Bridget Mermikides introduces the second part of a four-part video masterclass from the brilliant Carlos Bonell on classical guitar technique.
Carlos Bonell continues his exclusive masterclass on classical guitar technique.
rest stroke and free stroke because it will enable you to produce a difference of touch and accentuation. The rest stroke, being a heavier stroke, is perfect for playing single-line melodies and also for producing the accent and the rhythmic shape. So, for example, playing a simple repeated open-E first string in 3/4 time, the first beat of each bar can be emphasised or accented by using a rest stroke (see Example 1).
Next, Carlos plays a Bach Minuet in order to demonstrate how rest and free stroke are combined when playing a simple single-note melody. Rest stroke is used to slightly emphasise the first beats of the bars, while the remainder is played free stroke (see Example 2). Switching from free stroke to rest stroke on a singlenote melody is a common way of building tone and creating a crescendo through a phrase.
Then Carlos talks about free-stroke chord playing. When picking a four-note chord with the thumb and three fingers, it is important to work on producing a balanced and even sound between all the notes. This can be done using a C major chord, and by aiming to create an equal pressure with the fingertips on each note (Example 3).
Example 4 and 5 demonstrate the angling of the plucking fingernails against the strings to create subtlely different tones and inflections. See Technique Focus for a more detailed description of how this works.
To develop more individual finger control
The rest stroke, being a heavier stroke, is perfect for playing single-line melodies and also for producing the accent and the rhythmic shape.
when playing free stroke, Carlos returns to our C major arpeggio and recommends you repeat it until you have each note equal in tone and volume. Make sure you don’t gloss over this as, with all classical guitar techniques, the devil is in the detail. Then, once you have each note perfectly even in tone and volume, you can begin to emphasise or accent each digit individually, as shown in Example 6. This is a great exercise in dynamic control and expression, using subtle shifts in picking volume and tone. Again, devote adequate time to this example.
Finally, Carlos explains and demonstrates that in order to achieve the best possible tone from playing free stroke, it’s best to think of the pluck as ‘pushing’ rather than attacking the string. Have fun!
Carlos Bonell: this month it’s all about plucking dynamics