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About "Trick" Playing
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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DanielB
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June 16, 2013 - 9:06 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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In another thread, "Trick playing" or "Trick violin" was mentioned.  While the member who mentioned it didn't go into detail, I got the impression that they do not approve of such things.  That's ok, anything in the world you can think of, some folks will approve of it and some won't.  It is a big world and there is room in it for more than one opinion or point of view.

I will start by saying that I approve heartily of what I consider "trick playing", but since I am not entirely sure what the other member might have meant, I will give my own definition of it.  To me, "trick playing", whether it is guitar tricks or violin tricks or piano tricks, is when you capitalize on the setup or tuning of an instrument to do things that are easy to do, but may sound like they are a bit more advanced. 

It is a trick, because you maybe couldn't do it in every key, for example.  Or it may be a trick because some people think doublestops are hard to do, when some of them are actually pretty easy.  So if you rely on the things that are easy to do to get a good sound in a particular instance, I would call that trick playing.

An example would be if you saw my little lesson on how to play a bit of old rock n roll sound using only 2 fingers.  It uses some of the easiest doublestops, and the two fingers that are most agile and strong for most folks.  It is a simplified version of what the piano or guitar might do in the boogie-woogie style of blues, which was one of the roots of early rock n roll like the music of Chuck Berry.  The trick would be that it actually isn't very hard, and it might give a listener the impression that the player is comfortable and competent with doublestops in general.  Using that trick, it is possible (with a little work) to play some songs that some people might recognize or could at least dance to. 

But what could be bad about that?  Well, using only as much as I showed, it is limited.  Someone who stops with the bit I showed would only know how to play it in one key, and would only have the very bare bones of a boogie style sound. 

However, if a person works out how to do it in other keys, maybe looks up some more advanced lessons on that sound, like the one by Worldfiddler (Mr. Jim), there comes a point where it is no longer just a trick.  It has become a technique that has been learned.

Almost all musical "tricks" are actually limited applications of valid techniques.  I feel that tricks are good.  They sometimes get beginners to try a new sound, and while the beginner is having some fun with that, they are being painlessly introduced to at least some elements of the technique.  The only way I can think of where it could be bad is if the beginner never takes it any further.  But really, most do.  Tricks are kind of the "gateway drug" for techniques.  LOL

In my opinion, anyone that wants to someday be a good player will want to know every trick they can get, since most top players pretty much know them all.  LOL  If you are studying formally, then when you get to that technique, you already know part of it or are at least familiar with some of the principles needed to get it to sound right.  If you are sort of finding your own way by yourself, you can take a trick and build on it and eventually it becomes one of the techniques you know and can use.

I personally just do not see a downside there.  

And if anyone thinks that maybe learning some tricks would somehow keep a player from someday being a success, consider that there have been more than a few songs that have made the top ten where the main distinctive sound is done with trick playing.  I am more familiar with rock/pop, so I'll list just a very few examples from there.  Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever", the distinctive riffs are just doublestops that can be actually be done with one finger on the middle two strings of a guitar and be very recognizable.  The Piano intro to Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" can mostly be done by just holding the hand in the position a beginner learns when they first learn to play chords on piano and moving it up and down the keyboard while playing a fairly simple rhythm and using only the white keys.  Not actually any more difficult than playing "Chopsticks" on piano.

Even if you are one of those people who can only measure success by money, those 3 songs alone made craploads of money.  And they aren't even the tip of he iceberg for rock/pop songs that use a bit of trick playing.  Not that it is limited to rock/pop, but those were just some easy examples that come to mind.

So, hooray for trick "playing"!   And three cheers for "trick violin"!  LOL

thumbs-up

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Rattus Norvegicus
Cornwall
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June 16, 2013 - 9:30 am
Member Since: May 5, 2013
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I loved that two finger "trick" it sounds great. I still fully intend to have a crack at it. I've even kept the notification of being mentioned in the thread so I can come back to it and view again easily.

I mean surely the most important thing about playing an instrument is that you ENJOY playing. if it's a chore, then where's the joy in it. a challenge, yes. a chore, no.

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Ginnysg
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June 17, 2013 - 8:18 am
Member Since: May 13, 2013
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well said DanielB

I loved your two finger boogie-woogie blues "trick".  It's one I tucked away in my bag of tricks to try later... and yes I fully intend to try it in other keys as well.

When I first learned to play guitar, many many moons ago, I leaned quite a few tricks.. then took those tricks apart to see how they worked, and to see how I could do variations.  It made learning fun, and really helped me to be diverse. 

Thanks for your post.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

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