The Energizer Bunny
(17 Jan 03)
Wanna play fast and clean? Wanna be able to pull off furious sounding scales, arpeggio thunder storms, fast pentatonic lines, cool muffled phrases with a phaser or funk it up just like the guys on all your favorite CDs? Ever wondered why 'that particular guy' has such an aggressive or smooth touch and how he/she is so lively and thus full of ideas?
If your body is relaxed and the whole system runs with a fully loaded battery there will be no limits.
Cool techniques are funstuff and sound terrific. They also need a lot of your energy, so get yourself in shape......how's your picking doing?
Alternate Picking, Inverted Alternate Picking, Economy Picking, Combination Picking,... Outside- Inside Picking (what is that anyway?),etc.
Picking is the answer to most techniques (rhythm and lead). If your picking is great, your hands are well synchronized and you will sound strong and confident, regardless of what or how fast you play.
Legato and two-handed techniques excluded, everything is picked: scales, chords, arpeggios, doublestops, etc.
To develop great (picking) technique, you have to put in the work. Dedication and discipline are crucial and major results don't happen overnight. But once achieved, (picking) technique does pay off in a big way -your hands will be in first-class shape.
If you have experienced that one of your hands just can't keep up with the other, the weaker one is most likely your picking hand. You can fix this (and if it is the playing hand, the problem will still be fixed by practice PICKING; you need BOTH hands to play nice and clean).
To really burn you need to reach a certain level, so lock yourself in a room and practice.
If you're ready to scratch off your girlfriend/wife and buddies off the top of your priority list, what else could be the problem?
'Pain and Injury' caused by practising too hard (if youre real serious you will practise too hard) and 'mindless practising'. I know loads of musicians that have to face pain every single day (and this pain ranges from mildly annoying to career threatening: Some have to cancel world tours or skip that extra encore they wanted to do, some can't play anymore at all).
Picking is a perfect example of "repetitive motion", which again is an "Injury-Causeing Allstar", so do yourself a favor and
- warm up
- take a lot of breaks
- back off when it hurts
- be patient
- attitude isn't everything but it sure helps
Practice what I preach
Check out three examples from songs of mine, that -of course- involve some serious picking:
1. "A Little Hello From The Insane" (strict Alternate Picking. Taken from "Song Excerpts" from the Picking Book; as played on "Patrick Vega's Chromazone" demo CD). A lot of chromaticism.
2. Sweeping lick from my "Sweeping Book":
Minor arpeggio shape moved through 3 string sets and a little extra, recorded at two tempos..sounds like gargling..:)
120 bpm: Listen
140 bpm: Listen
Check this lick out (a little modified) when it's incorporated in a solo. Since there are so many notes and a lot of chromaticism this lick can be played over.....experiment!!! It's definitely a good one, and you can also strip it apart and use it for your purposes:)
3. Funky double stop riff in spicy prime number time. As played on "Patrick Vega's Chromazone". Playing 23/16 is easier than having to play a groove over it...and it sounds pretty cool also.
At one point of technical level and enhanced practice schedule- your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders will be so overused that it'll need more than a "warm up" to prevent pain and injury:
Profound consciousness of your body (and that's no BS): Taking care of muscles, tendons, nutrition and breathing plays a major role and makes mastery possible without pain AND you won't be too tired to play or lack the necessary energy (which is a key factor, really). If you ever performed or recorded technically demanding stuff, you know how much energy and concentration it needs to be able to give 100%.
The hard stuff out there is playable but can endanger your hands, so watch out; what good is it if you'd be "theoretically totally able to pull it off" but your hands told you to back off?
It is an amazing sensation feeling comfortable and relaxed while playing, because then you're the Energizer Bunny and Energizer Bunnies don't hurt themselves...they just wanna play- and they just go on and go on and go on and go on and go on...... forever.
Copyright 2002 Patrick Vega. All Rights reserved