Tag Archives: posture

Tone versus relaxation

The first error of the musician who is conscious of his well-being is  listening to people who constantly remind him that the most important thing in the practice of his art is to be relax but they forget to specify how to a relax! The result is the emergence of tension.To counteract these pressures, the well-intentioned musician accentuates is relaxation, which accentuates the tension.

The result of this accentuation of relaxation appears to be an escalation of tension for no apparent reason. After discussions with his teachers, colleagues and friends, all advise him to do ne thing: Relax!

While it is true that relaxation may be an appropriate solution to the problem of tension,  we must first understand the mechanisms that are behind the idea of relaxation.

For example, take the shoulders. If a musician wants to relax the shoulders, he lets them fall down. As a result, he complais of stiffness in the neck. This is a typical example of what I call  “false relaxation”. This state involves releasing a particular muscle in order to relax a body part. What we must understand about the concept of relaxation is that each muscle has its antagonist.

Therefore, relaxation can only occur when there is perfect balance between the antagonistic muscles. Relaxation does not involve muscle relaxation, but a dynamic tone of the antagonistic muscles that maintain the member in a position of inertia. We thus speak of an active rather than a passive relaxation. The balance of forces produces a feeling of muscle relaxation.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Why Biomechanics

If you read about my work, you already know that I am passionate about science, and you know what I think about mental optimization. During my doctoral studies, I also studied human biomechanics. Following an internship with Marc Papillon (music specialized kinesiologist), I after deepened my knowledge on the subject, and I have undertaken extensive research on ways to optimize the technique for guitar thanks to scientific knowledge made in the field of biomechanics.

Before continuing, please feel welcome to suggest me your corrections about the translation or typo of this text, because English is not my first language. Younger, I was curious and wanted constantly to improve. I was the first to observe all our great virtuosi in action, trying to understand their hidden secrets. I was fortunate to work with teachers from all guitar schools, whether the Carlevaro school, the Shearer school, the Romeros, the one of David Russell, Presti-Lagoya, Barrueco, the Assad and so many others!

Each had his recipe to explain what he was doing… Surprisingly, all these exceptional virtuosos managed to prove to me that they knew the best recipe for arriving at all great results, but though very different paths!!! Although the observation is one of the steps of scientific reasoning, I was not completely satisfied. I asked many questions in master classes on why a particular technical approach. I would often receive vague answers based on the perception of the virtuoso. He explained that he felt good, and it was easier for him, this or that way…My answer: Yes, but … Is there a perfect book, a perfect school? All my colleagues were trying to sell me their approach, their school … I also note that some did not hesitate to denigrate another school, but when I asked them why, their answers were empty and baseless…

I was lost like a homeless man. I started to think: ok but what about the great virtuosos of jazz, rock and all other music styles such as Asian and Indian traditional music, flamenco and gypsy jazz? What about Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, all the Paco’s , the Rosenberg, Joe Pass, Tuck Andress, Pat Metheny, Lagrène… What a huge mess it was in my head…I quickly realized that no approach was complete, and they were sometimes far from perfect. Hating the idea of becoming dogmatic and abandoning my rational side in favor of a boundless idolatry to a master and leaving all the wonderful ideas that could bring me another one. I was looking for the easy answers … Why did I stop playing blues? In that music, I just had to play with my soul…

What is the answer that humanity has given to dogmas and beliefs in the past: Science. Science has the wonderful power to respond rationally to our questions. There is much research  that was conducted in the field of human biomechanics, and they help the great athletes of this world. The guitarist can be compared to these athletes? Absolutely! Can he learn from that research  and applies this to his own technique? Absolutely! The idea that many masters can perform feats using different approaches is proof that we are partly wrong when attempting to copy them. These virtuosos could play with one less finger, and they would be better than most of us … Do they have technical limitations? Absolutely! Can they overcome them? For sure,  yes! However, do they need?

By cons, for the guitarist seeking the answers to his limitations, he will find them in science. Will he be as good as Russell, Barrueco, Segovia, Pierri, Yamashita, Romeros, Assad, Williams, Bream, Presti (there are so many others in the new generation!) of this world, maybe never. Nevertheless, he could, with the help of science, to be certain to reach his maximum.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)