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Thread: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    I hope this is an intelligent question. If not, I'm asking for a friend.

    I'm working on a bunch of stuff in G major. I warm up with a basic scale exercise, gradually increasing the speed. Am now up to 150 bpm using only down strokes. Am thinking that at some point I'll be at a speed where DU makes more sense. Any thoughts as to what speed makes sense for a change from DD to DU?

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    Hmmm. Do you mean in playing or do you mean in practicing exercises.

    In playing, the music itself kind of tells you. Certain runs or riffs or combinations are just easier to play DUDU. Sometimes the pick direction is even dictated by the orchestra leader. (For classical fans).

    I play predominantly DUDU except when the special emphasis is needed, then DDDD. Like the pick up notes in Kentucky Waltz, I do D D D.

    In playing it just depends, is my experience.

    My prejudice is that most players are probably going to play mostly DUDU with occasional DDD, so probably a good idea to get into it asap.

    I hope that helps. I know you were looking for a BPS above which it is DUDU and below which is DDDD. I don't have a number, but i would guess eighth notes and faster DDDD is going to be awkward.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    For me DDDD and DUDU have very different rhythmic feelings. I find that DUDU has a smooth loping round feeling and itís more difficult to put in time hesitations for slip jig versus slide for example (that would be DuD DUD or DdD DDD lower case meaning you play lightly or miss the string).

    On the other hand, I like strict DUDU (as opposed to DDDU or DUUU for example which I don't play) because you can move really fast and if you work on giving a bit more power to the upstroke, then very regularly.

    DDDD (for me) is for energetic or aggressive rock or punk, something with a complicated rhythm that doesnít necessarily follow exactly the melody.

    So in answer Iíd say I like to at least try to chose the picking pattern for the way I want to express the tune -not that I change much anyway! My absolute top DDDD speedís about 160 unless there are a lot of string changes and measures packed with eighths.

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    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    What works best for the song.
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  6. #5
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Hmmm. Do you mean in playing or do you mean in practicing exercises.
    Darn! I meant to say when warming up with scales - and trying to increase my speed playing scales. When playing a piece I always play quarter notes DDDD and eighth/sixteenth notes DUDU.

    So, if you were playing a G major (or any) scale, at what BPM would you start playing DUDU rather than DDDD?

    I'll study all comments later today, but wanted to get this clarification out there.

  7. #6
    Registered User Zac Hilbert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    Practice the tempos/rhythms you are likely to encounter in the music you play. And then practice slower tempos. And then practice faster tempos. And practice all of these tempos in different ways.

    For example, if you have slow songs (60bpm?) with eighth/sixteenth not scalar runs, practice scales at 60bpm quarter notes DDDD and 60bpm eighth notes (i.e. 120 eighth notes per minute) DUDU. When I practice scales, I usually pick a tempo (fast or slow) and practice several different rhythms (e.g. straight quarters, straight eights, triplets, quarter-eighth-eighth.) and than move on to a slower or faster tempo or a different key.
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    Playing strictly downstrokes is a Monroe style technique that really funks up your grass. So you're in good company, but typically it's used for one bar blues licks. Practicing scales using only upstrokes would be a good exercise for you. Come to think about it, that would be extremely challenging and would be a good exercise for anyone who wants to improve their right hand!

  9. #8

    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    I don't think there is a speed which would necessarily dictate switching your picking pattern. I would think that at any speed(within reason) you would want to change things up. Picking patterns are simply a tool to be applied to situations. Your goal should be training your hand to be able to apply patterns with ease as you see fit. Don't wait for a certain speed for DU, practice it alternating with DD at all speeds. Otherwise your are artificially conditioning yourself to only apply it at certain speeds.

    Many times the song or phrase itself will push things in a certain direction for various reasons. So train your hands to be ready for as many possibilities as you can. You can play the scale straight using both DD and DU or each note twice using DD or DU or three times using DDD DUD DDU... you get the point.
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  10. #9
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    An interesting question, Sherry. I guess I never practice scales with all quarter notes. My default is to play scales with eighth notes, alternating my pick direction. Now I'm curious. The next time I practice, I'll see how fast I can play with all down strokes. It really has a Monroe sound/feel to it. A further thought: playing a major pentatonic scale, adding a blusey, flatted 3rd will be more fun in a "time trial".��

  11. #10

    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    Not sure about the changeover point as it depends entirely on you and your comfort zone. You could add the up strokes and work on coordinating your hands at faster speeds.
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  12. #11
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Increasing Scale Exercise Speed

    The important thing to me is “finding a groove” - whether you use DDDD, DUDU, or a crosspicking combination, whatever, I try to find a groove to work from. Instead of looking for a hard and fast rule, I prefer to experiment with different rhythms and pick stokes in search of a good groove. Here is a video I made last year that barely touches on this thinking.

    https://youtu.be/tQ_Xlc3RAL8
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