Tuesday 8 February 2011

Fingerstyle "Time" by Pink Floyd progress lesson

Here's a little video primarily for Ryan but for anyone who is interested. "Time" by Pink Floyd played finger flicking :) I'm still not all that comfortable doing video "lessons", but like all things you just have to do it, get on with it, and eventually you'll get better at it.

It's about 10 minutes long, and no, I'm not actually singing in there, it's more like strangling a cat (that's why I play the guitar) :)

Yes, I'm still "developing" my skills as a lesson presenter, one of these days I will get around to posting proper lessons...watch this space!

2017 Update: Although this is not a lesson as such, I played through Dark Side of the Moon again. I also mumbled more about "Time" and some changes I've made over the years



  1. Thanks so much Jaw, that was really insightful.



  2. No worries Bill. What I didn't mention, but I think it came through reasonably obvious, is that "it's sloppy". What I mean by that is it's fluid, organic, never twice the same, and never ever "perfect". Whereas a classical style piece every note has it's right place, this is more gestures, a fumble with feeling.

    Like when you are simply strumming, you go a little bit deeper in your strum to accentuate the bass, or shallower to bring out more treble...not an exact science but feeling is injected.

    When I look to my guru (Naudo) I can see even at the lofty expert heights, it's still not an exact science - and I don't think it's meant to be.

    I still make a lot of mistakes, missing notes or putting in notes I didn't mean to, and I know it, sometime a listener knows it (but not as often as you would think) and it would be great to not flub, but I'm more interested in bringing more feeling to a piece than playing it note-perfect. The fuzzy, gray, impure science of feeling :)

    What I am more interested in is the subtle attacks, sustains, soft parts, parts played down near the bridge for twang factor, stuff played right over the soundhole for maximum mellowness; getting feeling in tone. I've never really concentrated on that side of things, it's usually just play full blast.

    Maturity comes with age? :)

  3. can we just request for a performance of the song :) sloppy or not, i'd just love to have a mp3 (flac?) which i could probably use to playalong. (like the hysteria mp3 you'd put on the blog)

  4. Ha ha, thanks for the vote of support Q :) Don't forget that I put a copy of all my mp3's from youtube videos here: http://jaw.iinet.net.au/jawmunji/mp3/ and there is a "Time" hidden away in it. Not a amazingly good rendition, but probably adequate for your needs.

    What would be great would be for me to record audio only (so I don't have to worry about video) of all my songs, on my nylon string guitar, played to a drum beat so I don't speed up and slow down, and then everyone can do whatever they want with them - sing, play along, incorporate into a duet.

    Oh to have the luxury of time!

    (yok yok)

  5. He SPEAKS! haha I love it. I kinda wish I could trade this southern "drawl" for an Aussie accent. The women in America find it very appealing.

    I think it is a great idea for you to make some money off of the adverts on the pages, and the AddBlockPlus plug in for Firefox removes them all! :) Even if it is only a few cents for every 10 views or so it will add up.

    I had not thought you would get to this so quickly, but I am ever so happy that you did. I think once I get the finger flicking down accurately and deliberately a whole new world of songs will open up for me. It is very different feel than the classical stuff I have been playing. It has this real GROOVE to it. (I've been trying to bring the word "groovy" back into our common vernacular and this song is a perfect example for its use :) ).
    This is a song I would absolutely LOVE to play for an audience. Who doesn't love it, and with this take on it everyone will recognize it instantly. The introductory "drumming" is great and sounds great on a guitar as you have so many different spots to make many different tones or notes.
    I would love to sing and play this. .. Now I'm babbling.. anyway, INFINITE thanks for this. :)
    It's very nice to hear your voice. You are becoming more and more real hehe.
    Well, anyway you have given me a LOT to work on and I will not disappoint you. You can guarantee a few hundred hits from me at least.
    On my list of homework, in between Statics and Thermodynamics is now "time".

    I feel if I say thank you again it will be intolerably redundant, but oh well. Thank You.

  6. I did speak once before http://en.sevenload.com/videos/tujbMg1-Naudos-Losing-My-Religion-lesson-by-JAW - wow, two years ago! Long time between lessons. I need practise at lessons, I kinda feel a bit stupid when I do them, talking to cameras. And I should never attempt to even speak words to a song (I was very very close to chopping that bit out).

    Yep, will see how an ad-based site goes. I don't have high expectations, so anything will be better than nothing :)

    "Groovy" never left did it?

    I think finger flicking needs to be standardised and formalised in fingerstyle :) I don't think the way I do it is "right", but it works reasonably well for me. When you work on it, try hard to keep it minimalised. Naudo has the right balance but he is doing something I can't understand; and there has never been a video where he slowly and clearly shows what he's up to. My method of flicking is something that works okay for me, yours will probably be different. If you look at Kel Valleau, he has a good variant of flicking that brings groove, better than mine I reckon. Sungha and Chapdelaine have a different approach, so does Andy McKee. Adam Rafferty has a good variant. The problem with those guys is they are so amazingly accurate (probably talent + sheer volume of practise) where as I am quite sloppy. I am quite sure the accuracy can be improved by minimising the stroke/extent of the flick, and if you are a pinky anchorer probably more so. Rest strokes too (classical style) will improve accuracy. But mostly, lots and lots of practise (of course!)

    I left out the intro drumming in the vid because there's not much to it. Once you can slap the bass string you are 3/4 of the way there. Hit it with the joint on your thumb in a slapping motion, "bouncing" back off the note after you've struck it. You'll know when you are doing it right. Experiment with tapping the body, there are lots of sounds to be had. I find quick short slightly aggressive taps with the fingertips or side of thumb get the best sound. Try not to excite the strings by hitting the body too hard (and leave some left hand fingers across the strings to help out muting) as 6 open strings resonating is not a pleasant chord (A11 isn't it?)

    Video was good timing. Wanted to get a video onto that site, not ready to record anything else, you had something for me to do :) Unfortunately video and audio got out of sync towards the end and it's stretched from 4:3 to widescreen...but that's okay, its the excuse I need to buy a new webcam with a good lens that supports widescreen. I think I'll record "Here Comes the Sun" for it next week, a very popular video on Youtube. Might have to put in a bit of work on Canon, which I haven't played for a year, that is the #1 most watched video possibly in the entire world.

    Glad it worked out for you!

  7. Interesting video, this arrangement is the best choice for demonstrating some basic elements of your style, which is undeniably influenced by Naudo. I watched the vid and the song stuck in my head for hours, so I had to pick up the guitar and play it. I should definitely learn to flick this way.
    Thumb slapping: I do it just like you, hit a bass string with the knuckle of the thumb. I noticed that Chapdelaine (and Igor) has a whole different technique, I think they hit the strings with every nails. It's not a slap, but a click :) What do they do exactly?

    Something came into my mind as you mentioned body tapping and flicking. I often listen to flamenco music, where these (and a lot of other) techniques spring from. I suppose, from all the guitar styles, it is the most challenging. I watched the film called "Light and shade" about Paco de Lucia, it's fantastic. Highly recommended for every guitar enthusiast.


  8. Well well, the more I watch it the more I begin to believe that i need to find my way into a classical nylon guitar. I have avoided this for no good reasons for a long time (mostly monetary excuses). But I believe that it may be the next big purchase I make. I love my 45 year old Yamaha steel though. It's so mellow. I also tried something the other day, just fooling around. Instead of plugging my removable pickup into the USB guitar cord plugin I did away with the whole pickup entirely and simply plugged a decent microphone into it and played into the mic. The recording came out infinitely better than I expected. Much much better than those old MP3's I used to send you and much less "electricky" (for lack of a better word" than the videos I have posted recently. It gives it back that really acoustic "feel". I have yet to make up my mind.

  9. Definately influenced by Naudo, I had a few flamenco techniques taught to me a long time ago that "helped". Chapdelaine was the inspiration for developing a percussive sound (I was following him before someone pointed out Naudo to me) and if you look at my "California Dreaming" video you can see that I was tapping the strings with my thumb to get that "click" sound you describe. However, it is a horrible technique one that I don't use at all anymore.

    It is horrible because it is fundamentally limiting...okay, some guys can downstroke with the thumb at the same time as downstroking with the fingers, but that is crazy :) The "normal" way to play a bass note and a treble is to thumb downstroke at the same time as finger upstroking - there is a simple physics counterbalance. Being able to thumb click and pluck a note is even further physics crazy, leaving a thumb click as a purely percussive sound, and one that leaves your hand position not ready to do anything. Whereas a finger flick can include melody in addition to the percussive sound, and you aren't that far "out of position". Sure you are are still limited to no bass thumbing (there is no counterbalance against fingers - sure, you could do a whole hand counterbalance and achieve it, but, eh, very uncontrollable) - but if you need a bass note on a flick do it as a hammer on or pulloff on the left hand!

    I'm fairly sure the "clicks" from Igor, Chapdelaine and Sunghas(copied from Chapdelaine) are your three (or four) fingernails hitting strings at the same time but not following through, kinda like resting against the string with an abrupt attack. The sound particularly comes through on steel strings and when amplified. I use it but only when I want a heavily accentuated staccato percussive click, there is very little sustain in it. I turn my wrist in and throw the three fingers very downwards at the strings. A fantastic use of it is Andy McKee "Everybody wants to rule the world".

    You know, it is hard to talk about these things without a guitar in your hand! Sorry if this is all sounding incoherent, these techniques I believe are pivotal to getting Ryans "Groove", and really need to be out there for everyone to absorb. I'm not doing it justice; but really, I'm in an experimental phase myself. I probably should back off a bit, go through flamenco styles again because I agree, most of this stuff comes out of flamenco.

    Again - oh to have the luxury of time yok yok!

  10. Ryan - Classical nylon guitars start really cheap, and surprisingly good sound for money. You don't need to make the change though, you can do everything on a steel that you can on nylon (and vice versa). Why did I go back to classical nylon? I play on nails, I wanted more fretboard width and I believe you can create greater dynamics on nylon than steel. The nails thing was the greatest driver though. I couldn't shake the habit of playing on nails; they wear/break quickly on steel and the sound of nails on steel is too harsh for my liking.

    Microphoning a guitar seems to be "the best" recording sounds you will get, not that I've tried it. Obviously needs to be with a good mic, in fact, good *mics* to catch and blend sounds from different positions. But then you need to have an acoustically good room, you need to sit quite still, and do a lot of experimenting to get the sound you desire. I like the simplicity of a pickup, but it's got to be a good pickup(s). Everything is a compromise.

  11. on the other hand, unlike the 'click sounding thumb tapping technique', flicking requires you to hold the right chord with your left hand.
    With yhis in mind, do you think you could fingerflick through california dreaming?

  12. ...or at least hold the part of the chord you are flicking, or mute with left hand the parts you don't want to hear. Even when un-flicked, neighbouring strings will resonate in sympathy, which is not good if it is a note not in chord you don't want to hear. In the chorus/bridge of Time, there is a chord fragment with the bass note wandering down that I must not play the 4th string, I need to be careful not to let it ring (which I did in that last demo) - practise, care, and not playing full blast! :)

    It's like you are reading my mind. I haven't played California Dreaming for two years because I am disgusted with the technique :) At some stage I will "re-learn" it fingerflick - I did a test several months ago - it will be much better flicked. One of the video responses I received to that video the guy did it flicking, much better! For starters, you can get all the percussive strokes in while still on melody, but the thumb whack you can't.

  13. can you tell me which? there are like 10 x)

    I've just learnt this song and I'm still playing around with the percussion. I whack the strings with all my fingers, and sometimes a finger slips between 2 strings and when I get it out my alaska pick drops off, haha.

    By the way, whereas I feel flicking is more groovy, I think the whacking is more impressive, at least for a non guitarist listener, because they don't expect a guitar to sound that way at all.

  14. wow well you won't believe this. on my way out from my buddy's house i got the door slammed onto my right hand. caught my last knuckle on my middle finger. when i pulled it out it was all but bent sideways (about a 30deg angle) with a gash on the middle almost to the bone. my heart SANK. nothing ran through my mind except my guitar. no pain, no anything except the thought of not picking up my guitar for weeks. tried to go to the after hours clinic but they were closed. ER requires insurance. I'll have to wait until the morning to go to the clinic and get x-rays and such. Man o man. i would rather break my leg. On the bright side, i have been playing everyday for anywhere between 1 - 3 hrs sometimes more. A short break may help as sometimes coming back to a song you haven't played in a long time makes it sound better in a way. i guess your brain never really quits working on it. what a god-da## day.

    Spirits high that its only dislocated and there is no damage to the joint itself. we'll see.

    I'll let you know. :)

  15. Ryan
    I am sorry to hear about your finger. Take care of yourself and try air-guitar for a while ;)

  16. as far as the nylons go i know they are relatively cheap .i may pick up a cheap one just to hack around on. I'm like you in a lot of ways. I hold my entire hand over the strings, hovering them above the sound hole almost perpendicular to the strings.I felt, when I began, that that would help me integrate other motions ore easily since the hand is not confined, constrained, or otherwise mounted on anything. I have tried resting the pinky and it felt so alien. Tried the palm on bridge like i see Jung do and it really felt uncomfortable. To the point where it seemed impossible to do. Perhaps everyone's hands bend and flex a bit differently. I prefer the nail on strings more than anything. they do get eaten up a bit even with my thick nails but i enjoy the distinct sound they make. A wider neck will take some getting used to but the tone of the classical makes up for any negative aspects. I think I'm gonna lose my fingernail on my middle finger but I hope not. got it in a rigged up splint for the night... still all bent up.
    anyway wish me luck :)

  17. Ha! air guitar. my next endeavor. May as well be the best i can be at that for now :)

    Wonder what kind of competition there is in the solo instrumental finger-style air guitar league. :)

  18. I found your post hillarous, Ryan. "my heart SANK. nothing ran through my mind except my guitar." I'm sorry about your finger, though.

    If I were you I'd play with a flat or thumb pick, being able to combine fingerstyle and pick techniques is best :)

  19. I have considered that. And yes I found it funny that i wasn't worried about not being able to write or work. Just play guitar. don't know if that's a good thing.. just a thing. Had you seen it you probably would have thought the same :) I'm sure plenty of us players would have. and yes, combining a flat pick with finger picking intrigues me. somehow combining the best of both worlds without eradicating the unique characteristics and possibilities of both styles would be amazing.
    My brother in law taught me my 1st chord, and i still live with him. About 3 years ago he lost his index, ring and pinky finger on his right hand in a battle with a dado blade on a table saw. instant ground beef. He uses a pick now.. never really gave up. so hell if he can do it then I certainly can't use this as an excuse. ever :) Just wish i had insurance so i would be sure that everything gets set back into its proper place with minimal tissue damage :P

    Good night everyone : ) thanks for the support :)
    Ryan G

  20. Hey Rian,

    sorry to hear about your injury. Did you know that Django Reinhardt had a serious hand burn? His two fingers on the left hand got burnt and became "useless". He didn't give up, but developed a special fretting technique and got back to the top.

    And yes, go for the nylon! I started on steel, but changed to nylon, and it was the best decision. Try a semi-classical one, it has a narrower neck, and the neck joins at the 14th fret to the body. Yamaha, Cort and Taylor makes models like this.

  21. Thank you. I am glad I am not in such dire straits
    The top portion is turning some funky colors now so it's time for that trip to the doctor.

  22. Well, i now have 2 pins sticking out of my middle finger, about a quarter inch long. 6 WEEKS!!!! What will I do? Anyone know any appropriate styles or techniques for that? hehe

  23. So many comments!
    I never use any sort of clicks, I did try it using the technique that I think is the most common, hand almost closed and hitting string with the nails with, all three fingers (IMA) at the same time (I don't mean the edge I mean the top part of the nail). I think Adam Rafferty does that, but many others do. However I don't like it, I even wrote a comment on Adam Rafferty's blog and he seemed to like my comment and agreed with me: what I was saying is that this "backbeat" click always creates the same beat whatever the song. They all sound the same, it becomes too predictable. Whereas remove the backbeat click and the bass becomes more important, giving each song its own flavor (I did not say Adam that the click is bad! Just that I prefer when it's used with parcimonie).

    Ryan G, hope your hand gets better soon.

  24. Whoa - comment overload indeed!

    Ryan - that is a fear of mine, far greater even than breaking a nail! A guy in my circle of work, good original singer/guitar writer, car accident, munted his right hand right up. He developed a new technique of picking with only his thumb, and the music he started coming up with was different but still great.

    Good luck in the recovery, sounds like it's a nasty bang but it will be fine in due course. No severed tendons? I believe it's the severed tendons that cause the most long term damage.

    Roman - yes and no :) Kel Valleau had posted about 4 songs in a row where he used his wrist to put a beat into the songs he was arranging. It's a groovy technique, but like the clicking it sounds repetitive really quickly, and I also told him in as polite a manner as I could.

    I like the percussive sounds, but they can get boring very quickly, so it should never be a primary effect. Take Andy Mckee in this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzWuP5hINNo it's non-stop click the whole way through, but I really like it. And because it's "non-traditional" you can engage an audience; just mix it up with all the styles you have.

    I'm still at the stage where I find just "classical style" fingerpicking a bit tedious and that all sounds the same. No doubt I'll return to that style in the never ending cycle of interest though.

    L3fty - I did the narrow neck "crossover" nylon string, and I was happy for a year, but eventually found the narrow neck too limiting, and the unplugged smaller body didn't have enough "oomphf" for my primarily unplugged playing. I've got reasonably long fingers so the wide neck is okay for me.


  25. About Andy McKee's song, there's no doubt that the arrangement is good, but again, the click sound to me is like turning on a drum machine that would have only one beat available (and only the snare drum sound).
    What I find really "groovy" and full of surprises is the type of rhythm Naudo uses in his arrangements for "I Will Survive", and a few more, and it doesn't come from the bass there but the syncopated and constant funky strumming/flicking. But I'm aware that it's just Naudo who does that, and in fact it takes its roots in Brazilian music, even though is is applied to pop.
    As for a pure classical style, I agree, I find that boring too, although I respect and it also takes great skill, but when playing pop music there's definitely something more to expect.

    Jaw, haven't you improved you right hand position? (I noticed that in the video). It seems that it used to be kind of bended (an angle between the forearm and the hand), when now it goes in the continuity of the forearm, I know it happened to me, anyway whether you see that as an improvement or not (I definitely think it is), it stems from the position of the forearm itself, starting from the elbow, I'd say that having the elbow farther on the right, and a bit lower, makes the forearm-hand more aligned (I mean no angle, hard to describe!!).

  26. I agree with your comments on Naudo, I guess that's why we all follow him...looks like the clicking is going to have to remain subjective, and you might have to persist through a few songs I will do that are "clicky" :)

    Right hand? I might have brought it in a bit, it's obviously an easier angle to pick from and I think it offers a bit of extra stability. The problem is that the attack angle on the nails goes from being almost vertical to heading off to one side, which doesn't (yet) feel right to me. When you hold a guitar in the classical position on left leg the neck is pointing right up, and you easily get a nice picking angle. When I "got all cool" holding the guitar on the right leg, I turned my wrist in to achieve the same picking angle. It's been a long, long while for me to change that angle, and although I see a lot of other great guitarists with the low/straight angle (including Naudo) I struggle to do it. In fact, I hadn't noticed I was straightening my position out...funny how these things sneak up on you :)

  27. Allow me to apologize for flooding this post the other day. Chalk it up to pain pills and stress :) mostly those damn pills.

    I think I will use this opportunity to delve into the theory behind all of this. If I can't play it I may as well UNDERSTAND it :) .

    Thank you for your kind words and comments.

  28. No worries, it showed the anxiety and incredulity you were experiencing :) Yep, anything that happens that has the potential to rob us of guitar playing is a grave concern!

    In 6 weeks, when you are totally healed and playing guitar better than ever because you learnt a heap of theory, write up a retelling and send it to me for posting. It's always good to hear a success story!

  29. Hey, been a while since we heard from yah. Everything good?
    I found a great site about theory for experienced guitar players. I try to look at it everyday at least a little. I am taking notes and trying to come up with a very short essay or document that includes most of the not so obvious points. One thing I am noticing, however, is the seemingly pointless ambiguity when it comes to giving proper names to chords. Also, I'm happy to say that I can name the note of each fret on each string now. (And i feel like an idiot for not knowing this before, after seeing how easy and obvious it should have been. I always kinda figured there was an easy pattern or order to all of it but can it really be that simple?) That was the easy part, however. Now I'm looking at the augmented and suspended and 7ths and all that. School is first though... anyway..
    The doctor says everything is looking good and the rods will come out on the 21st. I obviously can't wait. ... Your lesson on "Time" is taunting me every time I open my bookmark tab.

  30. All good here Ryan, so only a few weeks left eh? Good to see you are making use of this time for some theory. Send a link to that website, I can't name all the notes on the fretboard! :)

  31. hi - Indeed your tabs are impressive. I only have 1 suggestion which could make them even better :-)
    I would suggest you also mention the chords in them - that way it's easier finding finger positions.

  32. Thanks - probably half my tabs have the chords, sometimes I forget. I often forget the key signature too :) You are right however, just seeing a string of notes to program into your brain isn't all that useful for someone who already has a good understanding of playing the guitar.