Hammer-on

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A hammer-on is a playing technique performed on a stringed instrument (especially on a fretted string instrument, such as a guitar) by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fingerboard behind a fret, causing a note to sound. This technique is the opposite of the pull-off.

Fret musical instrument part

A fret is a raised element on the neck of a stringed instrument. Frets usually extend across the full width of the neck. On most modern western fretted instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard. On some historical instruments and non-European instruments, frets are made of pieces of string tied around the neck.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

Passages in which a large proportion of the notes are performed as hammer-ons and pull-offs instead of being plucked or picked in the usual fashion are known in classical guitar terminology as legato phrases. The sound is smoother and more connected than in a normally picked phrase, due to the absence of the necessity to synchronize the plucking of one hand with the fingering on the fingerboard with the other hand; however, the resulting sounds are not as brightly audible, precisely due to the absence of the plucking of the string, the vibration of the string from an earlier plucking dying off.

Pizzicato Playing technique for string instruments

Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:

Plectrum small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument

A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick and is a separate tool held in the player's hand. In harpsichords, the plectra are attached to the jack mechanism.

In music performance and notation, legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, the player makes a transition from note to note with no intervening silence. Legato technique is required for slurred performance, but unlike slurring, legato does not forbid rearticulation.

The technique also facilitates very fast playing because the picking hand does not have to move at such a high rate, and coordination between the hands only has to be achieved at certain points. Multiple hammer-ons and pull-offs together are sometimes also referred to colloquially as "rolls",[ citation needed ] a reference to the fluid sound of the technique.

Banjo roll

In bluegrass music, a banjo roll or roll is an accompaniment pattern played by the banjo that uses a repeating eighth-note arpeggio – a broken chord – that by subdividing the beat 'keeps time'. "Each ["standard"] roll pattern is a right hand fingering pattern, consisting of eight (eighth) notes, which can be played while holding any chord position with the left hand."

A hammer-on is usually represented in guitar tablature (especially that created by computer) by a letter h.

Tablature

Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

A rapid series of alternating hammer-ons and pull-offs between a single pair of notes is called a trill.

The trill is a musical ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between two adjacent notes, usually a semitone or tone apart, which can be identified with the context of the trill. It is sometimes referred to by the German Triller, the Italian trillo, the French trille or the Spanish trino. A cadential trill is a trill associated with each cadence. A trill provides rhythmic interest, melodic interest, and—through dissonance—harmonic interest. Sometimes it is expected that the trill will end with a turn, or some other variation. Such variations are often marked with a few appoggiaturas following the note that bears the trill indication.

The term hammer-on was first invented and popularized by Pete Seeger in his book How to Play the 5-String Banjo. Seeger also invented the term pull-off. [2]

Pete Seeger American folk singer

Peter Seeger was an American folk singer and social activist. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of the Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, Seeger re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, counterculture, and environmental causes.

In the Banjo tutor book "Ellis's Thorough Course For 5 String Banjo" published prior to 1900, the term 'Hammer on' is used to describe the action of performing an embellishment called 'the Shake'. The description is "The Shake, which is marked 'tr', is played in the following manner. Strike(pick) the first note only with the right hand & the remainder of the passage with the 2nd finger of the left hand, by 'hammering on' the string while it is vibrating". In the same tutor book, the action 'pull off' is termed the 'snap'. [3]

See also

Sources

  1. Traum, Happy (1974). Bluegrass Guitar, p.25. ISBN   0-8256-0153-3.
  2. PBS Documentary Give Me the Banjo and the book Southern Mountain Banjo, p. 24: https://books.google.com/books?id=EDaj1IzYA74C&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24#v=onepage&q&f=false
  3. http://www.classicbanjo.com/tutors/Ellis5/Ellis5.pdf

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