Recuerdos de la Alhambra - Improving my Tremolo!

My goal for 2021-2022 is to finally get to the bottom of tremolo! I have been struggling with the traditional pami-tremolo since my second guitar teacher told me at the age of 12:

"You have to go to this masterclass and learn Recuerdos de la Alhambra"

So I did, I went there, learned it 🤡

Just kidding, of course not! Nobody bothered to teach me the basic fundamentals of that technique, and after some years I gave up on the pami and figured that pmia just works better for me. But it was never this warm, well-rounded constant flow of notes, there was always a certain hiccup! So this is why I want to hold myself accountable in front of everybody and share my progress! 🧙‍♂️

I'll attach the current state of Recuerdos withing the next days! I intend to have a slow but well executed tremolo for the first tonebase community concert! 🚀

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  • October 26, 2021: So here is my very first entry of my personal practice diary! I am sharing my current state of the traditional pami-tremolo with Recuerdos de la Alhambra! 💃

    I was inspired to do that after our Interactive Masterclass with Raffael Aguirre which opened my eyes! I am talking a little bit about that in the end of my video, but my key learning has been: 

    I always talk about relaxation, yet I don't apply my key pillar of guitar technique to the technique of tremolo! I need to find a way to micro-relax after each stroke of the tremolo in order to get the smoothest, warmest tremolo there has ever been!

    Nothing less is my goal! Excited to share my journey with you! What's your destination? Share it and create your very own practice diary (or more, if you have several pieces you are currently working and want to share!)

    Don't mind me tagging some peeps of the Tarrega Challenge :) 

    Blaise Laflamme Eric Phillips joosje Emma Khiem Nguyen Barney Daniel Beltrán Jaime Zaldua Gokce Turkmendag Debbie Paul Kennedy Olalla Didier Dennis Greensmith Vilio Celli don Derek Bill Young

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    • Martin your tremolo is already great, so by the concert it would be just awesome 😍... personally I prefer when a tremolo piece like Recuerdos or Una limosnita is played slower than faster, or super fast... at some point it sounds more like a submachine gun 😮.

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      Blaise Laflamme Thanks a lot! Question is: Will we hear your Koshkin #10 or something else? 😈

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    • Martin I definitely want to play something for the concert, could be Koshkin or something else I want to play for a moment... I'm waiting to have more detail on this challenge like will it be pre-recorded or like a livestream on Zoom...

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      Blaise Laflamme I'll explain all the details in the Kick-Off next Monday, will add the event to the calendar now!

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    • Martin sounds good!

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      • don
      • don.2
      • 6 mths ago
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      Martin this is already very good. Can't wait to hear your end results!

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    • Martin Martin I've been working on my tremolo for a while now after watching Stephanie Jones' video on Tonebase. It's improved a lot but if I could get it to your current standard within a couple of years I'd be very happy. I struggle with hammer ons and pull offs so I like how you play them.

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    • Martin I finally got around to listening to this. For someone who is not a "tremolo guy" you sure have a beautiful tremolo! I honestly don't know how it could sound any better, but I am very certain you will somehow make it happen.

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      Blaise Laflamme Thank you!!!

      don Awesome, great! Looking forward to your updates in your Practice Diary!!

      Derek I need to watch that as well! I am happy to report that Stephanie will be a Livestream Guest on Dec 17! I gladly go into deeper details of the trill parts, oddly enough they came very naturally for me. Maybe I just do them wrong and nobody recognizes because it's just tremolo-fast? haha 🙈

      Eric Phillips I'll give my very best!

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    • Martin this is already such a clean and clear tremolo! Great to see that you take your time instead of rushing ahead, as we all tend to do. I sooo wish I could witness the concert, sadly I’m not able to join either on November 20 nor December 4. I am considering  openening a practice diary though. It will be very useful for me but I’m in the process of deciding my (short time/ mid time) goals.  

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    • Martin I've been off forums for a bit but just came back and so exciting to see this new feature and I enjoyed your video above for Recuerdos (the recent interactive livestream on this was awesome!).  I will definitely sign-up for the community concert and start a practice diary for my piece next week after kick-off. 

      I know exactly the piece I want to work on for the concert and I think I finally have learned enough to tackle it: Bach Cello Suite #1 Prelude.  I've watched the great tonebase video on this from Sanel (some great practice tips in his video as well).  Trying to decide which transcription to use to start, but I'm leaning towards Koonce based on the ones I've listened to.  Excited for the new challenge!

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      joosje Oh my, thank you 😊It will still be a long process, but over the years I've learned to trust my process! I would LOVE to  follow your practice diary, even if you won't be able to make it. The Practice Diaries are here to stay and we plan to make the community concerts a regular thing to offer a virtual stage for everybody to share their love for music and simultaneously work on their stage skills!

      Brett Gilbert Thanks a lot! I had fun making my first entry in my diary with many more to follow! The Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 was one the first pieces I truly fell in love with, it's a great choice to work on (and Bach is always great for the upcoming winter season). But don't underestimate the rush a virtual concert can give you, 4 weeks might be a short time to prepare that piece for a concert! While I still would love to follow your practice diary for Bach, you might consider a piece you are already familiar with!

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    • Martin I just visited this practice diary for first time  (I'm late...).  Wow, your tremolo is sounding very good already.  I like your approach to improve its quality using multiple approaches.  I know this is very tough and requires disciple and time.  My tremolo is not great, and one of these days I will also commit to working on it diligently, thanks to your inspiration.  I look forward to hearing your beautiful, even flowing tremolo later on.  

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  • Looking forward to hear this piece in the concert! It sounds very good already …. Thank you!!!

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      Emma Thank you!!! Tremolo has been my nemesis (I've played Ponce Sonata #3 in an exam and I absolutely freaked out about the 3rd movement with the tremolo on the 3rd string)! What will we hear from you, Emma? 🥳💃🚀

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    • Martin at the moment I am learning the Bach Gavotte I and II. I watched the course by Emmanuelle and have started practicing it 2 days ago. It is technically approachable for my level I think, and Bach is always a challenge. I have never problems with the musicality of the romantic pieces but baroque is another matter. I had a teacher who told once me that I played it as if it was Tarrega… Also I try to improve my tone and the thrills with 2 strings are new. I will be in Spain at the time of the concert with my guitar there that is worse, but it doesn’t matter that much. And this is a great opportunity to fight a bit my stage fright. Do you think it is a good idea? 

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      Emma That sounds absolutely fantastic!!! Finding that clean and transparent emotion that is so different to the romantic repertoire is a true challenge in itself but perfect for the upcoming snowy season!!

      I think it is an brilliant idea! You can simply open your own thread as your own practice diary! 🚀

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  • I have found that the concert will the 4th of december...I am not going to be able to participate. But I could do any way a practice diary with recuerdos....oder?

    Nora

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  • Hi all,

    hear my first practice day (well I am working it since march 21 !!!).

    I meant 2.11 and not 2.12.

    Hasta luego

    Nora

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    • Nora Torres-Nagel HI Nora. It says the video is unavailable. Maybe you have to change it from "private" in YouTube?

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  • OH ! OK thanks  Eric I will look!

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  • and now? it was private yes.... I did not want it....

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      Nora Torres-Nagel I took the liberty and opened your very own Practice Diary! Let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like any changes, happy to help you and excited to follow your progress! 

      You know, I really always felt that Recuerdos was out of my reach, not because it is crazy difficult but just because of the Tremolo. Rafa's workshop really inspired my to get back to work with my pami!

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    • Martin Thank you very much Martin , I did not know how to do it . Now I unserstand that this is yours private and each participant will have a private space also . I continue talking to you in my personal space. Thanks !!!

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      Nora Torres-Nagel Wonderful, happy that you joined and I will happily follow along! 🥳

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  • And finally my next Practice Update #2

    I was very busy which is why I hesitated to update without actually practicing something, but know I finally managed to play through (without the first repetition though) the whole piece without my arm falling of because of excessive tension in the upper right arm! Let me know what you think! 🥳🤶

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    • Martin So beautiful! Great hand control. I really prefer Recuerdos at a slower tempo like this.

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      Eric Phillips thank you!!! ♥ I'd like to have it just a bit faster. But definitely less clicky and a bit more direction when the music tends to stand. There's not much of an overarching phrasing yet that makes it really cohesive, I'm still fighting a lot of small uphill battles with that piece!

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    • Martin it is a big improvement Martin, althought you had a very clear sound already the first time. Your melody is very clear and bright, also no galloping...and I do not note tensions neither and nice nuances appear . I have heard somewhere nails...but only in one part (very jealous of your nails!!!)! But you were practicing during this time???!!!! weren't you???? Thank you for sharing!

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      Nora Torres-Nagel Thank you so much!!! 💃I did practice a bit, not too much,though, definitely less than I would like to! 🤧😪

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    • Martin Great!!! My practice is not soooo efective....unfortunately...🤨

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    • Martin That was beautiful Martin. I have steered clear of the tremolo ever since my rather pathetic attempts many years (decades!) ago.

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  • Wow! I really love your trills (slurs). They are executed so gracefully and beautifully! I also like the contrast of color when you enter the A-major section, playing more sul tasto. Your right hand does look more relax compared to the first video during the whole piece. You rock it Martin. :)

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      Khiem Nguyen thank you so much ♥️🙌 playing this trills might be my favourite part, because they break up the tremolo pattern and I can relax my hand a bit! 😅 

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    • Martin ok, I see it Martin. You have great left hand. The speed of your hammer on is lightning fast and precise. It could be due to that you warm up regularly with the hammer on, pull off exercise, do you agree with me or what do you think? :) I wish I had such gracefull trills like you possess. I need to improve my left hand a lot, as well as my right hand. :)

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      Khiem Nguyen Haha, thank you!! 🌩It has definitely to do with my slur routine, but coordinating the tremolo in this part (I only play a-m when I trill, like Rafael!) took me quite some time!

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    • Martin great to hear that Martin. :) I will incorporate the slur as a routine :)

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  • Beautiful…. Forget the tremolo, the melody with your thumb is beautiful. Is is never missed and goes up and down , beautiful. That movement you do with the thumb is super hard for me, moving the first phalanx , I have to train it again it makes the melody shine. Good you mentioned the mistakes at the end because I did not notice, and I am learning to be a baker ;)

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    • Emma the thumb of Martin is really amazing! I cannot do that neither....!

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  • Finally sharing the next progress update with you! I am currently focusing on getting the relaxation between the individual fingers right and ramping up the tempo. I was able to play it in 140 bpm more or less (not in the video though), which is my goal, but that means that I need to practice it until 160!

    That's me with the man who inspired me to work on my tremolo, finally met him again during our production tour in Spain!

     

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    • Martin thanks Martin for sharing exactly how you are working on this. I have improved my tremolo but of course still no as it should sound. The staccato exercise helps me to keep also the position of the fingers and hand. It sounds very clear , even and articulated your tremolo, I hope you will get the necessary speed/relaxation,I am sure you will if you want!!!!. I am using your advises in this subject (and in others 😉.) Talking about tension of the right hand, talking about accords and tension (Preludio 1 , Estudio 4 HV), I am exercising to play the accord and plant the hand, play and stop, like staccato accords...how do you approach this? I am also doing the arpegio of E. 1 VL with the indications of your lesson, it helps me a lot, but still inconsistency is an issue of my hands in quick arpegios (like tremolo also) or accords. Thanks for sharing.

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      What I just realized when I practice staccato: I tend to press on the string, which I will avoid from now on! Try to be relaxed although you are practicing staccato!

      What helps me a lot in studies with quick arpeggios are different kind of speed bursts, i.e. playing the first half slow and the second half fast or the other way around, but always relaxed!

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    • Martin thanks Martin for sharing your tips. One of the main thing I've learned that's still the base of how I practice is, for everything you play at 3 different speed, and for each speed at 3 different volumes. That creates the muscle training to cover slow/quiet up to fast/loud.

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    • Martin That was great Martin. Your persistent diligence is an inspiration (and shaming 😁). I am always so impatient to play a piece that I just plow ahead - which always takes longer. Thanks for sharing this process.

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      Blaise Laflamme That's a fantastic tipp and applicable to every repertoire!

      Jack Stewart Thank you! I will give soon another update what the regular pami-tremolo has done the tremolo pattern I usually do (pmia), that's pretty exciting stuff!

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