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> Does Technique Limit Expression?, what does everybody think?
lcsdds
post Nov 30 2008, 03:06 PM
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What do you guys think about this? I know of a few artists that seem limited when it comes to certain techniques and it seems that they are still able to express themselves quite well. There are quite a few instructors on this board who seem to have limitless technical ablilities and it seems like they use it to really enhance their playing. What do you guys for instance think of the following players and their technical abilities:

Joe Satriani- Probably my favorite instrumentalist to listen to but I have never heard him do any sort of alternate picking or sweep picked arpeggios like most of us think of when we think of those techniques. Satch is probably the reason my legato/tapping is so far ahead of my alternate picking, LOL!!

Alan Holdsworth- Not super familiar with his playing but from what I have seen/heard it is all legato. Does anybody more familiar with his playing know if he uses alternate picking at all?

Bret Garsed- Same as Alan Holdsworth, never heard/seen any alternate picking runs in his playing.

Frank Gambale- I remember Emir saying that Frank is a true master of his instrument. Here is a guy that only economy picks from what I can gather from his playing. He has a good legato technique as well. One of the biggest knocks on economy picking that I have seen is that you have to "plan" out your licks more than if you alternate pick. This "technical deficiency" doesn't seem to have stopped his progress though.

All of these players don't seem to have problems expressing themselves but they all seem to be "technically limited" in some respects. What do you guys think?

Monte


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RandomVictim
post Nov 30 2008, 03:32 PM
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Also alot of the great blues musicians lack many technical skills, but they still poor their heart out in their playing


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berko
post Nov 30 2008, 03:48 PM
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If I get you right: what you mean under technical playing is fast (and strict) alternate picking and sweeping. Or fast playing altogether.

According to this, Satch does use some great alternate picking runs and really fast sweeps - time to time only. In his G3 Tokyo concert my eyes popped out when he did two sweeping arpeggios so FAST.

The others aren't those shreddy players who pick loads of notes in a song of their own. This is a matter of taste. It's sometimes nice to create contrast in a song by throwing in some crazy stuff. If you listen to Petrucci's solo album (Suspended Animation), then that shows a great example of mixing wild runs with melody. It's great too when shredding a bit sensibly during impro.

Personally, learning over the edge techniques also helps/ed me to take control of every note and to learn all possibilities on the fretboard better.


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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 30 2008, 04:28 PM
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In general I think that there is way too much emphasis put on technique at the expense of expression. All the techniques out there are tools to get your ideas across, but we become slaves to them and they obscure the meaning of the music. I'd far rather listen to some soulful but dirty blues playing than a bunch of perfectly executed 16th triplet scalar runs.

Having said that however, the true master is one that has all the technique available, but uses it sparingly when it is appropriate and doesn't grandstand with it. He should be able to make his point with 2 or 3 notes played perfectly for the song, yet be able to play those 16th triplets at 170bpm if its right for the mood he is trying to portray.

This is one reason I admire Muris - he has technique in spades but is often happy to play simpler things and concentrate on one of the hardest techniques of all - phrasing, which I would describe as the art of making stuff sound good. The right phrasing can transform a lick and a performance into something amazing and for me, it is the hardest technique of all to master, the technique of expression!


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FrankW
post Nov 30 2008, 05:16 PM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Nov 30 2008, 03:06 PM) *
What do you guys think about this? I know of a few artists that seem limited when it comes to certain techniques and it seems that they are still able to express themselves quite well. There are quite a few instructors on this board who seem to have limitless technical ablilities and it seems like they use it to really enhance their playing. What do you guys for instance think of the following players and their technical abilities:

Joe Satriani- Probably my favorite instrumentalist to listen to but I have never heard him do any sort of alternate picking or sweep picked arpeggios like most of us think of when we think of those techniques. Satch is probably the reason my legato/tapping is so far ahead of my alternate picking, LOL!!

Alan Holdsworth- Not super familiar with his playing but from what I have seen/heard it is all legato. Does anybody more familiar with his playing know if he uses alternate picking at all?

Bret Garsed- Same as Alan Holdsworth, never heard/seen any alternate picking runs in his playing.

Frank Gambale- I remember Emir saying that Frank is a true master of his instrument. Here is a guy that only economy picks from what I can gather from his playing. He has a good legato technique as well. One of the biggest knocks on economy picking that I have seen is that you have to "plan" out your licks more than if you alternate pick. This "technical deficiency" doesn't seem to have stopped his progress though.

All of these players don't seem to have problems expressing themselves but they all seem to be "technically limited" in some respects. What do you guys think?

Monte


Interesting. I think what these players have done is maximize their particular playing styles within the confines of their limitations.
Satch may not be able to speed pick like Petrucci, but his lick vocabulary is virtually limitless.

Holdsworth has monster legato, and an extremely advanced playing style, like no other.

Brett can and does not only speed pick, but hybrid picks many of his melodic passages. It's the only way to play some of his cool lines.

And, Gambale is the sweep master. I do think that his economy picking style is so developed that he can play that way without concious effort.

The most important element of each of these players is their ability to be extremely musical, rather than just technically adept. That's what makes these guys stand out. smile.gif
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tommyboy
post Nov 30 2008, 05:24 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 30 2008, 09:28 AM) *
In general I think that there is way too much emphasis put on technique at the expense of expression. All the techniques out there are tools to get your ideas across, but we become slaves to them and they obscure the meaning of the music. I'd far rather listen to some soulful but dirty blues playing than a bunch of perfectly executed 16th triplet scalar runs.

Having said that however, the true master is one that has all the technique available, but uses it sparingly when it is appropriate and doesn't grandstand with it. He should be able to make his point with 2 or 3 notes played perfectly for the song, yet be able to play those 16th triplets at 170bpm if its right for the mood he is trying to portray.

This is one reason I admire Muris - he has technique in spades but is often happy to play simpler things and concentrate on one of the hardest techniques of all - phrasing, which I would describe as the art of making stuff sound good. The right phrasing can transform a lick and a performance into something amazing and for me, it is the hardest technique of all to master, the technique of expression!


Very eloquently put. smile.gif I agree with every word you wrote.

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 30 2008, 06:25 PM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Nov 30 2008, 03:06 PM) *
All of these players don't seem to have problems expressing themselves but they all seem to be "technically limited" in some respects. What do you guys think?

Monte


They are not technically limited, they are masters of the instrument. They can play whatever they want flawlessly, and this enables them to forget about the technique and just express themselves on the instrument.


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Jose Mena
post Nov 30 2008, 06:32 PM
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To me Frank Gambale's amazing economy picking technique requires as much development as alternate, maybe even more to make it sound like he does.

Satriani, all legato, but has some legato runs that require excellent left hand technique.

Allan Holdsworth, this guy's playing is unmatchable he seems to have 6 fingers, total instrument domination, you are probably right he is mostly legato, but my god, what a technique.

Garsed, all legato, but incredible phrasing, lots of expression in his playing.

I like to practice all techniques, but I am better at one more than the others. I guess you are concerned that you should master all to have different sounds and have more dynamics, the players mentioned above to me have lots of expression in their playing and I don't believe that not being alternate pickers limits them


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Oxac
post Nov 30 2008, 06:35 PM
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As far as I know Allan Holdsworth likes the sound of his technique the best. Many of us classify legato as hammer ons and pull offs, which is a very essential part in allans technique. However legato is not the same as hammer on and pull offs. It's possible to sweep legato and it's possible to ap legato. It's possible to hammer on staccato etc. I think that sometimes allans hammer ons and pull offs sounds like they're picked. Of course, he's limited as far as it comes to metal riffing probably... but why would he need that? Isn't he a true master if he can play exactly what he wants but didn't bother to learn the stuff he doesn't want to play?


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kjutte
post Nov 30 2008, 10:49 PM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Nov 30 2008, 03:06 PM) *
What do you guys think about this? I know of a few artists that seem limited when it comes to certain techniques and it seems that they are still able to express themselves quite well. There are quite a few instructors on this board who seem to have limitless technical ablilities and it seems like they use it to really enhance their playing. What do you guys for instance think of the following players and their technical abilities:

Joe Satriani- Probably my favorite instrumentalist to listen to but I have never heard him do any sort of alternate picking or sweep picked arpeggios like most of us think of when we think of those techniques. Satch is probably the reason my legato/tapping is so far ahead of my alternate picking, LOL!!

Alan Holdsworth- Not super familiar with his playing but from what I have seen/heard it is all legato. Does anybody more familiar with his playing know if he uses alternate picking at all?

Bret Garsed- Same as Alan Holdsworth, never heard/seen any alternate picking runs in his playing.

Frank Gambale- I remember Emir saying that Frank is a true master of his instrument. Here is a guy that only economy picks from what I can gather from his playing. He has a good legato technique as well. One of the biggest knocks on economy picking that I have seen is that you have to "plan" out your licks more than if you alternate pick. This "technical deficiency" doesn't seem to have stopped his progress though.

All of these players don't seem to have problems expressing themselves but they all seem to be "technically limited" in some respects. What do you guys think?

Monte


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Emir Hot
post Nov 30 2008, 11:28 PM
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I think you can still keep a good feel with a difficult technical stuff. In order to go for that you should be 100% confident that you can execute it like any other simple thing without too much thinking. Only that way your feel won't struggle but it's a more difficult aproach for sure.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 30 2008, 11:58 PM
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QUOTE (Emir Hot @ Nov 30 2008, 11:28 PM) *
I think you can still keep a good feel with a difficult technical stuff. In order to go for that you should be 100% confident that you can execute it like any other simple thing without too much thinking. Only that way your feel won't struggle but it's a more difficult aproach for sure.


That is true, no matter if it is 2 or 200 notes, player should play it effortlessly in order to keep a feel. But playing effortlessly is not the only thing that is needed of course. The feel is the "feel".


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lcsdds
post Dec 1 2008, 01:02 AM
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QUOTE (FrankW @ Nov 30 2008, 05:16 PM) *
Interesting. I think what these players have done is maximize their particular playing styles within the confines of their limitations.
Satch may not be able to speed pick like Petrucci, but his lick vocabulary is virtually limitless.

Holdsworth has monster legato, and an extremely advanced playing style, like no other.

Brett can and does not only speed pick, but hybrid picks many of his melodic passages. It's the only way to play some of his cool lines.

And, Gambale is the sweep master. I do think that his economy picking style is so developed that he can play that way without concious effort.

The most important element of each of these players is their ability to be extremely musical, rather than just technically adept. That's what makes these guys stand out. smile.gif


Frank,
I've never heard Brett speedpick. Could you point me to some of his music where he does this as I am not really familiar with his music other than what is on youtube biggrin.gif biggrin.gif He does have some really cool hybid passages from what I have seen.


QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Nov 30 2008, 06:25 PM) *
They are not technically limited, they are masters of the instrument. They can play whatever they want flawlessly, and this enables them to forget about the technique and just express themselves on the instrument.


I agree with you Ivan that they are Masters of their instruments. Do yo think that Holdsworth just never hears alternate picked lines in his head or why do you think he never uses this technique? I guess it is just a conscious decision.


QUOTE (Jose Mena @ Nov 30 2008, 06:32 PM) *
To me Frank Gambale's amazing economy picking technique requires as much development as alternate, maybe even more to make it sound like he does.

Satriani, all legato, but has some legato runs that require excellent left hand technique.

Allan Holdsworth, this guy's playing is unmatchable he seems to have 6 fingers, total instrument domination, you are probably right he is mostly legato, but my god, what a technique.

Garsed, all legato, but incredible phrasing, lots of expression in his playing.

I like to practice all techniques, but I am better at one more than the others. I guess you are concerned that you should master all to have different sounds and have more dynamics, the players mentioned above to me have lots of expression in their playing and I don't believe that not being alternate pickers limits them


Jose,
Do you think Frank's decision to use economy picking limits his vocabulary at all? Meaning that he has to "plan" his licks/lines a little more than if he was just using alternate picking?
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Gus
post Dec 1 2008, 01:23 AM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Nov 30 2008, 06:25 PM) *
They are not technically limited, they are masters of the instrument. They can play whatever they want flawlessly, and this enables them to forget about the technique and just express themselves on the instrument.

I am with Ivan. These guys you mentioned can't be called limited at all.

The point is that once you reach good level you can focus in whatsoever technique is needed to express yourself the way you want. Getting from your example, it doesn't mean Joe Satriani can not speed pick. It means he prefers to use legato. If he does not do ultra fast speed picking, I am quite sure he would if he focus his practicing on that.

I think techniques are like tools in your toolbox. The more tools you have the more you are prepared for any situation. But you should not expect to use all tools in one song(style) only. There are tools you may rarely use actually.

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FrankW
post Dec 1 2008, 01:44 AM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Dec 1 2008, 01:02 AM) *
Frank,
I've never heard Brett speedpick. Could you point me to some of his music where he does this as I am not really familiar with his music other than what is on youtube biggrin.gif biggrin.gif He does have some really cool hybid passages from what I have seen.


You know Monte, I can't find any video of Brett strictly speedpicking aside from his hybrid technique. His legato is so developed that it sometimes sounds like he is picking. He is a legato master, but his hybrid picking ability does lead me to believe that he can do whatever he wants with a pick. smile.gif
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lcsdds
post Dec 1 2008, 01:54 AM
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QUOTE (FrankW @ Dec 1 2008, 01:44 AM) *
You know Monte, I can't find any video of Brett strictly speedpicking aside from his hybrid technique. His legato is so developed that it sometimes sounds like he is picking. He is a legato master, but his hybrid picking ability does lead me to believe that he can do whatever he wants with a pick. smile.gif



I believe you Frank, I only asked because I have never seen him do it either biggrin.gif biggrin.gif I brought this topic up because I have spent most of my time over the years trying to develop my legato/tapping. I think I have done pretty well but I have always felt like I am lacking as a guitarist because I don't have very good picking chops, even though it is a sound I don't particularly care for. I don't know if it is because I am lazy and don't want to spend the amount of time required to develop my picking chops or if I truly don't care enough for the sound of it in my playing to develop it. I singled out these players because I didn't think any of them really alternate pick very much in their playing, yet alot of people think they are awesome players!!! I still debate whether or not I want to develop my picking or if I should just stick to what I really like and that is legato/tapping. The debate in my head rages on laugh.gif laugh.gif Thanks for the all the responses guys. They are very helpful!!

Monte
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FrankW
post Dec 1 2008, 02:03 AM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Dec 1 2008, 01:54 AM) *
I believe you Frank, I only asked because I have never seen him do it either biggrin.gif biggrin.gif I brought this topic up because I have spent most of my time over the years trying to develop my legato/tapping. I think I have done pretty well but I have always felt like I am lacking as a guitarist because I don't have very good picking chops, even though it is a sound I don't particularly care for. I don't know if it is because I am lazy and don't want to spend the amount of time required to develop my picking chops or if I truly don't care enough for the sound of it in my playing to develop it. I singled out these players because I didn't think any of them really alternate pick very much in their playing, yet alot of people think they are awesome players!!! I still debate whether or not I want to develop my picking or if I should just stick to what I really like and that is legato/tapping. The debate in my head rages on laugh.gif laugh.gif Thanks for the all the responses guys. They are very helpful!!

Monte


I hear you, man. If I were you I wouldn't even bother debating the issue. I would continue what I was doing, but I would work on picking also, just to add another technique to your arsenal. It sounds like your left hand is already pretty developed, so you have more than half the problem solved. Paul Gilbert talks about most problems speed pickers have as being the fretting hand keeping up. I know that's part of my problem. I'll bet you learn to like speed picking over time, once you develope the technique. Just my opinion... smile.gif

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post Dec 1 2008, 02:04 AM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Nov 30 2008, 07:02 PM) *
I agree with you Ivan that they are Masters of their instruments. Do yo think that Holdsworth just never hears alternate picked lines in his head or why do you think he never uses this technique? I guess it is just a conscious decision.


Holdsworth is an interestng example - he has very deliberately set out to get the sound he has, not least because he never liked the sound of guitar, the story is that he always wanted to be a trumpeter (or so I heard, maybe I got the instrument wrong!). Holdsworth has a vision of the sound he wants to make and bends all of his technique to get there - that is a good lesson to learn, he is workimg from the sound back, not from the technique forward.


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lcsdds
post Dec 1 2008, 02:11 AM
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QUOTE (FrankW @ Dec 1 2008, 02:03 AM) *
I hear you, man. If I were you I wouldn't even bother debating the issue. I would continue what I was doing, but I would work on picking also, just to add another technique to your arsenal. It sounds like your left hand is already pretty developed, so you have more than half the problem solved. Paul Gilbert talks about most problems speed pickers have as being the fretting hand keeping up. I know that's part of my problem. I'll bet you learn to like speed picking over time, once you develope the technique. Just my opinion... smile.gif



I think you are right too Frank. I am going to start working on my picking even if I don't use it that much. See, I don't know if I don't use it because I CAN'T do it or I really don't want to do it. Maybe when I get somewhat proficient with it I will use it. Time will tell. Again, that is why I brought up these specific players. Do they focus on legato because they CAN"T alternate pick so they use what tools they do have or do they choose not to alternate pick because they don't like the sound of it and choose not to use it in their playing? I think I am just going to try and develop my picking and see where it goes laugh.gif laugh.gif

Monte

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 1 2008, 02:11 AM
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QUOTE (lcsdds @ Dec 1 2008, 01:02 AM) *
I agree with you Ivan that they are Masters of their instruments. Do yo think that Holdsworth just never hears alternate picked lines in his head or why do you think he never uses this technique? I guess it is just a conscious decision.


Well I certainly don't know what he hears in his head mate, let alone what alternate picked lines sound for him anyway. I don't even know if I ever think about alternate picking runs in that way. Technique is just something that doesn't cross my mind a lot when playing. The reason Allan doesn't uses alternate is unknown to me, it could be anything really. Maybe he can alternate pick but he doesn't or maybe he didn't practiced and played with this technique a lot, so he doesn't use it while playing, you know what I mean?
About a conscious decision, my guess is that he doesn't really think what techniques he will use, he just use whatever he finds most suitable to expresses himself.

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