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slowing down without slowing down

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. I am venturing more into the solo realm--relatively uncharted waters in bluegrass--and am grappling with the tasmanian devil-on-speed tempo of many of the tunes. Basically what I am trying to do is get the melody under my fingers then play around with it a little.

    The problem is that I tend to hear things like a mandolin player but can't fit in all the notes. I know part of the problem is tension in my left hand but there is also the issue of moving up and down the neck and crossing the strings.

    I think that time and practice will help but I am also wondering about how to simplifiy my lines a little to compensate for the lack of speed. Any advice on the subject?
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    a) There's no substitute for sheer velocity and it takes practice. Punch line is, if that's what you're hearing, DON'T LOSE TRACK of that sound. Period.

    b) One way to begin approaching velocity is to recognize that you ALREADY CAN play fast, just not for long. You can play a couple of 16th notes, so figure out what to do with, "doodle-oom, doodle-oom, doodle-ooom" until you're comfortable moving onto "doodle-oodle-oom" etc.

    c) . . . and here's the opposite advice from "a" above: If the mandolin licks aren't working yet, what other sounds make sense? What would the dobro player play as a background? How about those long fiddle-tones? I'm not trying to talk you out of speed-work (and you wouldn't let me, would you) but even in bluegrass people must find ways to fit longer tones into speedier tunes.
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ...another thing that works is to start slow and build up your speed one plodding step at a time. If you need some inspiration, check out the DVD that comes as a bonus to the new Edgar Meyer/Bela Flek CD. The mini-movie is essentially the story of Edgar and Bela learning and performing a bitching hard piece that Edgar wrote ("Canon".) There's a montage in there of Edgar and Bela practising the piece. At one point Edgar's got the section so mucked up that he couldn't play 6 notes of it right even if you put a gun to his head. He's getting real frustrated. The montage ends with a shot of Edgar having the metronome out and playing the section at a tediously slow tempo.

    The lesson I took away from it is that even Edgar Meyer puts his pants on one leg at a time.
  4. The CD is impressive, as is the DVD - or should I say the playing on the DVD - I found the camera swinging around and zooming in and out made me feel quite sea-sick. Very amateurish camera work…

    - Wil
  5. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    true about the camera work. hope that edgar makes some more dvds. with these dvds there is options for multiple camera angles, which would be really cool, and also slow-motion playing on a dvd is of high quality (if a little 'jumpy). I learned alot from slowing it down and focusing on how exactly edgars right arm moves....