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.