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FingerPicking

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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Of course Dave is correct.

I'll amplify a little as I'm a fingerstyle player and continous student who is amazed at how my fingers can learn things.

I think that the repetetiveness of the same pattern may bore the player enough that the player will start looking for some variety. At least you'd hope so.

Learning several patterns may help get the fingers and thumb to work independently.
THEN the really cool stuff can happen!

Learning some music which requires each finger to do what it has to then will set you free.

I think of fingerstyle as an analog to touch-typing. Every finger has a job to do at its appointed time. Learning to touch-type is harder than learning to peck the letters with 2 fingers but it pays back very well.

I think of flat picking as two-finger typing where just two fingers have to do all the work (don't throw things!). Some folks go really fast this way, and sometimes it's the better choice (like strumming a 12-string) but it has limitations.

As I've said in other threads- I'm working on "Livin' on A Prayer" Paldanius style and several pieces from Muriel Anderson such as a Chet Atkins style of "Vincent" and the Peanuts theme. Paldanius has published tab and lessons of how to play that song. Anderson sells downloads of exactly accurate music and tab of her music on her website. (I'm working on the SIMPLE ones!)

This stuff doesn't happen quickly for us students. I've been working on these since January and they aren't performance-perfect yet but I've sure had a lot of fun working on them and made a great deal of progress. It took me 6 weeks before I could keep the rhythm of "Prayer" for more than a measure or two. (Now I can play up to the bridge before the out-tro section before I have to slow down and mess it up.)

Best wishes on a new learning adventure!

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

I think that the repetetiveness of the same pattern may bore the player enough that the player will start looking for some variety. At least you'd hope so.

Maybe, maybe not. Repetitive is GOOD if you're trying to fingerpick and sing at the same time! On the other hand, you don't want to bore your audience....I suppose the method I've worked out as being best for me combines both - a nice easy pattern while trying to sing, with a few fills and hammer-ons and pull-offs when I'm not.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Maybe, maybe not. Repetitive is GOOD if you're trying to fingerpick and sing at the same time! On the other hand, you don't want to bore your audience....I suppose the method I've worked out as being best for me combines both - a nice easy pattern while trying to sing, with a few fills and hammer-ons and pull-offs when I'm not.

:D :D :D

Vic

I agree completely though the OP wasn't necessarily talking about singing while learning to pick.

Then the next step is to be able to do some more complex things such as a walking descending melody counterpoint while singing. (Like a couple of the songs by Don Mclean that I can do.)

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


   
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(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Or picking out a harmony line to the melody you're singing.

Vic, you're absolutely right about the importance of being able to handle the repetitive stuff and how important it is to being able to get singing down. A great excercise for anyone, whether finger picking or strumming, is to play a pattern and then to try to have a conversation while playing or picking said pattern. If you can do that, singing is almost a gimme.

I think that we're just trying to say that even though one may be a beginner, it doesn't hurt to start branching out as soon as possible, rather than to have a harder time later owing to being stuck in the same pattern for too long a time.

As always, your mileage may vary, as they say!

Peace


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

Then the next step is to be able to do some more complex things such as a walking descending melody counterpoint while singing. (Like a couple of the songs by Don Mclean that I can do.)

I'll leave that to those who are capable of it! All I know is, anything apart from a simple repetitive riff/lick and my singing's all over the place! I find it almost impossible to carry a melody if there's any variation from that melody in the backing - my voice will either wander round trying to follow the melody, or I lose the picking pattern concentrating on the vocals.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

Oh, I've done that plenty of times - trouble is, sooner or later I may have to perform in public. And I don't think said public would be too amused if I played into a tape recorder first, then played it back and sang over it! No, the only way to get better at singing and playing is to practise singing and playing until it becomes second nature. Like anything else, really!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

I think you're both right - it's important to get started and the "thumb on bass / each finger gets a treble string" method is definitely preferable in that it gets all of your fingers involved. But one of the inherent dangers of fingerstyle, though, is to find yourself stuck in a pattern. I know many players who sound great at fingerstyle until you realize that they use the same pattern for every single song.

I guess it is easy to get stuck in the habit of always playing the same pattern, but I think most players are aware of this. I know I was always trying to mix it up.

I told you of my Ragtime guitar experience, I would recommend a study of this genre of music to anyone interested in fingerpicking. You don't just fingerpick patterns at all, although the bass is usually alternating between the root and 5th. But your other fingers are quite a different story. You usually play harmony notes in the middle strings to give the listener the sound of the chords, while playing the melody line on the higher strings. It can be very complex, you are playing bass, rhythm, and lead guitar all at the same time. So you really don't get stuck in patterns with this style.

Check out this ragtime lesson to see how complex it really is. No real duplicating patterns in this style of music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAELeA7Nf98

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@wmwilson01)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 15
 

I've been taking lessons for about 9 months now, and I've sort of decided that I'm quite partial to the sounds that can be produced by fingerpicking. I'm a big John Mayer fan and I'm fascinated by a lot of the fingerpicking he does through many songs. So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to try dropping the pick for a while and practicing many things with fingers only. I have a bunch of pretty simple songs that I go through in my lessons (think twinkle twinkle little star), with basic melodies and chord arrangements. I can imagine trying to play the melodies with anchored fingerpicking. When I get to a chord, should I try to arpeggiate it, or finger strum? Could I take pretty much any song and just try to use an alternating bass line on the root note and arpeggiate the rest of the chord in an inside-out or outside-in fashion? So, if I'm working on "Sitting on the dock of the bay", would that work with fingerpicking?


   
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(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973
 

Using the thumb on the three bass strings and the three fingers for the upper three strings is a good way to introduce fingerstyle picking patterns because it's quite easy to keep a nice flowing rhythmic accompaniment to sing over.

But that's all it's good for. Once you start adding melodies and get into solo fingerstyle like the Ragtime style that Wes mentioned, then that method would be woefully inadequate. The reason that it works on accompaniment patterns is because you're always changing string. I mean, whenever you play a note, the next note will be on a different string and if you limit the upper notes to the top three strings then you'll always have a finger ready and waiting for it.

But when melodies and bass runs are included then it's a different ball game. You might be using your thumb on a 6th string bass note while playing a melodic run on the 4th string. You can't use your thumb for that melody as it's busy with the bass notes. And anyway, you don't really want your thumb playing that melody. The thumb is better suited to thumping out bass notes. It's not so good at controlling the subtle dynamics of a melody.
So it has to be a finger, or rather fingerS for that melody on the fourth string. The most efficient way to play melodic runs on the same string is to use two (or even three) alternating fingers. This is the fingerstyle (and classical) equivalent of using alternating up and down strokes with a pick.

Here's a couple of bars of Malaguena where the bass melody on strings 4, 3 & 2 is thumped out by the thumb (it being best suited for the job) and where the tremolo upper notes on the E string are played with ring, middle and index fingers in that order. It would be virtually impossible (and very exhausting) to get anywhere near the speed required using just your ring finger on the 1st string.

---------0-0-0-----0-0-0--------0-0-0------0-0-0-----0-0-0------0-0-0----
--------------------------------0--------------------------------0-------------
------------------1-----------------------------------1---------------------------
------2-----------------------------------2--------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

there's a classical guitar book called "giuliani's 120 right hand studies" that you can google and find for free or pay for at your local music store that has, you guessed it, 120 picking patterns. it might help, it might bore you to tears, it'll probably do both. the left hand is just c and g7, so to avoid carpal tunnel, i'd suggest learning them on open strings, in open tuning, or with your own left hand chords.


   
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 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2717
 

A great excercise for anyone, whether finger picking or strumming, is to play a pattern and then to try to have a conversation while playing or picking said pattern. If you can do that, singing is almost a gimme.

Right now, playing gives me an excuse for ignoring the wife . . .
Good thing she doesn't read this forum.

But I'm going to start trying that. Talking while playing . . . I think strumming would be easier . . .
fingerpickin' is going to be more challenging.

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


   
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(@adrianjmartin)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 76
 

A fine example of picking,strumming + singing at the same time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KswVThZH41w


   
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(@freetime)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5
 

The trick with finger picking is slowing waaaay down. I recommend "Dust in the Wind". If you can't play a finger roll at 1/10th speed then you can't play it at full speed. :wink:

If you want a bigger challenge, then once you've learned how to finger pick it learn how to hybrid pick it. Get a hard pick and use that for the bass notes instead if your thumb. Holding the pick will tie up your thumb and index but it will open up more options in the future.


   
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