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Beginning Right Hand Patterns

David Raleigh Arnold

Three and Four Notes

These patterns should be applied to Puddle Mode from Seven Easy Pieces no. 3, which has been greatly revised (and improved, I hope) in this new version. The lack of explicit dynamics after the first two measures should not be taken to mean that there should be none, quite the contrary. The tempo in all of these should be very even. Since this requires dividing the beat, a metronome is appropriate if it helps. Apply sensible dynamics to the piece in all cases. Don’t start with the original pattern (timi). Do the first four patterns in the order given. The thumb is appoggiato on every bass note, and strings ① and ② are to be played tirato and left vibrating except when the thumb meets the ② string.

  • tmi tmi tmi…
  • tmim…
  • tim
  • timi

Six Notes

These are to be done in the same manner, except that whenever the thumb plays, the fingers are to be placed on their strings to silence them completely.

  • timimi
  • tmimim

Five Notes (quintuplets)

These are to be done in the same manner, with finger muting when the thumb plays, except that whenever a finger plays a note the other finger mutes the string it just played, so that no more than one of the two top strings is ever sounding at any time. This is considerably more difficult than the previous, but you will find this practice very beneficial.

  • timim
  • tmimi


Puddle Mode is real music, such as it is, and practicing these patterns with different forms of legato will not only do more for the fingers but also do much more to develop the student musically.

I am not at all convinced that it is useful to practice essentially meaningless right hand stuff such as Giuliani's 120 exercises[1] Even more soul-deadening are open string exercises, unless they are so satanically difficult that it doesn’t matter much that they are not music. They can be worthwhile only if they are not easy. There are many right hand etudes for the guitar that are excellent music, and the student is far better off with them. I hope that this represents a far better start on serious right hand work than Giuliani afforded.


§1 The 120 are the first section of Op. 1, which is a free download from Boije.

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