The secret to speed 2/Roll with the momentum

December 23rd, 2010

One of the secrets of speed is to capture the energy in momentum and use it to propel your fingers forward effortlessly.

To do this, you’ll have to play in a smooth continuous action – the approach to the string, the plucking, and the movement back for the next stroke – should all be done in one smooth continuous motion.

Try this on the guitar:

Bring your ‘i’ finger towards a string, perhaps the third string.

Now, pluck the string. As soon as your finger strikes the strings, relax it completely and start moving it to the next note.

There’re two critical points about this.

1, The moment of impact must be the moment of release.

2, It’s also the beginning of the next stroke.

In other words, the end of one action must be the beginning of the next. Even as you strike the string (the end of the stroke) your finger is already moving to the next stroke.

When you connect your actions this way, you will produce incredible momentum in your fingers. Each action will flow seamlessly into the next with no break in continuity.  You will feel as if you’ve created an automated engine in your fingers, each note propelling you to the next, smoothly and effortlessly.

This seamlessness in your actions is especially crucial in arpeggios, tremolos, scales, or anything that requires a continuous flow of actions.

That’s the technique of rolling with the momentum.

As soon as you start the action, keep moving, don’t lose the momentum, instead, use it to propel yourself to the next action.

You can read more about the concept of the automated engine in the AOV for Guitar and its core principle of fluidity in the AOV.


2 Responses to “The secret to speed 2/Roll with the momentum”

  1. William Bajzek Says:

    This was a big eye opener for me a few years ago. For some reason I could barely do PIMA arpeggios at half the speed I could do PAMI. For years, I couldn’t figure out why… I was sure I was doing them right.

    Then I read the bit in AOV for Guitar about just rolling the chord. It was hard to control at first, but so simple and obvious. Within a week or two, PIMA was no problem.

    This is why I think the words we use are important. I hear a lot of people say “focus on control, speed will come,” but to me, control sounds like something you actively impose. If you’re controlling your arpeggio, you’re micromanaging each motion. I’d rather say aim for coordination, which just sounds to me like the natural outcome of proper practice.

    I suppose the connotations of these words may be different for some people or even opposite, but when I started looking at things this way, my life as a musician became a whole lot easier. When I stopped trying to impose control on everything, I started being able to hear the music better.

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    Glad it worked for you. Yes, that’s what I’ve learned too, sometimes the simplest and most obvious truths are the most elusive. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the big picture if we try to micromanage every detail of our execution. I believe we all have a body intelligence which, if left alone and with proper nurturing, usually produces the best outcome, as you call it, “the natural outcome of proper practice.”

    Control is one of those paradoxical things in life, the more you would try to exert it, the less control you wind up getting. That’s because by imposing control, we usually end up stifling what we’re trying to control and the end result is, it’s unable to function at its optimal level.

Leave a Reply