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Thread: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

  1. #1

    Default The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    Quite sure this isn't a novel thread name, but so be it!

    I'm curious to know how you all accomplish this little embellishment for Irish tune playing.

    From my excursions on the web and learning from players, there seem to be a number of ways to accomplish trebles, and they may involve a different set(s) of muscles.

    Obviously the first requirement is a nice relaxed pick grip and wrist/arm, but after that, where are the muscles that fire so quickly to give you that DUD burst? (or UDU):

    -finger/thumb ?
    -wrist ?
    -forearm (fixed wrist) ?
    or some combination?

    Is there any change in pick angle involved? Is there any movement up away from the string and back, or is it totally through the string? Is there any momentary increase or decrease in tension on the pick involved?

    If you are able to break it down & describe your own treble playing in the above terms, I'd be grateful to learn about it so I can work out the best methods for my playing.

    And/or share any tricks or tips that have helped your right hand learn to incorporate these ornaments consistently at speed.

    Thanks,
    Jon

  2. #2
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    For me it helps to not use a heavy pick - I use Blue Chip TPR35's, which are about .89mm thickness if I remember correctly. There is some slight movement from my thumb but the rest is in the wrist. The pick is slightly angled so that it moves across the strings easily and I hold it so that there isn't a lot of the tip showing so there's less chance of it getting "hung up" in the strings. The other thing that stands out for me is that from the get go I was playing triplets and trebles because my teacher at the time had me playing them, so I'd be learning tunes at slower speeds as a beginner, and incorporating triplets/trebles played at those slower speeds and then as time went by and I improved and was able to play faster it was just a natural extension of that for the triplets/trebles to be played faster. Some folks don't tap their foot when they play - I do tap my foot and it helps me keep the triplets/trebles in time. I find that people tend to think that triplets/trebles are played faster then they actually are, which leads to them playing them at machine gun speed and then results in them coming back in to hit the next note too early and throws everything off. Just my tuppence worth on the subject of triplets/trebles.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    OK what I do is more mental than mechanical. More above the eyebrows than in the hand.

    I initiate a tremolo. Then cut it short.

    That's it. Been doing it for years. Works well.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    Quote Originally Posted by nicanite View Post
    Quite sure this isn't a novel thread name, but so be it!
    We aren't a Star Trek forum so you should be good.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    I use a slightly angled pick like Jill above. I don't change the angle just for trebles, I play all the notes with a slight angle (thumb down) to get a little more meat out of the tone with a relatively thin pick (BC TAD40-1R). It's mainly wrist motion, maybe a tiny contribution from the thumb and index finger.

    I pick the melody notes with a fairly loose-feeling hand, and then briefly "tighten up" for the treble ornament, making sure to relax afterwards. If your right hand is tense all the time as you play, there isn't much room for that quick burst of effort.

    Finally, I think it's important to be fluent in playing trebles starting with either an up-stroke or a down-stroke, so you don't interrupt the flow of the picking for the melody line. If you practice this enough, you won't even think about which direction to use, it will just come naturally.

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    Registered User Brian560's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    I would follow Jill’s advice, especially about incorporating the the triplets into the tune from the start. I think it also helps to count out the strokes of the triplet; DUD,123, trip-a-let. That seems to work better than a random burst of tremolo. Even for tremolos the strokes are counted in pairs. I think the counting results in a more relaxed deliberate execution rather than the player tensing up just before the triplet.They both also take practice.

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post

    Finally, I think it's important to be fluent in playing trebles starting with either an up-stroke or a down-stroke, so you don't interrupt the flow of the picking for the melody line. If you practice this enough, you won't even think about which direction to use, it will just come naturally.
    I find that when playing reels I usually start the triplet on a down beat, and in jigs I almost always start on the up beat, it's just how it's most comfortable and usually works out best in the tunes I play
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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    Aside from physical aspects like being loose from your ear to the fingertips, I find that it is a mental exercise. By this I mean that one should know how it should sound at tempo, slowing or speeding up along with the rest of the tune with faster or slower picking.
    The best way is to play along with a recording. Then the method is secondary to the result. It forces you to hear what you are doing. (And compare to the sound of the expert.)
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  12. #9

    Default Re: The trouble with trebles (triplets)

    Thanks everybody.

    I agree about the mental aspect -- it seems the less I think about it, the easier it is to get it right rhythmically. It's the same principle that affects overall playing efficiency -- let the 'muscle memory' take over and stay out of the way. Easier said than done for me, thus far! :-P

    Jill mentioned firing too fast -- I often have the opposite problem, where the 3rd note of the triplet comes late and then the tempo is shot. This tends to happen when my brain interferes as mentioned above.

    I find that the momentary "tighten up" action serves me well for the most part, but it's something that I recover from more slowly than I'd like -- so it tends to mess up subsequent notes more often than not. So in addition to the triplet action I need practice what comes after, which is to immediately relax back into the 16th note picking run.

    As far as twisting the pick to effect the triplet motion, I'm inclined to not pursue that technique, especially as my pick sits in the middle portion of my thumb rather than the end.

    Anyone else care to chime in with their technique? I've learned a lot so far that can potentially help. -Jon

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