Skip to main content

The Guitar


The Guitar


A simple enough word 'guitar' but that is where the simplicity ends. The instrument is both beautiful and complex and in the hands of the right person it can make a sound unmatched by any other instrument. Just to clarify things I can't play myself (unlike my two older brothers) and I'm no expert on the topic but I wanted to blog a bit on it regardless. So here, briefly the history of the guitar as I understand it. Firstly a definition from Dr. Michael Kasha who was a Physical Chemist and molecular spectroscopist. Apart from that impressive gig he spent many years researching and designing guitars. From a work done by Paul Guy, he quotes Dr. Kasha as saying a guitar has "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and a flat back, most often with in-curved sides". According to Guy the first known guitars date back about 4000 years and the oldest representation is a stone carving at Alaca Huyuk in Turkey, of a 3300 year old Hittite "guitar".

The Torres guitar 1859

Today the modern guitar owes its existence to a Spaniard named Antonio Torres who in the 1850's designed and built essentially what you see today in most every acoustic guitar.
With the advent of steel strings over the years the designs have included stronger braces such as the X-brace from Christian Fredrich Martin. Later Orville Gibson would add the arch top and oval sound hole. With electrical amplification developed by the 1930's people like Les Paul, Leo Fender, Paul Bigsby and O.W. Appleton began constructing the solid-body guitar. Again I am no expert on this topic but we can pretty much divide the guitar into two basic modes; acoustic and electric. Each having a number of variations in construction, number of strings and playing styles.

I have mentioned I'm a fan of Acoustic and for that matter Electric Fingerstyle Guitar and have provided some links to some youtube videos. There is a great Canadian artist named Don Ross that I had the opportunity to see recently, though he has a wealth of great original material here is a clip of him covering a song you may be familiar with "Crazy" from Gnarls Barkley. This will give you some idea as to what this style is all about. Here is another clip from Don Ross & Andy McKee who I saw a few years back in Washington D.C. For the most part this is focused as a solo artist genre, however there are many collaborations as well as artists playing in bands around the world. This style, simply put is the plucking of the strings with one's fingers (or individual finger picks) as opposed to the Flatpicking style of using a guitar pick.

The origins of the style are as old as string instruments themselves as one played using fingers to begin with and today there are dozens of different classifications, both acoustic and electric. So whether it's the Classical Guitar with artists like John Williams or the Jazz stylings of Django Reinhardt or the electrical Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed the range is vast.


Take this brilliant performing quartet (I saw them in 2017 thanks to my eldest daughter) Barcelona 4 Guitars in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona.


Being the homer I am, apart from Don Ross, Canada is rich with talented fingerstyle players such as the late Lenny Breau, Liona BoydCalum Graham, Joni Mitchell, Antoine Dufour, Amy Millan (Broken Social Scene), Terri Clark and a lesson from the legend Randy Bachman with an ode to Merle Travis. His style known as 'Travis Picking' is adapted by Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins, James Taylor , Tommy Emmanuel and many others.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!







Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Most Covered Pop Artists and Songs of All Time

The Most Covered Pop Artists and Songs of All Time There are three categories in today’s blog: 1. The most covered songs written by a single artist, 2. The most cover versions combined and 3. The most covered Pop songs.  These numbers are for artists that write and record their own songs. For more on songwriters, read my series I Write the Songs . The statistics come courtesy of Secondhandsongs.com and are verified via strict protocols. This website posts 'covers' submitted from around the globe and in many different languages, edited by very knowledgeable experts in music recording. There are other resources as cited but other than the odd personal anecdote or opinion, I'm using information and knowledge, not to mention YouTube posts that already exist. In addition, the numbers change daily, and I had originally written this blog in December 2019 so it’s been interesting to see the changes in less than a year. On the whole, the artists in each list stayed the same but

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!) Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic. The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song an

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music Sam Cooke Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music . The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song " Yeah Man " and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977). Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Known generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to lis

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre. It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1- 4 . Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others. Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times includin