Early Guitars and Vihuela

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I have been working on thumb-under technique on renaissance lute, and  is gradually becoming more natural. It  works quite  well on baroque guitar, getting a much better sound and plucking both strings reliably than my default classical guitar technique. I know thumb-out would have been more usual during the baroque period ( after 1620 maybe?) but I feel on a roll with this and dont want to change just yet.
 I am curious how players deal with  instruments of different periods.  Do you develop over time a variety of hybrid positions? At the moment I have my classical guitar position and a very different 'early' position, nothing in-between, but I guess that will change over time.

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For my sake, I doing with the technic I'm comfortable with, and getting good sound (I try...).

Historical technic is the Nessy monster... Do you think after four hundred years, people trying to find the "HIP" electric guitar technic, looking for all the electrical guitar players of today.. Is there "one" electrical guitar technic ? Was there ONE lute or baroque guitar technic ???? So use the technic you feel comfortable with and having good results (according to YOUR ear and taste...)

Have fun !

All the best

Val

Great point about the electric guitar technique.  I'm sure there were as many different ways of playing then as there are now.  Really, who was keeping track???

For my part I use a single hybrid kind of right hand technique. I tried the full on thumb under for Renaissance lute, thumb out for Vihuela, Early Romatic and modern guitar and an in between (thumb neither under nor over) with Baroque guitar. It worked well, having various techniques for various instruments...in my practice room and in rehearsel with my singer partner. But the first time I stepped on stage with the different instruments, following each other in quick succession, it fell apart...rather badly! Lucky she (the singer) was able to compensate for her "lousy" accompanist and we fluffed through a couple numbers until I got my bearings. Adding a little nervous tension to the mix got things all "shaken" and  "stirred".

 

So back to the practice room I went to work it out...now I just use one right hand technique for all the various instruments. Having a lifetime of modern classical guitar playing behind me, I took that as my base, dropped my wrist a bit so that the line from the elbow to the large knuckles is straighter, strike the course/string at a more oblique angle, shortened and reshaped my nails (yes, I play with a little nail...please, send no flames my way) and all is well...

 

That's what I do but I like Valery's advice too..."use the technique you are comfortable with...". I'm pretty sure that's what the players of old did and until we can time travel back to check out their technique...basically we only have theories, albeit with quite a bit of evidence, but still not quite irrefutable proof.

 

Sometime we players of "old music" get caught up in all the technical/physical aspects of what is "authentic" and forget that what we are really doing is making music, after all. As long as we get most of the notes, a good pleasing tone and we, as well as our audience, enjoy the results of our effort...does it really matter a great deal how we got there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Scott. Coming from a classical guitar background, I play my baroque guitar with a little nail, too...and personally, I like the way it sounds.  I like it more so than without any nail.  I can't let them get to long, though, otherwise I get hung up when I start strumming!  I like the sound of the vihuela with a little nail, too (boy, now the flames are gonna come my way). As for playing thumb under: I shoot for it, but only go as far as is comfortable.  My early music right hand position is definitely different than my classical guitar position. I'm not too picky about it (no pun inteneded); I'm from the school that, as long as you're getting beautiful sound, keep doing what you do...and I LOVE beautiful sound.

Thanks  Scot for the reassuring  and realistic advice.

 

I tried the full on thumb under for Renaissance lute, thumb out for Vihuela, Early Romatic and modern guitar and an in between (thumb neither under nor over) with Baroque guitar. It worked well, having various techniques for various instruments...in my practice room  ...

But the first time I stepped on stage with the different instruments, following each other in quick succession, it fell apart...rather badly!


That is what i was thinking - juggling too many suble variants would lead to confusion!

 

I think at the moment I will continue experimenting and developing the thumb-under (it is satisfying and give a nice sound). I think perhaps I can keep that separate from the classical technique...we will see anyway.

 

As Val says the main thing is - does it sound good and is it comfortable?  Good point about the huge variety of  techniques in modern players. No reason to think they didnt vary equally much , maybe more, 400 years ago

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