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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
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Cello Lessons: Chopping: Full Chords

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In most musical contexts when we're
chopping, we're really
gonna be wanting to be
presenting full harmonies in full chords.
On a cello,
[NOISE] we can divide any three or
four note chord, into low and high.
Okay, so we're gonna take one of our
earlier patterns, note, note, note ,note,
chop, note, note, note, note, note,
note, note, chop, note, note,
note and we're gonna turn it into low and
high pitches and let's learn it as.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, say it with me.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low, high, low.
If we play this in D, [NOISE] let's say
we've got these are our low notes and
[NOISE] these are our high notes.
Low, low, high, low, chop, low,
high, low sounds like this.
Join me on this
pattern just on open D.
Make sure all
the notes are really smooth.
Now that we're getting into a lot of
fingered chords,
it's really important not to hold
the strings down with all four fingers,
or any finger,
really, during this pattern,
even when I'm just playing this pattern.
I am releasing my fingers,
pressure off the string to lift
the string off the fingerboard.
[NOISE] Basically immediately the moment
I stopped playing those specific notes.
Down, up, lift, down again.
So I only have, you know,
one subdivision of the upper strings
in order to release the left hand but
I'm still gonna take advantage
of that opportunity, so
that I'm really releasing at
every possible moment that I can.
Otherwise if you just hold
down the strings all the way.
You're just,
you're going to be grabbing the cello and
you're going to be getting really tight
and it's going to make your muscles sore.
And so this is a really important thing
to keep in mind is keep releasing
the pressure of the left
hand off the string.
Let's try this pattern one more time.
Another important consideration
now that we're playing full chords is
that when you're playing mostly chords,
especially with like with even
more fingers pressing down,
you really want the left arm to
hang down through the cello,
and that's actually gonna put my thumb
kind of around the edge of the cello.
And it's gonna look very,
well, wrong, potentially,
if you were actually listening to what
I said was proper left hand technique.
What you think of as
proper left-hand technique
is actually proper melodic technique for
the left-hand.
When you're getting into chords,
you're actually gonna collapse your
hand position a little bit so
you can really hang through the cello.
Because your finger muscles
only about this big and
it's not going to be able to hold
down the string for very long.
So you want just the bulk of
your arm weight to actually be
what's pressing the string down.
So I really want to put these
principles out up front, so
that you can explore them as we're playing
all of these patterns in this lesson.
With that in mind,
with the releasing of the left hand, and
the hanging of the left hand with
the thumb kind of coming around.
Let's try that pattern one more time.
One, two, three, and four, and.
I'm particularly
releasing the left hand
on the chop itself.
Good, let's create a little one,
four, one, five progression in this key.
In the key of D.
So we'll have D, [NOISE] G [NOISE].
Let's use the thirds, actually let's
use the thirds for all of these, so for
the D major chord, all right, it would be
one, one, three, and we can use O bent.
For the G chord, it's one.
Back to the D chord, one, one, three.
And again with the five chord, the A.
One, one, three.
Let me play this pattern through these
chords so
you can hear what it sounds like.
I'm releasing
the left hand every time I chop,
that's my moment
of opportunity.
And I'm really thinking of
pulling the arm through the Cello.
One more
Next pattern is gonna be a low,
high, chop, high, low, high, chop,
high, low, high, chop,
high, say it with me.
Low, high, chop, high, low, high, chop,
high,low, high, chop,
high, low, high chop, high.
All of these chop patterns,
remember, are on the grid.
So, the bowing for
this would be down, up chop, down.
Down, up chop, down.
Down, up chop, down.
Say it with me now.
Down, up chop, down.
Down, up chop, down.
Down, up chop Down, down, up chop, down.
On our big open D chord,
[SOUND] it would sound like this.
after the chop, we stay.
And I can release the left hand for
the majority of this pattern actually.
Down, release, down,
release, down, release.
I should also mention that we wanna
chop where are next note is going to be.
Say that after me.
I will chop where my next note will be.
That means in this pattern [SOUND] because
there's high notes after the chop,
we're gonna chop on the upper strings.
[SOUND] Up until now we've actually been
chopping only on the bottom strings.
[SOUND] But if you tried to chop
on the bottom string in this
There's a lot of back and
forth with the bow,
a lot of unnecessary motion, so
we're chopping [SOUND] down,
chop, all on the upper strings.
Let's try it one more time.
One, two, ready and.
Let's try
it in our chord progression,
ready go, D,
G, D, A, D, G,
keep going with me.
In order to get a nice crisp sound,
particularly on the upper notes,
I'm actually engaging my fingers.
[SOUND] I'm doing a little bit
of a throw with the fingers and
on both of those upper notes.
Just kind of pulling the bow extra fast so
that I get this nice release.
If I didn't do that if I wasn't activating
my fingers and it might sounds like this.
It has less energy to the sound.
A lot of chords, is very strong,
but it's not as crisp.
So now, and the fingers in again.
And it has a nice,
I think a more interesting feel to it.
Let's do this in the chord
progression one more time,
thinking about activating
the fingers on the upper notes.
Three And.
Two more
One thing I'm noticing as I'm
playing, is I'm instinctually,
actually, only playing [SOUND] two
notes with my left hand at a time.
I'm not fingering the full D major chord
when I'm playing the bottom notes.
So, I'm kind of fingering
the notes in pairs.
So low, [SOUND] low [SOUND] and
then [SOUND],
I'm really only using the left
hand when I absolutely need it.
Again, the last thing you wanna do and I
made this mistake for A really long time.
It is by holding all the strings down,
when you're playing these chords, it's
really gonna make you tense and tight and
it's gonna degrade the quality of your
muscles and it's just not gonna feel good.
So again, just look for as many
opportunities to release if possible.
The last pattern that we'll learn
in this series is a pattern
that I like to call, the Rushad pattern.
You're gonna get to see a lot of videos
of me performing with Rushad and Jeremy,
a lot of these tunes, and
Rushad's got a great feel to his chop.
He's possibly the best Cello
chopper there has ever been,
and I've learned a lot
from Rushad Eggleston and
this is just a really
nice characteristic fun
pattern that when I hear it,
I just think of Rushad.
So, that pattern is low,
high, chop, high, low.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
Say that with me.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
Low, high, chop, high, low.
On the grid the bowing is down, wait.
[SOUND] It's down, down, chop, down, up.
Down, down, chop, down, up.
Down, down, chop, down, up.
Down, down, chop, down, up.
And let's just try that
on an open D first.
Down, down, chop, down, up.
Down, down, chop, down, up.
Down, down, chop
Now, on top of that,
if we do a little dominant seven chord,
which we can finger, one, one, three, two.
One, one, three, two is a nice dominant
seven sound, and that's just
gonna give it a lot of character.
Those first two notes, you could go down,
down, chop, down, up,
down, down, chop down,
or if you do a down up,
you can get a little bit of a sustain.
Like down, up, chop.
Down up chop.
Or down, down chop, down.
They have different feels to them.
[SOUND] If we combine that with a G7
chord, which we can finger o, two one.
[SOUND] If we do the same
pattern on that chord.
If we alternate between those
chords we got a super funky groove.
Let's hear them together.
One, two, a one, two, three, and.
Now with down,
down, chop, down,
up, down, down, chop.
So we have these two subtle variations
on this chop pattern,
whether you hold the first
note long, and do the second note up, or
just a bunch of short notes down, down.
Let's call that the Rushad pattern.
I am a firm believer that
all chop patterns should and
probably will eventually
have actual names.
The chop, is a new technique and it's only
really existed for like 30 years or so.
And so the pedagogy of chopping is,
is just being developed.
So right now, we're sort of
forced to rely on, note, note,
note, note, chop, note, note,
note in order to break these down.
But let's embark on the futuristic
journey of giving chop patterns names.
We'll call this one, the Rushad.