Portuguese Guitarra Lesson (continued)

5. From studying photos and watching a number of good players it will become obvious that there is great variation in the right hand position . In addition, it should be realized that the right hand Lisboa position is different than that of the Coimbra style. (see photos below). The difference between these two styles is best understood by study with a master of each style. However, here are some comments which should be helpful.

Photo of Lisbon hand position with index finger playing free-stroke

Photo of Coimbra hand position with index finger playing rest-stroke

In the Lisbon style, the index finger mainly plays with free-strokes, whereas in Coimbra style there is heavy reliance upon rest-strokes. While the free-stroke can be played with either the index finger or the thumb, in Lisbon style the use of free-stroke by the index finger is most importance.The free-stroke basically involves playing one course of strings without coming to rest on an adjacent course. In contrast, the rest-stroke involves playing across one course and resting on the next course. Another explanation of the difference is: with the free-stroke (pulsação livre) the finger crosses the string and proceeds toward the hand, while with the rest-stroke (pulsação apoiada) the attack is toward the soundboard.

The fact that the Lisboa style relies heavily on the free stroke and the Coimbra relies heavily on the rest stroke is reflected in the way the index finger is used. Many Lisboa players slightly curve their index finger while playing the free-stroke--such a slight curvature allows them to cleanly play one string and not touch the next string. In contrast, Coimbra players seem to play with the index finger held straight and stiff--this allows them to forcefully play a string (with a rest-stroke) and then to rest against the adjacent string.

Some competent Lisboa guitarists tell me that you should not support the right hand by placing the little finger on the soundboard or the pickguard, however, I continually observe many good Lisboa guitarists resting their fingers on the soundboard. It seems to me that the Lisboa style can be played without resting your little finger on the soundboard if you position your right arm properly on the side of the guitar. In the contrast, Coimbra guitarists tell me that you should rest your hand on the pickguard glued to the soundboard--such a hand position is used by Carlos Paredes, the great Coimbra guitarist.

6. One typical playing position is shown in the photo below.

Photo of me with my João Palmeiro guitarra

Some players center the guitarra and rest it on both thighs (as in the photo above). Others rest the guitarra on the right thigh. I find that if I rest it on the right thigh I feel more comfortable with a small footstool under by right foot.

Many players play with both feet on the ground, some good players, such as Carlos Gonçalves (one of Amalia favorite accompanists), use a small foot stool under the left foot. Such a stool should rise the foot about 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm).

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