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Anchoring Pinky??

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(@chris-c)
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You have to get your fundamentals down solid before you "personalize" your technique. If, say, you loved Glenn Gould's superb playing, you might start swaying your torso clockwise while playing, or humming along with the piano, or trying to set your piano bench exactly 14 inches from the floor -- which would last about two lessons before your teacher made you stop. Yes, Gould succeeded with eccentric technique, but the eccentricities were not the point, and to impose them upon yourself as a beginner distracts from the REAL point, which is producing music in the most efficient way possible.

I absolutely do get your point about not copying eccentricities. Don't mistake something that's non-essential icing for the cake, if you like. But there's a definite difference between what you might call a 'bad habit that happens to work for one individual' and a genuine alternative way of working. The problem is that there's never going to be universal agreement about where the line should be drawn.

I believe that some form of "anchoring" is a perfectly valid way of going about things. It's not a big part of the way I play but I definitely do it at times, and it works. My version is more like brushing the soundboard than "planting" or "anchoring" but it's in the general ballpark.

The difference between some kid copying the wonderful Glenn Gould's weird behaviour and my quoting Mark Knopfler et al is that I developed my way of playing because I found that it works - and looked at Knopfler and co afterwards. I'm not copying him, he just happens to be useful to illustrate something that works. His version is much more obvious and extreme than mine, so it serves as a pretty clear example to support the idea that touching the top of an electric guitar is not an automatic disaster. I might also quote the passage from an instruction book on playing Bass guitar which starts "Place your hand on your bass guitar" and illustrates different places to anchor your thumb. (Written by GN's own David Hodge).
I would never say that conservatory-grade technique is the only way to play well. But I've seen way too many beginners try to play with the guitar hanging down around their knees because some Rock Star strapped his on that way. It's certainly possible to play well that way (I guess...), but if you start out that way you're putting an unnecessary obstacle in your path.

I can't argue with your feelings about the way some beginners play. I'm with you there. I have a large dash of traditionalist in my make-up. One of my less stellar business enterprises was starting a small shop selling classical music on CD; I hand made all the doors and windows in my house using old fashioned mortice and tenon joints and wedges; I've recently been researching early plane building methods to assist my brother get the details correct and authentic on the replica World War I biplane that he is building in his garage, using original Sopwith plans, etc. Honestly, I do get the value of the older ways of doing things, but I don't like being choked or restricted by them. Classical guitar playing may be 'right', but it doesn't make the blues wrong. The methods espoused by concert pianists and their teachers don't make the variations found in stride, boogie, jazz or rock piano wrong. They're just different. "Vive La Difference" as the French say.
And that's how I see the pinky thing. It's hard enough to learn the instrument the "right" way -- why add another complication?

That's the issue. You apparently see it as 'wrong' and your way as 'right'. I don't think it's wrong at all, I just think it's different. You said above that your main goal was "efficient", which is fair enough - it's a word that's quite often used by people to support traditional techniques. I would say "effective" instead, because my goal is the noise at the end and its emotional content. The end sometimes justifies the means if you like. Some would even say that it's valid for a professional performer to add "entertainment value" to the mix, although it's not on my own list.

I don't think we're really that far apart. :)

Cheers,

Chris


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 Crow
(@crow)
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The best threads on GN make me look hard at my own playing. This is a good one.
...there's a definite difference between what you might call a 'bad habit that happens to work for one individual' and a genuine alternative way of working. The problem is that there's never going to be universal agreement about where the line should be drawn.

No argument there. Although I suspect that several hundred years of pedagogy have weeded out most of the serious disagreements. :)
I believe that some form of "anchoring" is a perfectly valid way of going about things. It's not a big part of the way I play but I definitely do it at times, and it works. My version is more like brushing the soundboard than "planting" or "anchoring" but it's in the general ballpark.

Well, I do it at times, too, to orient my picking hand while I'm staring at my fretting hand (bad habit there). That's not "anchoring," and what you do is not "anchoring," so we are arguing about a technique neither one of us uses. (Maybe we can get into saxophone embouchures next, eh? )
The difference between some kid copying the wonderful Glenn Gould's weird behaviour and my quoting Mark Knopfler et al is that I developed my way of playing because I found that it works - and looked at Knopfler and co afterwards.

That is a major, major difference, and really our only one: You seem to think a beginner can learn just as well with anchoring as without, while I seriously doubt it. I could be wrong.
I might also quote the passage from an instruction book on playing Bass guitar which starts "Place your hand on your bass guitar" and illustrates different places to anchor your thumb. (Written by GN's own David Hodge).

Different instrument, different technique. Some basses are still built with thumb rests. That comes from double bass technique -- centuries of it -- and it can transfer nicely to the new instrument.
Honestly, I do get the value of the older ways of doing things, but I don't like being choked or restricted by them. Classical guitar playing may be 'right', but it doesn't make the blues wrong. The methods espoused by concert pianists and their teachers don't make the variations found in stride, boogie, jazz or rock piano wrong. They're just different. "Vive La Difference" as the French say.

We're talking about B E G I N N E R S. A beginning pianist who wants to play jazz & tries to play like Monk with flat fingers is gonna progress more slowly than a beginner who masters a strong arch in the fingers -- UNLESS the Monk acolyte is a great talent, in which case s/he can do whatever s/he wants. Great talents often progress in spite of their teachers, not because of them.
And that's how I see the pinky thing. It's hard enough to learn the instrument the "right" way -- why add another complication?

That's the issue. You apparently see it as 'wrong' and your way as 'right'. I don't think it's wrong at all, I just think it's different.

My quote marks around the word "right" were on purpose. Nothing is carved in stone. I also wrote...
I would never say that conservatory-grade technique is the only way to play well.

...but you didn't quote me there, I notice. Whatever. Glenn Gould learned some of his "eccentric" techniques from an accomplished piano teacher who really did offer "a genuine alternative way of working" from the ground up. If anchoring is part of "a genuine alternative way of working" for beginners -- from the ground up -- I'm not familiar with it.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@noteboat)
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Interesting thread. I've been thinking about the origins of 'good' and 'bad' technique, and all the arguments presented so far. Here are the conclusions I'm coming to:

1. As Crow states, hundreds of years of pedagogy have defined 'best practice'. That's kind of true... it's certainly true of classical strings, keyboard instruments, and brass - all of which have been around for hundreds of years. It's pretty true of classical guitar, which has had about 150 years to work the bugs out, and started with a base of technique from lute and vihuela. But in steel string guitar, which is roughly 100 years old, we haven't had the benefit of the same development; steel string guitar is primarily a 'folk' instrument, with techniques passed on from amateur to amateur (I'm using 'amateur' to mean someone who didn't take up formal study). In addition, the primary genre for guitar today is rock based, and that's only been around for 60 years. So there I'm thinking Chris has a strong argument.

2. That's not to say there isn't a 'right' way. We just haven't agreed yet on what it is, or why it should be. While it's true that 'good' players have quirks, many of those quirks may actually serve a musical purpose, as I pointed out earlier in Emmanuel's control of tone through anchoring. It may be true that he didn't design his technique to get that effect, but it's still the effect he gets - and his technique is part of the cause, even if it's inadvertent.

3. Many of the 'good' players in rock aren't trained in a conservatory sense. They're all doing what comes naturally in a way - which makes the good ones sort of savants. They have stumbled on what works. Or maybe they've stumbled on something that doesn't help, or even hurts, but they've overcome it anyway. So we shouldn't accept what they do without questioning whether it's actually an advantage, a disadvantage that they overcome (through physical gifts or some other means), or something that makes no difference.

The real problem with not having an extensive pedagogical foundation for popular guitar is that we sometimes can't tell what makes no difference, so many guitarists assume it's all a matter of preference - from where you put your thumb to how you hold your pick. And that's simply not true. So here I'm very much with Crow - there is a right (or at least 'better') way for almost everything we do.

I 'float' my hand rather than anchoring. But I do it first because it's less limiting for integrating other techniques, and second because it allows the guitar to 'ring' better. But after spending a couple of days thinking about this, I'm starting to experiment with selective anchoring for tone modification - I'll let you know how that turns out.

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 Cat
(@cat)
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the primary genre for guitar today is rock based, and that's only been around for 60 years. So there I'm thinking Chris has a strong argument.

I'm starting to experiment with selective anchoring for tone modification - I'll let you know how that turns out.

Two salient points here. Chris is quite right on the first point...and YES INDEED there is tone modification on Note's second point...HEAPS!!!

Everyone knows that you can plink off harmonics with your fret hand...and pinch off harmonics with your pick and thumb...but you get LOUD harmonics if you go to ultra light strings and let the picked string "bounce" under your thumb joint.

It certainly takes practice to get it right, as it does with using ultra lights, in general. It takes quite some time ( a decade???) to turn all them thar "sloppy pops & squeaks" into a focused and deliberate set of overtones.

If someone's curious, PM me and I'll send out a good (& uncopyrighted) example...

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@chris-c)
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No argument there. Although I suspect that several hundred years of pedagogy have weeded out most of the serious disagreements. :)

There haven't been several hundred years of pedagogy for electric guitar yet. We're still working on it. :)

You've also hit on my problem right there. I was badly bitten by a pedagogue as a child and never quite got over it. I'll explain another time. :?
That is a major, major difference, and really our only one: You seem to think a beginner can learn just as well with anchoring as without, while I seriously doubt it. I could be wrong.

As somebody mentioned above, it seems that teachers of some styles actually do teach their students that way. I don't imagine that any teacher of classical guitar ever would do so, but for pop music and especially with electric guitar it does seem common enough.
If anchoring is part of "a genuine alternative way of working" for beginners -- from the ground up -- I'm not familiar with it.

OK I'll take the challenge. I've got a pile of beginner books over there, so I'll pick one up and see what it says.

It's called Guitar Method Book 1 Beginner and it's by Gary Turner and Brenton White.

The first few pages are given over to posture, pick holding, right arm position and left hand placement.

You'd probably like their approach. The guy in the photo is using a footstool, they have "right" and "wrong" photos for holding the pick, and they're pretty fussy about "correct" and "incorrect" positioning of the elbow too. When it comes to thumb positioning they use several photos to show you what they think is right and wrong, including a wrong way to have your thumb behind the neck.

I've already found some ways that I differ slightly from their instructions, so I'm not too confident about getting any support for anchoring..... :?

Turn the page...

And a few more...Here we are. P.14
RIGHT HAND SUPPORT

It is necessary for the right hand to be supported on the guitar by either (1) the palm resting against the bridge or (2) resting fingers on the pick guard. This will feel more comfortable and aid in the development of speed by encouraging a down/up movement rather than an in/out movement of the pick.

There are two photos, one of which is almost identical to the one that I posted of Mark Knopfler's pinky and ring planted firmly on the pick-guard.

Now when they say "necessary" I'm suddenly right in your corner saying "You're kidding?!" - but their approach is not unusual. That was the first book I grabbed off the pile, but I'm sure that I could find similar advice in other modern guitar books. The cover photo shows a Strat, an Epi "Joe Pass" and a Yamaha acoustic.

Pedagogy has gone to the dogs mate.... but some of us don't mind the barking.

Cheers,

Chris


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(@chris-c)
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1. As Crow states, hundreds of years of pedagogy have defined 'best practice'. That's kind of true... it's certainly true of classical strings, keyboard instruments, and brass - all of which have been around for hundreds of years. It's pretty true of classical guitar, which has had about 150 years to work the bugs out, and started with a base of technique from lute and vihuela. But in steel string guitar, which is roughly 100 years old, we haven't had the benefit of the same development; steel string guitar is primarily a 'folk' instrument, with techniques passed on from amateur to amateur (I'm using 'amateur' to mean someone who didn't take up formal study). In addition, the primary genre for guitar today is rock based, and that's only been around for 60 years. So there I'm thinking Chris has a strong argument.
.

Very nice assessment, NoteBoat. :) I'm quite intrigued by the whole business of the tension between ‘pedagogy' and modern practice. Despite what I often post here I'm a supporter of traditional methods in most fields.

As you suggest, formal instruction (in any subject) is by necessity never actually up-to-date. It takes time to objectively assess things. Serious music establishments won't rush out and set up a department of Punk Studies just because it's been popular for a few months, or even years. Yet such a thing isn't out of the question. There may even be one somewhere by now. And even when ‘experts' have had 100 years to deliberate they still won't always all agree either. So it's never totally clear cut.

Take jazz. When it first emerged the response from most traditionalists ranged from indifference to scorn and derision. But it's now so mainstream it's regarded as positively fuddy-duddy by many. It has its own academics and gurus, and even its pedantic bores who can lecture you on the errors of your ways. Some jazz players may regard their techniques, ability and musical structures as not just equal to more long standing ones, but superior. Our local Conservatorium has a Department of Jazz studies and it's been around for so long now that my friend and neighbour, who headed it for some years, has now retired through old age. Similarly, many composers now revered were roundly bagged by critics of their day, and so on.

So I firmly believe that the jury is still out on modern guitar methods (“Out of it” might be a better description... but they'll come down eventually...). I'm also an “amateur” as you mention. Lovely word that literally means “lover”. So I play for the love of it, not to pass exams or play as a professional. I feel that this frees me up to choose whatever methods I find useful at the time, and to be my own judge of whether they're effective for my purpose. It also allows me to swap methods - or opinions - whenever I feel like it. :)

Pedagogy can be a beacon or a millstone. It's not automatically all shining light. I play a little bit of piano and when I spent time hanging around on a popular forum it was genuinely sad to see how many students wore the weight of the piano's history like a yoke. People spending years pounding away in lonely rooms tethered to immovable instruments, getting more neurotic every year because their rendition of a piece of Chopin didn't quite get to the top of the pile of the previous ten zillion renditions of it. And sour old creeps who could be venomously vicious towards other teachers who used methods other than their own.

Guitar people are generally relatively easy going but some of the piano types were really nasty old dinosaurs. The thinking seemed to be that the instrument hasn't changed much in more than a century and we know it all now, so everybody must do exactly as we say. Popular piano playing is trash and not worth discussing. Just the sort of twisted and narrow minded types that served up dull and miserable piano lesson to tens of thousands of my generation and put us off music for decades, if not for life. Pianos used to be in every pub and many homes, played enthusiastically by both skilled musicians and regular ‘folk'. Thanks in no small part to those uninspired teachers and their pathetic ‘lessons' the next generation of players didn't come through in quantity or quality, and many wonderful instruments went to the dump. What took their place wasn't another orchestral instrument, or a classical guitar, it was folk style guitars and electrified instruments - mostly electric guitar.

This is the 21st century. We're entitled to work out our own rules, and we haven't finished yet. If we want to find out what they thought 50 -100 years ago then definitely go to a Conservatorium and toe the old lines, they'll certainly work for the older music, and much of the new. But if we want to check out what they do now then Youtube and the local clubs may work better. The Beatles first went to George Martin at Parlophone in April 1962 - a few weeks shy of half a century ago! There's no need any more for discussions about whether their music and their methods will last. They did. Some things have changed since The Beatles too... 8)

Cheers,

Chris

Ooops... Sorry about the rant, but the mention of the word “pedagogy” always makes me want to go out and punch an old piano teacher. I must get some therapy for it...


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(@noteboat)
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I'm with you, Chris. Academia is indeed slow to adapt. It's even slower to consider any ideas that didn't come from within the ivory tower.

I thought about this for a minute, and came up with four 'facts' I was taught in college music classes that are wrong. If I spend another minute at it, I bet I can come up with at least a couple more. I'm sure the same is true of just about any other field of study, too.

Part of the reason is academic rigor. You don't just take the first piece of evidence that comes along and accept it - it's considered and debated, challenged and defended. That's a good thing. But it's also very slanted toward evidence from 'acceptable' sources - when a guy named Bob Fink looked at a piece of bone, he thought it might be a Neanderthal flute; his ideas were largely dismissed in the US, as he doesn't have the right credentials to make that argument. I read his work, and I think he's on to something - and the discovery of another old bone last year may prove him right.

Another part is pedagogy itself. The best way to teach is often to generalize. We tell beginners that the top number of a time signature is the number of beats in a measure - often true, but not always. We tell counterpoint students that you can't use parallel perfect fifths, and we'll talk about Debussy later. Just a couple of weeks ago I was reading a counterpoint textbook... on the right hand page was the instruction to not use the same parallel interval more than three times in a row, or your music will sound boring. On the facing page was an excerpt from Mozart that the author had used to illustrate his previous point - containing eight consecutive measures of parallel thirds. Difficult concepts often have lots of exceptions to the 'rules', so we dumb them down a bit until the student has been prepared.

It's the third part that's the real problem. Some academic ideas become sacred cows, so entrenched that any challenge is summarily dismissed. In any field, there are paths to success - you need to pursue thinking that the doctoral committee will like, the department committee will hire for, the administration will give you tenure... truly original thinking has to be 'sold' at every level, and a single 'no' will end a career. As a result, the ideas that are truly game-changers must come from outside academia. Wagner changed conducting, not some conducting professor. Stravinsky changed composing technique, not some pedagogue. Outside of music it's the same: Edison wasn't a trained engineer, Darrow didn't go to law school, etc.

At one time - and only about a century ago - academic credentials were a mark of distinction, a recognition of past work. Now, in many fields, it's a barrier to entry... because it's easier justify a hiring decision based on an 'objective' measure than it is to actually consider the merits of something.

FWIW, that's why the world's best known music school (Juilliard) isn't accredited - they reject the requirement that x percent of their instructors hold a terminal degree. From their point of view, they want the best teachers; from the institutional side, accrediting bodies want metrics (whether they make sense or not!)

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 Crow
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Wow! Lots to chew on.... Most of the points about anchoring have been made, so this can be (relatively) brief (everything is relative).

- Part of my thinking about anchoring, I now realize, has to do with the fact that I don't consider steel-string acoustic to be a different instrument with different technical requirements from other guitars. It's an evolutionary step. As was the electric guitar. So I approach them all with the same basic mindset. This may or may not be sound thinking, but it's part of the mix for me. Electric bass guitar is a far different instrument from acoustic upright bass; steel string vs. classical, not much difference in my mind.

- That said, all musical rules are style-specific, aren't they? What applies to 16th-century counterpoint doesn't apply to impressionism. Theory teachers don't make that point often enough. Theory aside, I'm unable to think of a musical "absolute," other than economy of motion, the value of which seems to cut across all instruments.

- NoteBoat, "selective anchoring" isn't the question. As noted upthread, Chris & I both do it. I'm curious: If a new student, an absolute beginner, sat down in front of you, anchored his pinky to his soundboard & said he intended to leave it there -- what would you say?

- Chris, when bitten by a pedagogue, I strongly recommend biting back. Many will slink away with tails between their legs. My conservatory years didn't crush my dreams or destroy my soul, but I saw it happen to others, repeatedly. In any field there are tenured professors who shouldn't be allowed to teach a dog to sit, much less lead adolescents into a profession. I met a bunch of those in the field of music. That didn't necessarily negate what they were teaching. Ultimately we all pick & choose & make our own decisions about what we're taught based on good experience... ultimately.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@noteboat)
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Crow, when a student does something I consider limiting I just show them what might work better, and why. Most will change, some won't.

How much I harp on it if they don't change depends on their goals - I've got a student now who's looking to major in classical guitar in two years. He's got some habits that get in the way of classical technique, so I remind him pretty often. Someone with the same habits who's looking to do a bit of picking with friends on the weekend won't hear nearly as many reminders.

I think it's important as a teacher to recognize that not all students have the same motives. One size doesn't fit all in teaching (or learning).

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(@notes_norton)
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I used to do it a lot more than I do now. But when I am playing counter-melody fill-ins while singing and can't occasionally look at my guitar I often put my pinky on the bottom of the bridge pickup.

I lay my hand over the bridge when I want to play muted guitar.

I play solid body electric so it doesn't affect the sound to any perceptible degree.

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@liontable)
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My teacher generally only looks at one thing: "Will it get the job done?"

He's very relaxed when it comes down to style of playing. He'll show more efficient ways of doing something, but he'll leave the choice to me. I always follow his advice, however, for a simple reason. I pay the guy quite a lot of money to teach me, the only reason I do this is because I trust him to know which the best way to develop my playing is. I would rather learn his method first and then decide to do it differently when I'm able to do it, because only then is it for me a choice out of preference instead of laziness/stubbornness. I would like to play very technically challenging music, so I wouldn't want to feel limited by anything.

I rest my hand on my bridge. I usually play with very heavy distortion so that way I can mute all the strings I don't want to ring out with either my picking hand, or the higher strings with my fretting hand muting the strings. In the beginning I used my pinky to anchor, but after being "corrected" I noticed this did give me a considerable advantage both in stability and muting unwanted strings.

I believe you already need to know how to do something before being able to judge its merits. Therefore I believe that learning the "correct" technique is the only way to know if your own style is really something personal, that you choose to deviate even though you have mastered the other way too. There's a reason it's considered "correct", so it shouldn't be done away with lightly, provided that you think it's worth the effort. It really depends of what you want out of it. I'd hate to know that I could be doing something better, when I know exactly how.


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(@chris-c)
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I believe you already need to know how to do something before being able to judge its merits. Therefore I believe that learning the "correct" technique is the only way to know if your own style is really something personal, that you choose to deviate even though you have mastered the other way too. There's a reason it's considered "correct", so it shouldn't be done away with lightly, provided that you think it's worth the effort. It really depends of what you want out of it. I'd hate to know that I could be doing something better, when I know exactly how.

I'm 100% behind your idea that you shouldn't judge something that you haven't given a fair trial. I'd just go a step further and say that there no good reason to assume that there's only a single “correct” way - with guitar or anything else. Some traditional Indian violinists play seated cross legged with the scroll of the instrument resting on a foot. That's not “correct” for a Western Orchestral player but it's “correct” for the Indian doing it. American bluegrass violin players and Irish fiddlers don't follow all the same “correct” techniques as orchestral players either. I don't think that makes them “incorrect” either. Some fiddle players don't even tuck the instrument under their chins, etc

There's a long line between people who miss out on benefits because they either couldn't care less or they actively reject anything that formal teachers might say is correct and - at the other end of the scale - people who are so locked into the details of their preferred techniques that they miss out on other good options through being too narrowly focused. Most of us lie in between. :)

It's also fair to say that the pedants don't always get to drive the bus very far. Just as with English, the grammar police and academics can jump up and down as much as they like - but the ultimate arbiter is usage. Not just in the accents, spelling and meaning of words (all of which change) but in the whole structure of languages. I can mutter as much as I like about “misuse” of language (and I sometimes do too... ) but when a common or new usage sticks then the dictionaries will (and do) change to report the fact. As NoteBoat mentions above, the “folk” version of music is a very powerful influence indeed. It's the “amateurs” (literally “lovers”) of music who pass it around and keep it alive - often adding new twists as they go.
Serious music establishments won't rush out and set up a department of Punk Studies just because it's been popular for a few months, or even years. Yet such a thing isn't out of the question. There may even be one somewhere by now.

Apparently it's closer than we might think...

Trinity College London have apparently been conducting exams since 1877.

This is from their Grade 1 syllabus for Guitar Sheena is a Punk Rocker by the Ramones

Here's the original Ramones - Sheena

New to me, but it appears that "correct form" for playing this song in the approved Ramones style is to have your guitar slung round your knees somewhere, leap around a bit and thrash the crap out of the guitar. :) Not my style, but then neither is the song.

Would it be more correct if it was played by a more formally trained guitarist using his version of "correct", sitting in the "correct" posture playing with "correctly" maintained fingernails ( a big deal for many classical guys) instead of a plectrum? No. Would it be better if they didn't have their guitars in such inefficient looking positions? Well, it's their song and their style, even though it wouldn't be mine, so I guess that's open for debate too... :) I wonder how far the Trinity teachers will go in ‘correcting' the Ramones version of punk (a style that they're largely credited with Fathering') and telling us how to play a song that The Ramones wrote??

My view is that there is no one single "correct" set of techniques. There's not even an agreed hierarchy of correctness. Nobody owns the exclusive rights to lecture everybody on correctness (and we largely ignore them when they try anyway). Rock is now mainstream. And I don't mean that it can sneak into a corner of the room and get condescending glances from the "experts" - I mean that it literally IS The Main Stream now. Randomly turn on your TV or radio or drop into local pubs and clubs and you won't hear much classical guitar. You won't see a lot of orchestral music, or see much ballet or opera either - and what you do find has been heavily subsidised or it would collapse from insufficient support to stay viable. Rock pays its own way because it's widely supported. Classical guitar has probably supplied, or at least influenced, many of the notions of formal correctness but it's a minority interest now - and in the 65 years I've been around it always has been. Rock is entitled to its own ideas about what's right, and that does include various forms of anchoring. It's even in the books now, but more tellingly it's right in front of our eyes if we care to look.

Cheers,

Chris


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(@noteboat)
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Chris, Trinity has been doing classical guitar exams for a long time - but popular music for only a few years. About 5 if I remember right. The popular music exams don't lead to diplomas.

Trinity has always been pretty big on promoting the 'folk' music aspects. I think they'll also test for bagpipes, etc.

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(@chris-c)
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Chris, Trinity has been doing classical guitar exams for a long time - but popular music for only a few years. About 5 if I remember right. The popular music exams don't lead to diplomas.

Trinity has always been pretty big on promoting the 'folk' music aspects. I think they'll also test for bagpipes, etc.
Thanks for that info Tom. :D I might try buying some of their downloadable stuff and see what I think. I had no idea they did Rock stuff at all. I must admit that I would definitely understand it if they drew the line at teaching students to wear their guitars as low as the Ramones did in that video! But even that aspect will probably get seriously studied at some stage. Authentic detail always has it's enthusiasts. I've got classical pieces by orchestras who insist on using the original period instruments rather than modern equivalents (which are presumably mostly more efficient in some way), and vice versa - including John Williams playing Bach pieces on a guitar, that were written for the lute. There's always a bit of arm-wrestling about the legitimacy or importance of the various approaches, but it all seems good to me.

Thanks very much for your comments here about the role of "folk" aspects. That's given me a lot to think about. I'd not really seen it that way before (doh....), but it explains a lot about the lines that my own thinking and influences seem to run along. I'm obviously more inclined to 'Folk' than 'Formal'. It seems rather comforting to now have a better way of putting that in context.


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(@noteboat)
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Chris, I'm a big fan of period instrument stuff. When you say that modern equivalents are more 'efficient', I'd say modern equivalents are more 'versatile'... they're capable of a reasonable re-creation of period music, as well as performing later stuff.

In some cases it looks like modern instruments are 'better'. For example, the pianos we use have a bigger range than anything available to Beethoven. But there are also historical changes in the music, especially in tuning - the intervals we use today aren't the same as the intervals used by Bach or Mozart.

In some cases, that doesn't matter. Instruments without fixed intonation (like a cello) can play either the modern pitch or the old one. Fixed intonation instruments (like the piano) are stuck in the modern version unless they're re-tuned. Some instruments are in between - a flute can play sharper or flatter by moving the head joint, or adjusting the embouchure (the way the mouth is shaped and placed to produce tone). But the adjustment needed will vary with the pitch needed - you have to be very, VERY good to pull it off. Older instruments do it naturally.

Even in the case of instruments without fixed intonation, like violins, the demands of new music required changes to the instruments. Modern cellos aren't viols. Early flute music was written for recorder, not transverse flute - they have a very different tone. Gut strings don't sound like metal ones, etc. Even changes in bow construction have changed the tone.

So if you want to hear Bach the way he envisioned the music, period music is the way to go.

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