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  #1  
Old 11-01-2008, 10:08 PM
Broadus Broadus is offline
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Default Difference between classical and fingerstyle guitar playing?

This has to seem like a dumb question, but what is the fundamental difference between playing classical and playing fingerstyle? Classical is played fingerstyle, but usually fingerstyle is thought of as playing more popular pieces. Maybe classical is more high-brow and fingerstyle is low-brow.

The reason I ask is that I really want to learn to play fingerstyle and understand what I'm doing, and in looking at instructional material I came across Mel Bay's Modern Classical Guitar Method by Stanley Yates. It seems as though learning this material would be very helpful to learning fingerstyle, or am I way off base?

Bill
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Old 11-01-2008, 10:16 PM
rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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I have played classical and fingerstyle for many years. IMO in short, without going into details of where there are differences, there is a lot of overlap. The main factor is the feel of the guitar themselves, classical versus steel string. Learning one will help with the other.
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Old 11-01-2008, 10:40 PM
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This is one of those confusing terms, where the word for a technique has come to mean a musical style. We have much the same situation with "flatpicking" where if you take it literally, then anyone who plays with a flat pick (rock players, jazz players, etc) would be flatpicking. But instead it usually means a specific style of music, that you sort of know when you hear it. "Fingerstyle" usually means playing on a steel string guitar, and there's a tendency to use or at least accept alternate tunings (by no means universal), and to play one's own compositions (again, not at all universal). Fingerstyle is often thought of as being influenced by folk music, pop music, and often gets labeled "new age" because of some of the Windham Hill pioneers in "fingerstyle". To make it more confusing, there are "fingerpickers" who vehemently resist the name "fingerstyle", even tho they share a lot in common, tho "fingerpickers" usually fall more into the Chet Atkins camp, or country blues, or... And of course, you have "fingerstyle" players like Muriel Anderson, who mostly plays a classical guitar, and steel string players like Peppino d'Agostino, and Peter Finger who sometimes play classical on a steel string. Or Michael Chapdelaine, a classical guitar professor, who most often plays on a steel string, and might play Bach one minute and Hang On Sloopy the next.

The main thing is, as Rick said, the techniques are very similar, with the classical approach tending to be a little more organized and methodical, so learn from both, and play what you like!
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  #4  
Old 11-02-2008, 12:48 AM
mmmaak mmmaak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
Difference between classical and fingerstyle guitar playing?
I think classical IS a form of fingerstyle playing.

....at least, by my own definitions
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  #5  
Old 11-02-2008, 02:30 AM
nikpearson nikpearson is offline
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Default As mentioned earlier...

there's a huge overlap in technique between steel-string fingerstyle and classical playing. I've certainly noticed an improvement in my technique and finger independence since taking up classical guitar study 5 years ago.

For me classical guitar requires good nails to get a good sound. I also play steel-string with nails but I've heard many players who don't and still get a great sound out of their instruments.

Classical method tends to be more strict and rigorous - probably why I find it so tricky - but does encourage good hand position and finger independence. In addition some of the classical repertoire is truly beautiful.

My suggestion: try both
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:40 AM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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If you do all the things that a good classical-guitar player does to draw a great tone from nylon strings and apply that to steel strings you will get a very good tone. You'll also be at it for years trying to develop that kind of technique. By comparison, the nylon strings are more challenging technique-wise so the classical guys have found that a certain relatively narrow range of right-hand techniques are needed to play their music on a classical guitar.

So studying a classical guitar method will work in the sense of you can end up playing steel strings beautifully. But there is also a range of techniques that no classical-guitar player would consider using that work great on steel strings, depending of course on what kind of musical expression you want to produce. I don't know how good Etta Baker of Tommy Emmanual would sound playing a classical guitar, for example.

For me, the "natural" way to play the guitar when I first picked it up looked a lot like classical technique. So that's what I'm sticking with (although I'd love to learn some of the style that uses palm damping and a heavy thumb for rhythmic effect one of these days). In fact we're making use of a classical method book in my lessons. But it may be that particular style doesn't come naturally to you and I wouldn't necessarily force it on yourself in the assumption it is automatically better in any way.
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Old 11-02-2008, 03:21 AM
Matt Mustapick Matt Mustapick is offline
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Classical technique incorporates palm-damping as well, but they call it pizzicato, and it distinguishes between several ways of using the thumb on the strings for various tonal effects.

As I see it, classical guitarists have been fingerpicking for centuries and the very best of them, like Roland Dyens, have figured it out pretty well, not that Tommy Emmanual hasn't also, that's for sure!
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Old 11-02-2008, 04:37 AM
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Besides the differences in guitars that require differences in technique to exploit, classical has an entirely different philosophical and mindset approach to guitar from that of steel-string fingerstyle. For example, a classical player typically rarely thinks in terms of chords, thinking instead of individual strings, where a fingerstylist often does.

Bob
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Old 11-02-2008, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
For example, a classical player typically rarely thinks in terms of chords, thinking instead of individual strings, where a fingerstylist often does.

Bob

I agree. That may be because many fingerstylists first began learning from a chord based scheme, where classical training starts with notes I suppose. I don't think in terms of chords anymore while learning a tab, but about 50% of the time my own composing starts off based on a chord/triad
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:05 PM
shawlie shawlie is offline
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I'm hardly an expert, I'll admit. But I do love fingerstyle and have occasionally tried out some of the "classical" techniques. I also know a man who has taken many years of classical lessons, and a girl who is just learning and following a classical-type instruction.

Several things come to mind as being very different. But I'm sure there are more classical players here who can better describe and clarify my observations (and possibly correct any errors I make).

With classical music, hand positon (both left and right) seem to be stessed a lot. Both the man and girl I know, will not "hook" their fretting-hand thumb to play the sixth (or fifth string). They will not rest their pinky/third finger of their playing hand on the guitar. They also use their first, second and third fingers w/ thumb to pick (even when you could play the whole song with just your first or first/second finger and thumb - like an easier song).

"Non-educated" (for lack of a better term) players, don't seem to have a collection of techniques that are considered mandatory. Hook the thumb (Ritchie Havens is a very good example of the extreme), rest the fingers on the soundboard, play with as many (or few) fingers as you think is good. Lasse Johansson writes in one of his books that he sometimes will fret two notes on adjacent strings with one finger - by placing the finger in between the two strings. Never really tried it that much (but on a really narrow neck it seems like a good option - you'd have to have awful fat fingers to do that on a classical, though...). Seems more like you can do what comes natural, and just develop your own technique with practice.

I'd find it to be a bit of a dilema to choose one way or the other. If I had to do it again, my lack of patience would still sway towards the more casual approach to playing.

But with a good classical background, you'd have a pretty solid start on most styles of fingerstyle playing, I think.
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  #11  
Old 11-02-2008, 02:05 PM
Kabalan Kabalan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBman View Post
I agree. That may be because many fingerstylists first began learning from a chord based scheme, where classical training starts with notes I suppose. I don't think in terms of chords anymore while learning a tab, but about 50% of the time my own composing starts off based on a chord/triad
hi
i play both instruments, but my training is in classical, then music from india
that is right, i compose my music thinking in the rhythm, melodic motives,
develop of the subjects etc, etc,, then comes the harmony, at the least.
Eblen
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