Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:46 am

Preface to “Further examples and exercises in minor Thirds”

Prior to working on the further exercises in minor Thirds, this is a good moment to spend a little time on a superficial analysis of the minor scales; study them at your leisure, ponder over them, and use the opportunity to consider the numbers (the degrees) corresponding to each note, as this knowledge will become increasingly useful when tackling harmony in some depth in due course.

The construction of the minor Scale
:
The “minor scale” is ambivalent, as there are several minor scales; we’ll consider here the two most important ones: the HARMONIC minor scale, and the MELODIC minor scale; as the name implies, melodically, the melodic minor scale is naturally suited to melody and would suffice, were it not that it is unstable because it differs depending whether it is ascending or descending and therefore, for harmonic purposes, a scale which does NOT differ in their ascending and descending modes is more suitable (and reliable):
minor scales (A) - Harmonic & Melodic.jpg
You can see at a glance that the Harmonic minor scale has more stability; some would feel, though, that the Melodic minor is less rigid and more exotic.

No need at this stage to memorize any of this, just bear it in mind occasionally; the time will soon come for more advised assiduousness.

See “Further examples and exercises in minor Thirds” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum.
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Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:44 am

Preface to “THIRDS – Aguado” revised

It is time to mention again a particularly pernicious bête noire which has been the subject of much debate among teachers for decades: the fact that most of the literature for beginners and intermediate guitar players is peppered with fingerings and presented, mostly, in low positions. Many decades ago, John Williams (illustrated here at the risk of inciting serious nostalgia)
J.W. © Sophie Baker.jpg
tried to combat this, preaching wherever he could, stating that guitarists learned to read fingerings rather than notes, advocating (to no avail) that beginners should start immediately – albeit slowly and steadily - in high positions as well as low ones. Below is an excerpt of one of his transcriptions (© 1978/79[!]) bearing no fingerings, position suggestions, or string denominations (a phenomenon, to this day, virtually unique in guitar publication):
Arr. John Williams.jpg
The intention was soundly optimistic but the powers-that-be wanted none of it. His efforts failed, as did everyone else’s. And the bête noire gnaws away at the ebony, unseen … noir sur noir.

From here on, those classics with which you may be familiar, will be taken out of the putative comfort zone; they will feel unsettling and the fingerings resulting from the given positions will not necessarily make the performance easier; but then, scalic as they are, the reward lies more in the achievement than any musical gratification. Always bear in mind that the essence of this course is the exploring, familiarising with, and mastering of fingerboard knowledge, not technique or musicianship which, vital though they are, belong to different territories which are adequately explored elsewhere.

See “THIRDS – Aguado” revised on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:23 pm

Fretful wrote:... bearing no fingerings, position suggestions, or string denominations (a phenomenon, to this day, virtually unique in guitar publication).
Although many of our 19th c. forebears were much more wise in this regard.

Some of us are still preaching this - and still being shouted down even though it seems so absolutely bloody obvious. Alas, fingering is often so plentiful these days that it amounts to a poor man's tablature - with none of the latter's benefits. Sadly, the tide appears to be running backwards with more and more publications including both tab and gross over-fingering.

I'm sure that you've seen too many examples to count but look at this - apparently we need to be reminded eight times within a few seconds to fret D with finger two:
8_times.png
Exasperating - and this example comes from not a million miles away.

Keep up the good work Fretful.
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VasquezBob
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by VasquezBob » Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:30 pm

Kevin Cowen wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:10 pm
I learned to sight read from a Frederick Noad book I bought from a charity shop
for one pound.
Stop over complicating things.
"Complicating things" seems to be the normal. I agree that far too much is over-explained.

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:25 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:23 pm
Exasperating - and this example comes from not a million miles away.
Keep up the good work Fretful.
Thank you for your welcome encouragement. Re: exasperating ... there's more to come from another direction ... next week. All best. F.

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:33 am

Preface to “THIRDS - Major & minor - in C Major – GIULIANI”:

Regarding this Giuliani study: having played it at the given positions, feel free to reverse them: you will find that much of what works at V will also work at IX and vice versa; when it doesn’t and you come unstuck, ask yourself why and find a solution, is the answer:
resorting to an open string? … a stretch “up”? … a stretch “down”? … another position?
These are ideal ways to explore the fingerboard and gain further experience.

See THIRDS - M & m - in C M – GIULIANI on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat May 04, 2019 11:22 am

Preface to “Pinning the B flat to the board”:

Another beastly bête noire: where are the FLATS? … no wonder we fall flat on our faces …

Guitarists have a horror of flats, no without reason; firstly, most methods hardly feature studies and exercises in the keys that resort to them: taking two examples at random – Napoleon Coste’s wonderful studies “Opus 28”: out of the twenty five pieces, only four have flats – Nr 3 (D minor – 1 flat); Nr 16 (G minor – 2 flats); Nr 23 (D minor – 1 flat); Nr 24 (B minor – 1 flat); Mauro Giuliani’s Studies for Guitar Opus 1a: 120 exercises for the Right Hand and 16 studies for, respectively, Thirds, Sixths, Octaves, Tenths; guess how many flats there are in those 28 dense pages of music … brace yourselves: not a SINGLE flat in the entire book! I could go on but will ask you to check for yourselves your copy of Aguado’s famed Metodo de Guitarra to witness the unimaginable paucity of flats in that seminal opus.

Guitarists do have an excuse, though: in excess of two flats, one starts to run out of open strings and, apart from the obvious technical consequences, further problems of sonorities creep in (not much sympathetic sounding) and intonation can suffer through excessive barrés and stretches. Nevertheless, there are great pieces (Segovia’s Estudio Sin Luz, for example) which would be nice to sight-read without having to sweat blood when one gets to “legero e con grazia”.

The first flattened note to appear in the escalation of Flats is B flat (this course will not consider more than three flats).

F Major is the first Major key where a flattened note becomes necessary. To understand why a note needs to be “flattened” rather than “sharpened”, we need to revisit the construction of the F Major scale (study “Revisiting the F Major Scale” in this set on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum – [this is very important]).

See “Pinning the B flat to the board” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum.

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat May 11, 2019 10:35 am

PREFACE TO PINNING B flat – J.S. Bach – Presto from Sonata 1

This is a tricky one! It looks extremely simple on the page but poses problems of positional decisions throughout.

Ignore the designated tempo.

This piece is an absolute gift for guitarists who wish to reinforce their knowledge of the fingerboard’s middle ground. It is also ideal for “pinning the B flat to the board”, while gently introducing E flat and a few A flats.

Solutions to fingering problems include slight stretches (finger 1 or finger 4), barrés or, instead of barrés, three fingers at the same fret.

See “PINNING B flat – J.S. Bach – Presto from Sonata 1” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat May 18, 2019 10:47 am

PREFACE TO PINNING B flat to the Board – J.S. Bach – Presto from Sonata 1 – page 2:

The technique of “anticipating the notes and their sound by singing them just prior to playing them” has not been mentioned for some time. Try applying it to the second instalment of the Bach, but only for the B flats. If preferred, you needn’t sing them but, instead, mentalize them; it can be quite satisfying each time the anticipation proves correct!

Fortuitously, Bach has included quite a few B “naturals” which, in aural and fingering terms, put the B flats in perspective.

See “J.S. Bach – Presto – page 2” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat May 25, 2019 10:59 am

PREFACE TO “PINNING E flat TO THE BOARD”:

In “Pinning E flat – Exercise”, the positional decisions are not easy and need careful consideration because - for learning purposes - the phrases are designated to be played on specific strings; these are typical examples where some hesitation will be inevitable; the best approach is to try and take in, visually, as much of the phrase as possible and try to anticipate which position and finger to put down first, depending on whether the next move is ascending or descending, the final result depending on the golden rule that the fewer shifts, whilst being consistent with legato phrasing, the better.

Choosing a position depends on whether you want to play clusters of notes linearly (on the same string) or across the strings, as in:
Positioning for Linear or Across-Strings Phrasing.jpg
These choices become instinctive and depend on musical preferences combined with technical possibilities; the fluency with which these decisions can be made hinges on the control of the various techniques (for detecting relations between notes) which have been variously introduced during the development of this course, i.e. knowledge of where the notes are on the fingerboard, their relations across the strings, aural perception of intervals, musical instinct of where the music “is going” both melodically and harmonically.

Where the previous paragraph intellectualises through the seeds of analysis, usage will cover those kernels with the soil of practice and the whole process will become automatic and joyful, especially when work starts in earnest on the fingerboard with chordal development.

See “PINNING E flat TO THE BOARD” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum
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VasquezBob
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by VasquezBob » Sat May 25, 2019 8:46 pm

I have found that music sheets come in a variety of "printed formats", viz., some can be read because the printing is clear and the markings are standard. I have music that is difficult to read because the "i" for one finger looks like the "1" for the another finger. Some music sheets have pentagram lines that fade into the sunset; while other sheets use italics in 3-point (or smaller) lettering; gads!!! So, my first attack is to review the music without instrument in-hand and get a "feel" for the "reproduction style"; and, where I need to make adjustments, I make them before attempting to "sight read" a composition that is new to me. Just saying...

RussellFW
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by RussellFW » Thu May 30, 2019 9:49 pm

I have found a daily couple of pages of William Leavitt's 'Reading Studies for Guitar' to be very effective in becoming familiar with the fretboard. One benefit, unexpected until it happens, is simply that it frees the hand up in advance, so one avoids sudden, more or less desperate, leaps from one position to another.

The point about never actually having to truly read at first sight is interesting. Except in an exam, why would one ever need to?

Fretful
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Fretful » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:00 am

PREFACE TO “PINNING A flat (and D Flat en passant) TO THE BOARD”:

It looks so easy on the page! And yet … so much work to be done here … so much to notice: use “PINNING A flat and D flat to the Board - (Relating to each string)” to observe how Positions III and VIII are particularly useful for flat keys.

Use bars 18 to 26 to familiarize thoroughly with those two Positions: VIII and III as they are pivotal and not well covered in books and methods.

With the scales in A flat going across the strings (bars 27 to 33), notice that Positions III and VIII share a lot of the notes! The same relations exist of course between Positions I and VI, II and VII, etc., (always taking into account the discrepancy caused by the minor third between the G and B strings). These relations are not something you have to learn by heart, but the knowledge nevertheless will lead to a “feel” regarding what notes are available to you at any given time.

The flat in bar 26 is just a reminder known as a “courtesy accidental”.

See “PINNING A flat TO THE BOARD” on the Classical Guitar Technique Forum

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:21 pm

RussellFW wrote:The point about never actually having to truly read at first sight is interesting. Except in an exam, why would one ever need to?
As far as need goes:

As a performer: I have been in the position of receiving parts just two or three minutes before a session recording - at show rehearsals (pit orchestra), parts are often given out there and then - either you can play it or you can go home.

As a teacher: I regularly have students arrive with a new piece that they've come across - they (quite reasonably) expect me to be able play it. I'd consider it shameful and a very poor show if I had to say, "Just leave it with me until our next appointment."

Different question(s) for non-professionals - why would you not want the ability to easily and quickly access new music simply for your own pleasure ... or to turn up at a guitar society meeting and be able to join in the fun of playing in ensemble?
VasquezBob wrote:I have found that music sheets come in a variety of "printed formats" ...
This is obviously true - and we have to deal with some atrocious hand written examples on occasion. Mostly though, aspects of type-setting such as right and left hand indications, point sizes etc. are of little consequence.

Except in a few special cases e.g. a campanella passage, I pay little (if any) attention to fingering during sight reading. Who cares about i or m - 1 or 2 if the pitches and rhythms are clear?

As long as one has a sound technique one right hand finger is as good as another; add a good knowledge of the fingerboard, scales, harmonic groupings and we can concentrate on reading the notes, not the numbers.

VasquezBob
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Re: Improve your Fingerboard Knowledge and Sight-Reading Technique

Post by VasquezBob » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:09 pm

True, though, we are all at different skill levels including eye sight, age, short fingers, ad nauseum. I do agree with you, however, as I pretty much do change the fingerings. Many thanks for your thoughts, Bob

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