Questions about Rotation (video)

A fantastic demonstration of and discussion of Rotation by Per Tengstrand, HÃ¥vard Gimse and Romuald Sztern from Helsingborg Piano Festival 2007

Some quotes:

"The movement originates in the two bones of the forearm" (radius and ulna)...."

"... the degree of ... using the fingers is ... personal. If you see five pianists doing a really good tremelo they will use the fingers (a different amount). You have to find your own way (by experiment)."

"There are elements of this movement in all kinds of passages ... as soon as there is alternation between two parts of the hand..."

Yamashita: Harp-like tone and velocity

There are passages in Yamashita's "Firebird Suite" transcription and elsewhere that uncannily recall a fast scale passage on the harp. In these passages he plays:

  • with a smooth release of the string, so as not to excite the higher harmonic content
  • with the right hand way up over the fingerboard
  • very fast and fluidly
All in all this gives a great simulation of a harp!

Note that the setup of an orchestral harp enables extremely fast scale passages to be played with one finger, and they are often called on to provide this kind of texture in orchestral works.

Kazuhito Yamashita demonstrating Harp-like tone and velocity

Yamashita: Multi-string tremelos

This family of Right Hand techniques enables the guitar to simulate a string section, with a gentle swelling of sound on 2, 3 or even 4 voices. I have managed to integrate the use of the index finger tremelo into my playing, but Yamashita has a whole repertoire of these tremelos using apparently any of the 4 right hand fingers that the arrangement and fingering require.

Yamashita often maintains a multi string tremelo whilst playing different textures with the other fingers.

Kazuhito Yamashita demonstrating Multi-string tremelos

Rest stroke or Free Stroke?

Here is a question heard daily by guitar teachers the world over:

"Should I use Rest Stroke or Free Stroke for this passage?"

The question is built upon a false dichotomy. There are not two types of right hand stroke.

There is an infinite continuum of strokes from the most gentle and flexible to the most rigid. As I describe in my book and all my writings, if you get the hierarchy right then you need never worry about "which joint is moving in the finger", or "rest stroke"... etc.

In fact if you do think like that you are playing "mechanically" rather than thinking "what colour - what effect do I want to create here, at this moment, in this piece, in this environment... ". Of course, some people actually might prefer to play mechanically?

As I reiterate over and over in my books, images such as this:

The Right Hand captured in a 'Frozen Moment'!

... represent mere "frozen moments" from what is a flowing, complex movement integrated into a larger series of movement which ultimately involve the whole body.

Sometimes the finger may indeed contact the next string after the stroke, but knowing this bit of information tells us nothing at all about the overall process. Talking about the "rest stroke" and "contacting the next string" is not only looking at the end of the process, but even more absurdly, it is focussing on the part of the process which produces no sound !

So, to reiterate:

There is an infinite continuum of strokes from the most gentle and flexible to the most rigid.

Applying the Tremolo to a melody

First, the melody in it's essential form (just the first few bars):
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Now let's energise the melody by repetition:
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

The practical version for guitar. At moderate tempos the missing note in each group is not perceived by the listener.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

The right hand fingering.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

This page illustrates an excerpt from "Guitar Playing and how it Works"

Guitar Playing and how it Works by Peter Inglis
Guitar Playing and how it Works