Increasing the speed of a lick

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BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
I’m trying to learn Parisienne Walkways and I’m learning that fast lick. It’s much faster than anything I’ve ever played but I’m enjoying the challenge. 

After a couple of days of practicing it super slow - probably around 40% of actual speed - I’ve got it in my fingers. 

In order to eventually get it up to performance speed, is it best to just keep ramping it up gradually - say 5/10% a day and just try and get it that little bit faster every day? Or stick with it at a comfortable speed for a while then try and ramp it up much quicker?
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 82
    I think contemporary advice is that beyond a certain point, you'll probably need to jump up. Picking technique isn't necessarily the same technique at fast and at slow speeds.

    Using speed bursts can be useful. 
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Matt_McG said:
    I think contemporary advice is that beyond a certain point, you'll probably need to jump up. Picking technique isn't necessarily the same technique at fast and at slow speeds.

    Using speed bursts can be useful. 
    Yeah. I ramped it up to 60% last night and although I could physically move my fingers fast enough it was a bit sloppy so I think I’ll aim for 5/10% increments until I can do it cleanly at each new speed. 
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  • NeillNeill Frets: 372
    BRISTOL86 said:
    I’m trying to learn Parisienne Walkways and I’m learning that fast lick. It’s much faster than anything I’ve ever played but I’m enjoying the challenge. 

    After a couple of days of practicing it super slow - probably around 40% of actual speed - I’ve got it in my fingers. 

    In order to eventually get it up to performance speed, is it best to just keep ramping it up gradually - say 5/10% a day and just try and get it that little bit faster every day? Or stick with it at a comfortable speed for a while then try and ramp it up much quicker?
    Traditionally that's always been the way, but modern thinking seems to be you will never get these fast runs down until you develop a fast alternate picking technique which means just practicing fast up and down picking on one note.  

    However, there's no doubt in my mind that the technique of say a Tommy Emmanuel or Guthrie Govan is God given - I could practice for a thousand years and I'd never be able to play like that.  

    I don't know if other people find this, but before modern technology came along, and gave us the facility to be able to slow music down without lowering pitch, we had to learn riffs and licks in "real time".  I've found that if I can hear the notes in real time I can usually play them, if the notes are too fast for me to make out I know I can't play it. 
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Good point re the alternate picking speed. I feel most of the bottleneck with me is actually picking hand rather than fretting hand. 

    I am having lessons now but started out on my own and shied away from using a pick as I started out on acoustic, finger picking - my picking technique is definitely lagging behind my fretting 
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11759
    Also worth noting - when you make the jump, the key is often not to try to make it faster, but to relax and let your wrist/fingers do the work. Tension will always slow you down here.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Also worth noting - when you make the jump, the key is often not to try to make it faster, but to relax and let your wrist/fingers do the work. Tension will always slow you down here.
    Yeah tension is definitely an issue for me that I’m working on!
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8898
    You might wish to try what I call the push & relax technique. If you can play comfortably at n bpm, then try pushing yourself to n+4 bpm. If that works, at a pinch, then play it a few times at n+4 bpm, then relax and play it at n+2 bpm. Today, you have increaded your speed by 2bpm, and you can begin again tomorrow by setting n = n+2.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 82
    Classical guitar players using speed bursts -- Scott Tennant's book Pumping Nylon is pretty good on this -- would play a piece at N bpm and then drop a bar in where they double-timed it. And played it at 2N bpm. It might start sloppy, but you'd be surprised. 

    For me, when I worked on the Troy Grady stuff, I quickly discovered that I could physically move my hands fast enough, and I could play fast enough if I was just doing, say, a three note lick on one string. My issue was with being sloppy at memorising things and getting the phrasing right, in chunks, and then speeding up. Working with very small chunked phrases helps.
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 746
    edited January 25
    I'm pretty sure most of it is hammer-ons and pull offs.

    I used to play this song in a band years back. I must admit I made up my own version of the fast lick. It's not so much the speed that's an issue to me, but I struggle with the exact phrasing/timing of that particular lick. Perhaps I'll give it another go. 

    I alternate between going over things slowly to get the notes into my head, but I'll also push for attempts at max speed. As has been said previously, "technique isn't necessarily the same technique at fast and at slow speeds".

    When I think I've got a fast lick, I'll record myself. If I think it's sounding messy at speed, I'll go over it at slow speed. So it's to and fro between fast and slow.

    It's not a competition.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4865
    I’m not sure which bit you mean? We play that song and I can’t place which bit you refer to
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  • JAYJOJAYJO Frets: 808
    My take. if you give someone a ball and a pair of boots and tell them to train hard every day they still wont be able to match Ronaldo, or players who are far less talented than him.
    But they can enjoy the training (as you are) and the game they love to play. im not saying you cant polish a turd as its something i havent tried (probably a guitar book on it somewhere). I would say play that part differently (your way) you will still be learning a lot and you can move forward.
    just my tuppence mate good luck and hope you get there.
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  • viz said:
    I’m not sure which bit you mean? We play that song and I can’t place which bit you refer to


    I think it's this bit. This guy does a very good job. But I still hear it slightly different.



    It's not a competition.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Thanks all, very helpful stuff as always :)

    @stratman3142 yes that’s the one I mean, it’s about 1m20 into the song if I remember rightly 
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 746
    edited January 25
    How are people playing this? This is my take on it. Any other thoughts?


    ...and assuming that's remotely close, I find it easier to think of it in three chunks below



    It's some way to go before I'm happy with it, and I still can't work out the timing to give the rhythmic notation. It's a case of go for it and try to target the timing of the end note.

    It's not a competition.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    How are people playing this? This is my take on it. Any other thoughts?


    ...and assuming that's remotely close, I find it easier to think of it in three chunks below



    It's some way to go before I'm happy with it, and I still can't work out the timing to give the rhythmic notation. It's a case of go for it and try to target the timing of the end note.

    Very very similar to the tab i've been given by my tutor.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1946
    With a lot of these fast runs it comes down to the player’s mannerisms. Gary Moore played it that way because that’s the way his fingers worked when he let them loose on a phrase. What the audience heard was the emotion which was behind his playing. You can train yourself to get close to Gary’s timing and emphasis, but what’s more exciting for an audience is that you use your own mannerisms, and let your fingers do something which conveys your own emotion.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4865
    Ah ok cheers. I think he plays that bit differently every time. I’d consider it as a generic clatter down the stairs of a minor penta. I’ve never actually even thought of it as a precise phrase - never even noticed it actually - and I’ve played the song hundreds of times! Oops. 
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  • Roland said:
    With a lot of these fast runs it comes down to the player’s mannerisms. Gary Moore played it that way because that’s the way his fingers worked when he let them loose on a phrase. What the audience heard was the emotion which was behind his playing. You can train yourself to get close to Gary’s timing and emphasis, but what’s more exciting for an audience is that you use your own mannerisms, and let your fingers do something which conveys your own emotion.
    I agree.

    And like @viz I didn't previously think of it as a precise phrase, so I made up my own version. Still it was interesting trying to work out what I think he played. But live I'd play safe and go with something that falls more naturally under my fingers and the way I play.
    It's not a competition.
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5432

    there is a misconception about tension in the guitar community - any time the muscles are doing work that they are not used to there will be tension.  Guitarists have to recognize where tension is being helpful and where it isn't being helpful.  Just like any athletic performance, tension is needed to activate the muscles needed for the fast performance.  If you feel some tension just don't stop, unless you are feeling pain.  It's likely helpful tension, much like a weightlifter pushing himself in the gym.  Once you get used to it you will notice an increase in your speed, finger independence and so on.

    Now, as far as that lick, as others have said, just make up your own fast legato type version of it.  if you want to kind of try to get it right try to hit the same first note on every beat that Gary does. 

    For example - if he plays a C on the first beat you play a C, then if he plays a G on the second beat,  you play a G etc.  You can fill the the rest of the notes as you see fit. 


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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Thanks all. Ultimately I’m not fussed about a note for note transcription of this particular lick, it was more the broader question about the correct approach to inreasing speed.

    I’ve seen a lot of people saying about playing something incredibly slowly for a long period (ie everyday for 30 days) but not sure how realistic that is, as has been said, the technique just seems very different at such extreme opposites of speed that I figure it may be best to just try and master it at one tempo then gradually increase. 
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5432
    BRISTOL86 said:

    I’ve seen a lot of people saying about playing something incredibly slowly for a long period (ie everyday for 30 days) but not sure how realistic that is, as has been said, the technique just seems very different at such extreme opposites of speed that I figure it may be best to just try and master it at one tempo then gradually increase. 

    You're right - the talk of playing something slow and gradually speeding it up is a waste of time.  As you say, slow technique is completely different to fast technique. 

    The advice would be to play it at a medium to fast tempo, don't worry if it's sloppy, you can always clean it up.  Just get the fingering and feel of the lick down and then clean it up. 


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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1946

    You're right - the talk of playing something slow and gradually speeding it up is a waste of time.  As you say, slow technique is completely different to fast technique. 

    Not quite. You have to take it slow to engage muscle memory for the finger positions. After that I agree with you. Play at a decent speed, and just be careful not to introduce any sloppy habits.
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 746
    edited January 29
    I decided to do a real world experiment to answer your question.

    I've done a bit more work on it and found a version that works for me that has some slight differences from my previous post. I'm still not 100% sure whether it's exactly what Gary Moore plays on the album version. but it sounds similar to my ear.

    To get it up to speed I chose to break it down into three chunks. If anyone else has other ideas it would be good to hear them.


    In answer to your question about getting it up to speed:

    I worked on each chunk separately, playing it slowly to get it into my head. Then attempting full speed. When it fell over, I went back to slower speed. Although it's largely hammer-ons and pull-offs, I had to think about the direction of the pick strokes in a way that worked for me and get that into my head. I've indicated the pick strokes in the tab above. It's just what works for me and maybe not for everyone.

    Once I'd got each section, I then attempted the whole thing, going to and fro between slow and full speed. I also recorded myself playing it. I'd also go back to the individual chunks if that was where it started to fall over.

    I've worked on it over a period of three days, taking long breaks. The hardest bit I found was to getting it into my head and I still haven't got the exact phrasing sorted out, which is pretty alien to the way I play. Below is a clip of where I am right now. There's the full lick, then I play the three separate chunks at slower speed. At least if you listen to this and think it sounds shit, you'll know that I have no credibility and you shouldn't listen to my opinion . Feel free to throw stones.

    It's not a competition.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    That's awesome mate, way faster than I can currently play it haha.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4865
  • richhrichh Frets: 307
    A very long time ago I played in a band and we did a couple of Gary Moore songs, and in both there were some very fast alternate picked bits in solos, that I could never get near, especially live.  On a good day at home I maybe got close, but that went out the window in the heat of the moment.  I did nail the slower passages, and these bits, building up to a frenzy at the end of a solo, I winged it using pulls off / hammer ons, and looking back, it was fine. Though it always frustrated me TBH.

    So don't forget the most important thing when you reach the fast bits - make sure that you correctly adopt the rock stance, gurn properly and generally look as if you're going through a particularly troublesome exorcism.  That'll go down a treat with the punters, even if you monumentally fuck up the actual solo.
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  • Dan_HalenDan_Halen Frets: 54
    Metronome I'm afraid. Drop it to 50% tempo or wherever it's utterly faultless and play it 5 times right. Up the metronome 2bpm, do it again 5 times, up it 2bpm and so on. When you balls it up, back down 2bpm. It's boring but it works.

    If you find any bits are just not sitting quite right there's probably a hammer or a pick stroke in the opposite direction so, if you see a chance to be more efficient, that's the name of the game.

    If you get one tricky lick like that really nailed you can use it all over the place, take bits of it and make your own licks etc from it, drop it in other songs. If you hit a roadblock like this, it's so worth putting in the time to overcome it because that's what pushes you as a player - not just learning more stuff in your comfort zone.


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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    Yeah I’m just going to try and gradually increase it over time. It’s great trying to move outside of your comfort zone ... I hate not being able to do something that I want to be able to do ... so it’s a powerful motivator!
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 746
    edited January 29
    I think the approach might depend on where you are in developing your motor skills (if that's the right word). If you're developing speed/fluency in areas such as picking, hammers-ons/pull-offs, legato etc. then maybe working up slowly is a good approach.

    Then having developed the basic 'motor skill' (or muscle memory) it's possible to reuse use it, even for a different phrase (which I think connects back to what @Dan_Halen said). However, having developed a motor skill, the problem for a new lick then becomes more about getting it into your head, which is where the 'chunking' approach works for me.

    I have to say though, trying to force through a barrier and learning how it 'feels' to play fast is part of the process of building the speed for me. Although, I'm not a fast player by modern standards.

    Maybe different things work for different players.

    Incidentally I listed hammer-ons/pull-offs and legato separately earlier because to me they're slightly different things. I see hammer-ons/pull-offs combined with fast picking as something that Gary Moore does (e.g. on this lick). Whereas, legato is more akin to what Holdsworth or Tom Quayle do, so it's a related discipline but not exactly the same with regard to practice. Perhaps a gross oversimplification might be to say that Hammer-ons/pull-offs are more 'thumb over'. But it's a shades of grey thing and many players (e.g. EVH) sit somewhere in the middle.

    It's not a competition.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1434
    @stratman3142 are you using your pinky at all for this lick? I've been using primarily fingers 1-3 but my stretch between 1 and 3 is just a bit too small and I think this is where some of the bottleneck is for me. I'm also quite a 'thumby' player (i.e. over the top) and I notice I can be faster with a strict thumb at the back policy - but it's very alien to me..

    I notice the guy in the Youtube video is keeping his thumb high and not using his pinky so I guess there's no excuse for me really :)
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