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Thread: Specific Pick Direction Question

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Specific Pick Direction Question

    Please don't beat me up for asking this question when pick direction has been discussed "ad nauseum," as many have said. I did the Google search Scott recommends, but there's just too much info to wade through, although I did try.

    Specifically, I'm working on "Two-Part Invention No. 11 in G Minor." Quarter note = 40 bpm. The entire piece is made of of 16th notes, with periodic 8th notes thrown in. I've been playing the 16th notes DUDU, of course. I've also been playing the 8th notes DUDU; however, DD "feels" more natural, than DU. Does the more natural feel of DD make it appropriate or is it always correct to play 8th notes DU, rather than DD?

    I might add I'm playing this piece very slowly right now. As my speed picks up, DU may feel more natural.

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Hard to make a judgement without seeing specific examples but does the DD pattern occur on string changes? Sometimes it might make sense. I think that if you follow general violin bowings that the down bows are for the stronger beats of the measure, so you may want the first note in the measure to be on a down pick stroke.

    Like I said, there are rules to be broken as well. Maybe post a section that you find troubling for the picking strategy and people can make recommendations. I can't recall if you work with a teacher or not. I assume not otherwise you would have someone to ask.

    Actually what transcription for this piece are you using?
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  4. #3
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Hard to make a judgement without seeing specific examples but does the DD pattern occur on string changes? Sometimes it might make sense. I think that if you follow general violin bowings that the down bows are for the stronger beats of the measure, so you may want the first note in the measure to be on a down pick stroke.

    Like I said, there are rules to be broken as well. Maybe post a section that you find troubling for the picking strategy and people can make recommendations. I can't recall if you work with a teacher or not. I assume not otherwise you would have someone to ask.

    Actually what transcription for this piece are you using?
    The piece is from Musicnotes.com, if that helps. I'll try to post a section tomorrow.

    I do work with a teacher, but she's a professional violin teacher, not a mandolinist. She had me playing quarter notes DU until a mandolin player advised me otherwise.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Ah, yes, now I remember about the violin teacher. I don't think the rule depends on the length of the note but more on the phrasing, the meter, and the position in the measure.
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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    I just sat down with a metronome set at 40bpm (as low as mine goes). That would put your eighth notes at 80bpm. I played a string of eighth notes both DD and DU. At that tempo, DD felt “more natural” to me than DU, also. But, I guess if are you playing it that slowly in order to learn the piece, you should stick with DUDU. Once you pick up the tempo, it will be difficult, if not impossible to play all down strokes.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    The book I have from Marilynn Mair, after you get past the basic section, shows 8th notes (4/4/ time) DD with 16th notes DUDU. Based on Ms. Mair's direction in her book, I would say your natural way of DD is the way to go. When you pick up the pace, you will just play the DD faster.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    From what you’ve written, I’d agree that the eighth notes should be played DD ... as you describe a piece heavily laden with 16th notes, played DUDU ... also, you write: “... is it always correct to play eighth notes DU ...” It is not a rule of alternating pick rhythm that eighth notes be played DUDU. It is very, very common though in 4/4 time at moderate to fast speeds to do so, when 1/4 & 1/8 notes rule the roost. OTOH if 1/8 & 1/16 notes rule, playing eighth notes with a downstroke can be better for maintaining the groove.
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  12. #8
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Jim Garber, here's the music. I listened to this at musicnotes.com and I'm fairly certain the speed is faster than 40bpm![ATTACH=CONFIG]188871
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Two Part Invention No. 11 in G Minor, Sample.pdf   Two Part Invention No. 11 in G Minor, Sample.pdf  
    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; Sep-29-2020 at 8:41am. Reason: Unreadable attachment (can't delete!)

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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    You have to play the 8th DDDD if you play 16ths DUDU. You shouldnt change speed of your picking you will never keep time.

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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Generally the downbeat is a down so in measure 4 I’d do DUDU DU DUDU DU, not to say you couldn't do DD but probably shouldn’t - the picking hand is the music part so I wouldn’t just mechanically keep it DU at a set speed throughout or one misses the nuances/flow of the piece. Measures 8-10 are syncopated so keep your DU on track thru those measures.

    Bach’s music has a ticka ticka tick tick - kinda thing so I think it lends to keeping the DU steady. Do you have a recording to listen to?
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Sherry, which do you feel more at home with? By all means try the different stroke directions and combinations that are recommended, but I would say that ultimately your own natural picking style may be the one to go with. Remember that Django Reinhardt did more with only two fingers functioning on his fretting hand than most of us can manage with a full complement of digits!
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  19. #12

    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Generally the downbeat is a down so in measure 4 I’d do DUDU DU DUDU DU, not to say you couldn't do DD but probably shouldn’t - the picking hand is the music part so I wouldn’t just mechanically keep it DU at a set speed throughout or one misses the nuances/flow of the piece. Measures 8-10 are syncopated so keep your DU on track thru those measures.

    Bach’s music has a ticka ticka tick tick - kinda thing so I think it lends to keeping the DU steady. Do you have a recording to listen to?
    Keeping the DUDU 16ths steady means that the eight notes are all downs.

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  21. #13
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Do you have a recording to listen to?
    Yes, at musicnotes.com. Probably YouTube also.

  22. #14

    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Personally I would always play eighths as DU and then 16ths as DU etc. And just save DDDD for quarter notes just because that’s what my body will be feeling.
    It’s a good question but at the end of the day it’s up to you and how you feel about it - remembering that if you practice this as DU throughout, as say tremolo exercises for day without stopping then you’ll get pretty comfortable for the rest of your musical life doing it like this.

    I actually love that feeling of jumping from DU 8ths straight to DU 16ths.

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    MN Mandolin Orchestra Benjamin Gieseke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    I was taught when I learned guitar that the smallest note value in the phrase, so 16th notes in this case, sets the "down up" pattern. This functionally turns your right hand into a subdividing metronome if you keep it swinging.

    Your eighth notes then would be played D D, but if you keep your hand swinging at the 16th note rate you just skip the string on the upstroke, which makes it more like D (U) D (U). A quarter would be D (U D U) D (U D U), assuming 16th notes are still your driving subdivision. You can adjust this if you get to passages that are largely 8th note driven, where your 8ths are all D U D U, quarters are D (U) D (U), etc..

    This is built around the idea that if you play D D you are playing D U D U anyway, this just functions as a way to systematize it and internalize the rhythm physically at the same time.

    YMMV, but I feel the principle has served me well.
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    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Gieseke View Post
    I was taught when I learned guitar that the smallest note value in the phrase, so 16th notes in this case, sets the "down up" pattern. This functionally turns your right hand into a subdividing metronome if you keep it swinging.
    This is how I learnt it, too. If your piece is in 4/4 time and full of 16ths, the DUDU picking pattern is needed to play those. Notes of longer durations, consequently, turn into downstrokes as long as they are "on the beat". So, if this pattern feels natural to you, your musical instinct isn't letting you down!

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  28. #17

    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    Wouldn't it also matter the feel or emphasis on those 8th notes? If those notes were of vital feel "emotion" of the piece, DD would give that feeling much better I think.

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    Default Re: Specific Pick Direction Question

    I play strickly by ear, although I have a limited education in theory. My pick direction is determined by what feels natural. What is the advantage of studying pick direction if it makes it awkward to do so. I know that when beginning things feel awkward about everything, but I've been playing 50+ years, I think I have a good knowledge of real awkwardness. If my pick direction was different than some one else that has played for 50 years WHO determines which is " right" if right exists

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