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Tempo experiment

Posted by AndyW on Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Did an experiment today. Keeping to where I can play with no mistakes I played all my tunes at a comfortable no prior practice or ramping up tempo tapping my foot as I played.(I then tap tempoed my metronome app to see how fast I was playing)

All my Clawhammer from scratch tunes came out at around 170/85. So pretty slow.

Old Joe Clark was about 200/100.
June Apple was around 230+/115+.
Cluck Old Hen sat at 220/110 initially.
(I then took it over 230+/115+ easily though)
Shady Grove was around 180/90.
Little Maggie was about 180/90.
Roustabout was around 200/100.

A few observations.

1. My right hand can clearly play fast enough to get Cluck Old Hen and June Apple up there at a decent tempo. Later practice had me faster on Little Maggie/Roustabout than measured too but I didn't measure the new tempo.

2. Although I know I can play Angeline/Mississippi Sawyer(from Scratch tunes) at a fair old lick I tended to settle in to all From Scratch tunes at around 170/85,  and I wonder if this was due to me extensively playing them at this speed whilst learning.

3. My newest tunes Little Maggie/Roustabout which I have never played at anything but a slow speed came in easily at (I think) a reasonable speed.  This is giving me confidence in my practice slow to play fast.

4. My fastest tunes June Apple and Cluck Old Hen both feature drop thumb so I don't believe this will be a limiter on either speed or rhythm.

5. I think left hand fingering difficulty is possibbly the biggest decider as to how fast I can play any given tune at present. That's possibly why some of my later (easier fingering) tunes play quicker than some of my 'From Scratch' tunes which though I have been familier with a long time have probably trickier lh stuff.



2 comments on “Tempo experiment”

AndyW Says:
Friday, August 24, 2018 @4:27:16 AM

Today I started working out my maximum speeds properly by starting slow, then working up to where I can't play, back down to comfortable and recording the results. I will finish this by tomorrow. My speeds are already proving to be a little more variable than above.

I have found three main speeds.

Too fast- I lose place and can't really play the tune.

Fast- I can play the notes but lose the feel/bounce.

Max playable speed(Comfortable)- The fastest I can play the tune whilst retaining what I feel to be 'bounce', which hopefully means I am 'feeling the tune' and getting a little syncopation in there.

I am thinking of the following as a strategy for practicing a tune. Start slow as warm up, and quickly come up to my written down comfortable maximum playable speed. Keep most of my practice at this speed, but have quick bursts at faster speed every so often.

Every couple of weeks. Test my max playable speeds again and record them. Then repeat the above.

AndyW Says:
Friday, August 24, 2018 @4:29:46 AM

Forgot to mention in the above. I think my comfortable level in playing along to the metronome is slightly lower than without, probably due to the need to concentrate on the metronome.

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