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Thread: Developing Speed: What helped you?

  1. #31
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Bluesking I disagree with most of your points here

    The notion that fast playing generally sucks is becoming more and more redundant. Some just like the sound of very fast runs (when played in a controlled & musical way). I enjoy listening to speed, for it's musical value and it's skill. Therefore I want to improve my speed.

    It goes without saying that bends and vibrato are fundamentals and should be learnt before speed. Without the basics, a guitarist will sound awful, regardless.

    But speed itself is becoming a technique, just like slides or double-stops. Shred is challenging and is every bit as worthwhile as learning an EmAug7th chord in the hexagonal position!*


    * yes, yes I made that up

  2. #32
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman
    Bluesking I disagree with most of your points here

    The notion that fast playing generally sucks is becoming more and more redundant. Some just like the sound of very fast runs (when played in a controlled & musical way). I enjoy listening to speed, for it's musical value and it's skill. Therefore I want to improve my speed.
    A fair and reasonable statement here. I suppose it comes down to what pleases your ear. I grew up listening to AC/DC, which is neither fast nor skillfull but I love them none the less. Ask most people whether they preffer AC/DC or Meshuggah and they will respond "Me-who-wha?". I think there is a reason for that, but I still think Meshuggah are great too

    I do disagree with the notion becoming more redundant. I love fast stuff, but not for speed's sake. It also depends who you are asking. If you ask most guitarists speed is where its at. This was at its peak in the 80s and has declined steadily since then (i.e. returned to normal, where speed is cool, in its place, to make a point).

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman
    It goes without saying that bends and vibrato are fundamentals and should be learnt before speed. Without the basics, a guitarist will sound awful, regardless.
    Maybe its this kind of dissection which is really what I disagree with. Working on bends or speed or vibrato somehow doesn't seem to make as much sense as working on songs.

    If you learn a song with plenty of speed, vibrato and bends, you are getting your practice in as well as automatically learning how the concepts fit into composition, harmony and improvisation.

    I am not suggesting for a second you don't practice, but for god's sake practice music!

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman
    But speed itself is becoming a technique, just like slides or double-stops. Shred is challenging and is every bit as worthwhile as learning an EmAug7th chord in the hexagonal position!*

    * yes, yes I made that up
    I totally agree its challenging. Too challenging for me to invest the time to learn, but thats because my tastes differ. If you enjoy it more power to you, but most listeners don't care about it. I would rather play regularly live than be an amazing but never listened to virtuoso.

    To use your example: learning how to play an EmAug7th chord in the hexagonal position doesnt tell you anything about when you should play it, or what you play over it or why it sounds like it does.

    I hope this doesn't come across too harsh. These are my opinions and I respect you have yours. But I love to discuss and get reasoned responses from those who disagree with me.
    Last edited by bluesking; 05-18-2009 at 04:50 PM.

  3. #33
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking
    I think there is a reason for that, but I still think Meshuggah are great too
    I need to find out who they are now
    This was at its peak in the 80s and has declined steadily since then (i.e. returned to normal, where speed is cool, in its place, to make a point).
    Yes and no. I think a hardcore of musicians persevered with the task. I wasn't one of them, until I recently decided to broaden my horizons. On the other hand grunge came along and it became very hip to barely play competent stuff. I loved grunge. But what could I learn from it, apart from a "vibe" for songwriting?
    Maybe its this kind of dissection which is really what I disagree with. Working on bends or speed or vibrato somehow doesn't seem to make as much sense as working on songs.
    I think some people like to break things down to their elements and study those parts. It's just a preference. Sure learning an entire song will teach all kinds of things. I don't disagree with that.
    If you learn a song with plenty of speed, vibrato and bends, you are getting your practice in as well as automatically learning how the concepts fit into composition, harmony and improvisation.
    Yes.
    I totally agree its challenging. Too challenging for me to invest the time to learn, but thats because my tastes differ. If you enjoy it more power to you, but most listeners don't care about it. I would rather play regularly live than be an amazing but never listened to virtuoso.
    To be honest, the challenge is part of my motivation. I needed a challenge. Something I could study over many years. But that's what I was looking for. My tastes don't differ that much from yours btw. For a few years I was a blues fanatic and nothing else would do! Peter Green was a favourite. And that stuff will always be integral to my playing.
    To use your example: learning how to play an EmAug7th chord in the hexagonal position doesnt tell you anything about when you should play it, or what you play over it or why it sounds like it does.
    Very true. But there's no reason you can't learn both!
    I hope this doesn't come across too harsh. These are my opinions and I respect you have yours. But I love to discuss and get reasoned responses from those who disagree with me.
    No not too harsh. One of the great things about music is it's still something people get passionate about, you know? It shows it's still important. And I like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    I find that speed trainer pretty useful too. You already mentioned some of it's pluses. Another one would be that you can practice without interruptions for changing metronome speed. It's a small thing, but love it.
    Right! Not having to twiddle the metronome speed on every lick is a big relief

  4. #34
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    Practice and constant learning..

    I think its a combination of mind and body that will makes us faster.

  5. #35
    Neverending Ameretat's Avatar
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    Darkman, you make some good points. I have little to add to that.

    Bluesking - I think you worry too much about taste issues, as I think of speed as taste issue. Let the kids mess around at 300 km/h. They'll grow up and get over it someday. Then again... maybe they won't . Speed is overwhelming, exhilarating. It's like the notes doing this frenzied dance... I can't imagine anyone liking speed just for it's own sake. Those people probably grow up to become secretaries or something. It's bever just about speed. It's about the sound of speed, the feeling of speed. And large intervals. And odd time signatures. And so on.

    I remember AC DC's guitarist saying something like "If you can express something with one or two notes, why do it with thirty ****ing million?"

    Well...

    ...here's one of many reasons why.
    It never ends...

  6. #36
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Bluesking - I think you worry too much about taste issues, as I think of speed as taste issue. Let the kids mess around at 300 km/h. They'll grow up and get over it someday. Then again... maybe they won't . Speed is overwhelming, exhilarating. It's like the notes doing this frenzied dance... I can't imagine anyone liking speed just for it's own sake. Those people probably grow up to become secretaries or something. It's bever just about speed. It's about the sound of speed, the feeling of speed. And large intervals. And odd time signatures. And so on.

    I remember AC DC's guitarist saying something like "If you can express something with one or two notes, why do it with thirty ****ing million?"

    Well...

    ...here's one of many reasons why.
    Ameretat, good to hear from you. I think you will find even Chopin himself considered that piece a "technical study". Even he had doubts about its musical value. I quite like it, but it does not take me on an aural journey. It is one dimensional at best.

    Here's one of many reasons why not:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qIF2IMPy_k

    You will find there are some fast passages and some slow ones here. It is not about that however, it is about rhythm, harmony, function, dynamics and drama. Ultimately though YMMV.

    I'm not trying to say that speed is bad. It is simply a single dimension of music. There are dozens of others. Music which concentrates on this one dimension to the exclusion of others (or just to the limitation of others) does not make sense to me.

    As an aside, as far as prevailing trends apropos speed go, at least with live gigging, the temptation is always to play quicker, up tempo numbers. It gives a higher turnover of songs, avoiding potential boredom for the audience as well as getting them worked up. And of course stage fright for inexperienced musicians (much like public speakers) manifests in higher tempos.
    Last edited by bluesking; 05-23-2009 at 03:07 AM.

  7. #37
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Bluesking - I think you worry too much about taste issues, as I think of speed as taste issue. Let the kids mess around at 300 km/h. They'll grow up and get over it someday. Then again... maybe they won't .
    Right. Either way, who cares? If people want to listen to them, they'll keep going, and that's how it should be.
    "Good" music has to be defined as "music people want to listen to". We (as refined musicians ) can argue about what defines musical taste, accusing various people of having none - but that's a little pointless.
    As Duke Ellington said: "There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." Every kind of music we know about has an audience. Music with no audience (by definition) never gets heard outside its creators' studios or bedrooms.
    An audience is not wrong - uneducated maybe, dumb maybe, but not wrong. Bad music (like bad art) is anything that doesn't communicate what it intends. Whether we like it or not, if an audience gets it, it's "good". (It may still be "good" if an audience doesn't get it, because maybe they're not ready or they're the wrong audience. But it can't be "bad" if an audience does get it.)
    And anyway, audiences (as individuals) can change their tastes from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. Sometimes I might like to listen to classical. Another time to heavy rock. Then vintage blues. Then maybe some modern jazz. Or country. Or rap. I like it all - or at least examples of all of it - at different times. Hey, I might even listen to shred or prog rock now and then (I'll grit my teeth and remember Duke...)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Speed is overwhelming, exhilarating. It's like the notes doing this frenzied dance... I can't imagine anyone liking speed just for it's own sake.
    Well, but you've just described why someone would!
    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    It's never just about speed. It's about the sound of speed, the feeling of speed. And large intervals. And odd time signatures. And so on.
    But all those things are still only a tiny part of what music is about. They all represent technical difficulty. If music consists only of those, then we can admire the achievement of the musician (go "wow, how does he do that!?") but the music itself may be empty. Why else do so many people yawn when they hear the average shredder? (Or begin by gaping, but it turns into a yawn pretty soon.) It's pretty easy to compose fast music with large intervals and odd time signatures. A computer could do it. Doesn't make it good music. (Oh, unless an audience likes it - damn, I forgot... )
    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    I remember AC DC's guitarist saying something like "If you can express something with one or two notes, why do it with thirty ****ing million?"
    I agree. Similar sentiments have been expressed by jazz musicians down the ages - and no doubt classical musicians too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Well...

    ...here's one of many reasons why.
    Well I don't know much about Chopin, and I'll take bluesking's word on it. I don't much like that piece myself (just my taste).

    I'll use this opportunity - just so you know where I'm coming from - to post my favourite guitar solo of all time (although this clip misses the first 3 choruses of guitar alone): Plenty of speed in this, but it works because of the tension set up beforehand; that ape**** last chorus is the culmination of 6 minutes of carefully built suspense:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_rd8y8A2oE
    As bluesking says, YMMV of course.

  8. #38
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    I'll use this opportunity - just so you know where I'm coming from - to post my favourite guitar solo of all time (although this clip misses the first 3 choruses of guitar alone): Plenty of speed in this, but it works because of the tension set up beforehand; that ape**** last chorus is the culmination of 6 minutes of carefully built suspense:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_rd8y8A2oE
    As bluesking says, YMMV of course.
    Thanks for that link Jon. I heard this one before but didn't know it was on youtube. It is indeed a cracking solo!!!! But that has little to do with its speed.

    I don't mean to sound like I care a dime about what people like to listen to. There is plenty of music that I don't get. That doesn't make it bad. But we are not even talking about a "type" of music here. We are talking about a single dimension of music. I could just as easily say I don't like songs in minor keys. Although thats my perogative, I don't think it makes sense, nor do I think playing only in major keys will, by default impress anyone.

    All these links are making me start to think that maybe we ought to have a thread or area to post interesting youtube clips. I know people do this quite often when they want a technique or idea from the clip explained, but it might be cool just to post some links to ask people's opinions. It could also be a good way to get to know what various people's tastes are.
    Last edited by bluesking; 05-23-2009 at 01:43 PM.

  9. #39
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking
    Thanks for that link Jon. I heard this one before but didn't know it was on youtube. It is indeed a cracking solo!!!! But that has little to do with its speed.
    Precisely.
    He has the chops, and can play fast. But (IMO) it's not the speed that gets you (your average shredder can play faster) - it's the phrasing, timing and dynamics (it could be analysed technically in all those ways and more). It sounds emotionally intense, because it's not just mechanical finger work.
    The actual speed (notes per second) is totally arbitrary. I doubt very much that Buddy Guy ever practised with a metronome, checking his bpm! He just practised playing blues.
    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking
    All these links are making me start to think that maybe we ought to have a thread or area to post interesting youtube clips. I know people do this quite often when they want a technique or idea from the clip explained, but it might be cool just to post some links to ask people's opinions. It could also be a good way to get to know what various people's tastes are.
    I agree, tho there's probably been several threads like that.
    For it to be worthwhile (IMO), some degree of analysis ought to go with each clip. Not just "wow look at this" (damn, there's too much of that already), but "here's what he's doing (in part at least)" - or "this is an illustration of technique X, or concept Y".

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking
    I think you will find even Chopin himself considered that piece a "technical study". Even he had doubts about its musical value.
    Chopins opinions about his own music don't concern me much. All I know is I almost wet my pants when I first listened to this etude. I'd be careful about labeling something "one-dimensional". Not that it's not one-dimensional. It's just that there are countless dimensions in that apparent single dimension.
    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking
    I'm not trying to say that speed is bad. It is simply a single dimension of music.
    I know, I know... It's just that words have many limits - and written words are deprived of the many dimensions of face-to-face communication. If I could somehow download the whole of my experience into your brain, not just a few sentences written on some forum, I'm sure we'd find that we agree completely.
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    Right. Either way, who cares?
    Good point. I like you.
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    As Duke Ellington said: "There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds."
    I have to write that down somewhere. I'd buy you a couple of beers for sharing this quote with me. Right now, we'll have to settle for just a "mental" beer.
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    But all those things are still only a tiny part of what music is about.
    Sure thing. On the other hand, things are as "tiny" as you make them.

    The title of this thread is "Developing Speed". Maybe we should leave this thread for posting methods for developing speed. Don't get me wrong on this one. I love to talk to you guys on this issue - it's just that maybe we should move this discussion somewhere else. I feel like we're kind of off topic here.
    It never ends...

  11. #41
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Chopins opinions about his own music don't concern me much. All I know is I almost wet my pants when I first listened to this etude.
    There's the big difference between you and me! My loss no doubt. Classical music of that type bores me rigid. (I sympathise with Emperor Joseph II who complained to Mozart that the Marriage of Figaro had "too many notes".)
    I used think I might grow into it as I got older. I'm now 60. Nope.
    Here's another favourite quote of mine you might like:
    'When I was young, people told me 'you'll see when you're 50." Now I'm 50. I've seen nothing." - Erik Satie.

    The music that has always most excited me is blues, from the 1920s to the late 1950s. And the occasional unaccompanied folk vocal. And Django Reinhardt. My comparable "wet my pants" moment came from seeing a ragtime guitarist at the first ever live music concert I went to (age 16). Speed, technical proficiency, was certainly a big part of the "wow" factor. But it was the spirit of the music, the energy, that really got me. Although I'd already been playing guitar for 6 months, I'd found a style I really wanted to learn.
    As I say, my inability to appreciate classical music (apart from the odd pieces by Bach, Villa-Lobos, Tarrega, etc) is a personal deficiency of mine. It doesn't bother me, but I'm kind of bemused by it: I'm an intelligent, mature, experienced musician; why don't I get it?

    Anyway, (more than) enough about me...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    Sure thing. On the other hand, things are as "tiny" as you make them.

    The title of this thread is "Developing Speed". Maybe we should leave this thread for posting methods for developing speed. Don't get me wrong on this one. I love to talk to you guys on this issue - it's just that maybe we should move this discussion somewhere else. I feel like we're kind of off topic here.
    Very true. To bring it back on topic, I'd just repeat what I said before: "developing speed" happens anyway, the more you play. No sense (IMHO) in focussing on it specifically. Broaden your musical experience, influences and technique when you practice - and just keep playing. You will get faster (and better), you can't help it.
    Of course, push yourself to play faster, as part of practice, but not at the expense of musical stuff. Balance "too fast" playing (beyond your comfortable maximum) with "too slow" playing (where the tempo makes you itch to speed up - force yourself to stay down and it will do your time-keeping good).

  12. #42
    Registered User The Pecker's Avatar
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    I'm really getting sick of this. This is a thread which is clearly about developing speed whether or not you like it. This isn't a thread about personal preferences between speed and other aspects of guitar playing; if you want to talk about that make your own thread and go. Stop wasting posts about your favorite musical stylings. The originator of this thread wants to know how to develop speed and not about anything else.

    On the topic, I have found that constantly challenging yourself seems to help. All of the other advice about practicing is great, but we all fall into the same lines that we play again and again and we get really fast at those, but when we really start to challenge our left and right hands things slow down alot. Check out some of Carl Verheyen's stuff. You could be REALLY fast at certain phrases, but trying to play Carl's crazy lines at the speed which he does is truly amazing.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Pecker
    we all fall into the same lines that we play again and again and we get really fast at those, but when we really start to challenge our left and right hands things slow down alot
    It's very tempting to stick to the stuff you can already play fast, but it's far more rewarding to dig into the new and crazy stuff, as you say. I find a diary and timetable very helpful - but it takes more than that to avoid the temptation of sticking to what you already know. It takes discipline. Or, better yet, curiosity and taking pleasure in pushing oneself. This last one is an aquired taste, I think. Like whiskey - it took me years to get past the gag reflex
    It never ends...

  14. #44
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ameretat
    I find that speed trainer pretty useful too. You already mentioned some of it's pluses. Another one would be that you can practice without interruptions for changing metronome speed. It's a small thing, but love it.
    I don't want to speak too soon, but in the short time I've been using this I can already see results. I'm jumping bpm because the trainer pushes you. The beauty of it is that even you take a step backwards and drop bpm, the trainer covers that because you begin by playing slow.

    You can tell I like it

  15. #45
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Pecker
    I'm really getting sick of this. This is a thread which is clearly about developing speed whether or not you like it. This isn't a thread about personal preferences between speed and other aspects of guitar playing; if you want to talk about that make your own thread and go. Stop wasting posts about your favorite musical stylings. The originator of this thread wants to know how to develop speed and not about anything else.
    Yes, you kind of made my point in a blunter fashion Pecker. If someone asks for speed, give it to them. Don't tell them why it isn't necessary to ask for it.

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