Tag Archives: fingers

Hammer On and Pull Off like Bruce Lee!

There are several secrets to successful slurs. For hammer-on slurs, the first rule is to prepare the fingers. Each finger must be in place just above the string to play. Many contend that a significant distance is required to produce a clearly audible sound. However, I would invite them to consult the documents available explaining the famous one-inch punch of Jeet Kune Do master Bruce Lee. He showed that he could throw back an opponent with a punch initiated from only one inch away. Using this technique, he demonstrated the well-known principle in physics (kinetic energy) that it is not necessarily distance that affects force, but the speed at with the object is moving.

So the secret is a good positioning of the hand and a quick descent of the finger led by the first joint. The positioning of the finger must be optimal thanks to the use of the second and third phalanx so that the attack is perfect and there is no energy loss.

In the case of pulled slurs, the fingers should be placed on the string, as the finger that will play the second note is already in place. In this case, it is the second phalanx that act as an engine.

Again, speed is the secret. The finger that makes the downward movement can also use the bounce of the bottom string (which then serves as a springboard) to change direction.

In achieving the slurs, we can also use the pronator and supinator muscles to give a boost to the hand. Under no circumstances should the hand pull the pronator and supinator muscles. These are the muscles that power the hand.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Left-arm lateral movement

The secret of quick and efficient movement of the left arm is to use the shoulder muscles to move the arm and forearm. The hand is never the driving force behind the action. It is relaxed, and it is brought into place by the musculature of the shoulder. The forearm is then called upon for a more accurate adjustment, while the wrist and  fingers maintain their optimised positioning as described above.

The eyes determine the end point of the hand, allowing the brain to calculate the distance between the start and end positions easily.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Optimal hand position

The optimal positioning of the right and left hand is achieved through compliance with the ergonomic principles outlined in previous post.  The hand must be tilted on the ulnar side to an angle of 15 degrees at the wrist. A slight flexion toward the outside of 15 degrees at the wrist completes the positioning. Although it is impossible to maintain this optimum positioning at all times, the player will attempt to return to this position in which the fingers are free to move as often as possible.

© Jean-François  Desrosby 2015

Right hand

We can apply all the principles developed for the left hand to the right hand. Although the arm is supported on the guitar, we must, nevertheless, maintain tone. This will prevent the arm from relying too much on the guitar, compressing the soundboard and reducing resonance. In addition, several important tendons pass through the point at which the arm lies. Supporting the arm with the appropriate muscles reduces the pressure on the tendons and thus ensures the free movement of those fundamental elements.

The right hand falls into place much more naturally than the left hand. We can optimise the action by applying a slight supination, which increases the agility and independence of the fingers. Although the wrist should be involved in facilitating the passage of tendons, a light ulnar deviation facilitates the movements of the fingers. In addition, by moving the thumb away from the index, we use extended opposition, which promotes the stability of the hand and accuracy.

In addition to extended opposition, other principles can help maximise the action of the fingers on the instrument. Each finger can flex and extend. They can move laterally as well, but also in axial rotation.

The musician looks for a free and quick flexion of the finger. He also looks for a rapid extension without amplitude and a possible side extension of the fingers when necessary, despite bending.

The initial rule is to use the sequential winding of the phalanx. The second phalanx must be the engine of the movement, followed by the first and, finally, the third. This sequence ensures the proper functioning of the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand. Follow exactly the same sequence to take up the finger. By starting the movement with the second phalanx, we optimise speed.

The rounded balanced hand ensures functional stability. It also promotes the independence of the fingers. As the gaps are difficult when the fingers are flexed, we can facilitate this by flexing the wrist. In addition, the lateral motion must begin from the pulp and not the base of the finger. In summary, the hand reaches equilibrium when there is harmony between its intrinsic and extrinsic muscles.

The index finger is stable if it is inclined from the radial side. If it is turned on the ulnar side, this destabilizes the hand. The middle finger is, meanwhile, a finger that moves laterally and is extremely stable. It can serve as a stabiliser for the other fingers. The ring is the true functional axis of the hand, and everything can be organized around it. It is difficult to move up, but if we use the sequential winding of the phalanx, it facilitates the extension. The auricular has its own musculature. It is sometimes difficult to control because of this characteristic.

© Jean-François Desrosby D.Mus. 2015