Video 1: The Space Between the Notes
In this final Module, I look at the coordination of the right and left hands. Every time you play music, you have no choice but to coordinate your hands with each other in some way. But if you don’t work on this coordination, it will be clumsy and unpredictable. In this module, we start to refine that coordination by becoming more conscious of exactly what we’re doing.
The traditional term for what I’m talking about here is “articulation.” This is the same kind of articulation that happens when you speak. How do you articulate your words? Do you have sharp, clear beginnings and ends to your words and sentences? Or do you tend to slur them all together? Articulation happens naturally—in speech and when you play music. Most of us are not very conscious of how we articulate things, until we hear a recording of ourselves, or when we’re learning a new language.
To really begin to master the basic technique of playing classical guitar music, you need to start getting conscious of your articulation. This means paying attention to exactly how you begin and end the notes, chords, and phrases that you play.
In visual arts, we often talk about positive space and negative space. If you’re drawing a picture of a hand, for instance, the positive space will be the hand itself, and the negative space will be whatever surrounds the hand, and actually defines it. You could call the negative space the “background.” But the negative space gives the hand its shape. It’s extremely important to pay attention to the negative space when you’re drawing or painting. If you don’t, your picture will probably be cramped, clumsy and amateurish. Becoming exquisitely conscious of how you shape the negative space will give you exquisite control of the impact of the entire work of art.
With music, it’s the same thing: the positive space is the sound of the note itself, or the chord, or the musical phrase. The space between the notes—-negative space—is what gives the notes their shape. And becoming exquisitely conscious of how you shape this “background” space in your music will give you exquisite control over the impact of the music you’re playing. It will also give you much more technical mastery by giving you ways to coordinate the hands with each other so you can produce clean, effortless shifts and musical transitions.
In the following videos, I’ll explore the most effective ways to to this.
Videos 2 through 4 are about Right Hand Articulation—using your right hand to control this space. Video 5 is about Left Hand Articulation—using your left hand for this same purpose. Left hand articulation is a bit less talked about, for some reason. But it is indispensable. Ultimately, you’ll be using both hands for this, and doing it seamlessly. The last two videos show you ways to use these forms of articulation in several common musical situations.