move the fingertip upward as soon as the finger has plucked the string and immediately move it back to get it in position to pluck the next note.

When you do this, you create a circular trajectory in your fingertips, a continuous flow of action in your fingers where they never have to stop even as they change directions.

From getting to the string to plucking the string to rebounding, to getting to the string again etc, all these actions are done in a continuous flow of action, giving you effortless speed and power because you’re able to keep the momentum of your movement going on, indefinitely, until you want it to stop.

So in your pursuit of economy, don’t get too fixated on just moving in small motions.

There’re other factors to consider.

If you want more power, allow your fingers to make the necessary adjustments to generate that power. If you feel like moving more to kick start a movement, there’s nothing that says you can’t do it. And if you have to move between several different points, don’t be afraid to take  a more circular path even if it means it’s longer.

And if you’re in the business of providing entertainment, you can add all the necessary frills and flourishes you want too, to make your performance more ‘convincing.’

The point, of course, is that these should always be done deliberately, and not because you lack refinement  in your technique.

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