Economy 5August 8th, 2020
Consolidating your fingers in free-strokes is easy compared to doing it in rest-strokes.
Playing a free-stroke arpeggio usually involves three fingers and thumb and it’s easy to work them together as a group.
With rest-strokes and I’m talking abut conventional two-finger rest-strokes, the problem is that you’re only working with two elements—the two fingers.
How do you consolidate with two fingers?
This was the problem I set out to solve when I decided to try to understand Paco de Lucia’s picado technique.
The key lies in “pushing” into the strings with the hand and letting the action release the fingers.
In free-stroke arpeggio playing, the way to employ the hand in the plucking is to pull it back slightly.
In picado playing, it is to push into the strings.
This is the source of a common misunderstanding—that you have to play rest-strokes from the knuckles.
When you push the hand and fingers in, all the joints are naturally locked against one another to form a small arch from the hand to the fingertips.
When you press in, to the observer, the movement in the knuckles would make it appear as if the you are playing from the knuckles.
In actuality, the action is originating from the entire hand, not just the knuckle joints.
You can try it by playing rest-strokes with your ‘i’ and ‘m’ fingers from the knuckles as fast as possible.
Not only will you tire yourself out quickly, you will probably not get much speed.
To find out how this works on the guitar, here’s a simple exercise.
Place the ‘m,’ and ‘i’ fingers on the second string. (I find the second string easier to practice on than the first string.)
Now, gently push the fingers through the strings. Let the pushing action come from the whole hand. This would include the fingers.
Do this several times.
The important thing to note is that you’re pushing the two fingers through together in one action, as if the two fingers are one.
Next, do this exercise again but this time, release the ‘m’ and ‘i’ fingers separately, while still pushing them into the string in one action.
As you do this, the two fingers should produce a kind of “blam, blam” effect. This is because you’re playing them one after another in quick succession.
It sounds simple but this is really the secret to fast rest-strokes.
You do not try to play the notes individually; instead you play them in groups of twos.
Again, in real life application, there’re other factors that come into play. For example, to connect the two-note groups and make them occur seamless, you would have to apply another principle which involves creating the ‘engine’ at the fingertips.
This principle is a little complicated so I will leave that for another article.
But the fundamental principle of pushing in the hand and allowing the two fingers to work as one remains the same.