Week 1: "Villa-Lobos Vibe"

Welcome to the Main Thread for the first week of "Villa-Lobos Voyage" practice challenge! 

  1. Select a mesmerizing piece from Villa-Lobos or a composer connected to his Brazilian heritage. Whether it's a soulful Villa-Lobos composition, a rhythmic Brazilian-inspired work, or a piece by another artist inspired by the Brazilian musical tradition, the choice is yours! 🎼

  2. Commit to regular practice and share your progress with the community. Strive to practice daily and upload at least two videos per week to showcase your musical voyage. This not only keeps you motivated but also allows you to share your artistic journey with our tonebase family. 🎥

  3. Share your favorite performance or recording that captures the spirit of the "Villa-Lobos-Voyage Challenge." Your submission will inspire others and create a vibrant collection of potential pieces for fellow members to explore. 🎧

↓ Happy Sharing! ↓

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    • Pavel
    • Pavel
    • 9 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I'm also learning Prelude #3. I started a few months ago, so it's already some way along but still in progress. The things I find particularly challenging are

    • Chord progressions in the first part - how to make the transitions smooth
    • Removing the squicking - in chord progressions and in other parts. When I lift my hand to move to another place there's often sound
    • Controlling the volume - there are so many parts that are very subtle and any note too soft or too loud is very noticeable, which is what always happens for me
    • Relaxing while playing - this is hard for me no matter what I play...

    Any suggestions from all you master players on the above points and anything else in my playing are welcome!

    Like 8
      • Pavel
      • Pavel
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Thank you @don! Just tried it and holding down those notes really helps! 

      Like 1
    • Pavel This is really wonderful, Pavel! You are playing it very cleanly and expressively. Here are a few thoughts I have:

      • Don's tips about keeping the melody more legato are excellent. I heard a few moments even later in the A section when a melody note was cut short. I'd suggest listening attentively to the melody as you watch your video, circling places in the score where you hear the melody cut short, and then going in and figuring out how to make it more legato in those spots. Sometimes it might mean just paying more attention. Sometimes it might require a change in fingering.
      • String squeaks are hard to tackle! I honestly do not think they are bad in your video. The two ways I know of to eliminate or reduce string squeak are:
        1. Lifting the left hand finger straight up off the string, shifting above the string, and then placing the finger straight back down again. This is the best solution, but sometimes it is not possible or desirable, as it makes the notes less legato. If they are not melody notes, however, it's not that noticeable. In the section of this piece with the big block chords that slide up and down the neck, just keep your fingers on the treble strings as guides, but lift up of the fingers on the bass strings. That would not be very noticeable to the listener.
        2. You can also roll a little bit to the side of you left hand fingers before shifting. This enables you to keep the note ringing, and thus maintain legato, but when you shift, the softer part of your finger is touching the string, so there will be less squeak. This is useful in many pieces, but I am not sure if it is needed in this piece. But give it a try, maybe I'm wrong.
      • In my opinion, while I love how expressive you are in the B section, I think it is just too slow and lacks momentum or pulse (which is rare for me to say, as I tend to like things slower than many others do). I guess I would use rubato a bit more sparingly throughout that section.
      • In my opinion, your vibrato does not sound too good in this recording. It sounds too fast and not relaxed enough. If you are not used to playing different types of vibrato, I would suggest listening to this great video from William Kanengiser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2vePA2NT6Y.

      I hope you find something useful in all this! 🙂 You really are playing it very well already.

      Like 1
      • Ronnull
      • Ron.3
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pavel This is very good Pavel, you've clearly put a lot of work into learning it. I agree with Eric about the B section - I also usually prefer things slower than others - but I think it would enhance your beautiful expressivness even further with a slightly faster tempo. Well done!

      Like 1
    • Pavel Hi Pavel, nicely played. Regarding your question about string noise, the key to reducing and/or eliminating it is to use your arm to lift your hand/fingers off the strings.  This a classic Carlevaro technique.  If you want to learn more about Carlevaro's School of Guitar, check out the Carlevaro Discussion Forum on Tonebase.  

      Like 1
      • Pavel
      • Pavel
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

       Thank you everyone for great feedback and tips! Lot's to work on for me 😅

      Like 1
      • Steve Pederson
      • The Journey is My Destination!
      • Steve_Pederson
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pavel Wonderful work on this Pavel! Your musicality, expression and phrasing is very nice. It looks like the others have contributed a lot for you to consider. I can relate to the need for relaxing. I just work on meditation and relaxing in every area of my life and that's what helps me remember to try to relax while playing. Keep up the great work! 

      Like
    • Pavel Welcome to the challenge Pavel, I think I've never seen you before! You've already done a lot of work on this piece and you already sound musical and secure, bravo!

      Like
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pavel Very nice, Pavel. You have a great feel for this piece. I think I agree with others that the B section could be a somewhat quicker. However, I think playing it in an improvisational style like you have works well. 
      I am looking forward to seeing your progress.

      Like
  • HVL Prelude 2 (Aug 5)

    Here is an update after another couple days of practice. It is memorized, just from playing it a lot (like most of HVL’s pieces, it is not difficult to memorize).

    By the way, I'm posting a photo of what the piece looks like as a sound file. Can you spot where the B section begins and ends? Not too difficult!

    Like 4
    • Eric Phillips Coming along very nicely in so little time. Always amazing how fast you learn pieces.  The B section still has a little too much string noise which I know you are working on. Try using your arm to lift your hand/fingers off the strings, classic Carlevaro. As you know, Carlevaro played with no string squeaks. 

      Like 1
    • Dale Needles Thanks Dale. I am beginning to address the string squeak issue in the post right below this one. I don't really understand what you mean by using my arm to lift my hand/fingers.

      Like
    • Eric Phillips It is a classic Carlevaro technique which he goes over in detail in his School of Guitar book and applies in all the exercises in Cuaderno No. 3.  Alfredo Escande also demonstrated in his first Tonebase workshop. In any case, it essentially is a subtle movement of the left arm forward to lift the hand/fingers off the strings prior to shifting positions.  

      Like 2
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips This is a really great start, Eric. I agree with Dale about how impressively quickly you pick up new pieces. I am overcome with envy! Get job. I am looking forward to your progress.

      I just read thru my comment and noticed a typo - It should have read Great job. However, I thought that maybe I should leave it. Perhaps if you did get a (2nd) job the rest of us would be able to catch up to your output.😄

      Like
  • HVL Prelude 2 B section slow

    Next, I want to focus on the string squeak issue in the B section. The obvious solution is to lift the three fingers on bass strings (1,3,4) while using the 2nd finger as a guide finger. I see two things that make it difficult for me to do that:

    1. After the shift, it is difficult to place the fingers down in precisely the correct spot, up on the fingertips.
    2. At speed, it feels like there is just not enough time to lift the fingers and re-place them.

    So, it seems to me that the solution to these problems is to play the section very slowly, and once the motion is mastered at that speed, slowly bring the speed up. Here it is at a much slower speed. (Sorry for the big squeak at 0:35! I forgot to lift the fingers that time.)

    Like 6
      • Steve Pederson
      • The Journey is My Destination!
      • Steve_Pederson
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips Wow Eric, you've really picked quite a piece here! You're making really great progress, as I watch all the videos you've posted of it. 

      Do you have a favorite recording that you're using for musical inspiration? 

      I'm not familiar with this piece, so I've watched a bunch of different versions - incl John Williams, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening and others. They all seem to have a great deal of string squeak in that section. I think it just comes with the territory. It seems like the trick is just to play louder than the string squeaks! 😄

      To be perfectly honest with you, and this is no reflection on you (nothing to do with your performance)...I just don't find that section of the piece to be that interesting musically - even at top speed. It could be because I'm just not familiar with it or have the right context or appreciation, but it seems more like a technical exercise than a musical one. I would go for musicality and expression as priorities over avoiding string noise. Just my opinion, though, of course. 

      I think the first section reminds me a little bit of Gran Vals by Tárrega (The Nokia ringtone song)! Love that section! Keep up the great work.

      Like 1
    • Steve Pederson Thanks for the encouragement, Steve! Of the versions I've heard, I favor Marcin Dylla's performance. He strikes a perfect balance, I think, between the graceful playfulness of the A section and the grit and drive of the B section. I also really like David Russell's version (duh?).

      And you are right, I think some string squeak in the B section fits it well. It's almost like the rasp in the voice of so many singers. (Yeah, I'm thinking 'bout Total Eclipse of the Heart right now, baby!) When it fits the character of the music, I think some string squeak can be good. That said, there can be too much of it, and I think that's been the case thus far in my playing of it at higher speeds.

      Like 1
      • Steve Pederson
      • The Journey is My Destination!
      • Steve_Pederson
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips Yes! Bonnie Tyler! That's the perspective I needed on this one! (That and hearing David Russell's version. 😉) Marcin's was the first one I listened to. Yeah, a gritty bass line for the B section will serve you well, I think. 

      Like
      • don
      • don.2
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips this is already very nice. I personally wouldn't bother too much about the squeaks, i think it adds to the music for this piece. I had a listen to other professional recordings and it seems squeaks are quite common for this piece or most of Villa Lobos's pieces. 

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips Well done Eric, this is certainly a challenging piece with many bar chords. Like many other Tonebuddies, I don't worry too much about the squeaking; the musicality is more important. 👍

      Like
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips This is a good strategy for taking on this section. However, I think you should push the contrast between the sections even more. I have a YT to illustrate what I mean.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9kz-tag04U

      Like 2
    • Eric Phillips for shorter shifts you also can lift fingers 3 and 4 and for finger 1 go on its side, it the sounds almost squeakless and with speed even more. Good work!

      Like
    • Steve Pederson I think there's something interesting to do with B section... I would consider the bass power chord as the melody and ensure a similar approach than if I would play it on the first string (for signing and movement), while I would consider the fast arpeggio as an artifact and think about it like a kind of harp effect.

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips good work Eric. I’m practicing this prelude now and I have the same idea, working slowly and trying to find relaxation moments in the position changing moments. I’ll post something of it later on…. 

      Like
    • Steve Pederson Eric Phillips here's an almost «squeakless» version of the B section with some great musical ideas... the A section is also very contrasting...

      Like 1
    • Jack Stewart very good contrasting example Jack! 🤘

      Like
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