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Cello Lessons: Non-Classical Pizzicato: Flamenco Gestures

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A big part of developing your
pizzicato on the cello, really comes down
to imitating what other instruments do.
I've talked a lot about
imitating what bass players do.
And guitar is the other obvious
instrument that we can emulate.
And just a really great technique
is the flamenco gestures that
the Spanish guitar players have developed.
So that can provide some
really great gestures but
also some nice sustain on the cello.
You can do very dramatic things,
[SOUND] with people.
And so basically, it's gonna come down to
some finger strength and independence.
And let's just finger an open D chord.
So one, one.
Let me see, we'll start with the pinky and
I'm gonna run the pinky down the strings.
And then immediately after that,
I'm gonna run the third finger, and
then immediately after that
the second
and then immediately after that
the first finger.
And basically by the time my fourth
finger gets to the C string,
my third finger is already
starting on the A string, and,
they kind of start coming faster and
and it kinda
has a [SOUND] type acceleration to it.
But the idea is that each finger is
rubbing against each string, and then I'm
sort of catching the bottom string
with the first finger for some accent.
[SOUND] And this is definitely
a smell your armpit gesture.
[SOUND] The bigger the release,
the better.
So that's the down flamenco gesture.
You could practice that just sort of
hitting these regular chords.
And frankly, it's actually this
gesture is not really possible without
an exaggerated arm movement.
You kind of have to like
really use your arm to pull
the fingers up as they
get to the bottom string.
So it is a nice dramatic visual
as well as a great sound.
The up flamingo gesture,
the out gesture, I wanna prepare you for
by sort of stopping your fingers
with your thumb like this and
then flicking them out, one at a time.
If you can flick your fingers
independently of each other,
then that's gonna give us
this up flamenco gesture.
So instead of the thumb holding the
fingers back, it's actually the string,
like maybe the C string at the beginning
[SOUND] that holds the fingers back.
So if you can do this in the air.
I don't know, I'll do it by
the lavalier so maybe you can hear it.
There's like a strength,
you know, to that release.
And if you can do that [SOUND]
on the strings of the cello,
you're gonna get this
really strong upstroke.
And because of the nails, [SOUND] it
has a harder sound than the downstroke.
[SOUND] Which uses
the meat of the fingers.
So, we've got a downstroke,
we've got an upstroke.
If we can combine these and
put them back and forth,
we can actually create a really
captivating, sustained sound.
So I'm gonna do a downstroke, [SOUND] and
then by the time my first
finger finishes the downstroke,
I'm gonna get my fourth finger
ready to start the upstroke.
And then again, while my first
finger is ending the upstroke,
my fourth finger is
gonna start coming down.
And through a complicated,
circular motion,
you might wanna just try this in the air,
of waving your fingers like this.
If you can do that,
while moving your arm in a circle,
you're gonna be able to
do this flamenco gesture.
This is kind of like a soft sustain,
where I'm really moving
these fingers independently,
but in these grand gestures.
And it's a very circular feeling.
And if I go down towards the fingerboard,
and stiffen the fingers a little bit.
And I'll get a little louder.
It gets a little harder, too, though.
I could do a nice
smoother sustain up here.
But that's, again, a great thing to throw
in when you're accompanying a singer or
anybody, just as a way to
vary the way we strum chords.
Because in classical music we usually
just go [SOUND] from bottom to top.
Very rarely would we even
go from top to bottom.
But even these gestures in isolation
[SOUND] can actually just give a nice
different resonance.
So like at
the beginning of
Autumn Leaves,
I might go
It can give you just all sorts
of different textures to
your strumming patterns.
And you can also start to pretend
like you're a Spanish musician.
By playing D major and
E flat major chords, and just going
crazy with your flamenco gestures.