Friday, August 17, 2007

warmup: the rudiments

File this away with Airto’s tambourine solo, Bennink’s shoe solo, and maybe Prévost’s snare ‘piece’.

I’m not in the habit of writing obituaries here—many bloggers have done better elsewhere—so I won’t other than to add that one of the things I found fascinating about Roach was his complex relationship with pedagogy and technique.

What I do want to do is a little more modest: I want to talk about warming up. I don’t buy the idea that playing, say, scales across the guitar’s fingerboard counts for much of a warmup (those who disagree, please let me know). I’ve used various warmup routines over the years (some of which I plan to write about at some point), but none seem particularly well suited for the task for the improviser- guitarist. However, watching drummers warmup, going though simple rudiments (single strokes, double strokes, flams, etc.), I’ve begun thinking about possible transpositions of these techniques onto the guitar…. I’ll report back with more when I’ve explored this further.

In the meantime, a question: how do you warm up? and why?


Ryshpan said...

My technique is far from where it could/should be (or rather, where I'd like it to be, I guess), and having focused on composition intensely this year, I haven't spent as much time at the piano as I'd have liked.

My warm-up for my practice routines is different from my gig warm-ups. I warm up for practice sessions with an exercise I learned years ago with a major scale (too lengthy to describe here, essentially that you go through different subdivisions of the beat), and the first few exercises of Hanon. For gigs, sometimes I don't warm up at all, per se, but just do the stretches I learned when I used to play tennis. When faced with a real piano (all too rare in clubs these days) I'll run a couple of scales and some Hanon, and play a few chord voicings just to get used to the sonority and reaction of the instrument.

The reasons I warm up are not for any technical or musical reasons - it's purely physical, to get the muscles primed, to avoid injury, and to get used to the instrument.

pat said...

I think it's a little different for wind players, where priming the muscles that form the embochure is essential to playing effectively. My daily warmup for almost 20 years has been a series of rather obnoxious overtone exercises (I'll spare you the details) It's changes some, especially after studying with Lacy, but not a whole lot. The goal is literally just to get the air moving through the horn, and remind the face and throat muscles of what to do. I have a few technical/finger things as well, but those are far less important

peter breslin said...

Hi- I'm developing into an annoyingly anal Zen instrumentalist. On the one hand, I've been warming up for years on the drums, never quite getting warm enough. My warm up routine on the drums is one I learned from Elvin Jones at a workshop when I was 13. Hard to describe in words, except that it's wickedly simple and involves the single stroke roll and the entire drum kit and pedals. On the other, I've been approaching piano lately with an effort to get rid of everything I learned or half learned. I've been trying to incorporate the warm up into the actual performance itself and never practicing in between performances. Last concert I did, however, I did in fact injure one of my fingers, (skin, not muscle or bone) so I'm reconsidering the whole deal.

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise....


Alex Hawkins said...

Interesting that pianists mention Hanon...when I was doing more classical work, I found it great (even better, IMHO, was Dohnyani, which I still use)...but now, I really steer clear of it - I find the patterns too 'conventional'...they beguile me a bit into complacency when I'm playing. Plus, I find that as a working musician, so long as I *am* working, I get from gigs all I would otherwise get from Hanon (i.e., a bit of a muscle workout). In terms of *developing*, rather than simply maintaining, technique (agreed - this is probably a different issue to warming-up, which was the question, admittedly..!), I really love the Yusef Lateef book - very unconventional shapes, and no risk of succumbing to any routine!