The tempo threshold – what is yours?

Today I was practising rhythm guitar with some of Robin Nolan’s playalongs. I was looking at a different harmonisation of Dark Eyes. The chord shapes that I have been using have an A on the 6th string for both the A7 and Dm chords which inadvertently creates a dominant pedal over the first six bars of every chorus whereas we would prefer to reserve such a pedal for occasional use near the climax of a solo. The chord shapes in Robin Nolan’s book are musically much better and also have less of a finger stretch so I won’t wear my left hand out so much during a gig.

The playalong has two Dark Eyes tracks – one at 194 beats per minute and the other at 240 beats per minute. I could manage to play in tempo with both but I noticed that there was a clear threshold between the two. At 194 bpm I could keep in tempo very easily, even with some loose technique such as elbow movement of the right arm. At 240 bpm I could only keep in tempo by using the best technique I have – all movement from the right wrist, no unnecessary movement outside the range of the strings etc. I don’t know whether everyone finds the same thing at around these tempos or whether everyone has a different tempo threshold – what is important is that everyone should find their threshold and practice a lot above it to keep their technique tight and gig-ready.

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One Response to The tempo threshold – what is yours?

  1. thanassis says:

    I’ve learned by heart django’s solo and it’s been a year that I’m trying to get it to the speed played on the “bireli in vienne 2002” DVD. Still trying, maybe someday I’ll get it there 🙂
    BTW, you can check a collection of online video performances of “Dark Eyes” at
    http://djangopedia.com/wiki/index.php?title=Les_Yeux_Noirs
    djangopedia started 2 months ago and it already contains 125 tunes.
    by the way, thanks for the great blog, I enjoyed every article

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