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When learning a piece I try and practice things in as many different ways as I can think of. Not only does this help me keep interest in a piece, but it can often throw up new ideas, which can be particularly useful in overcoming technical difficulties.

Sometimes I come across a phrase that, no matter how much I practice it, just doesn’t sound musical to me. A few weeks ago I was revisiting Suite Populaire Bresilienne by Villa-Lobos. I was reading though Schottish Choro (the second in the suite), but for some reason, the first phrase just didn’t sound right.

Here is the fingering I was using (as suggested in the fantastic Frederic Zigante version):

alt picking

I felt that I was landing too heavily on the d# in the second bar (circled in red).

With this original fingering, the move to the d# coincided with a significant shift of the left hand from the fourth position to the first. The natural reaction was therefore to play the d# quite heavily.

You would think that could just be solved by playing the d# lighter with the right hand. However, this didn’t work either, since no matter how quickly I tried to shift, I could always ‘feel’ a gap between that d# and the preceding g#.

After some more experimenting, I came upon a solution:

By keeping the half-bar at the fourth position until after playing the first d#, the phrase just seemed to work much better. I didn’t feel rushed to get to the d#, so I felt in control and much better able to ‘shape’ the phrase.

Try it out – I would be interested to hear what you think!