Vihuela technique

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
Harry Jess
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Location: Bryne, Norway

Vihuela technique

Post by Harry Jess » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:08 pm

In his nice words of welcome to me GEO the Moderator mentioned that there were both vihuelistas and lutenist in this forum, and I hope one or more of them could give me some advice and information on the so-called Thumb-over and Thumb-under-technique. I have just bought a small vihuela with a string length of 56 cm, and I try to apply thumb-index stroke whenever I feel it's appropriate, and I also like the sound this technique produces. Am I then using Thumb-over technique? I have found it a bit difficult to get the hang of these techniques and their advantages and disadvantages . Can anyone out there explain these two techniques? I know about Tyler's book on early stringed instruments, and I guess I would find it there, but it's very expensive. But I might perhaps put it on my wish list for Xmas?

Looking forward to hearing from you vihuelists!
Harry

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Michael.N.
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Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:41 pm

Modern guitar technique may be looked on as being 'thumb over'. 'Thumb under' is when the stroke of the thumb falls inside (as opposed to outside) of the index finger- the movement of the thumb is more towards the palm of the hand. The easiest way to imitate this technique is to check Luthval's videos on Vimeo or Youtube.

The thumb index alternate stroke is an important technique (so I'm told). The other stroke for Vihuela is the 'dedillo' which is an alternation of up down strokes with the index finger.
Sadly I don't use any of these techniques. My version is an odd mix of thumb under, thumb over and normal i,m guitar technique.
Historicalguitars.

Harry Jess
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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:16 pm
Location: Bryne, Norway

Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Harry Jess » Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:10 pm

Thank you, Michael,this clarified the matter a lot. Yes, I have watched Luthval when he is playing the renaissance guitar and the lute with his thumb under his index, and it seems a bit awkward to me. So according to you the thumb-over technique is more or less similar to the classical guitar technique and that I can use thumb-index strokes whenever I feel it's appropriate when playing the vihuela. And of course I use dos dedos but not dedillo!
Harry

Azalais

Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Azalais » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:04 am

I am finding it a real challenge to learn to play Thumb Under, (and it would probably be virtually impossible to do with normal CG nails...) As Michael mentioned, there are some very helpful videos you can watch.

There is an Early Music Group on Youtube that has many good ones:
http://www.youtube.com/group/EarlyMusic

I have finally found one very good book that has excellent detailed info about lute technique (written with CG players in mind). The Italian text was translated by Doc Rossi and it is very detailed. It also has excellent mixed collection of exercises and pieces. (I also found a used copy of Diana Poulton's book, but they are difficult to find)

Andrea Damiani (check youtube for his videos too)
Method for Renaissance Lute (english version: Translation by Doc Rossi)
Publication Date: 1999
ISMN: 979-0-2153-0508-3
(I found a copy at Ut Orpheus)

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Valéry Sauvage
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Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Valéry Sauvage » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:21 am

Yes, it is difficult to play thumb under technics when used to classical technic... but thumb over is good too. I second Azalais, Damiani tutor is fine ;-)
Good luck,
Val
ps : any picts of your vihuela ?
Count Basie: I don't worry about virtuosity. I do what I like to do. If I'm a virtuoso, that's great. If not, I'm doing what I like to do.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:56 am

Harry Jess wrote:Thank you, Michael,this clarified the matter a lot. Yes, I have watched Luthval when he is playing the renaissance guitar and the lute with his thumb under his index, and it seems a bit awkward to me. So according to you the thumb-over technique is more or less similar to the classical guitar technique and that I can use thumb-index strokes whenever I feel it's appropriate when playing the vihuela. And of course I use dos dedos but not dedillo!
Harry
Yes it will feel awkward, especially if you are accustomed to the normal Classical guitar technique. When I play 'thumb under' my thumb strikes somewhere between my middle and index finger. I suppose that may be considered a less extreme version than the technique that many other players use. I don't even remember if going to 'thumb under' was a deliberate attempt (on my part) to use that technique. I think it just happened and perhaps was a consequence of watching other Lute/Vihuela players and placing the right hand little finger on the soundboard. I'm certain it happened over a period of many months, so sometimes I would be playing 'thumb out' and sometimes 'thumb in'. I still have a habit of switching and quite often in the middle of a piece but I simply could not give you a logical reason why I do that. It's probably a throw back to some of my guitar technique. In other words 'thumb under' will take time before it begins to feel natural. All said and done it's not a crime to play 'thumb out' though.
Historicalguitars.

Harry Jess
Posts: 330
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:16 pm
Location: Bryne, Norway

Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Harry Jess » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:21 am

Thank you all for information and advice in this matter. Since the classical guitar is my favourite, and I understand from you -not least from Luthval whose videos I have studied many times- that playing Thumb-out is no offence at all, I think I'll stick to that, especially since I'm too old to develop new habits!
And Luthval, I'll try to present some pictures of my vihuela, but I need to get help from my son-in-law..... It's a custom made instrument at a very affordable price with the soundboard of Canadian Pine and sides and back in Red Cedar. The fretboard is of Granadillo and the pegs of Ebony. To make it easier to switch from one instrument to the other I ordered the centres of the 6 courses to be where the 6 strings of a classical guitar are. This has worked fine, and I am now playing the beautiful "Mille regretz" by Josquin de Pres/Narvaez and Adrian le Roy's "Passamezze" , this one based on an extensive study of Luthval's video!
I'll come back with the pictures later!
Harry

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Valéry Sauvage
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Re: Vihuela technique

Post by Valéry Sauvage » Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:40 am

Hello Harry,
Look at this video by Nigel North, for a really good thumb out technic...
viewtopic.php?f=50&t=32221

Val ;-)
Count Basie: I don't worry about virtuosity. I do what I like to do. If I'm a virtuoso, that's great. If not, I'm doing what I like to do.

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