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    Craig Hardie

    Posts : 161
    Join date : 2012-09-19


    Post by Craig Hardie on Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:56 pm

    Specific critique of "Pretty Girl Milking A Cow":

    Fairly well accomplished chord changes and a sense of all the "parts" being observed and in place. However, the performance currently lacks flow and continuity due to the various flourishes (slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs) not yet being smoothly integrated into the whole. The phrasing sounds somewhat disconnected. I think the reason for this is because you are still viewing the entire piece as a long collection of small isolated parts instead of a complete melody.

    When we begin learning something lengthy we need to chunk it down to small parts initially whilst we are studying individual articulations for accuracy. However, at some point we need to go beyond thinking of the piece in terms of it being a series of small parts, and view it from a wider perspective. This means having a sense of the whole melody in our heads, with the underlying rhythmic phrasing and feel properly understood.

    Are you currently able to hear the entire melody in your head without any aural accompaniment? If not, listen to the original performance (or Guitar Pro) a few more times until the music is better embedded in your brain. Then, learn the piece again, memorising longer sections (4 bars or more) and work on keeping the phrasing (rhythmic feel) smooth and consistent. Of course, before you can do this you may also need to improve some of the more difficult articulations.

    Look at the following:
    1. Strengthening phrasing of pull-off licks (all notes articulated with equal strength/dynamics).
    2. Strengthening slide lick. Check there is adequate sustain on note you're sliding into, and that you're not throwing this note away in order to get to the next part (as with the pull-offs).
    3. Holding and sustaining bass notes properly (without buzzing) and for the right length of time while playing notes on upper strings.
    4. Eliminate disjointed sound by chunking whole piece into longer sections and focusing on keeping the rhythmic phrasing consistent. I do not mean that your playing must be to a strict tempo (ie. to a metronome) as we have discussed that you can be very elastic with the timing, but you should be able to hear that there is a rhythmic flow or swing to the melody which should be observed throughout. This is usually felt most strongly whenever there is a dotted 8th note followed by a 16th in the score.
    5. Check that the picking hand is engaging with all the correct strings (for example, on chords such as F6 and E5).

    In summary Bob, the main thing I would like you to concentrate on besides improving your pull-offs is phrasing. This means having a strong sense of where the beat is as you're playing through (regardless of tempo). Start by taking a section of any tune you know well and practice it at 3 different tempos...Your maximum speed, half this speed, and somewhere in between. Can you always play to the beat without accompaniment? If not, try it with a metronome to see whether you have a tendency to speed up, slow down or otherwise break up the rhythmic momentum. If this exercise is still a struggle with your existing repertoire then you need to apply it to something even simpler, like chord changes, simple fingerpicking patterns, etc.

    Bob Bates

    Posts : 57
    Join date : 2012-09-24


    Post by Bob Bates on Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:40 am

    Thanks Craig. Some useful ideas to help my practice focus over the coming weeks.


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