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Video 3: Shifting With Right Hand Articulation Control

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It seems like a paradox. If you want to make the transitions between your notes smoother and more legato, you need to separate them more cleanly.

Sure, if you just run several notes together using a slur (hammer-on/pull-off combo) they will also be legato and smooth., like someone using a single syllable to sing several notes. But you can only use that technique for small snippets of your piece. On an instrument like the piano, you can cover up for leaps and finger shifts by pressing down a pedal which keeps the the notes you’ve already played ringing until you lift it. This gives you space to breath, almost like an extra, ghost hand to cover up yur shifts.  On a harp, it’s hard to stop  the strings from ringing over each other. But on the guitar, we are quite naked in this regard. Open strings will ring until you stop them. But most notes will stop as soon as you lift your fingers up to move on.

The reason that effective articulation can give a nice legato effect is that we are keeping the space between our notes even.

 It’s like creating strings of pearls, with exact, equal distance between each pearl. The notes are pearls, and our right hand technique and fingernail shape can be honed to shape each pearl as beautifully as possible. Our right hand articulation, as shown in this video, can go a long way towards making these pearls equidistant from each other, keeping them from lumping together, jamming into each other, overlapping, getting caught in knots and so on.

The piece I’m playing here is the famous work by Fernando Sor, “Variations on a Theme of Mozart.”

The exercises to help you hone this skill are in the next video.