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Thread: Right Hand Technique

  1. #1

    Default Right Hand Technique

    Perhaps this belongs in Irish tunes, since it's about right hand technique for those tunes, but it's a bit technical, so I put it here. Please set me straight if I'm posting improperly:


    I know that ideally, I'm supposed to develop the right hand technique properly as I learn every tune (proper up/down for reels, DUD DUD for jigs), but in reality it goes like this:

    I learn the tune and do my best with the right hand as I do. I get the feel of the tune at tempo. I TRY to get my right hand correct. But once I get the tune about at speed, I slow it down again, and THEN grind out the proper right hand technique - usually involving fixing a few spots and re-establishing the new habit, which actually always feels more "right."

    Also, as I grind out my old standards to level up my playing, these rules just seem to have a lot of exceptions, which I want to ask about.

    Some reels appear to have points in the song with a rhythmic D D prior to getting into the ududud rhythm, which is also true for Jigs, sometimes. I am reading that, and applying that and it feels right and sounds right, but looking for confirmation on this.

    Also, some reels seem to want to start on a down, others on an up - it just makes more "sense" rhythmically, to me, as I work out these right-hand issues. It's hard to explain, but I think if we sat down with particular tunes, the case would make itself. Is that a legit observation?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Yes, yes, yes ... If you are doing a rhythmic alternating picking pattern in 4/4 time, sometimes you will start on a downstroke, sometimes an upstroke ... it depends wehether the first note of the tune or phrase is on the beat, or an eighth note or sixteenth note between the beats.

    Sometimes you will play two or more downstrokes in a row ... as when you have two quarter notes that are "on the beat".

    You may even encounter two or more upstrokes in a row ... as when for example you are playing some string of eighth notes that fall between the beats preceded by eighth note rests that are on the beat.

    IMHO you are to be commended for thinking about and working on developing good picking direction habits. It becomes like second nature after awhile.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Thank you, Mark, for explaining this in connection to notation. I suspected some of the connections you mentioned. I will look at my notation more thoroughly to get a clear sense of this ahead of time for new tunes.

    Would you say that the connection to these rhythmic "exceptions" is consistently explained by these?

  5. #4
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by PhillipeTaylor View Post
    Thank you, Mark, for explaining this in connection to notation. I suspected some of the connections you mentioned. I will look at my notation more thoroughly to get a clear sense of this ahead of time for new tunes.

    Would you say that the connection to these rhythmic "exceptions" is consistently explained by these?
    What I have been taught, and has made big improvement in my playing, is keeping the DU or DUD DUD motion going with the pick hand even when you don't play a note on every stroke. In other words, when you are playing the two quarter notes Mark mentioned, play them both with downstrokes but keep your hand moving in the eighth note pattern just lifting the upstrokes above the string. Someone else can explain this better than I, and not everyone plays that way either, but it works for me and a lot of real players, too.

    In any case, practice your right hand separately, until it's imbedded in your brain and fingers, and then add left hand patterns gradually. The best way to learn the physical aspects of a musical instrument is to isolate components and work them separately.

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  7. #5
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    As for tying it to notation, in 4/4 with an 8th note pattern going, any note that is articulated on the beat will be a down stroke, and any note articulated on an "and" will be an upstroke. Same principle on the jigs, but applied differently. If you read it in 6/8, and are playing dud dud pattern, generally any note articulated on beats 1 3 4 or 6 will be a down stroke while 2 and 5 are upstrokes.

    Example: Something in 4/4 with a three 8th note pickup to the first bar will begin with an upstroke. Because it begins on the "and" of 3.

    Same principle: The tune starts with an 8th note rest, then you begin on the "and" of 1 with an upstroke. And if that note is Quarter note, then the next articulation will be with an upstroke too, unless the quarter note is followed by a rest...

    All of this applies to tunes like those of irish trad or old-time that are primarily streams of 8th notes and pick direction is not specified in the notation.

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  9. #6
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by PhillipeTaylor View Post
    Perhaps this belongs in Irish tunes, since it's about right hand technique for those tunes, but it's a bit technical, so I put it here. Please set me straight if I'm posting improperly:


    I know that ideally, I'm supposed to develop the right hand technique properly as I learn every tune (proper up/down for reels, DUD DUD for jigs), but in reality it goes like this:

    I learn the tune and do my best with the right hand as I do. I get the feel of the tune at tempo. I TRY to get my right hand correct. But once I get the tune about at speed, I slow it down again, and THEN grind out the proper right hand technique - usually involving fixing a few spots and re-establishing the new habit, which actually always feels more "right."

    Also, as I grind out my old standards to level up my playing, these rules just seem to have a lot of exceptions, which I want to ask about.

    Some reels appear to have points in the song with a rhythmic D D prior to getting into the ududud rhythm, which is also true for Jigs, sometimes. I am reading that, and applying that and it feels right and sounds right, but looking for confirmation on this.

    Also, some reels seem to want to start on a down, others on an up - it just makes more "sense" rhythmically, to me, as I work out these right-hand issues. It's hard to explain, but I think if we sat down with particular tunes, the case would make itself. Is that a legit observation?

    Thanks!
    In two places in your post you mention using udud for reels, but state that some reels "seem to want to start on a down..." Generally speaking, reel picking is DUDU, not UDUD. In all my years playing, and taking lessons from a variety of pros, I've not come across anyone teaching UDUD for reel playing. Obviously there will be some situations where two downstrokes are played:

    Example reel, notes in ABC notation in first line and picking pattern in line below it:

    A2 AB AGEG|A2 Bd edBA|
    D DU DUDU|D DU DUDU

    Regarding working on picking patterns, I recently saw a clip from a We Banjo 3 livestream where mandolin/banjo player Martin Howley talked about the biggest stumbling block that he finds for novice players is that they neglect to focus on picking patterns, resulting in having to undo a lot of habits later on because the haphazard picking has a knock on effect and ends up impeding speed and fluency. YMMV but as someone who teaches, I can tell you that repetition builds fluency - but it goes both ways so sometimes that results in fluency in habits we don't want, so I would recommend focusing on getting your picking in order from the get go, rather than working on a tune to speed and then going back to address the picking.
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  10. #7
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Jill, he does say up/down when it should be down/up ... but when he says ududud he precedes that by explaining two downstrokes followed by ududud, etc.

    At any rate, good eye, I didn't catch that OP means to actually play the pattern UDUD rather than DUDU ... in fact, I'm not convinced that's what he means, he may be having trouble communicating. At least he's thinking about correcting pick direction and seeking advice.
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  12. #8

    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Jill, he does say up/down when it should be down/up ... but when he says ududud he precedes that by explaining two downstrokes followed by ududud, etc.

    At any rate, good eye, I didn't catch that OP means to actually play the pattern UDUD rather than DUDU ... in fact, I'm not convinced that's what he means, he may be having trouble communicating. At least he's thinking about correcting pick direction and seeking advice.
    Thanks!

    I get "rule," and just mis-stated, as you say.

    I'm really just trying to avoid the "mandolin police" while I have a good time learning to play this fun instrument, thanks!

    Your reply clarified everything! Thanks again!

    p

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

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