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Thread: Pic direction when starting on a string

  1. #1
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Pic direction when starting on a string

    I've been playing (well... practicing at my kitchen table) for a number of years. I've lately started into the Calace method and have reached No. 49. Though not the first time I've encountered this in this method, it seems, so far, the most blatant expression of a particular technique that I've not encountered elsewhere: whenever you change to a different string, say d to a, or e to d, you begin on the new string with a downstroke. Is this something common that has just gone past me all these years?

    Joe

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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    I have to go home to look at 49. In BG the down-up is generally in sync with the 16th notes. Classical has a bag of techniques that can violate the rule. 49 is almost certainly teaching a specific technique.

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    I've played 49 now for a few years,just from sheet music,I'm not sure where your talking but I play it,finger it and position it however I can to get the sound and notes..

  5. #4

    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    OK, I read through 49, using his stroke notations - FYI the original did mark some pretty strange pick directions, although I think I get what he is trying to do.

    Pick direction is all over the map, and since triplets force alternate pick orders by nature, he seems to feel free to change pick direction at will when convenient. The most common technique he is using is when going up (or down) through two strings he just harp strokes through them instead of changing pick direction on each string. He has entire etudes devoted to what I am calling the harp stroke (three and four string etudes - and I have played them a lot to develop those techniques), guitarists would call it sweep picking I think.

    Then he switches to alternating strokes until another such pattern happens. He does some double downs in a row too to set up an easier harp stroke on the next beat. All of it made sense to me, but I am used to alternate picking so it is hard to do that for me too.

    You will find in his notes that he suggests getting these etudes up to at least 113 bpm (I cannot yet play anything 16ths at 113 bpm, but am getting close). When/if you get these things up to those speeds, I think you will start to see some of the genius in his pick direction suggestions.

    Also, I don't think it is required you play with his 'suggested' pick directions. But you will benefit if you learn the tricks behind them them. It's part of the bag of tricks he is teaching you, and is part of the purpose of the etude.
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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    It's a common technique in classical mandolin playing, especially with rest strokes. It's actually the default technique in a lot of the older mandolin methods. Historically, it was probably the default technique on all plectrum instruments (mandolin, guitar, oud, domra, etc). Django used it, and most Gypsy Jazz guitarists still do. Alternate picking is a relatively new phenomenon. But if you haven't looked at classical mandolin methods (or Django) you probably wouldn't have seen it before

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    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Thanks, kurth83, for looking at this closely. You prompted me to look more closely myself and, yes, many of the paired downstrokes relate to what I learned as a "glide" (I think this is what you are calling "harp strokes"). And many of those paired downstrokes that do not themselves involve a glide do seem to be setting up the path to a glide a few notes on. Calace is obviously looking at more than the obvious need to move from one note to the next note (surprise!), and so this really stands as a lesson in preparing to play a piece. Thanks for your help.

    And, Pewee, yes, of course there have been many picking patterns specified in early methods and implied in, say, 18th century pieces. I recently purchased a book recommended at the last CMSA conference, The Mandolin and the Art of the Right Hand by Maria Grazia Criscenzo. I've started digging into this because I take so much pleasure in playing Gervasio. Thanks.

    Joe

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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    Bill Monroe, the original BG mandolin player, had a very free right hand.I don't know where or when it was decided that a constant down up pick stroke was the way to play BG, but in my mind it starts to sound mechanical. Starting on a different string I just do what comes natural and sounds right. Like a forward banjo roll the down up mandolin stroke is one "tool" the right hand uses but to try to only use that or even mainly use it is just wrong. It's music, do what puts the feeling in it and don't worry about pick direction JMHO

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  12. #8
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    Default Re: Pic direction when starting on a string

    Never really thought about it until you posted your question. Upon reflection I think changing strings has less to do with my methodology than what I’m doing with that first stroke or even my second stroke. i. E. Single note, chord, double stop, tremolo.
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