Using the release to generate speed

March 11th, 2020

One of the basic ways to produce effortless power as described in the AOV is by releasing energy rather than by exerting more force.

You store power and then you release it in one spontaneous action.

The important thing to note is that the release is a complete letting go. It’s like an exhalation, completely effortless.

An analogy I like to use is that of letting go a bowstring. This analogy is especially apt on the guitar because you can think of the guitar strings as bowstrings.

When you pluck, you’re letting go each string like a bowstring.

The release I’ve been writing about occurs at the moment of plucking—the action of plucking is the moment of release—the two are one and the same.

However, the principle of release occurs at another level—during the initiation of a stroke or series of strokes.

Let’s see this in the context of the tremolo.

A tremolo is a smooth sequence of notes with a repeating pattern of ‘p a m i’. These four-note consolidated patterns are performed in one action as opposed to four separate motions.

Now you can initiate the strokes by simply doing them as a group.

But a more efficient way to perform them and to generate speed is by thinking of each note in the group as a ‘trigger’ to the next.

As soon as you pluck one note, let the release of that stroke propel you to the next note.

Here’s a description of the sequence of actions.

  1. Pluck the bass note with the thumb; use the energy released in the release of the thumb stroke to bring your ‘a’ finger to the string.
  2. Pluck the ‘a’ finger; use the energy in the release of the ‘a’ finger to bring the ‘m’ finger to the string.
  3. Pluck the ‘m finger; use the energy released to bring the ‘i’ finger to the string.
  4. Pluck the ‘i’ finger; use the energy released to propel your thumb to the string.

In actual performance, these actions will occur in a split second.

The critical factor in all these actions is the release.

Each stroke is a release of energy and this release becomes the ‘trigger’ which drives the next note.

The difference between the ‘trigger’ concept and that of simply playing the notes as a consolidated group is that there is tremendous forward motion in the ‘trigger.’

The ‘trigger’ produces incredible energy which drives your actions forward.

And because it occurs at the individual note level, you have good control over each note even at high speeds.

The speed produced this way is absolutely effortless because it’s based on the release of energy and because it’s so effortless, you can achieve much greater speed than you can otherwise achieve by simply trying to get your fingers to go fast.

The concept is easy to understand but implementation is much more difficult.

This is because to execute these actions effectively, the hand has to be positioned just right—all the fingers lined up above the strings, each one having equal access to the strings.

The energy in the fingers has to flow completely unimpeded by tension or artificiality and following the most natural paths in the fingers.

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