Today I practiced the ring-pinky pair. That was painful. I am definitely short on stamina.
I could produce a desirable sound few times and then it would get more and more difficult. So I practiced this exercise many times in short bursts. All in all, I’m quite happy with the result at the end of this day. I’ll definitely have to work more on my stamina but it sounds good enough for me. Also, I don’t have any piece of music in my repertoire which would require me to trill for a minute using ring and pinky fingers.
Once again I was able to drill two pairs of fingers in one day. That’s nice. However, I definitely feel the lack of stamina in both these pairs. Furthermore, tomorrow I’ll practice ring-pinky pair. That one will most likely be even weaker. Anyway, so far I’m happy with my progress. The notes I produce don’t sound legato but my current goal is to pay attention to the tone of the sound. Meaning, the attack of fingers. And I’m generally happy about the attack.
So, that’s it for today. Not much to write when everything goes smoothly.
Finally, some good things happen. Today’s plan was to practice the pair of index and ring fingers. I did it in the first part of the day and recorded a bit of my practice session. Later, in the afternoon, I felt that I could take on another pair. So I drilled index-pinky pair and it went not too bad.
Now I have three pairs out of six possible under my belt. That’s nice. However, the remaining three pairs will probably cause me quite an amount of hardship.
I took few days off of this attempt because I wasn’t satisfied with my progress and I got really frustrated with this legato thing. I had doubts about how important the effects (mainly reverb/delay and probably compressor) are for this legato and whether it is possible to achieve that liquid sound while playing slow. Furthermore, I would like to be able to use hammer-ons exclusively but both Allan and Brett pick quite many notes when playing legato.
I can’t say that everything got cleared up after taking a break. Anyway, I still want to use only hammer-ons. I also don’t want to rely on effects. (Except some distortion. I allow myself to use some of it.) But now I won’t get overly irritated if my exercises don’t sound smooth enough when playing slowly. To me, guitar seems to be rather percussive instrument and even hammer-ons have a distinct attack. However, when playing faster even with a pick, everything sounds much smoother. This raises a question whether this Holdsworthian legato is necessary for me to learn at all. I’m not sure…but now it’s a challenge.
Whenever I progress very slowly or don’t progress at all, I stop and reflect. Up to this point, it was always the case of me choosing some kind of stupid approach. You may think that I live in some kind of a fairy tale dream world because I want fast results. Well, I don’t care where I live. I expect to see results if I put effort into something. If I see no results, I take that I either don’t put enough effort or my effort is directed to an inefficient approach. So, I blame the exercise I used for the lack of progress. Now I think that it would be a great test for this legato or a warm up once the technique is mastered but not an exercise for learning it.
Starting today, I’ll take my time to practice every pair of fingers one by one. (I won’t pick next pair until I feel good enough about the previous one.) My main goal is to match the attack of both fingers. I won’t care much if it doesn’t sound overly legato right now. I’ll speed up later with hopes that speeding up will make it sound more legato alike. If this plan will fail, I’ll still have a matching attack of the fingers which is one of the necessary ingredients of legato.
Today I started with the pair of index and middle fingers. I am basically happy about the levels of attack. It needs some more work (which I’ll do) but I think I’ll be ready to proceed to another pair tomorrow. It sounds quite staccato but as noted previously, I don’t care about it at this point.
*sigh* I was practicing the same exercise again. I just can’t stand the idea of not being able to play it. And I still suck at it! I feel some improvement but I’m not sure if it is detectable in the video. It could be just a false perception.
Today I recorded basically the same exercise on a second string just because I am able to play it much better than the first string. That high e string just kills me. Especially in the first position. Anyway, it seems that I am able to hammer-on more or less the way I intend to for a while. After that, some mistakes happen. I guess it is an issue of either my mental concentration or physical stamina. Probably it’s both. This situation sucks but at least I know I am able to do this thing for a while. That means I surely can master it.
Just for fun, today I tried to increase the level of distortion and to add compressor and delay. Oh my, I immediately heard the difference. It masked almost all of my shortcomings. I actually felt good about the sound I produced…until I went back to a dry sound. Conclusion: with some effects, I could probably fool some people into thinking that I actually can play Holdsworthian legato.
It only gets worse. I’m getting more and more frustrated and irritated. My legato is way too inconsistent. Some notes sound really good, some are inaudible, and some are too loud. Then there is the issue of the legato itself. Some note pairings sound like legato while others are too staccato. Moreover, I am really tired of this exercise. Tomorrow I am definitely going to practice something else and I’ll come back to this exercise some time later. Now I am mentally exhausted and it’s time to sleep.
I feel like today I suck even more than yesterday. Even though I realize that days like this happen, it stills saddens me. Well, I’ll just have to keep on practicing the same exercise. Speaking of which, I combined exercises from previous two days and added some. Now I practice every possible combination of two fingers going up and going down.
Today I watched Brett Garsed’s instructional video. He talked a bit about his legato technique there. Surprising thing is that he picks quite a few notes even when playing legato. Of course, he tries to match the pick attack with that of hammer-ons but the picked notes sound different anyway. I’d like to be able to hammer-on every note instead. So, I’ll have to spend some more time and effort on that.