Vol. 1 - Newcastle University eTheses: Home

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Vol. 1 - Newcastle University eTheses: Home
Title: Acoustic Guitar Practice and Acousticity:
Establishing Modalities of Creative Practice.
Volume 1: Thesis
Rod Sinclair: submittedin fulfillment of the degreeof
PhD.
Newcastle University, December2007
NEWCASTLE
UNIVERSITY
----------------------------
206
53423
----------------------------
0
LIBRARY
ABSTRACT
The contemporaryacousticguitarhasdevelopedfrom its origins in the 'Spanish'
guitar to becomea global instrument and the musical voice of a wide range of styles.
The very 'acousticity'of the instrumentpositionsit asa binaryoppositeto the
electricguitaranoasa signifier for the organicandthe naturalworld, artistryand
submission,the
maturity,eclecticismandthe esoteric.In this concept-rooted
in
instrument
is
the
considered relationto a range
acousticandguitaristicnatureof
is
of social, cultural and artistic concerns,and composition used primarily to test a
thesis, wherein a portfolio of original compositions, presentedas recordings and
understoodasphonograms,commentuponandreflectuponmodesof
performativity: instrument specific performance,introspection, virtuosity, mediation
by technology and performance subjectivities.
p.1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to acknowledgethe supportandinspirationofferedby Dr JamesBirkett, Dr
Ian Biddle, Dr Will Edmondes,Tim Brookes,Mick Wright, MauriceSummerfield
and particularly Maureen Scott and Gerry Richardson.
I am indebtedto the following musiciansfor their musicalcontributions:
Andy Champion: double bass,Freeze:vocals, Stuart Hardy: violin, Neil Harland:
double bass,Dave Hignet: flugel horn, Roger Hempsall: percussion,Jim Hornsby:
Dobroguitar,Andy Lawrenson:violin, GarryLinsley: saxophoneandflute, Jamie
McCredie: guitar, Gerry Richardson: Hammond Organ, Adam Sinclair: drum kit,
and Paul Smith: drum kit and percussion.
p.2
INTRODUCTION
Ask a contemporary guitar player to describethe acoustic guitar and their responseis
likely to consistof a seriesof adjectiveswhich describethe physicalnatureof the
instrument;interrogatethemfurtheraboutacousticguitarpracticeandthe namesof
particularperformersoften appearin an attemptto describeby associationthe nature
of acousticguitar styles.This is not unusualandI-recognisein my own development
as a guitar player that prior to carrying out this research,I would also find it difficult
to respond in a meaningful way. Of courseas guitar players we all know what an
acousticguitar is, how it feelsto play andhow it sounds,but what is acoustic
practice? What is meant by the term acoustic?What is the nature of contemporary
practice and how has it evolved? Many books have beenwritten on particular
histories of the guitar but they don't clearly succeedin articulating the inherent
acousticnatureof the guitar, its sound,its musicalstyleandperformance
This researchtherefore,hasdevelopedout of a desireto attemptto
characteristics.
answerthesequestionsin a focussedanddetailedway by engagingin a broadrange
of performanceandcompositionalpractice.The researchis presentedin two
sections,a written dissertationwhich examinesthe multifariousarticulationsof style
andpracticethat havecoalescedto inform contemporarypractice,anda recorded
portfolio that engagescomposition,performanceandrecordingin the realisation.
of
real musical events. Combined, the two approachesprovide a comprehensive
picture,textualandaural,of the natureof contemporarypractice.The written
researchengageswith a discourseof eclecticismandthe esotericthat reflectsthe
guitarsglobal distribution,its appropriationinto localizedpracticeandits adaption
to technologicalchange,andthe recordedportfolio providesa body of compositions
p.3
that placethe instrumentwithin variouscreativemodalities- combinedtheyaim to
createa deeper,moreclearlyarticulatedunderstanding
of the musicof the acoustic
guitar.
p.4
CONTENTS
1.
THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR: AN HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL
PERSPECTIVE.
1.1
History and culture context: an overview.
1.2
Historiographic themes.
2.
DIGITISATION AND ACOUSTICITY.
2.1
Digitisation.
2.2
Acousticity.
2.3
Digital Recording and its impact on the practices of the acoustic
performer.
2.4
Digitisation and practice.
3.
ACOUSTIC PRACTICE.
3.1
Contemporary practice: an historical and cultural overview.
3.2
Pedagogy.
3.3
Notationalsystems.
3.4
Acousticguitar/ Electricguitar.
3.5
Performancestyle:virtuosity andrepertoire.
4
PERSONALCREATIVE PRACTICE
4.1
Formativedevelopment.
4.2
Currentpractice.
4.3
AcousticGuitarPractice.
4.4
Compositionalpractice.
p.5
4.5
Modalities of creative practice.
5
The recordedportfolio andcommentaries.
6
Summary.
Tunings.
8
Glossary.
9
References.
10
CD Contents
II
Appendices
p.6
1. THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR: AN HISTORICAL
AND CULTURAL
PERSPECTIVE.
1.1
History and Culture Context: an overview
This chapter will consider the nature of the primary cultural movements that are
concurrentwith the emergenceof the modem acousticguitar, thoseof modernism
be
discourses
interrogate
to
these
the
to
can
and postmodernism, and
extent which
it
is
be
Whilst
in
development
to
the
not
seen
evident
of acoustic-guitar practice.
intendedto debatethe characteristicsof the broadercultural conditions,it is an
essentialpart of this processto clarify the over-archingconcernsof postmodemism
and modernism.While this will be initially limited to an elaborationof the general
principles,an unavoidablereductionism,a more subtle and nuancedinterrogation
will take placewhen consideringhistoriographicthemesand contemporarypractice
in chapters#3, #4 and#5.
The emergenceof the modem form of the acoustic guitar, the Americanl
guitar (which is later discussedin detail) is concurrentwith a movementtowards
science,rationalism, and industrial isation; a period of modernity, modemisation and
the culturalresponseof modernism:
I The instrumentis
referredto asAmerican,to differentiatebetweenthe Spanish
is
its
This
(and
derivatives)
instrument.
the
guitar
and steel-strungcontemporary
discussedin moredetail later.
p.7
form
The modemmovementin the artstransformedconsciousness
andartistic
just asthe energiesof modernity- scientific,technological,philosophical,
political - transformedforeverthe nature,the speed,the sensationof human
life. 2
Modernismwas driven by an attemptto rationalisethe immediaciesof a rapidly
modernisingand changingworld. This emphasison the rational and the scientific
privileged the avant-gardeover tradition, repudiatingthe past and establishinga
drive towards a continuousforward movement.The desire for rationality would
encouragethe establishment of singular universalising artistic theories, over-arching
philosophies(metanarratives)and a superimposedcultural hierarchy:the elite (the
for
the
the
modernist) who pursued
new and
popularists who produced music
consumption. Postmodemism emerged as a reaction to and development from
modernism, at differing rates, in differing times, practices and locations. Lloyd
Spencerconsidersthat, 'Modernism and postmodernismare intimately interrelated
responsesto the crises of modernity,13 and the two 'movements' are not
disassociated
entitiesas the impulseof both is to solve the problemsof modernity.
Joakim Tillman in 'Postmodemismand Art Music in the GermanDebate,' whilst
consideringthe ideasexpressedby Danuser,asksthe following question:
2 Bradbury,Malcolm. & McFarlane,James,(eds.), Modernism,A Guideto
EuropeanLiterature 1890-1930(London:Penguin,1991),23.
3 Spencer,Lloyd, 'Glossary' in Sim, Stuart (ed.), The RoutledgeCompanionto
Postmodernism(Routledge:LondonandNew York, 2005),272.
p.8
to modernism:is it a continuanceof
regardsthe relation of postmodernism
modernism,a discontinuousoppositeof modernism,or somethingelse?4
Danuser questions whether the prefix 'post' implies a continuation of sorts, or a
rejection of modernism. If modernism is viewed as a particular responseto
modernity,then postmodernismcould be seenasa continuingbut differentresponse.
To view postmodernismas a substantialposition,it cannotsimply exist as a passive
rejection of modernism,to be worthy of considerationit must possessits own
internal dynamic, with its own insistences. Bradbury and McFarlane consider that:
Modernism was an art of an age of growing cultural relativism and growing
communications;what hasfollowed it, the art of the Postmodern,is in a sense
simply a yet more multi-varied replay, often in highly parodic form, of that rise
in relativism and cultural pluralism.5
If modernismis perceivedas a heightened,more radical,more utopianform of the
'modem', seducedby a final vision of universaltruths, postmodemismcould be
seento havegiven up the hopeof any finality. If a dominantnarrativeof modernism
is the pursuit of rationality, singularityand the establishmentof universalaesthetic
values,then a dominantdiscoursein postmodernismis a recognitionof plurality and
diversity; a condition driven by the rapid development of communication
technologiesandthe resultanteaseof accessto a diverserangeof cultural practices.
Any attempt at understanding postmodernism however, must remain provisional
becauseof its ongoing nature and the 'fogging' produced by living in a period of
4 Tillman, Joakim, 'Postmodernism
and Art Music in the German Debate' in
Lochead, Judy and Auner, Joseph (eds.), PostmodernMusic and Postmodern
Thought (New York andLondon:Routledge,2002),77.
P.9
postmodernity,as the disadvantageof not possessinga detachedlong view makes
the ascribingof characteristics
problematic.
When considering the concerns of these two positions, it could be argued that
a third position emerges,that of anti-modernism,a residualcategoryin which to
place practices that can be seen as a rejection of both modernism and
postmodernism.Anti-modernism, in this sense,becomesan effective term for
describingpracticesthat pursuea romanticnotion of the past and a returnto a premodernityfree of any inflection or residueof a rationalisedor industrialisedworld.
However, the plurality of postmodernism also encouragesthe re use of historical
signifiers,but herethe intent is different,wherethe anti-modernistseeksto recreate
historical styles, the postmodernistjuxtaposes historical and contemporary referents
to create dynamic juxtapositions, or playful, ironic, musical amalgams. What does
delineatethe concernsof the anti-modernistand the postmodernistis the way in
which thesetraditionsare appropriated.Wherethe anti-modernistmay seeka purity
-a
synonym for tradition -
in performancestyle and instrumentation,the
postmodernistfreely appropriatesand reuseshistoric styles, with an often-ironic
sensibility,as pasticheand collage.To highlight an exampleof an anti-modernist
practice,The Jazz Guitar Duo (JamesBirkett and Rod Sinclair), were awardedan
early music-touringaward by the Arts Council of England,to tour and perform a
repertoire of earlyjazz guitar pieces.The award, the first ever for the performanceof
jazz, was the result of an application that succeededin articulating a convincing
argument,that some historical forms of jazz are sufficiently significant as to be
classifiedunderthe termsof the Arts Council criteria as earlymusic. The recreation
5 Bradbury,Malcolm & McFarlane,James,(eds.), ModernismA Guideto European
Literature 1890-1930(London:Penguin,1991),14.
10
of earlypopularor art musicdoesn'treflectthe progressiveprinciplesof modernism,
described
be
inclusive
but
the
as
convincingly
or
plurality of postmodemism, could
historic
in
its
from
intention
to
period.
a particular
anti-modernist
recreatemusic
Although the project was recordedand distributedusing contemporaryrecording
technology and performed on contemporary instruments in a time of postmodernity,
it couldn't satisfactorily be describedas postmodernas the intention of the
life
influence
historical
to
of contemporary
performerswas recreatean
practice;any
on the product is the result of a technological pragmatism, a simple meansto an end.
In contrast, guitarist Bill Frisell, who mixes elements of contemporary jazz with
ethnicmusics,and banjo playerBela Fleck,who meldsthe stylesandtechniquesof
bluegrass banjo with synthesised sounds and contemporary instruments, could be
6
considered as actively seeking to juxtapose historical and cultural referents. Others
expressa playful, ironic sensibility, as in the work of John Zorn who assembles
disparatemusical fragmentsin overt juxtapositionsto createexaggeratedmusical
7
historical
amalgamsand a self-consciousreplaying of
styles. Where modernism
favouredthe avant-gardeover historicalreferentsandpostmodernismviews history
as an eternalpresent,anti-modernism.
reflectsa yearningfor a return to romantic
notionsof a goldenage.Kramerclaimsthat a further distinctionarisesin that:
Frisell, Bill, TheIntercontinentals(USA: Nonesuch,7559-79661-2,2003).
Bdla Fleck andthe Flecktones,Flight of the CosmicHippo (USA: Warner
Brothers,WB 9 26562-2,1991).
7Zom, John,'You Will Be Shot', NakedCity (USA: NonesuchRecords,79238,
1990).
P.11
anti-modemist yearning for the golden ages of classicism and romanticism
perpetuatesthe elitism of art music, while postmodernismclaims to be anti
elitist. 8
This reactionaryromanticismand rejectionof modernity may favour the classical
traditions, and in this sensecould be seento be elitist, but it could also include
6roots'music, folk, blues, early jazz, country and bluegrass.Both postmodernism
and anti-modernismvalue the popular, but anti-modernismvalues those popular
practices that signify authenticity and tradition. Anti-modernism therefore, is useful
as a category in which to place cultural practices that consciously signify a
romanticisedpre-industrialsociety but do not necessarilyperpetuateelitism. The
overt use of technology may also be a signifier of this division: where
postmodernism and modernism embrace technology, anti-modernist practice will
often attempt to circumvent contemporary technology and modernity, by returning to
traditional methods of performance.Therefore anti-modernismcreatesa useful
category,alongsidemodernismand postmodernism,in which to considera rangeof
contemporarypracticesandthis will be discussedin moredetail in section3.1.
1.2
Historiographic Themes
The historical development of the instrument will be considered with a
consciousnessof the postmoderndebatessurrounding the practice of history,
particularly, what Keith Jenkins refers to as 'the fact-value problematic', where
empiricism and empirical fact is interpretedthrough speculativethinking and the
8 Kramer, Jonathan,D., 'The Nature
in
Origins
Musical
Postmodernism'
and
of
Lochead, Judy and Auner, Joseph, (eds.), PostmodernMusic and Postmodern
Thought (New York andLondon:Routledge,2002), 15.
12
historical
fact.
9
The
that
the
we
place
upon
of
an
narrative can,
value
construction
inadvertently, rely upon speculative processes and a re-interpretation of fact in
for
to
the
available
evidence,
example,prior to the adventof commercial
relation
knowledge
our
recording,
of acoustic-guitar-practicc and particularly specific
in
descriptions
be
drawn
from
textual
sources:
performancecharacteristicscan only
books, reviews, and music transcriptions,and surviving instruments.As audio
recordingprovidesthe first sonic evidenceof specific performancecharacteristics,
one may be lured into consideringearly recordingsas documentaryevidenceof
performance practice and to then create a musical past by drawing a history
backwards from these recordings. With the exception of 'field' recordings, such as
ý
thoseproducedby JohnandAlan Lomax,which were intendedto providea national
archive and aural history, what may not be considered, is the mediating affect of the
recording processand the way in which the recorded artefact is, in itself, the result of
a process of selective filtering by an emerging commercial recording industry who
were attempting to establish markets for this new media."
It is also advisableto maintain an awarenessof the 'the structuringrole of
history,' in which Keith Jenkinsobservesthat the role of the historianoften relies
upon subjectivity and speculation:
9Jenkins, Keith, (ed.), The PostmodernHistory Reader (London
York:
New
and
Routledge, 1997), 7.
10Father and son
musicologists John Lomax (1867-1948) and Alan Lomax (19152002), collected field recordings of American folk music for the Library of
Congress'Archive of American Music.
p. 13
they work with traces/sourceswhich, by the use of evidential investigation, are
into
just
failing
the
into
than
shape
under
accounts
rather
narrative
mobilized
facts.
""
"the
the
of
shearaccumulation
weightof
What facts exist and what is the documentaryevidencefrom which we draw our
has
history
As
only
aural
conclusionsand constructnarrativeaccounts? a recorded
development
the
of effective recording technology and the production
existed since
later),
detail
in
(discussed
first
the
our aural
more
of
commercial recordings
perceptionof earlier performersis basedon narrative accounts,such as the one
'slide
by
hearing
black
W.
C.
describing
Handy
playing
performer
written
a
when
guitar' on Tutwiler railway station, Mississippi, in 1903:
he presseda knife on the strings of the guitar in a manner popularised by the
Hawaiian guitarists who used steel bars. The effect was unforgettable
...
12
Whilst his account is evocative, it serves as a pointer to later recorded sounds: it is
the recorded sound to which we refer and from which an aural impression can be
constructed.A documentedhistory of the instruments,performersand music,relies
books,
information
from
newspapers,
upon secondary sources of
gleaned
photographsand catalogues.Textual sourcesconsisting of manuscripts,popular
songsheetsandtranscriptionsfor the guitardo exist, for example,StefanGrossman
th
from
19
the
possesses
parlourguitar music
centuryandMaurice Summerfieldowns
"
th
large
library
late
from
18
the
century. Theseobviously
a
of guitar publications
onlYrepresentmusic from the notatedtraditions(or later transcriptionsof recorded
11Jenkins,Keith, (ed.), ThePostmodernHistory Reader(LondonandNew York:
Routledge,1997),10.
12Handy,William, C., Father of theBlues(Canada:Collier Books, 1970),74
14
performances)and are often simplified, melodically, rhythmically and harmonically,
and importantly, do not describe any performance characteristics. Some collections
in
instrument
instruments
do
for
the
of early
sectionof
exist,
example,
musical
London's Victoria and Albert museum, the Smithsonian Institute (Washington) and
in the handsof private collectorssuch as GeorgeGruhn (the proprietorof Gruhn
14
but
because
guitars)
of their age, are usually unplayable. How this incomplete
sourceof informationis interpreteddependsupon the significanceplaceduponthe
"facts." Again Jenkins comments:'To give significanceto the facts an extemal
15
is
theory of significance always needed.' Therefore an awarenessof the value and
significance that we attach to 'facts'-
empirical information -
be
to
needs
carefully considered. In this case a theory of significance may be drawn from the
primary social and cultural movements extant during the periods in which the
contemporary instrument emerged: Modernism and Postmodernism. For example,
the effect of an increasingly industrialised society on the manufacture of guitars will
be consideredwithin a contextof modemityandmodernism.
With these factors in mind the development of the contemporary acoustic
guitarwill be consideredin relationto specifickey themes,that seekto elucidatethe
social,cultural,technological,economicandartistic conditionsthat haveshapedthe
instrumentsdevelopment:
0
The Guitar:A Global Instrument.
0
Cultural Integration.
13StefanGrossmanmakesthis claim in the
email dated4h November2006
(Appendix#1). MauriceSurnmerfieldis the proprietorof Ashley Marks Publishing,
the largest importer of guitar music in the UK.
14Gruhn Guitars, 400, Broadway, Nashville, TennesseeTN37203, USA.
p. 15
0
The Arnericanisation of the Guitar.
0
American Guitar Music.
0
The Effect of Technologyon GuitarPractice.
0
Digitisation and Acousticity.
The
Guitar:
instrument
a
global
-
The contemporaryAmericanisedacousticguitar is a descendantof the 'Spanish'
guitar,an instrumentthat reachedits pinnacleof developmentin Spainaroundthe
middle of the eighteenth century. The 'Torres' guitar, designed by Antonio Torres
(1817-1892) 'the Stradivarius of the guitar', drew upon the best of what had gone
beforeto producewhat would becomethe modem'Spanish'guitar,andthe standard
design from which later guitars would be derived.16The historical narrative of the
guitar is one of a nomadic instrument, bound up with the diasporic movement of
peoplesand the colonisationof nations, it was carried to the new colonies,the
Americas,Hawaii, the Polynesianislands,Africa and the Indian subcontinent,by
Spanish and Portuguese sailors. The resultant diversity of performance styles and
repertoire reflect this distribution across geographicallydistanced social/ethnic
groups and integration into regionally specific music practices. The musical
flexibility of the guitar facilitatedan easyadaptationto the practiceof local cultures,
its transportability,accommodation
of differenttuning-systemsand functionaluseas
a rhythmic, melodic and percussiveinstrument, makes it uniquely flexible in
absorbing the demands of local systems of music. Bob Brozman (slide guitar
15Jenkins,Keith, (ed.), ThePostmodernHistory Reader (London
andNew York:
Routledge,1997),10.
16Grunfeld,FredericV., TheArt
and Timesof the Guitar - An IllustratedHistory
(New York: Da CapoPress,Incorporated,1974),282.
16
virtuoso and ethnomusicologist) suggeststhat the guitars global influence is due to
its:
diatonicapplications(specifically,the useof chords)in the West,andthe nondiatonic ideas (specifically, an orientation towards modes and drones) of
indigenousmusic from aroundthe world' and its 'multiple musicalfunctions
(monophonic, polyphonic, homophonic, drone-plus-melody, instrumental
17
versusaccompanimental).
This universality,is reflectedin the diversity of repertoireand performancestyles
that have absorbedboth global and local influences, Kevin Dawe in Guitar Cultures
suggeststhat the 'guitar exists in cultural spacenuanced by the convergenceof both
local and global forces.' 18and that:
form, tonal textures and associatedplaying techniques are the product of its
appropriation and use in a variety of locally specific musical contexts.19
Examples of this 'glocalisation 20can be found in the commonality of slide guitar
techniquesin Hawaiian slide guitar, the bottleneckblues of the Mississippi Delta
21A
Indian
and
slide guitar music.
precisehistory of slide playing is difficult to
17Smith, Christopher J., 'Celtic Guitar' in Coelho, Victor A., (ed.), The Cambridge
Com anion to the Guitar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,2003), 33.
18Bennet, Andy
and Dawe, Kevin, (eds.), Guitar Cultures (Oxford and New York:
Berg, 2001), 2.
19Ibid, 1.
20Derived from the term 'glocal'
local.
describe
to
the
the
used
mixing of
global and
21Examples of Indian
slide playing can be found on Kabra, Brij, Bushan, The Call
of the Valley (HMV ECSD 2382,1968) re- releasedon (EMI/Hemisphere, 7243-832867-2-0,1995). Hawaiian slide playing on Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters,
(Dancing Cat Records, 380382,1995) and Delta blues on House, Son, Son HouseThe Original Delta Blues (Sony, 65515,1998).
p. 17
delineate,but slide playing traditionshave beencommonin India sincebeforethe
7th Century with the 'North Indian vichitra vina and the South Indian
have
long
been
between
America
x22
India,
Hawaii
trade
routes
and
gottuvadyam and
thereforethe possibility of cross-fertilisationsof music instrumentsand
established,
techniquesis highly likely. Although the musicshave somecommonalityand the
instrumentsarederivedfrom imported'Spanish'guitars- althoughfitted with steel
strings (a trait of Portuguese guitars) -
the performance style is substantially
different and reflects the music culture of the locality: in Hawaii the Spanish guitar
brought
into
the country by Mexican herdsmanand adaptedto localisedsong
was
forms, tuned to an open major, seventhor sixth chord and played flat on the knee; in
the Southern states of America bottleneck blues was played on an Americanised
version of the Spanish guitar, which was held in standardposition, tuned to an open
G or D major chord and used to play minor pentatonicscales-
this reflected
African tonal traditionsand the slide could mimic the micro-tonalvocal inflections
of blues singing; in India the Spanish guitar, as the favoured instrument of
Portugueseand Spanishsailors,was importedinto Goa and other newly converted
'Christian' communitiesin the 16'hand 17'hcenturies,and herealthoughthe design
is not standardised
differing
the
tunings
exist
many
string
and
combinations
instrumentis played flat, as in the Hawaiiantradition, and it has beenadaptedto
Hindustani classical music where it echoes the sound of other micro-tonal
instrumentssuchasthe Indian Sitar and Sarod.23All howeverhaveevolvedfrom the
22Clayton,Martin, 'The manylives of the IndianGuitar', in Bennet,Andrewand
Dawe,Kevin (eds.), Guitar Cultures(Oxford,New York: Berg,2001), 187.
23In all cases,the slide guitartraditionsuse
guitarsfitted with steel-strings;gut
stringsdo not resonatewhenplayedwith a slide.
P.18
Spanish guitar and been adapted to accommodatea broad range of musical
performancetechniquesand the performance styles of many cultures.
Cultural
Integration
-
The socio-culturalcontextof music is intrinsic to an appreciationof the practiceof
indigenousmusics,for example,to considerthe performancesof many early blues
artistesdetachedfrom a socialcontext- the musicof a displacedpeoplein a highly
differentiated society -
would reveal a music that is harmonically and melodically
naYve,
andoften crudelyexecutedon inferior instruments.What is easilyoverlooked
are the complexity and nuances of rhythm and pitch, and a highly developed
performance idiolect. To acquire a deeper understanding of the music, and its
performers, other factors need to be considered, particularly the social role of the
bluesperformerandthe hegemonicrelationshipto the dominantsociety.Mississippi
Fred Mc Dowell (1904-72) for example, is renowned for starting songs slowly and
increasingthe tempo as the songprogresses.
He also employsan unusualrhythmic
device,placing the bassnote accentson the syncopatedoff-beats (beatstwo and
four); an unusualtechniquefor this style of music as the accentsare usuallyplaced
on beats I and 3. Knowing that he often perfonnedon solo-guitarat dances,one
that the tempovariationandrhythmicpulsearenot accidentalandaremore
assumes
likely to be conscious perfonnance traits that were engineeredto produce a forward
24
increased
momentumand
excitement. The very sound of the instrumentalso
reflects the 'homemade'nature of his music as his 'slide' sound is raucousand
brittle and may be the result of him having startedplaying with a polishedbone
24McDowell, Mississippi,F., JohnHenry (USA: RounderRecords,
CSROUN2138/01166121382 1,1995).
P.19
before moving to a glass (bottleneck) slide.
Another example could be the
by
Woody
Guthrie
(1912-67),
a
supported
was
whose
vocal
style
performer
plaintive
is
redolent of the
which
simple guitar accompaniment, using open-string chords,
25
detached
When
'cowboy'
Gene
Autry.
the
earlier guitar style of
singer-guitarist
from the historical context of the American depression,the music would lose all
historicalresonanceand diminish the value of the accompanyingguitar styleto that
of the primitive and naive musician. However, when locating the performance style
within its socio-cultural context, the American depression,the consciously simplistic
accompanying guitar style could be read as a signifier of the ordinary, the cultural
imagery of the drifter, and a reflection of the lyrical content, the plight of the
nation's poor, and a counterbalanceto the plaintive vocal style. In both examples a
mechanistic view of the musical practice would disfavour the idiosyncratic styles of
the performersand fail to recognisethis as centralto the musicalexperience.Derek
Scott, in consideringmusical style as a discursivecode, intrinsically linked to the
creationof meaning,considersthat musicstyleis:
establishedas conventionsthroughsocialpracticeand can be relatedto social
changes. Musical meaningsare not labels arbitrarily thrust upon abstract
26
soundS,
Scott argues that musical style is directly related to social practice, therefore,
vernacular music reflects the material practice of the performers: the sound of the
'bottleneck' guitar mimics the microtonal nuancesof African vocal music; the
percussiveattack of the plucking fingers,or fingerpicks,results from a needby a
25Guthrie,Woody,Library of CongressRecordings(USA: RounderRecords,
CDROUN1041/0116611042 9,1989).
p. 20
performer to generate as much volume as possible -
an important consideration
when playing for large groups of people or whilst busking outdoors.
The diversity of the guitar and its integration into culturally specific music
is
practices recognisedin postmodernism'sinsistenceof pluralist values,situated
knowledgeand cultural context; a view that recognises 'the values of specific
' and a confirmationof the statureandvalue of music
culturesandtheir differences,
which owes its existence to highly differentiated culturally located practices. 27
Vernacular and ethnic music, having been marginalised or neglected by a modernist
perspectivewhich was centredon a North Americanand Europeanaxis and which
favoured an internationalist style based on Western musical forms, can be
rehabilitated and re-valued through a postmodern perspective of plurality and
diversity. This recognition of social context allows an examination of the inherent
cultural differences in the performance of music, especially those of race, ethnicity
andgender.A reclassificationandvaluing of thesemusicshastakenplace,aidedby
the increasingavailability of previouslydeletedmusic recordingsand the work of
28
ethnomusicologists. A recent conferenceheld at LeedsMetropolitan University,
TheSoundsof the Guitar: A Global Crossroads,servesas a good exampleof the
newfoundlegitimacyandelevationin statusof vernacularmusic.Papersdeliveredat
this conference covered a wide range of examples of guitar practice from many
26Scott,Derek B., Tostmodemism
and Music' in Sim, Stuart(ed.), TheRoutledge
Companionto Postmodernism(LondonandNew York: Routledge,2005), 127.
27
lbid 123.
28FunkyJunk,specializein the
reissueof recordingsof guitar music,manyof which
havebeendeletedfrom generaldistribution.www.funkyjunk.com
p.21
Eddie
Lang,
jazz
including,
locations
diverse
the
of
styles
guitar
early
culturally
African guitar, the Cuban Tres and rock guitar.29
Guitar
The
Americanisation
the
of
-
The only guitarthat evolvedinto its presentform in Europeis the Spanish
classicalandthe steel-stringguitar is still very muchan American
instrument.30
The contemporaryguitar is the product of Europeanand Spanish guitar making
traditions that came together in nineteenth-centuryAmerica. Both the 'Spanish'
guitar and derivatives of the German guitar tradition were present in America at this
time: the former having been imported into Latin America and the USA by Spanish
colonisersandsailors,andthe latterbroughtby immigrantguitar makerssuchas
ChristianFrederickMartin from Vienna,who in 1833setup a workshopto
manufactureparlour guitars, the style of which was derived from the German guitar.
However,it was in Americathat the design,manufacture,distribution,musicalvoice
andculturalidentity of the contemporaryacousticguitar would emerge,throughan
interactionbetweenthe Europeanguitarmakingtraditionsanda particularsocial,
culturalandpolitical economy:an 'Americanization'.The historicalnarrativeof the
American acoustic guitar is intertwined with an emerging modemity, increasesin
29The Sounds the Guitar: A Global Crossroads,University
of
of Leeds, UK.
November 26-27h 2004.
30Gruhn, George, 'American Guitar: The Evolution
of the Flat-Top Steel-String
Guitar' in Menn, Don (ed), in Guitar Player Magazine IJuly 1981 (USA: GPI
Publications, 1981), 150.
p. 22
globaltravelandtrade,rapid industrialisationandthe developmentof recording,
broadcastingand amplification technologies.
The transition from 'Spanish' guitar to the contemporary acoustic guitar, took
place during the latter part of the 19thcentury, in a society that was characterisedby
highly
differentiated social structure and in an environment of rapid
a
industrialisation and commercial growth. The evolution from an agrarianto an
industrial society produced the conditions in which the 'Spanish' guitar could be
appropriated, adapted and ultimately 'Americanized'. In part the dominance of
American guitars throughout the 20th century is due to this early industrialisation;
the rise in popularity of the instrument during the last two decades of the 19th
century being coincident with the emergenceof a cash economy, the establishment
of a means of distribution and the development of nascent markets. The new 'mass
produced'guitar, given impetusby its relativecheapness,
versatility and portability,
was distributedacrossthe nation,through cataloguesand retail outlets,to satisfya
demandfor consumergoodsthat had beencreatedby the new casheconomy.This
industrialisation,marketingand distribution,allied with the cultural commonalityof
stringedinstrumenttraditions amongstAmerica's immigrant populations,created
the groundon which the guitarwould takea prime placein Americanmusic.
The infrastructure to support the industrial isation of guitar manufacture was
already in place as craftsmen were already making parlour guitars, Spanish guitars,
mandolins,ukuleles and banjos.Many of these musical instrumentmakerswere
immigrantsfrom Europewho, having escapedsocial upheavaland political unrest
settledin the USA, broughtwith them highly developedskills. A particularlygood
exampleof which areOrville Gibson,the Dopyerabrothers,and ChristianFrederick
Martin. Orville Gibson (b.1856), of Italian extraction, opened up a shop in
p.23
New York, promptedby a demandfor the popularItalian mandolin,to
Chateaugay,
financial
in
1902,
the
of
support
after attracting
manufactureand sell mandolins, and
investors, he gave his name to the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
-
Gibson went on to become one of the world's largest and most influential guitar
companies.The DopyeraBrothers,from Slovakia,set up the Dobro guitar company
in Chicago, Illinois, around 1928 and began manufacturinginstrumentswhich
combined the old world
skills
of craftsmanship, with
the technological
advancementsof the new world. Their guitars represented a direct attempt to
modernisethe acousticguitar: they were decoratedwith Art Deco motifs and the
bodies of the guitar were made from brass or steel, which was sometimesfinished in
chrome, and employed a revolutionary internal resonator, made from spun
aluminium, that substantially increased the volume of the strings. Christian
FrederickMartin from Marknekirchenin Gen-nany,a descendantof a long line of
Violin
flee
USA
the
to
the
to
the
guitar makers, emigrated
restrictive practices of
MakersGuild andsetup a guitarworkshopandstorein New York City in 1833.31
Whilst the SpanishguitarandTorresdesignbecamethe standardmodelfor classical
andflamencoguitars,the Americanmodelthat emergedin the latter part of the I 9th
century,hasbecamethe global templatefor contemporaryguitar construction.The
differences in design, the impact of industrialised processesof manufacture,the later
fitting of steel-strings and pick-up systems,have largely been establishedwithin the
USA.
Americandesignand constructiontechniqueshavehad an internationaleffect
instrument
manufactureon
certainly in the western world. Several guitar
31The violinmakers'guild was in disputewith the cabinetmakers
guild (to which
Martin belonged),to limit the makingof musicalinstrumentsto their own members.
p. 24
companies,includingHagstrom.in Sweden,Hofher, Framus,Hoyer,Hopf andKlira
in Germany and later Yamaha in Japan, started to mass-produce guitars in the
American style. Some guitar companies did produce significantly different
instruments,for example, the Maccaferri-Selmar company (Paris), using designsby
Italian classicalguitar playerMario Maccaferri,producedan instrumentwhich was
particularlyresonant,loud and possessed
a cutting quality that would project in any
ensemble and became the favoured instrument of Belgian gypsy guitarist Django
Reinhardt.32All of the given examples however, excepting Yamaha and Hagstrom,
have capitulated to an American dominance. As an example of this hegemony, or
just simple economic dominance, the Levin guitar company founded in Sweden in
the early 1900s by H. C.Levin, a luthier who trained at the American Martin Guitar
I
Co., was 'bought out' by Martin who wanted to secure their supply of tone woods
and, as they had started to become very good guitar makers, to remove their
competition. The dominance in world markets of the Americanised guitar is a result
America of many skilled luthiers,
of the comingtogetherin mid-nineteenth-century
the early industrialisationof the processes
of guitar making andthe nascentmarkets
for the instrumentwithin a broad rangeof immigrant groupswho alreadyplayed
stringed instruments.The most successfulnon-American guitar manufacturers
produceguitars to fulfil specialistneeds: Stefan Sobell (England) and Lowden
Guitars (Northern Ireland) produce guitars that use a different internal bracing
systemand constructiontechniquesto achievea different resonantresponse- one
32In CharlesAlexander'sMasters
ofJazz Guitar (p.26) and in Charles,Delaunay's
Django Reinhardt, Reinhardt appearsin severalphotographsplaying a Maccafferi
guitar.
p.25
which is popularwith playerswho use 'dropped' opentunings,for exampleplayers
of Celtic music.
American made guitars continue to dominate global markets, not only in monetary
value and scale of distribution, but significantly, in cultural value. John Storey,
referringto the ideasof Marx, commentsthat:
whereaspeopletend to consumecommoditiesof capitalismon the basisof
their use-value. Commodities are valued for their symbolic significance.33
The American guitar has come to signify a cultural embodiment of American music,
the effect of which will be examinedlater. A continueddominanceof American
produced or styled guitars prevails and whilst in some casesthis may be a reflection
of a qualitative difference, it is also symptomatic of the perceived authenticity and
status as a cultural icon of the American guitar. A status that is reflected in the
almostfetishisticdominanceof Americanguitarsin revivalist traditions;it is rareto
seea professional country music guitarist playing anything but an American guitar.
American
Guitar
Music
integration
product
of
racial/ethnic
-a
It is a commonlyheld view, that in mid-nineteenth-century
America,the guitarwas
usedto play EuropeanClassicalmusicandParloursongsandthat it was:
little morethan a parlor (sic) instrumentwith which ladieswith pretensionsto
breeding could play light and pleasantMUSiC.
134
Tim Brookesquestions'the canardthat in the nineteenthcenturythe guitar was a
ladiesparlour instrument',adding that nineteenth-century
America saw the guitar
33Storey,John,Cultural Theory
andPopular Culture(New York: HarvesterWheatsheaf,1993),198.
p. 26
daughters)
farmers'
'Farmers
(and
America
that
and
played
wives
spreadacross
and
35Miners, cowboys, soldiers, whalers on whale ships, and
dances.
guitars at square
Mark Twain, who ownedan instrumentandcarriedit on his travels,shareda passion
for it. The guitar appearsto have been widely establishedacrossthe popular musical
life of the United States of America and significantly, it becameincreasingly
important in the styles of music that would shape the musical landscapeof
twentieth-centuryAmerican music: country, blues, folk, popular song andjazz.
The cultural melange precipitated by mass migration into North America
brought together peoples from Latin and Central America, Polynesia, Europe, Asia
and Africa. Racial and cultural differentiation, the enforced mixing created by
immigration and the slave trade, the coalescing of ethnic groups and the collision of
differing musical cultures would precipitate the formation of a multiplicity of hybrid
music styles;the cumulativeeffect of which becomesevident in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. David Evans suggest that it is significant that the most
took placewhereAfrican traditionsandEuropean
substantialmusicaldevelopments
stylesmerged:
The exceptionalcaseswheremoredistinctiveguitar stylesweredevelopedcan
almostalwaysbe explainedas influencesfrom black-originatedstyles-
the
mix of the music of the African slave and European traditions such a ragtime
34Green,Douglas,'The Guitar in early CountryMusic', in Guitar PlayerMagazine
(eds.), Guitar Player Book.(GrovePress,GuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),281.
35Brookes,Tim, Guitar An AmericanLife (New York: GrovePress,2005),4 1.
p.27
blues
and
guitar around the beginning of the twentieth century, Hawaiian
in
36
in
1910s
1920s
jazz
1940s.
1930s
the
the
guitar
and
and
guitar
and
Whilst thesedatesare useful as indicatorsof generalisedmovements,the guitars
patternof developmentis often multifarious and interconnectedand it becomes
problematicto attempt to locate discreteand distinct histories. Each immigrant
populationbrought with them their favoured instrumentand music practice:the
bania, a skin-covered gourd instrument from West Africa and a forerunner of the
banjo; the Spanish and flamenco guitar from Spain; the mandolin and mandolin
orchestrasfrom Italy; the ukulele and Hawaiian slide guitar from Hawaii and the
fiddle and bagpipetraditions from the 'Celtic' countries. The guitar was:
one of many stringed instruments, and combinations of one kind or
another - including banjo orchestras,mandolin orchestras,Hawaiian groups,
Mexican mariachi groups, minstrel groups, and 'Gypsy' bandS,37
it could be thereforeeasily integratedinto a diverseand expansiverangeof music
traditions.
The early formative guitar styles of blues,jazz and country music, clearly
demonstratethe blending of different styles: in blues and country guitar traditions
'bottleneck' guitar or 'steel guitar' were most probablyinfluencedby, respectively,
the primitive didley bow and Polynesian/Hawaiian slide guitar.38 They share the
36Evans,David, 'The Guitar in the Blues Music the Deep South' in Bennett.
of
Andy, and Dawe,Kevin, (eds.), Guitar Cultures (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2001),
13.
37 Boone, Graeme M., 'The Guitar in Jazz' in Coelho, Victor A., (ed.), The
CamhridgeCompanionto the Guitar (Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press,
2003),67.
p. 28
capability to produce glissandos and microtonal slurs, imitating the vocal stylistic
swoopsof both musical styles, but differ in perfon-nancestyle and musical language.
The bluesguitar is often playedsolo, held in a standardupright position, and used
primarily to play minor pentatonic scales and simple fretted chords, whereas, the
countryslideguitaris usuallyplayedaspart of an ensemble,performedflat anduses,
primarily, major tonalities. The guitar duos of Lonnie Johnsonand Eddie Lang
brought together blues and early jazz, on the track 'Blue Guitars' (1927), Johnson
plays an improvisation on his nine-string guitar over a 12 bar accompaniment
providedby Lang and whilst the improvisationof Johnsonand the form is redolent
of early blues, Lang provides a sophisticated accompaniment which includes a
walking bass line, chordal interjections, chordal inversions and contrapuntal lines an accompaniment more akin to early jazz and one which demonstrates his
39 Fingerpicking styles that use the
knowledgeof the western harmonic system.
thumb to play a bassline and one or more fingers to pick out chordal notesand
melodiesare commonin both countryand bluesguitar but were originally found in
bluesmusic; country finger picking legendSamMcGee recalls learningthe guitar
from two blackrailroadworkers,andPalmerMoore in TheRootsof ThumbPicking
38An instrumentcreatedby stretching
a pieceof wire betweentwo fixed points,
alonga pieceof wood or fixed betweena cabinwall andthe floor, thenraisedon a
bridgeformedfrom nails or a brick, the instrumentwasthenplayedby sliding a
metalor glassobjectalongits lengthto producea sliding note.
39Re releasedon Lang,Eddie,'Blue Guitars',EddieLang: Guitar Virtuoso(USA,
Yazoo1059,1989).
p.29
zrefersto the Afro-Americanorigins of this style, 'which unfortunatelycameto be
known as nigger pickin'. 40The degreeto which differences in guitar style servedto
defineone group in relationto anothershouldn't be ignored,and it is of interestto
note the predominance of particular immigrant groups within specific musical
idiomsandto reflecton the causallinks:
by the time the TwentiethCenturywasa decadeor two old, two thirds (oo the
East Coast of arch-top jazz guitars and nine-tenths ofjazz guitarists, it seemed
were ltaliarýl
This link betweenthe Italian immigrant community andjazz guitar is noteworthy
and leadsto speculation about the musical characterof the Italian stringed
instrument traditions, particularly, any commonalities of practice. The popularity of
the Italianmandolintradition.is evidencedin the existenceof mandolinorchestras
andinstrumentmanufacturers
establishedasmandolinmakers.The Martin website
statesthat:
During the 1890s,with the massiveimmigrationof Italiansinto the United
States,the mandolin(an instrumentof Italian origin) becameincreasingly
42
popular.
" Green,Douglas, 'The Guitar in early Country Music', in Guitar Player Magazine
(eds.), Guitar Player Book. (Grove Press,Guitar Player Books, 1983), 28 1.
And Moore, Palmer, 'The Roots of Thumb Picking', The Ohio Fingerstyle Club.
http://ofgz.bizland.com.therootsofthumbpicking.htm (03.22.2007).
41Brookes, Tim, Guitar An American Life (New York: Grove Press,2005), 44.
42Martin Guitar Co. History'. Chapter 5: Testing Young Man's Character,
a
http://www. martinguitar.com/history/chap7.html (20 Aug. 2004).
p. 30
As there is considerableevidenceof the popularity of the mandolin amongstthe
Italian immigrantcommunity,it would be reasonable
to assumethat the first musical
listening
be
Italian-American
to or
through
experienceof many
guitar players would
performingon the mandolin,also, as the virtoustic plectrumtechniquesassociated
with the mandolinarealso commonto the plectrumbanjo and earlyjazz guitar,this
43
shouldn'tpasswithout comment. Eddie Lang (real nameSal Massarow),the son
of an Italian immigrant and instrument maker, is widely regarded as the first great
jazz guitar player. He revolutionised the instrument with a musical sensibility born
from having studied the classical guitar, and a prodigious technique that
demonstrateda consummatetechnical command of intricate picking techniques
44
including cross-picking, tremolando and the execution of rapidly picked notes. All
of these techniques are common to instruments which are played with a plectrum:
the Italian guitar school,the mandolinand later the popularplectrumbanjo,andit is
well documented that many of the great early jazz guitar players, Fred Van Eppes
(father of George Van Epps), Django Reinhardt and Eddie Lang played plectrum
banj 45
.
43Orville Gibson(of Italian descent)formedthe GibsonMandolin-Guitar
manufacturingCompany(Kalamazoo,Michigan)in 1902,but hadbeen
manufacturingmandolinsandguitarssinceabout 1896.Gibsonalsopromotedthe
mandolinorchestra.Wheeler,Tom,AmericanGuitars-AnIllustrated History (USA:
HarperPerennial,1990),94-99.
44Cross-pickingrequiresthe
playerto accuratelypick non-adjacentstrings.
45FredVan Eppescanbe heard
playingplectrumbanjoon TheGreatestGuitarists
You'veNeverHeard Of, ThePioneers(1915-1934)volumeI (Australia:Cumquat
Records,GWCD-1001,1999).
A photographof DjangoReinhardtplayingplectrumbanjo is printed in Delaunay,
Charles,Django Reinhardt(New York: Da CapoPress,1961).
p.31
Blues, a reflection of the acculturationof African slavesin an environment
dominatedby their white, largely European, masters,provides a good example of the
hybridisation of African and European musical influences. The emancipation of the
for
instruments
burgeoning
the
availability of cheap
sawa
market massslavesand
producedguitars. Nineteenth-centuryaccountsof the developmentof folk music
don't mentionthe guitar until around 1890,then suddenlybetween1890and 1910
'the guitar is everywhere in the rural South'; Evans ascribes this phenomenato an,
'age of industrialism, manufacturing, invention, and growing consumerism in
American life'. 46Having arrived in the South the guitar offered a readily available
and versatile stringed instrument that could be readily appropriated by the AfroAmerican community. The relative newness of the instrument and lack of cultural
stereotypesis probably significant:
For blacks in particularthe guitar also lackedany residualassociationswith
slavery, minstrel music and its demeaningstereotypes,or even with the
South.47
The playing techniques, musical form and structure, express significant elementsof
African musical traditions superimposedon the American guitar and function
expressivelyasa vehiclefor the idiosyncraticmusicalvoice of the African slave.
The bluestradition that absorbedthe guitarandtheseoutsidemusicaland
cultural influences was firmly basedin a pre-existing African American
musicalculturewith manystylistic characteristics,
structuralelements,and
46Evans,David, 'The Guitar in the Blues Music the Deep South' in Bennett.
of
Andy, and Dawe, Kevin, (eds.), Guitar Cultures (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2001),
13.
47
lbid, 13.
p. 32
musicalinstrumentsstemmingultimatelyfrom the African musicaland
cultural background of southernblacks, 48
The micro-tonalandpercussivecharacteristicsof African music are exhibitedin the
playing of early rural-blues guitarists such as Son House, who used a bottleneck to
producesliding notesandmicro tonal alterationsin pitch, and the percussivenature
49
body
to producerhythmicslaps. The fixed semi-tonalintervalsof the
of the guitar
guitar were overcome by either, pushing the string across the polished frets (string
bends), or sliding a piece of metal, bone or glass up and down the length of the
string (slide) to produce micro-tonal changes in pitch, and in the case of slide,
elaborateglissandos.The hollow construction of the guitar body has an almost drum
like quality and reactsto percussivetapping and slaps on the body.50
From an early incorporation into the blues, particular areas of the country
developedtheir own stylistic variations;the MississippiDelta areasproducedmany
slide guitar exponents, Missippi Fred McDowell, Robert Johnson and Son House,
whilst the Piedmontarea- locatedbetweenthe Appalachianmountainsto the west,
the Atlantic coastto the east,Washington,D.C. to the north and Atlanta city to the
south-
produceda group of guitar playerswho playeda style basedon ragtime.
The main exponentsof this style, Blind Willie MeTell, Blind Blake, Blind Boy
Fuller, The Reverend Gary Davis, and Barbecue Bob, developed complex finger
picking techniques, where the melody and harmony were picked with the fingers,
and the thumb executedpowerful bass lines, often reminiscentof the left-hand
48
lbid, 11.
49House, Son, 'Death Letter', Son House-The Original Delta Blues (Sony, 65515,
1998).
50The use of
percussiveslapping techniquesis common to several guitar styles and
is discussedin section3.
p.33
techniqueof ragtimepianists.'SouthernRag' recordedby Blind Blake in the 1920s
is a good example of this technique.51The Piedmont style more clearly reflects an
integration of African music and the songsterrepertoires of the white communities,
than the Mississippi Delta blues, and this probably reflects the demographic
differencesbetweenboth regionsas the Piedmontareawas more racially integrated
thanthe South.
The guitar appearedcomparatively late in the history of country music, whose
roots are centuries long, and predates commercial recording by no more than two
decades.Its introduction is credited to black players and the effect of blues
fingerpicking styles on country guitar picking has been discussed earlier. Douglas
Greencommentson the influence of black blues performers on country-guitar styles:
Many performers, in fact, adopted an extremely bluesy style: Jimmie Rodgers,
the Mississippi Blue Yodeler, of course comes to mind, but Cliff Carlisle, for
example, played extremely bluesy tunes on his acoustic steel guitar... 52
Comparedto bluesthe guitar took on a role of accompanimentand only cameinto
its own when influential performerssuchas Maybelle Carterdevelopeda variation
in picking style, known as 'Carter picking', which was more elaborateand became
increasinglypopular-the style is characterised
by pickedbassandmelodynoteson
the lower strings interspersedwith syncopatedchords. The formative country styles
would later influence a new generation of 'country pickers', including Chet Atkins
and Merle Travis, who developedelaborateand complex picking styles. In the
Southwestthe influencecamefrom a differentsource:
5'Blake, Blind, 'SouthernRag', TheBest
ofBlind Blake (Yazoo,2058,2000).
52Green,Douglas,'The Guitar in
early CountryMusic', in Guitar PlayerMagazine
(eds.), Guitar Player Book.(GrovePress,GuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),281.
p. 34
Spanishsettlers,who broughtwith them guitars,transferredtheir love of this
instrumentto the bordervaqueros(cowboys),who in turn influencedboth with
the instrumentandwith the music-cowboysnorth of the border.53
Mexicancowboysintroducedboth black andwhite cowboysto their populartwelvestringguitar;an instrumentwhich retainedthe tradition commonin earlierEuropean
to increasethe volume of the
guitar music of arrangingstrings in double-courses
instrument.
The influence of Hawaiian and Polynesian guitar styles, particularly the slide
guitar and the use of open tunings, emergedafter the U. S. took control of Hawaii in
1898. Before long, touring vaudeville troupes brought the music, the ukulele, and
the Hawaiian guitar to the United States,stimulating a boom in the popularity of the
ukulele: in the 1920s the Martin Co., which was already set up to manufacture
guitars, turned to the production of ukuleles and 'Christian Frederick Martin III
estimatesthat the companyturned out nearly twice as many ukuleles as guitars
during the 20s. 54Although David Evanssuggeststhat Hawaiian guitar stylesfirst
influencedAmerican guitar music in the 1910s,there is evidence,in the account
describedby W.C. Handyin his autobiographical
Father of the Blues,to suggestthat
slide guitar techniqueswere being integratedas early as 1903. Any attempt to
however to identify discrete developmental pathways of instrumental style and to
isolate each strain of this tradition is probably unwise, but it is evident, that 'slide'
guitar style was assimilatedearly into bluesand its assimilationinto countrymusic
is likely to be a combinationof both blues and Hawaiian influence
53
Ibid, 281.
546
Martin Guitar Co. History', Chapter7: Riding
the UkuleleBoom
http://www.martinguitar.com/history/chap7.
html (20 Aug.2004).
p.35
this can be
in
is
flat
Hawaiian
in
fact
by
that
the
as
supported
slide guitar countrymusic played
became
Dixon
Frankie
Marvin,
Cliff
Carlisle
Dorsey
In
styles. country music,
and
great experimentersand the slide guitar was featured on many of Jimmie Rodgers'
55
during
(1927-1933).
the period
recordings
The guitar, during the latter yearsof the 19th and the first decadesof the 20'h
century,had beenadaptedto a wide variety of styles,blues,country, popularsong
and to some extent jazz, but in differing ways and to differing degrees. The
instrument, which was particularly suited to a solo or accompanying role to other
stringedinstrumentsandthe voice,was lesssuitedto ensemblesthat includedbrass,
woodwind, piano and percussion, as in the case of jazz, where its inherently low
volume level restricted its use. By the time radio broadcasting (1920) and recording
(1925) had developed into a functioning medium, the Americanised guitar was well
established,both in designand musical role, but it was the new technologiesthat
would providenew musical settingsin which the relatively quiet intimatesoundof
the instrumentcould be introducedto new audiences.
The
Effect
Technology
Guitar
Practice
of
on
Recording and Broadcasting.
The effectsof modernity,industrialisation,the birth of a consumereconomyand
most potently the creation of effective systemsof recording, reproduction, broadcast
in guitar musicandradicallyaffectedthe
anddistribution,precipitateda renaissance
waysin which the instrumentwasto develop.Tim Brookessuggeststhat:
55Rodgers,Jimmie, TheSingingBrakeman(BearFamily BCD 15540,1992).
p. 36
Everythingimportantthat happenedto the guitaractuallyhappenedbetween
1928and 1941,andthe guitarwent from beinga nineteenth-century
56
instrument
in
just
fourteen
instrument to a modern
years.
The beginning of this period of radical transition, 1928, is synchronouswith the
developmentof advancedsystemsof broadcastingandrecording,andthe latterdate,
1941,the periodin which the solid-bodiedelectricguitar found a new voicewhich
its acousticcharacter.
transcended
Although acoustic recording had beentaking place since around 1890 it was
by
1925
that
not until
records produced the modem system of electrical recording
becamecommercially available. Where acoustic recording relied upon the volume
and power produced as musicians gatheredaround and played loudly into a
recording hom, the sensitivity of electrical recording could capture a relatively quiet
loud
detailed,
In
the
signalandproducea moresophisticated,
recording. earlyjazz,
stridentsoundof the banjodominatedthe rhythm sectionandalthoughguitarscan
Buddy
in
be
in
of
sometimes seen photographsof earlyensembles,
as a photograph
57
Bolden'sOrchestratakenin 1895,it is the banjothat dominatesearlyrecordings.
The delicatenuancesof the guitar hadup to this time determinedits role asan
instrumentfor solo performanceor part of a small ensembleof otherstring
instruments,but with improvementsin recordingtechnologiesanddevelopmentsin
instrument design the guitar beganto transcendits functional use as an
accompanyinginstrument and move from a utilitarian to a symbolic and artistic role.
Kittler talks of the illusion createdby recording,wherethe most intimatewhisper
56Brookes,Tim, Guitar An AmericanLife (New York: GrovePress,2005), 135.
57Dale,Rodney,The WorldofJazz (Oxford: PhaidonPressLtd., 1980),20-21.
p.37
appearsto be presentin the ear,a hallucination,andsimulation,madepossibleby
the intimacy of the recorded sound:
The soundof "music in my eae,canonly exist oncemouthpiecesand
microphonesarecapableof recordinganywhisper.As if therewereno
distancebetweenthe recordedvoice andlisteningears,58
Recordingwasableto capturethe delicacyandintimacyof the acousticguitarand
relocateit in a closer,moreintimate,relationshipto the listener.In radio
broadcasting:
A guitar or two in a tiny studio was ideal for radio. To the listener, it was like
hearing a private performance in one's own living room. The guitar's
greateststrength, its intimacy, was finally able to come to terms with the
59
vastnessof America.
It wasthis 'vastness'of Americathat would producea largerangeof diversemusic,
that couldnow be transmittedacrosslargegeographic,socialandethnicfrontiers
andhadthe potentialto producesubstantialmarketsfor the newly recordedproducts
andplaybacksystems.For the first time, performers,ratherthan composers,whose
work wasdistributedassheetmusic,couldbe heardwhereverthe equipmentwas
available.This marksa significantdevelopmentin that performancestyle,idiolect,
individualmusicalvoice and interpretationcould achieveprecedence
overthe
notatedcomposition. The first radio broadcastin the USA took place 1920 and:
58Kittler, Friedrich A., Gramophone,Film, Typewriter (California:
Stanford
UniversityPress,1999),37.
59Brookes, Tim, Guitar An American Life (New York: Grove
Press,2005), 88.
p. 38
In 1922the AmericanSocietyof ComposersandPublishers(ASCAP)and
the Music Publishers' Protective Association (MPPA) made it illegal to
60
broadcastrecordS.
As all performanceswere therefore live, this createdtwo sourcesof income for
for
for
broadcast,
As
live
sale
musicians:recordings
and
radio performance.
- not
it
delicate
favoured
the broadcasting
the
the
as
guitar,
medium
restrainedvolumeof
waseasierto broadcastthana larger,louderensemble,the guitarbecameextremely
popular. Also, radio broadcastingemergedat the sametime as the Hawaiian guitar
boom, a time when the guitar was at a peak of popularity.
In the field of blues, Sylvester Weaver recordedthe first solo-blues guitar
recording, 'Guitar Blues' on November 23rd 1923, followed in 1926 by Blind
Lemon Jefferson and Blind Blake 61In country music recording had begun earlier
.
but it wasnot until 1922that the first hillbilly recordswererecorded;the record
companieshavingfoundout that the musicsold aswell as:
othernon-legitimatemusic,blues,sold aswell as or betterthanthe operasand
62
showtunesthey wereso fond of recording.
The two-guitarformat becameextremelypopular,particularly in countryand blues,
which was alreadyrooted in the tradition of the guitar. Severalrecordswith a twoguitar line up were recorded, for example 'Frisco Town' with Memphis Minnie and
Kansas Joe McCoy, where the fonner sang and both played guitar, and others
60Brookes,Tim, Guitar An AmericanLife (New York: GrovePress,2005),85.
61Weaver,Sylvester,CompleteRecordedWorksVol.1 (1923-27)(Document
Records,DOCD-5112,1992).
62Green,Douglas,'The Guitar in Early CountryMusic' in Guitar PlayerMagazine,
(eds.), TheGuitar Player Book (GrovePressGuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),281.
p.39
including Big Bill Broonzy and Frank Brasswell, Charley Patton and Willie Brown,
Frank Stokesand Dan Sane,and Willie Walker and Sam Brookes.63
It is however,in the field ofjazz guitarthat developmentsin modern
technologieshadthe mostsignificanteffect,asearlyjazz guitar developedin tandem
with instrumentdesignandelectricalrecordingtechnology.Essentialto this
developmentwerethe highlightingpropertiesofferedby the recordingmedium,
wherethe instrumentalistcould be movedcloserto the recordingmicrophone,in
relationto otherinstruments,andit wasthis that madepossiblethe full rangeof
melodic,rhythmicandpercussivepossibilities.The microphone,functioningasa
moveable 'ear', could be creatively placed in the performance spaceto capture a
particular balanceof instruments, and it this mechanical changethat had a profound
64
instrument.
the
The functional and compositional possibilities
effect on
role of the
of the 'American' guitar, having been previously restricted by its volume, developed
a new sonic freedom; the guitar could be the primary focus in any ensembleand
therefore suitable as an instrument for seriouscomposition.
It was in the form of the jazz guitar duo that the compositional and arranging
possibilities of the instrument could be fully exploited. Where previously the
performance role in guitar duos was divided between rhythm and accompaniment,
63Minnie, MemphisandMcCoy,KansasJoe,'Frisco Town' Queen Country
of
Blues,(UK: JSP,7716,2003).
64In the recordingof Perfectby EddieLang (1927),the
guitar is highlightedby
placingit closerto the microphonethanthe accompanyingpiano.Re releasedon
Lang,Eddie,'Perfect'EddieLang Guitar Virtuoso(USA, Yazoo 1059,1989).The
Quintettedu Hot Club de Franceareillustratein a photographtakenin Parisin 1939
in theMastersofJazz guitar (p 26) carefullypositionedarounda recording
microphonewith the main melodicinstruments,guitar andviolin positionedcloser
to the microphone.
p. 40
the earlyjazz duetsfeatureda more advancedlevel of arrangement,with melodic
and rhythmic interplay divided between the performers. One of the prime exponents
of jazz guitar, Eddie Lang, recordedguitar duets with the Afro-American blues
guitarist Lonnie Johnson. Lang brought a European musical sensibility, having
undergonea classical musical training, and a virtoustic plectrum technique,
developedthroughplayingplectrumbanjo,andJohnson,an expertisein bluesguitar.
Although the guitar duet was not a new concept -
Roy Harvey, Leonard Copeland
and JessJohnson had teamed up in the late 1920's to perform duets which drew on
turn-of-the-centuryparlour-guitarstyles,as well as bluestechniquesborrowedfrom
black musicians -
it was the new sophisticated arrangements and virtuosic
performanceof Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson that projected acoustic-guitar music
65
heights.
Eddie Lang, having trained in the European tradition, was
to new
renownedfor his ability to lay down basslines and chordalruns in the style of the
stride piano and Lang and Johnson pieces often featured Lang playing an
accompanyingrole and Johnsonplaying melody and improvisedlines on his ninestring guitar.66Teaming up two guitars offered the composersand performers many
musicalopportunities,Liebersoncomments,'there are unlimited possibilitiesin the
combinationof single-string leads, chord solos, finger picking, and flat-picking
65Harvey, Roy, CompleteRecorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume2 19281929 (Document Records, DOCD-8051,1999.
66The twelve-string
guitar was probably introduced to blues performers of the South
by Mexican cowboys; twelve string instruments being popular in traditional
Mexican music, and it was common practice to remove three of the strings
the
octave strings on the bottom three strings - to produce a nine string instrument.
This made it easier to play accompanying bass lines with the thumb on the bottom
three strings.
p.41
67 As both instruments
,
styles.
could produce, single-string
lines, chords and a
rhythmic percussive pulse, numerous possibilities were created for composition and
arranging. Carmen Mastren and Albert Harris (English guitar player) wrote duets
published in 1942, but not recorded, which combined double stops and triads to
create four and five-part harmonies. 'The guitarists play syncopations in imitation of
band arrangements and create three and four part harmonies not possible on a single
instrument, 68
The arrangementswere often highly evolved, exhibiting sectional composition
and elaborate modulation, and required virtoustic performance ability. They broke
with the conventions of the classical guitar duet in that many recordings combined
modem compositional forms with improvised sections and some were pre
dominantly improvised 69 The duets, in terms of composition, sonic landscape,
.
performance style, consumption and distribution, were a true reflection of an
engagement
with the modemworld and could be seenas a modernistresponseto a
changingenvironment.It was modernitythat shapedthe very natureof the music,
the instrumentswere mass-produced,
featurednew designs,fitted with heavy-gauge
70
distributed
latest
steel-stringsandrecordedand
technology.
usingthe
67Lieberson,Richard,'Guitar Duos', in GuitarPlayerMagazine(eds.), Guitar
PlayerBook(GrovePress,GuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),262.
68
lbid, 262.
69'Bull FrogMoan', by EddieLang
andLonnieJohnson,containelementsof
compositionandimprovisation.GiantsOf The.4cousticJazzGuitar, VoL2The
GreatDuets(Australia:CQCD-2752,1999).
70Contemporaryinstruments
areusuallyfitted with a setof stringsthat rangefrom
th
0-012-0-054'hofan inch,the stringsusedby EddieLang rangedfrom, 0.015-0-075
of an inch: 20% thicker.
GEARFEATURE-IASP(2.4.07)
www.acousticguitar.
com/article/172/172,7431,
p. 42
The earlyjazz guitarduosadoptedthe arch-topped,cello-guitar,a transitional
instrument from banjo to the electric guitar: transitional becauseit would be this
styleof guit4rthat would be later fitted with the first electricguitar pick-upand
ultimatelydevelopinto the solid-bodiedelectricguitar.Although the arch-topdid
not havethe full acousticresonance
of a flat-top guitar, its designhighlighted
middle,ratherthanthe lower andupperfrequencies,makingit the perfectinstrument
for 'cutting' throughthe harmonicallydenserhythmsectionof dancebandsandthe
complex tonalities of guitar duets. Eddie Lang played a Gibson L5, a new design
which commencedproductionin 1923andfeaturedT sound-holes(I ike a cello)
ratherthana roundsound-hole,on which the stringslie acrossthe bridgeandare
attachedto a tailpiece which exerts a downward thrust onto the soundboardunlike the flat-top, where the strings are fixed behind the bridge pulling the
soundboard
upwards.The guitarswerefitted with steel-strings,which, although
Wh
in
late
the
available
century,werenot fitted to factory-producedinstrumentstill
1922.Steelstringswerelouderthangut strings,hada moreevenmusicalresponse,
andproduceda soundthat wascapableof cuttingthroughothermusicaltexturesand
ideallysuitedto the new recordingenvironment.
Despitethe late start- the endof the 1920sand beginningof the 1930s-a
flourish of recordingswere produced,and to satisfy the demandfor new guitar
music simplified transcriptions and a tutor book (written by Eddie Lang) were
71The popularityof the guitar duo led to the formationof moreduosand
published.
the releaseof more recordings,the most significant being by Carl Kress and Dick
McDonough, who reached new degrees of sophistication with material that
71Lang,Eddie.(ed.DaveBerend)ModemAdvancedGuitar Method(New York:
RobbinsMusic Corporation,1935).
p.43
containedrubato sections,modulations,ballad interludesand tempo changes,that
were structurally, harmonically, and rhythmically complex. John Cali and Tony
Gottuso releasedsix duet-recordingsand Carl Kress and Mottola duets, which
continuedinto the 1940's,sometimesaddedclarinet,bassanddrums.
The relianceupon and affect of the broadcastmedium is evident in the fact
thatthe dVformat, which wasvery popularduringthe 1920s,1930sand 1940s,was
neverperformedlive until the adventof the electric guitar. It is significantthat this
creative outpouring of material existed only within the realm of recording and
broadcasting and that the first 'live' performances did not take place until 1961
when Kress formed a duo with George Bames and they became among the first to
72
adopt the electric guitar:
Up until Barnes and Kress, jazz guitar duos had performed only on recordings
andradio. BarnesandKresswent out into the clubs andconcerthalls, playing
73
to enthusiasticaudiences.
It is significantthat the guitar duo was restrictedin its performancerole until the
developmentof the electric guitar pick up andthat a returnto acousticperformance
of jazz guitar duo andtrios did not take placeuntil the adventof the acousticguitar
pick-up,the piezotransducer.
The Intemational Effect of Recording and Broadcasting
72Barnes,GeorgeandKress,Carl, GuitarsAnyone?(Audiophile Records,ACD-87,
2004).
73Lieberson, Richard, 'Guitar Duosin Guitar Player Magazine (eds.), The Guitar
PlayerBook (GrovePressGuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),262.
p. 44
Thebirth of the commercialrecordindustryhada profoundeffect outsideof the
USA asrecordedmusicfiltered acrossthe world. In Europeit broughtthe soundof
'American'musicto indigenousperformersandasrecordingsbeganto flow in both
directions,the patternof influenceanddevelopmentof stylebecamecircular.The
virtuosticperformanceof DjangoReinhardt(1910-53),formerly a plectrumbanjo
andviolin player,who wassteepedin a tradition of FrenchpopularandGypsy
music,wasinfluencedby Americanjazz andbluesandparticularlyby guitarplayer
Eddie Lang (1902-33); his teaming up with violinist Stefan Grappeli has strong
parallels with the combination of Eddie Lang and violinist Joe Venuti.
Delauneywrites that in Paris, in the early 1930s,jazz was considereda cacophony,
discordantand reservedfor Negroes, but the effect of Django Reinhardt's quintet
wasto absorbjazz into their own particularsound:
With the arrival of the quintetandthe reassuringpresenceof string
instruments,jazz becamea more delicate music, one that could be more easily
74
by
assimilated outsiders,
The commonalityof stringedinstrumentsin Frenchmusic(Django'squintetwas
jazz from
comprisedof two guitars,violin anddoublebass)andguitar-based
Americaseemedto form a bridgebetweenthe two musicsandsuit Frenchmusical
tastes.In a circularmotion,Django'ssuffusionofjazz with the exoticismof gypsy
passion,crossedthe Atlantic to influence American guitar players; creating a cycle
of musicalinfluencebetweenAmericanandEuropeanmusicandonethat is still
activeandthriving: Birelli Lagrene(born into a Belgiangypsyfamily andsteepedin
the Djangotradition) performsEuropeangypsyinfluencedmusic,Americanjazz
standardsandjazz funk, andHowardAlden (Americanborn) amongstothersplays
74Delaunay,Charles,DjangoReinhardt(New York: Da CapoPress,1961),71.
p.45
in a gypsy guitar style.75Similarly in Latin America, the guitar having been brought
by SpanishandPortugesecolonistsandimbibedthe existingmusicalfolk anddance
cultures,was influencedby the musicof the USA andEurope.Brazilian guitarists,
OscarAleman (1937-2000) played in a swing guitar style similar to Django
ReinhardtandBadenPowell (1909-1980)absorbedjazz influencesinto traditional
dancestyles,the SambaandBossaNova.76Thesemusicalhybridswould
themselvesbe exportedto the USA; for example,in 1962bossanovahada lasting
effect on the American jazz scene:
a group of Brazilian musicians,including Laurindo Almeida (1917-95),Bola
Sete (1928-87), Jodo Gilberto (b. 1931) and Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-94),
blended their native musical traditions with the soft-spoken, relaxed
sophistication of cool jam in the later 195OS77
The effect of the bossa-novaguitar style had a lasting effect on American guitar
playing and introduced the nylon strung 'classical' guitar into jazz. American
guitaristCharlieByrd (1925-1999),alreadya classicalguitar player,usedthe nylonstrung guitar, with its musical referents of Spain and flamenco, in his own hybrid
75Alden, Howard, 'I'll SeeYou In My Dreams' Sweet
and Lowdown (Sony,
SK89019,2000).
Lagrene,Bireli, My Favourite Django (France: Dreyfus FDM 36574-2,1995).
76Aleman, Oscar, Swing Guitar Masterpieces (USA: Acoustic Disc, ACD-29,
1998).
Powell, Baden,Afro Sambas.(USA: JSL, 008,1990).
77 Boone, Graeme M., 'The Guitar in Jazz' in Coelho, Victor A., (ed.), The
Cambridge Companion to the
Guitar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,2003), 77.
p. 46
78
itself
in
had
The
Latin
Jazz.
repositioned
nylon-string acoustic guitar
style of
family
the
to
to
to
the
of
classicalguitar add anothercontemporaryvoice
relation
acousticguitars.
The development of recording and broadcasting encouraged a cross-
fertilisationof musicalstyleandpractice,somethingthat hasalwaystakenplace,but
happened
it
intermingling
this
the
at a
as wasreliant upon
of people,
movementand
muchslowerpace.As masscommunicationtechnologyhasexpanded,the speedand
intensity of transmission has increased. In my own work, I am constantly making
referenceto the music of other culturesand eras,to the extentthat the boundaries
and distinctions are, for myself, increasingly becoming blurred and less defined -a
reflection of the postmodernexperience.
The Electric Guitar
Electricity is a vocabularyin
itself. 79
Beforethe adventof the electric guitar pick-up (late 1930s),the guitar player,with
the exceptionof the greatvirtuosos,primarily functionedas a memberof the rhythm
section. Initially the new electromagneticpick-up was attached to acoustic
instruments,but this quickly gave way to the solid-bodiedelectric guitar, a truly
experimental, progressiveand modem instrument and one that signified a break with
80
the past. No longerwas the naturalacousticresonanceof the guitar the defining
78Byrd, Charlie, Brazilian Byrd (USA: Legacy, 52973,1994). Originally
releasedin
1964.
79Carr, Ian, 'Jazz Britannia' (BBC2,29th July 2005).
80The electro-magneticpick up converts the
vibration of a steel-string into an
electricalcurrentthat canthenbe amplified.The bodyof the guitar affectsthe way
p.47
characterof its sound,the electricinstrumentoffereda new musicalvocabularyand
sonic palette.
DouglasGreenplacesthe first useof the pick-up in 1935,when Bob Dunn of
Milton Brown And His Musical Brownies,electrifiedhis Hawaiianguitarby usinga
crudehome madepick up.81The electrificationof the standardguitar cameclose
behindwith Muryel Campbellof The Light CrustDoughboys,Eddie Shamblinwith
Bob Will's Texas Playboys in 1939 and Charlie Christian who 'was setting the jazz
In 1937, the electric Hawaiian guitar was being offered in the
world alight 1.82
Gibson catalogueand shortly before 1940, Gibson marketed the ES 150 single pickup guitar -
this would becameknown as the Charlie Christian model.
Charlie Christian, an early pioneer of the electric guitar, used the new
amplification to forge new ground as a soloist and to feature the guitar more
prominently.He took advantageof the sustainof the electric instrumentto play
legato phrases that mimicked the flowing lines of hom players, rather than the
83
staccato pickings style of the earlier acoustic players. Whereas earlier guitar
playershad employeda powerful down-strokepicking techniqueto producethe
volumenecessaryto cut through other instruments,the increasedvolume produced
by the amplified guitar allowed the playerto usea lighter picking techniqueandto
producelegatophrasesby hammeringthe guitar strings,with the fretting hand,onto
the stringresonatesbut addslittle elseto the amplified sound- particularlyin the
caseof the solid-bodiedguitar.
81Green,Douglas, 'The Guitar in Early Country Music' Guitar Player Magazine
(eds.), TheGuitar Player Book (GrovePressGuitarPlayerBooks, 1983),281.
82
lbid, 281.
83Christian,Charlie,'I FoundA New Baby', TheGenius the Electric Guitar
of
(LegacyRecordings,65564,2002).Originally released1939.
p. 48
84
fingerboard.
However the electrification of the instrumentwas often used
the
functionally as a method of amplifying acoustic-guitar techniques without any
alteration of the playing style and the contrast is quite noticeable when comparing
the performancesof Charlie Christian who adaptedhis technique to the new
instrument,and Django Reinhardtwho applied his powerful techniqueto the new
instrumentswithout any noticeablecompromise.The techniquesemployedand the
soundproducedby Christianis definedby the sonicandperformancepossibilitiesof
the electric instrument, whilst the sound produce by Reinhardt, who plays electric
guitar with the same picking technique with which he played acoustic guitar, is less
85
lacking
in
finesse
his
the
satisfactoryand
and nuanceof
acoustic work.
With the development, in 1941, of the electric solid-bodied guitar, the
transformationof the guitar from a nineteenth-century
to a modem instrumentwas
now complete. The guitar player, previously limited in role by the inherent volume
of the instrument,was primed to becomethe power force of popularmusic in the
20th centuryand to function as a signifier of modernism,technologyand a popular
music revolution.The amplification of the guitar allowed the fore fronting of the
instrument,and its greatpioneers,CharlieChristian,JoePass,Wes Montgomeryet
al., elevatedthe guitar player from an often perfunctoryrole as a memberof the
86
dominant
to
rhythm section, a new
musical position. This new found expressivity
84Recordings Charlie Christian
of
playing acoustic guitar are rare and the playing
soundspedestriancomparedto his later electric guitar playing. The Greatest
GuitaristsYou've NeverHeardOf, TheElectric Guitar TakesFlight (1932-1945)
volume3 (Australia:CumquatRecords,GWCD-1003,1999).
85Reinhardt,Django,'Django's Blues' Jazzin Paris: Django Reinhardt
-Django's
Blues(France:UniversalMusic, 059,2001).
86Montgomery,Wes,SoMuch Guitar (USA: Jazzland,RLP 342,1961).
p.49
in
tonal
the
to,
the
palette
expand
ensembles,
participate
all
musical
allowed guitarist
broader
language
instrument,
to
the
onto the guitar supplant
and
a
musical
of
for
increasingly
looked
jazz
to
players
and
piano
saxophonists
modem
guitarplayers
their musical vocabulary rather than to the earlier guitar players.
As well as developing the solid-bodied electric-guitar, Les Paul was
by
the commercial
experimentingwith multi-track recording, made possible
featured
tape
a
which
production of magnetic
recorders, and producing recordings,
single guitarist recorded on multiple tracks, to create a guitar ensemble-
in effect a
87
band
The popularity of the multi-tracked guitar spawned the
modem string
.
formation of
multiple-guitar
transitional point -
ensembles and, importantly,
marked another
the complete integration of the guitarist with recording
technology. This integration of practice with technology, a combining of the role of
artist andtechnician,allowedthe guitaristto function as a lone producerof music,a
role that has resonances with contemporary digital-recording practice and is
discussedin moredetail in section2.
Paradoxically,the developmentof the electric guitar pick-up is centralto the
twentieth-centuryevolutionof the acousticguitar; in the ageof the electricguitarthe
acoustic instrumentcould easily have been relegatedto a lesser role, what did
happenwas that the instrument developeda new voice and a broad cultural
differences
The
between the electric guitar and the acoustic guitar
resonance.
becamemorethan a meredistinctionof volumeandtimbre, the very 'acousticity' of
the instrument-a
conceptualsignifier and productof sonic qualitiesand cultural
values- positionedit asa binaryoppositeto the electricguitar.If the electricguitar
87Paul,LesandFord,Mary, How High TheMoon (USA: EssentialGold, 3511,
2004).
p. 50
signified modernitythen the acousticguitar signified tradition and authenticity;it
functionedas a signifier for the organiccommunity,the naturalworld and an antimodernism.Tim Brookessuggeststhat a greatpart of its popularitywas becauseit
becameassociated
with 'popular and financially viable myths' particularlythe myth
of the cowboy as a signifier for the American life and the mythology of frontier
88
America. In the 1930sthe guitar playing 'singing cowboy' was such a popular
figure of the Hollywood cinemathat the Harmonyguitar company(a subsidiaryof
Searsand Roebuck)broughtout the ten dollar GeneAutry cowboy guitar and two
89
books
The singingcowboyformat-a
song
.
signifier for the ordinaryman-was
repeatedwith many performers: Eddie Dean, Rex Allen, Lan Slye (Roy Rogers),
Monte Hale, Tex Hill and Tex Ritter, and the guitar becameestablishedas a vehicle
for expressing the troubles of the lonesome cowboy and in turn a signifier of
individual personal expression.This expression of ideological purity was mobilised
by the radical folk music tradition, where the guitar became a signifier of
communality, continuing tradition and a musical vehicle for articulating the
concernsof everyman and the ordinary. The musical significance of Woody Guthrie,
PeggySeeker,EwanMacColl and later Bob Dylan and JoanBaezwere intrinsically
boundwith the culturalconnotationsof the acousticguitar.WoodyGuthriefamously
had the slogan 'this machinekills fascists' emblazonedacrosshis guitar and Bob
Dylan was accusedof being a 'Judas' by a memberof the audiencewhen he first
playedan electric guitar on stageat the Newport Folk Festival in 1965and later a
88Brookes, Tim. GuitarAn American Life (New York: Grove Press,
2005), 144.
89Such
was the popularity of the cowboy songsthat they are still reissued.An
examplebeinga collectionGeneAutry sheetmusicin a compendium:Various
composers,CowboyClassics,62 ClassicSaddleSongs(USA: Hal Leonard
Publications,2005).
p.51
90
in
British
Isles.
In blues, jazz and country music,
similar experienceoccurred the
the acoustic guitar signified a continuity with tradition and by seemingly being
untaintedby the commercialworld and its technologicalproducts,the articulated
connotationsof purity and honesty-
paradoxicallyan historical distortion as the
acousticguitar was equally a productof industrialisation and consumerism.Whilst
the electric guitar was fully absorbedinto rock and roll music, some blues and
popular music, within some musical traditions, notably jazz, the solid-bodied
electric guitar (the antithesis of the acoustic instrument) was not quickly accepted
andthe hybrid semi-acousticinstrumentmaintainedprominence.
In popular music the acoustic guitar becamepart of the rhythm section, providing a
percussivetextual layer to the sound of rock and roll music as in Eddie
Cochran's 'C'mon Everybody' or as an accompanimentto a ballad as in Elvis
Presley's 'Love Me Tender'.91 So potent is the image of the acoustic guitar that
many performers, including Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, would appear with an
acousticguitar slung around their necks, sometimesto be played, but primarily
functioning as the intimate tool of the confessionalsinger and a statementof
symbolicoppositionto the electric instrument.The guitar functionedas a symbolic
link that groundedearly rock and roll music within country music traditions and
probablymoreimportantly,for non-Americanperformers,within Americaitself.
As the new electric-guitar didn't have to be pointed at a microphone it allowed
in
freedom
a new
performancestyle,the performercould move aroundmoreeasily
90ManchesterFree Trade Hall, England, 1966.Newport Jazz Festival, USA, 1965.
91Cochran, Eddie, 'C'mon Everybody', Cmon Everybody (London RE-U 1214,
1959).
Presley,Elvis, 'Love Me Tender'Elvis, TheEssentialCollection(USA: BMG
74321228712,1994)originally releasedin 1956.
p. 52
and interactmore closely with the audienceand other performers.Freedfrom the
figureof eight shapeof the acousticguitar andconsiderationsof acousticresonance,
the electric guitar, for examplethose madeby Fender,Gibson and Rickenbacker,
developedabstractshapesand took advantageof new high-techfinishes,cellulose
andmetallicpaintsandgold or chromedmetal finishes.Electric guitarshadnot only
developeda 'sonic hegemony'but could 'function as visual symbolsof power'.92
The result of this symbolic associationcan be seenin a fetishising of equipment,
wherethe value placedupon the guitar as a cultural symbol is evident in the avid
consumptionof guitar paraphernalia
andthe enormousamountof artefactsavailable
to the electric-guitarplayer.A visual expressionof this consumptionis to someas
importantas the music; the seeminglyendlessreissuingof 'classic' and 'signature'
seriesguitar modelsis evidencethat a largemarketexistsfor the guitar asa cultural
signifier.This also exists,but to a lesserextent,in the world of the acousticguitar
where a certain fetishism is apparentin the collection of old instruments,not
necessarilyfor their quality as instruments,but for their culturalvalue.
The schism createdby the electric guitar pick-up grew ever wider as the
electric guitar, functioning in new settings,developeda new sonic language-a
vocabularyof electricity- onewhich becauseof its easeof playing,volumeandthe
ability to manipulatethe sound,could absorbthe musicallanguageandperformance
techniquesof other instruments,and manipulatetheseelementsto producea broad
93
dynamics.
Meanwhilethe musical languageof the
textures
rangeof musical
and
92Weinstein,Deena,Conference
paper,'Rock's Guitar Gods'deliveredat Soundsof
the Guitar.An InternationalCrossroads(LeedsMetropolitanUniversity,2004).
93Jimi Hendrixhighlightedthis
vocabularyof electricityin his expressiveuseof
soundmanipulationdevicesandengagement
with the recordingstudio.Hendrix,
Jimi, TheBestOf (KBOX3270A, 2000).
p.53
its
bound
by
in
its
functional
the
acoustic
use
acousticguitar was rooted
past and
qualities. This was however to change with the emergenceof a new generation of
acoustic guitar players who would project the acoustic guitar into a new role, not as
the inferior partner to the electric guitar but as an instrument of considerable
vibrancyanda tool for innovativepractice.
In 1959 in the USA, John FaheyreleasedThe Transfigurationof Blind Joe
Death,an albumof steel-stringguitar instrumentalswhich representedan irreverent
and eccentric new approach to acoustic guitar music and in the UK Davy Graham
was performing a complex finger picking arrangementof 'Cry Me a River' on Ken
Russell's BBC film Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze.94 Davy
Grahamwas part of an newly emerging generation of guitarists which included Bert
Jansch,Martin Carthy and John Renbourn, who whilst rooted in folk and eclectic
musictraditions,whereexperiencingAmericanblues,jazz, countryandrock music.
Davy Graham, a British bom guitarist of East Indian and British parentage,
spearheaded
a movementin Britain that would draw upon American, Celtic and
Middle Eastern influences. Harper suggestthat he 'single-handedlyintroduced
Britain to the conceptof the folk guitar instrumental'but more importantlyhe was,a
consummate
performer,and one who consciouslymixed a broadrangeof idiomatic
95
elements. In attemptingto emulatethe Middle Easternoud he createda new guitar
tuning -
DADGAD -
and this tuning would prove to have a far reaching effect on
many guitar players, including, Pierre Bensusan (Algeria), Tony MacManus
94Harper,Colin, Dazzling Stranger,Bert Jansch
and the British Folk andBlues
Revival(London:Bloomsbury,2000),87.
95Harper,Colin, DazzlingStranger,Bert Jansch
and the British Folk andBlues
Revival(London:Bloomsbury,2000),87.88.
p. 54
(Scotland)and Martin Simpson (England)96 The use of open-tuning systems,
.
althougha common featureof ethnic stringed instrumentsand early country and
bluesslide guitar, revitalisedthe acousticguitar by creatinga new musicalpalette
and a distinct acoustic guitar practice. Graham also embracedthe recording
drum
kit,
by
tracks
a
environment producing
recordedwith acoustic guitar and
in
differences
live
because
is
difficult
the
to
of
recreate
uniquecombination,which
97
in
level
between
instruments.
Graham's
the
response
postmodernmusical
volume
embracing eclecticism and technology influenced a new generation of British guitar
Page
including,
Jimmy
Bert
Jansch,
Michael
Chapman
John
Martyn,
and
players
(Led Zeppelin); an influential cohort of musicians who were interested in forging
new roles for the acoustic guitar. WhereasJanschretained a natural acoustic sound,
Chapmanand Martyn embracedsound processingtechnology by experimenting with
electromagnetic
pick-ups and 'echo chambers'to createrepeatedsoundloops,and
Pagemoved seamlesslybetween electric rock and acoustic guitar. The influence of
theseplayersin combiningeclecticmusicalinfluences,embracingsoundtechnology,
usingopentunings,and a pursuit innovatorypracticehashad a substantialeffect on
the work of contemporaryguitar players.Importantly,althoughtraditionalmodesof
identity
developed
these
performancecontinued,
a specific
new youngerperformers
for acousticguitar music, not as the un-amplifiedantecedentof the electric guitar,
but a new vibrant guitar-centric practice.
96Bensusan,
Pierre,Intuite (FN2130-2,2001).
McManus,Tony, TonyMcManus(GreentraxCDTRAX096,1995)
Simpson,Martin, Righteousness
andHumidity (TSCD540,2003).
97Graham,Davy, TheGuitar PlayerPlus Davy Graham(Seefor Miles Records
Ltd., SEECD351,1963).
p.55
The 'Piezo' Transducer
A Victory For The Acoustic Guitar.98
Pacode Lucia refersto 'a victory for the acousticguitar' in describinghis 1980tour
with JohnMcLaughlinandAl Di Meola: a groundbreakingcombinationof musical
styleandvirtuosity,but moreimportantly,an internationalperformancetour of a trio
of acousticguitarplayers.The trio performedon acousticguitars,which were
de
but
Paco
individual
the
of
partiallyamplifiedusing
exception
microphones, with
Lucia, the signal was reinforced with built in acoustic pick-up systems.Where de
Luciausedhis flamencoguitar,McLaughlinandDi Meola usedthe thenmodern
Ovationelectro-acoustic
guitars-a
hybrid guitar in which the backandsidesof the
guitar body were constructedfrom a composite plastic. McLaughin and Di Meola,
coming from a background of pre dominantly electric guitar performance,needed
additionalamplificationwhereasde Lucia, groundedin a tradition of acousticguitar
playing (flamenco), was comfortable with only a microphone. This may seemlike a
smallpoint but seeingthemperformfor the first time wasremarkable,not only their
musicandindividual virtuosity,but the very fact that it waspossibleto play acoustic
It is usefulto remember,that it was
guitarmusicon largestagesto largeaudiences.
not until 1961that earlierformsof the guitarduo (BarnesandKress),emancipated
by the electric guitar pick-up, could perform live to a large audience;what was really
being observedwas the effect of the acoustic guitar pick up
-
the piezo
99
transducer.
98Pacode Lucia, quotedin interviewwith Don Menn
andTom Mulhern in Guitar
PlayerMagazine(USA: GPI Publication,March 1981),70.
99Both McLaughlinandDe Miola's Ovation
guitarswerefactoryequippedwith
piezotransducerpick-ups.
p. 56
Tillman in a study entitled The ResponseEffects Of Gidwr Pickup Position wid
Width,refersto the complexityof the acousticguitar soundin relationto the electric
guitar:
On an acousticguitar every componentof the string vibration is audible.
Longitudinal waves,transversewaves, along any axis, any direction, every
harmonic;they all eventuallyfind their way to being a force on the bridgeand
thus a contributing component of the sound of the instrument. On an electric
guitar only the displacement of the string at the pickup location is sensed,and
then only the displacementof transversewaves along the axis of pickup
100
sensitivity.
It is this complexity of resonance that makes successful amplification of the
instrument difficult. Amplifying the acoustic guitar with a microphone, which is the
preferredoption for many players,is besetwith problems,as the relatively quiet
acoustic-guitarrequires high-levels of amplification to produce a volume suitable for
largestageperformance.This is exacerbated
whenthereis backgroundnoise,or, the
guitaris in combinationwith louderinstruments- as is very commonwith popular
forms of music.Whilst microphonescanproducethe most accuratereproductionof
the acousticinstrument,they can also createa 'feedback loop', an uncontrolled
audio howl createdwhen the microphonestarts to amplify its own signal. The
electro-magnetic pick-up, designed for the electric guitar, offers a solution, as a
signal is picked up directly from the vibrating string, but it retains little of the
instrument'sacousticpropertiesand producesa sound that has more in common
100DonaldJ, Tillman, 'Response
Ejfecisof Guittir PickupPosition cindW(Ith, Till.
com, 2007,
http://www.till. com/articles/PickupResponse/index.
html (10th May 2007).
p.57
with the electric guitar and only works effectively with steel strings -
acoustic
differs
The
transducer
piezo
guitars use phosphor-bronze or nylon strings.
functionallyfrom the electro-magneticpick-up or microphonein that it detectsthe
just
instrument
body
the movementof the
than
the
the
rather
acoustic
of
vibrationof
into
The
this
pick-up,which
signal.
vibration
a
small
electrical
stringsandconverts
is fixed under the saddle or bridge of the guitar, picks up the vibration of the
soundboardand the actual acoustic resonanceof the instrument. However, the
resultant amplified sound has a reduced dynamic range and a synthetic sounding
high frequency response-
sometimesreferred to as a piezo 'quack'-
never a truly
acousticsoundand morea hybridisationof acousticand electricqualities,hencethe
term electro-acoustic guitar. Some manufacturers, in an attempt to achieve a more
natural acoustic sound, have developed pre-amplifiers and equalisation processorsto
modify the pick-up signal and addressthis piezo 'quack', others such as B-Band
have developed a transducer that uses a superior interface, and Fishman Co., are
using digital technologyto trigger digital samplesof real instrumentsfrom a piezo
101
signal. However,the pursuit of a natural electro-acousticsound is still elusive.
The piezo transducerneverthelessoffereda unification of the acousticsoundof the
instrumentand its performancetraditions, with the extendedmusical language,
improvisationalopportunities,techniques,tonal-paletteand volume of the electric
it
into
functionality
by
instrument
the
the
the
guitar:
piezo revolutionised
of
placing
the sameperformancearenaasthe electricguitar.
The creationof a hybrid electro-acousticinstrumentformed a bridgebetween
musicaltraditions that had been separatedby the electrification of the guitar. By
101B-Band.http://www.b-band.com.The FishmanAura: FishmanTransducersInc.,
USA. www.fishman.com
p. 58
aligning the performance qualities of the acoustic guitar with the functionality of
instruments,
the electro-acousticguitar, a truly hybrid design,offered the
electric
acousticresonances
and performancequalities of the acousticinstrumentwith the
sound manipulationtechniquesand sonic palette of the electric guitar. As the
acousticvolume of the guitar was of lesserimportancewhen amplified, electroacousticinstrumentscould be fitted with lighter gaugestringsand the techniquesof
the electricguitaristcould be supplantedontothe acousticinstrument.Removingthe
need for the performer to produce as much volume as possible by using a heavy
attacking technique with the plectrum or fingerpicks, allowed a re evaluation of
acousticguitarist technique and freeing the performer to play as softly or as loudly as
102
they wished. In addition, acoustic guitarists could play in an acoustic style, in any
ensemble type and in any performance space. Consequently the hybrid electro-
acoustic was embracedby both electric and acoustic guitar players and reestablishedacrossa wide range of music practice.
Evidenceof the extentto which the piezo pick-up re definedareasof practice
exists in recordings, where, separatedfrom the need to amplify the guitar
(conventionalstudio practicewould use only microphonesto record the 'natural'
soundof the guitar) the guitar was often recordedusing the piezo pick-up and fed
through soundmodification devices,in the sameway as it would be treatedlive.
Several guitarists for example Adrian Legg recorded the album 'Techno Picker'
usingan electro-acousticOvation guitar which was processedto reproducethe live
'electro-acoustic'soundand in doing so the soundsand techniquesof the studio
102JamesTaylor for exampleplays
acousticguitarwith a very soft intimatepicking
stylethat is only possiblewhenusingeffectiveamplification.Taylor, James,Classic
Songs(CBS WEA 2292-41089-2,1987).
p.59
103
back
live
onto the
were supplanted
guitar. The freedom offered by the piezo
transducerencouraged
the reintroductionof the acousticguitar into avant-gardeand
progressivemusicalmovements,as can be witnessedin the work of RobertFripp,
who having embracedthe electric guitar and its conceptuallydifferent spacein
ensembles,transplantednew techniques and modernist musical concepts improvisation,electro-acousticformats,and experimentalperformancetechniques
instrument.
the
onto
The piezo transducer became the defining voice of the acoustic guitar (and
th
instruments)
during
formed
last
20
the
the
other acoustic
a
and
quarter of
century,
bridge between electric and acoustic guitar practice. At the start of the 21' century,
although the piezo transducer is still the industry standard pick-up system, it is
increasingly combined with built in graphic equalisers, pre-amplifiers and used in
combinationwith internalmicrophonesand electro-magneticpick-ups,howeverthe
goalof an untaintedamplifiedacousticsoundhasstill not beenachieved.
2.0 DIGITISATION
2.1
AND ACOUSTICITY
Digitisation
As discussedin the previouschapter,the evolutionof acoustic-guitarpracticecanbe
seento mirror the key technologicaldevelopmentsof the twentieth century: the
emergenceof broadcasting and recording technology, the electric guitar pick-up,
and the acoustic guitar pick-up -
the piezo transducer. These technological
demarcationscan be effectively mapped against key changes in, repertoire,
performancestyle, the sonic quality of recordingsand the cultural location and
musical value of the instrument.A continuanceof this investigation therefore
103Legg,Adrian, 'L'amour manque'Waitingfor Dancer (RedHouseRecords,
a
RHR99,800-695-4687,1997).
60
a considerationof the interactionbetweencontemporarypracticeand
necessitates
the primary communication technology extant at the start of the 21st century -
digitisation.This chapterwill thereforeattemptto illuminate the effect of digital
technology on acoustic guitar practice and interrogate the nature of acousticity as a
in
the
and
so
productof sonicqualitiesandcultural valuesconceptualsignifierdoing highlight the inter-relationshipbetweendigitisation, contemporarypractice
and acousticity.
Three figures dominate postmodern science: the hybrid, the network and
non-linearity.
104
Iain Hamilton Grant identifies three general characteristics of postmodern science
that could be directly related to the specific affects of digitisation and digital
technology on music practice: the hybridisation of styles and forms; the development
of digital networkswhich encourageinteractivity and an inter-textualmergingof
audio, visual and written forms; and the non-linearity and often fragmented
experienceof digital practice. Our lives, in an increasingly technologically
dominatedworld, where we are bombardedwith multiple stimuli -
sounds,text
and images,consistsof fragmented,partial and incompleteexperiences:we hear
snippetsof musicaswe passa clothing shop;moving digital imagesandsoundbites
fill our televisionscreensand computerworkstationsand websitestease,or irritate,
us with video and audio 'pop-ups'. Networks of communication technologies are
encroachingacrossall facetsof life, in work andleisureplaces,systemsof transport,
commercialoutlets, and public buildings -
even the doctor's surgeryis likely to
104Grant,Hamilton lain, 'Postmodernism Science Technology'in Sim,
and
and
Stuart,(ed.), TheRoutledgeCompanionto Postmodernism(LondonandNew York:
Rouledge,2005).
p.61
play 'soothing' backgroundmusic. The effect of this deluge of information has
impactedon our lives in both public and private spheres,and urban and rural
environments-
people seeking refuge from the city are very likely to be carrying
MP3 players, digital-cameras, mobile-phones or a single device which can function
as all three. In addition, there is an increasingconvergenceof textual forms into
singularunifying communicationsystemsandthe mergingof theseinto singlepieces
of hardware:the Apple Whone,which mergescommunication- mobile phoneand
internet, with audio, text and visual images, being a particularly good example.105
Michael Heim (quotedin Landow) refersto the way that the digitisation of books
allows the readerto instantlyaccessfurther 'books, which in turn openout onto a
106
databases
human
'
Parallels can easily be
vast sea of
systernizing all of
cognition.
drawn with digitised music, where audio files, music samples, software and
hardware,knowledgeand experiencecan be accessedfrom any computerterminal
and transmitted to any location. This convergence, integration and hybridisation of
technologyis the resultof digitisation,the convertingof sound,vision andtext into a
singularform -a
digital code and it is digitisation that is increasinglybecoming
embeddedin the very processesof productionand creativepractice-
if
even this
interactionis only in the form of accessinginformationanddatastorage.
Digital technologyis integral to the working processof this research,where
copious use has been made of word-processing, data-storage,notational/audio/midi-
sequencingsoftware, internet music archivesand subject specific web-sites.The
working methodologiesoffered by digital technologydirectly shapemy creative
105www. apple.com/iphone/ (10.5.07)
106Landow, George P., Hypertext 3.0 (USA: John Hopkins University Press,2006),
45.
p. 62
practiceand it would be a bold but justifiable statementto suggestthat digital
technology affects the practice of all acoustic-guitar players, in fact those wishing
decision
digital
technology
to
to
not engagewith
need makea positive
-
an 'anti-
modernist'rejectionof contemporarytechnologyand a desireto disengagefrom the
technologicalworld -
to avoid what has becomethe normal modus operandi.
Digital technologiesare integratedinto all areasof contemporarymusicpractice:the
productionof text and notation,recordingand broadcastingand the digitisation of
archive material. Contemporary recording is most often completed within the digital
domain-
analoguerecordinghas becomean expensiveoption -
and the final
recording is usually digitally mastered,if not, it will be converted to a digital format
when compiled as a CD or DVD where the very material of distribution is digitised.
Channoncommentson how 'digitization and the home recording studio have
converged'and the effect that this hashad on 'the establishedroles and identity of
the producerand the recordingengineer,as musicianstook over the control of the
' the musiciancan now be in control of the whole process,functioning
apparatus...
107
as composer,performer,engineer,producerand record company. It is the multitextual natureof digitisation,the ability to digitise audio, text and visual material,
the increasinguniversalityof softwareoperatingon PC and Apple Mac platforms,
allied with the relativecheapness
andportability of digital equipment,that shapethe
'
08
nature and practice of this research. Paradoxically, it is in contemplating the effect
andpresenceof acousticityin creativepracticethat digital technologieshavebeenso
useful.
107Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(LondonandNew York: Verso, 1995),164.
108Digital technologyis relativelycheapandaccessiblein
relationto the analogue
altematives.
p.63
Live performance increasingly incorporatessome form of digital manipulation,
ranging from the covert use of digital-reverb units, to replicate acoustic
environments,to the overt use of software,to manipulatethe sonic palette and
sample and repeat musical sections; John McLaughlin on his 2007 tour with
RememberShakti performedlive with a semi-acousticguitar processedthrough a
laptop computer.109The Fishman Aura, now factory installed into some Martin
guitars, uses the signal from a piezo transducer to trigger, in real-time, digital
samples of a previously recorded guitar and blend these samples with the guitar
being played. This could be an example of what Baudrillard refers to as the
hyperreal,wherethe real hasbeenreplacedby a sign of its existence;the perceived
sound of the instrument is in part the sound of another instrument recorded at
'
10
location
In the 1970s Michael Chapman and John
another
and at another time.
Martyn used analogue tape-loops to create multi-layered guitar parts, this can now
be easily achieved using digital-samplers such as the Boss Loop Station which is
capable of recording and replaying rhythmic and melodic loops in real-time
"'
performance. Contemporaryperformersare embracingdigital technologyas a
mediumthroughwhich to expandthe performanceoptionsand sonic capabilitiesof
the instrument.
109http://apple.com/hotnews/articles/2003/10/mclaughlin/(21.3.07).
110Baudrillard,Jean'The Precession
of Simulacra'in Storey,John(ed), Cultural
TheoryandPopular Culture:A Reader(New York: Harvester-Wheatsheaf,
1998).
111Marqm,John,'Ain't No Saint' Inside Out (UK: IslandMasters,IMCD 172,
1972).
p. 64
2.2
Acousticity
The term acousticis insufficientto describea practicethat is characterised
not just
but alsoby its cultural locationandarticulatedsystemsof
by its soniccharacteristics,
hereon
be
but
therefore,
mobilised
acousticity,a useful
value,
ugly neologism,will
asa conceptualsignifier of philosophicalandscientificconcems.
When Segoviafirst took to the concert platform to perform a solo guitar
repertoirein a large auditorium (first USA concert in January 1928), he was
completely reliant upon the interaction of his instrument with the natural acoustic
resonanceof the space. Segovia's ability to create a range of dynamic and timbral
variation, relied upon a composite of the interaction of a seriesof pitched
frequenciesand overtonesproduced by a vibrating string, amplified by the resonant
diaphragmsand cavities of the instrument and the resonanceand reflection of these
in
vibrations the performancespace.Benade,in a scientific analysisof the acoustic
guitar, commentsthat:
After a musical string is excited in a complicatedway, it sets up what we
might call a two-dimensional,reverberantsoundfield in the soundboard.The
its
dozens
the
soundboardin its turn communicates
of
motion
of
via
elaborate
112
vibrationalmodeswith thousandsof room modes.
The instrument,interactingwith the reflective characteristicsof the performance
space,produces an unadorned acoustic experience in which the spatial relationship
Loop Station,a sampleplayermanufactureby Boss,a subsidiaryof the Roland
Corporation.
112Benade,Arthur H., FundamentalsofMusical Acoustics,SecondRevisedEdition
(New York: Dover PublicationsInc., 1990),319.
p.65
13
listener
is
to the performer crucial! Outside of the concert hall and in
of the
settings where the social etiquette of the occasion didn't demand an attentive quiet
audience,performershadto coax as muchvolume as possibleout of the instrument
and this was achieved by adopting a pronounced attacking style, using heavy-gauge
plectrumsor fingerpicks,to pluck or strum heavy-gaugestrings. Perversely,the
necessityto producea high volumelevel hasbecomea stylistic markerlong afterthe
needto do so haspast,with the result that a strongattackingpicking style is still a
performance characteristic of some acoustic blues and jazz players. However, for
most guitar styles, playing the instrument with force compromises the sound of the
instrument and the technique of the performer. After years of fighting for my own
acoustic guitar to be heard, I have to constantly monitor my own approach in an
attempt to reducethe amount of picking attack that I use.
In an attempt to produce more 'acoustic' volume, luthiers, have
experimentedwith the size and shapeof the guitar body, the choice of tone woods
and the internal bracing system;but with a limited degreeof success.One of the
most radical solutionswas producedby the DopyeraBrotherswho designedand
built guitars out of aluminium, steel or brass and which employed an internal
resonating-diaphragm
onto which the bridge of the guitar was mounted, the
vibration of the string was then amplified by both the body and the resonantcone.
The result was the Dobro guitar, an instrument with a greater volume level, but with
a considerablyaltered timbre from the standardguitar and as such has become
114
blues
associated
with the resonantslide guitar soundsof countryand
music.
113The characteristics
of which, aredefinedby its size,shapeandthe presenceof
reflectiveandabsorbentsurfaces.
114
A Dobroguitar is usedon 'Hang on JF, 'You Cooda'Told Me' and 'The Black
Isle' (CD #3).
66
The guitar's limited dynamiclevel has alwaysrestrictedits performancerole
and it is only an engagement with technology that has altered this musical
hegemony.This engagementhas often been avoided by classical and 'roots'
performersbecauseof a strong identification with acousticperformancetraditions
anduntil recentlythe poor quality of soundamplificationand pick-up systems.Bob
Brossman(slide-guitarvirtuoso and ethnomusicologist)prefersnot to usea pick-up
systemand insteadrely upon the volume producedby the guitar and the acoustic
space,only when absolutely essential-
when the size of the venue is too large -
will he use a microphoneamplified through a public addresssystem.Although
preferring the 'natural' sound of an instrument in an empathetic acoustic
environment, most guitarists will usually employ some system of amplification.
However, the degreeto which they engagewith technology often reflects the musical
preferenceof the performer,with traditional and roots music performersplacing a
greater emphasis on a 'natural' sound and players in contemporary styles openly
engagingwith technologicalsound-modifyingdevices;it is howeveracceptedthat
experimentationwith amplificationtechniquesis practicedin all musicalgenres.In
my own practiceI tend to be pragmatic,by choiceI would alwayspreferto play in a
complimentary acoustic space using a microphone as necessary,but when
performingin a spacewhich is often designedas a multi-functionalareawith a poor
acoustic response,or, faced with a challenging non-attentive audience, I will use a
piezo transducer pick-up amplified through a p.a. system or a designated acoustic-
guitaramplifier. However,when recording,I alwaysrecordthe naturalsoundof the
guitar in the best acousticspaceavailable-a
room with some reflective floor
surfacesandonewhich is not too heavily dulled by soft furnishings- the soundof
p.67
this 'space' will then be enhancedor correctedwith the application of a small
amount of equalisation.
115
Whenconsideringacousticinstrumentpractice,it is necessaryto considernot
interactions
instrument
the
the,
only
sonic characteristicsof an
and
often complex,
with a performanceenvironment,but the cultural associationsof acousticmusicand
its practice.To this endthe neologism'acousticity' becomesuseful as a signifier of
not just sonic characteristicsbut attachedcultural and ideological values. As
discussed in chapter 1, the term acoustic often points to ideas of authenticity,
naturalnessand purity, and could be seen as a binary opposite to the rational and
mediatedtechnologicalworld, but it is also loaded with its own ideological
significance, ideasand or mythologies. PeterNarvAezcomments:
during the folk boom,attaches
the
myth
of
acousticity,
which
was
embraced
..
ideologicalsignifiedsto the acousticguitar, making it a democraticvehicle
116
instruments.
the
vis-A-vis sonicauthoritarianismof electric
The descriptoracoustic,being unnecessaryuntil the advent of the electric guitar
pick-up,is sometimesusedas a relationalterm to differentiatebetweenthe valuesof
a traditional 'folk' and 'mass' technologicalcultures and mobilised in favour of
ideological
discourses.Acousticity, is often valued for what it isn't, a
particular
commercialproductof an industrialisedand corporatemodemity,and representsa
115
A term usedto describethe additiveor subtractivefiltering of soundfrequencies,
in effecta tonecontrol.The nameis derivedfrom earlyrecordingpractice,where
tonalmanipulationwas intendedto makethe recordingsound'equal' to the real
instrument.
116
Narvdez,Peter,'Unplugged:BluesGuitaristsandThe Myth of Acousticty' in
Bennet,Andy andDawe,Kevin (eds.), Guitar Cultures(Oxford andNew York:
Berg,2001),27.
p. 68
reactionary stance to the modernised world; ignoring the obvious paradox that
acoustic instruments are equally the product of mass production and consumerism.
Whilst the instrumentis valuedfor its sonic andperformancecharacteristics(which
shall be discussedin chapter 3) it has developed,in some areas of music, a
mythological status and become a signifier for an organic community and a
naturalnessthat perhapsnever existed,as the very designand constructionof the
instrumenthasalwaysreflectedthe prevalenttechnologyof the time, the techniques
of industrial manufacture and systems of commercial distribution; instrumentalists
havealwaystried to makeit louder.In addition,it offersa further
andmanufacturers
articulation with high-art traditions as the nylon-strung variant of the acoustic guitar,
is perceptively articulated with classical music and an implied cultural authority.
Eventhe electricguitar,which wasoften treatedwith equivocaldistrustanddefined
by its associationwith popular music, has made forays into art music with John
Williams in the classical/popular cross over band Sky and in Steve Reich's Electric
Counterpoint, but the combination is experimental and marginalised by the
'classical' acousticguitarperformance-
the nylon-strunginstrumentassociatedwith 'classical'
117
hegemony.
The electrowhich maintainsa cultural and artistic
acousticguitar has helpedto bridge the divisions of tradition and modernityand
achievea spectaculardoublearticulationin uniting an instrumentof the classicaland
high-art traditions with contemporary forms of jazz, rock and world music. This
articulationof 'art' valuescan be witnessedin the work of specific performers,for
example,RalphTownerwho combinesclassicalandsteel-stringacousticguitarwith
jazz and rock, and the acousticguitar trio of John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and
PacoDe Lucia who combinedflamenco,jazz and rock influences;McLaughlin,Di
117Reich,Steve,Different Trains& Electric Counterpoint(ElektraNonesuch79176p.69
Meola both usedelectro-acousticnylon-strungguitars-a
modem versionof the
'classical' guitar.118However, the flat-top steel-strung acoustic guitar has largely
beenomittedfrom 'serious'musictraditionsandasthereareno practicalreasonsfor
this omission,one can only assumethat it is its intrinsic associationwith popular
forms of music that have precludedit from a wider rangeof inclusion. However,
theseassociationsare being challenged,Martyn Harry, a composerwith recognised
credentials,was commissionedby the Arts Council of Englandin 2003,to compose
a piece of music for The Jazz Guitar Duo (James Birkett and Rod Sinclair), to be
perfonned on two flat-top, steel-strung acoustic guitars -
an usual departure from
119
favoured
the oft
classical-guitar-duo.
Conceptsof acousticity also extend to the processof recording, wherein there
is an assumedhierarchy of authenticity that is directly derived from the performers
degreeof interactionwith recordingtechnology,in descendingorder they are, liverecording, single-take recording then multi-track recording. The live recording is
assumedto be the most authentic,as it is untaintedby technology,and the multitrack recording the least authentic-
some recordings carry a statement,as a
declarationof authenticity,to declarethat the whole recordingwas completedlive
andwithout overdubs.Again, it is the unadornednaturalacousticexperiencethat is
valued,howeveras it is throughtechnologythat we most often experiencemusic,as
recordings or broadcasts, it is important to consider the prevalent recording and
distributiontechnologyextantat the beginningof the 21s'century digitisation.
2,1987).
118
Towner,Ralph,Solstice(ECM 1060,1975).
McLaughlin,John,DiMeola, Al andDe Lucia, Paco,PassionGraceandFire (West
Germany:Philips, 811334-2,1983).
119Harry,Martyn, Grace(Unpublished,2003).
p. 70
2.3
Digital Recording and its impact on the practices of the acoustic
performer.
For digital recording or performance to take place, the sonic qualities of an acoustic
instrumentmust be codedinto a digital language(binary code), once encodedthe
digitised signal can be manipulatedand reproducedwithout any degradationof
is
in
than
The
the
to
copies,
original, rather
ability produceclonesof
soundquality.
itself an evolutionary step as digital recording produces an artefact which can be
fixed
domains;
into
digital
imported
duplicated,
a
not
other
edited and
endlessly
immutableobject,but a creationin an eternalprocessof development- this point
is crucial and will be examined later. Audio/digital conversion can take place in two
distinct ways, firstly, the conversion of an audio sound wave into a digital waveform
-a
digitisedreplica of the original sonicqualities,and secondly,the conversionof
into
signal
an electrical
a MIDI message-a
digital code which records no audio
120
devices.
but
be
to other musical
can
usedto sendmidi-messages
characteristics
To convertthe 'acoustic' sound of the instrumentinto a digital code, the sound
pressurewave created by the vibration of a string and amplified through the
first
In
into
be
the
the
an electrical current.
soundboardof
guitar must converted
by
in
is
detected
the
takes
place when a change air pressure
example,conversion
diaphragm of a microphone, or the vibration of a surface is detected by a vibration
sensitive'piezo crystal' transducerand the resultantelectrical current is converted
by a DAC (digital audioconverter)into a binarycode.The processof convertingthe
string vibration into a digital coderetainsthe performanceand sonic characteristics
120MIDI: Musical InstrumentDigital Interface,a systemof communicationwhich
enablesdigital musicalsystemsto interact.
p.71
In
but
in
form
by
instrument,
the
system.
the
or
pick-up
a
mediated
microphone
of
the second method, the vibration of the string over a digital pick-up produces an
The
into
binary
is
then
midi-signal.
encoded
converted
a
electricalcurrent,which
but
the
performancecharacteristics none of the sonic
midi signal retainsmost of
qualities; insteadit createsa sequenceof midi-information that via the universal
The
interface
MIDI
midi
generators.
midi-sound
with other
systemof
providesan
digital
to
the
the
sound
other
ability
control
pick-up offers
acousticguitar player
into
information
in
to
time
to
trigger
and/or
record
midi
audio
samples
real
sources,
sequencesof events that can be edited and played back on demand. Most
importantly,both systemsof digital recording,the digital audio waveformand the
midi message,produce a coded system that can be infinitely edited and reproduced,
andthis characteristicis crucial to an understandingof the effect of digitisationon
the recordingof the acousticguitar.
Digital recording systems offer a recording medium that is sonically
transparent(freeof distortion),accuratein its reproductionof soundsourcesandfree
digital
inherent
Whilst
that
of
noise.
advocatesof analogue recording argue
recordinglacks the warmth of analoguesystems,most recordingengineerswould
bit
digital
kHz
92
that
and
agree contemporary
systems,operatingat a samplerateof
depthof 24 bits, are comparablein their quality of reproductionto analoguetape.121
However where digital technology is inferior to analogue recording is in the
replication of very quiet sounds:as the sound level reducesthere is insufficient
informationfor the digital convertersto recognise,to compensatefor the lack of this
information,
is
'dithering'
sonic
appliedto the soundsource-a
low level noiseis
12192000samplesper second,with eachsampleconsistingof around16
million
'slices' of information.
72
be
Some
information
increase
to
the
to
the
processed.
audio
signal
mixed with
audiophilesclaim to be able to hearthis deficiency,when for example,an acoustic
is
'fleshy'
finger
the
tip,
the
soundof the note
soft
string
played
with
nail
and
guitar
is lost on digital systems.Personally,I'm not awareof this deficiencyand consider
that as the specification of digital systemsis developing rapidly, any perceived lack
digital
definitive
between
be
difference
Another
and
analogue
will
eradicated.
in
dynamic
for
is
to
tolerate
the
peaks
ability
analogue
recording,
recordingsystems
level: where it is common practice in analoguerecording to record some instruments
'hot' to tape -
ignoring dynamic signal peaks -
signal distortion is generally not
audibleandthe result is a denserperceptiblyloudersound,whereas,if digital signals
are allowed to run 'hot' the result is an audibly unpleasantdigital clipping.
Digital technology is less tolerant of dynamic variations, therefore the source signal
needsto be processedto achievethe naturallimiting effect of analoguetapeandthis
may be one reasonwhy digital recording is consideredby some audiophiles to sound
122
4cold'. Whilst debatemay continuein relationto the comparativeaudio qualities
of both systemsand definable differencesdo exist, the most profound effect of
digital technologyhasbeenon working methodsandin creativepractice.
The convergenceof the acoustic instrumentwith the technologicalworld
exacts a symbolic articulation in locating the visceral organic practice of the
musicianinto an electronicallycodedworld -a
nexus of invisible connections,
timbre and interactivitywith
potentiallylimitless manipulationof sonic landscapes,
othermedia.Philosophically,digitisationengagescultural notionsof acousticityin a
situationof potential conflict, paradoxically,it is digital recordingthat offers the
potential to capture more of the instrumentsacoustic qualities in real acoustic
p.73
increasingly
is
digital
It
technology and the reproduction, or
environments.
simulation,of an acoustic instrument in natural or simulated environmentsthat
enablesus to accessandenjoy 'acoustic' performance.Whereelectricallyamplified
it
fact
it
is
determines
that
the
that
transcends
may or may
space
amplified
music
not owe someof its characterto a particularacousticspace- acousticmusicrelies
digital
high
The
on real or simulatedacousticenvironments.
quality
portability of
recordingequipment,allows the flexibility to record in almost any location,and to
make use of the natural resonance of particular spaces. However, the distinction
betweenreal and virtual spacesis becomingincreasinglyblurred as convolution
technology -
the sampling and re-creation of real acoustic environments -
be
can
applied to any recording to createthe illusion of a real space,and in so doing, merge
the real and the imaginary.
But to what extent is the naturalisedacousticexperiencedesirableand how
often does it really exist? Not withstanding the increasing availability of high
definition recordingsof the acousticguitar, the truly acousticexperienceis rare,as
our perception of acousticity is mediated through amplification systems and
recording.It is more likely that most listenerswill experiencethe acousticguitar
throughrecordingsratherthan in real environmentsandasthe contemporarylistener
hasbecomeso accustomedto hearingthe instrumentenhancedin a recording,there
is an expectation that the live performer will recreatethe recorded sound
-
the live
performancepoints to the recording. With the exception of the performersof
traditional and roots music, who in taking an 'anti-modernist stance' will use
technologyonly where absolutelyessential,most acousticguitar performerstacitly
122
A compressoror limiter canbe usedto electronicallyreducethe dynamicpeaks
ofsound.
74
to
the
interface
technology
opportunity
with
openly
engage
with
and
many
acceptan
sonically manipulate sound. Adrian Legg comments:
Although we may look fondly on the simple acousticinstrument,andwhile it
little
has
sweet
voice,the mechanicalandtechnicalopportunitiesoffered
a
still
by this constantlyevolving instrumentare there to be enjoyedby any artist
123
broader
who wantsa
palette
Legg choosesto supplantthe soundprocessingpossibilitiesof the recordingstudio
onto the live acoustic guitar and uses an intricate array of signal processors to
produce a simulated and enhanced live acoustic sound, not always an amplified
'acoustic'sound.
Reviewing the contemporary market of electro-acoustic guitars, acoustic-guitar
simulatorsand soundprocessors,revealsa plethoraof soundmodifying devicesand
purposebuilt electro-acousticinstrumentsthat claim to reproducea true acoustic
effect but more often recreate an enhanced supra-acoustic sound. The ability of
digital technologyto createillusions of the real by simulatingacousticenvironments
and manipulating recorded sound, concords with Jean Baudrillard's ideas of
124
in
hyperreality,
'the
Music
the
simulacraand
real without origin or reality'.
twentiethcenturyis predominatelyexperiencedas simulacra,an illusion of the real,
disassociatedfrom a performancein the presenceof the receiver and accessed
through reproduction technology. Having been accultured by 80 years of commercial
recordingandbroadcastinghowever,the majority readily acceptrecordedmusicand
enhancedlive performanceasthe real experience.
123www.adrianlegg.
htm. (10.5.07)
com/press_page.
p.75
Whilst the technicalcharacteristicsof digital recording can be considered
digital
interface
the
the
the
of
objectively,
nature of
and
working methodologies
technology are not neutral, they privilege particular working practices. As well as
beingusedto replicateacousticinstrumentsand their environment,soundrecording
techniquesandsoundprocessingareusedto alter and/orenhancethe original sound,
evenif this is as subtleandnon-invasiveasthe addition of ambientreverb.Michael
Channonrefersto ways in which 'recordinghastransformedmusic by changingthe
125
This is significant in the history of recording where the
experience of the ear.'
intent of recordinghas moved from the desireto expressthe real to the recording
expressingthe technology. Compared to vinyl records and analogue hi-fi systems,
which relied on a scrupulous maintenanceof the records and equipment to maintain
a high quality of replication, digitised music recordings and playback systems are
very cheapand most householdshave accessto high quality audio reproduction.
Therefore there is an expectation that digital recordings will possessenhancedsonic
qualities,clarity, separationof soundsources,and an enhancedtonal palette.This
privilegingof the sonicqualitiesof digital soundhasaffectedthe way that we listen,
the technologyis as apparentas the music and may herald a new aestheticof
listening,an aestheticof productionvalues,a re-focussingof the attentionon the
processrather than product. I am very consciousin the production of my own
recordings that they will be listened to by contemporarieswhose listening experience
is attunedto contemporarystandardsof recordingand who will make comparisons
124Baudrillard,Jean,The Precessionof Simulacrain Storey,John(ed.), Cultural
TheoryandPopular Culture:A Reader(New York: Harvester-Wheatsheaf,
1998),
350.
125Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(London
andNew York: Verso, 1995),9.
76
in
judgements,
or
covertly,
overtly
relation to contemporarystandards- they
and
will be listening to the technology.
2.4 Digitisation and Practice
Recentyearshave seenthe re-releaseof many historical and eclectic recordings,
is
from
deletion
the result of
this
their
yearsafter
recordcompanycatalogues,and
digital reproduction and the change of format from vinyl records to CD which has
madethe issue of small numbersof recordingsfinancially viable. However this
transitioninto the digital domain is not without detractorsas the sonic qualitiesof
material transferred from analogue to digital recordings is often altered; it was
common practice during analogue recording to mask the inherent 'tape hiss' of
recordingsby boostingthe higher frequencies,when transferredto CD, they can
sound harsh and unpleasant: The Guitar Player Plus by Davy Graham suffers form
126
this effect. It is howeverthroughaccessto thesereadily availablematerialsthat 1,
like manyothers,havebeenableto experiencean auralhistory of guitar playingand
in so doing gain a greaterinsight into the developmentalpath of the guitar. Indeed
the compilationof researchmaterialsfor this PhD is indebtedto the availability of
theserecordings.
Historic 'field' recordings,suchas thosecreatedby John and Alan Lomax,
form a substantialpart of the aural history of America's folk musics.127They were
recordedusing portable equipmentwhich producedeasily damagedglass-based
126Graham,Davy, TheGuitar PlayerPlus Davy Graham(Seefor Miles Records
Ltd., SEEM 351,1963).
127Lomax,Alan, TheLand "ere BluesBegan(New York: The New Press,1993).
p.77
Muddy
fact
lost
that
the
they
of
recordings
severalseminal
acetaterecordsand
Waterswhen the originals, as copieswere not possible,shatteredwhilst travelling
along bumpy roads, is testimonyto the precariousnature of this early recording
is
it
from
fool
digital
is
far
Whilst
now possibleto produce
proof,
recording
media.
field recordingswhich can be immediatelyreplicatedin other media,electronically
deliveredto any global location and storedindefinitely; in so doing a substantial
it
is
is
being
for
future
history
If
throughthe ability of
generations.
aural
amassed
technology to store information for reuse that knowledge evolves and endures,then
digitisation has produced a plethora of recorded music and the potential for future
archivesand researchopportunitiesis enormous. Michael Foucault's notion that
books function as a 'node within a network [a] network of references',could be
...
also applied to the textual world of music, where recordings function within a digital
world as nodesof referenceto the entire history of recordedguitar music -
an
eternal ahistorical present. 128Jonathan Kramer refers to 'the blurring of the
distinctionbetweenpast and present,'129if all of the history of guitar music exists
simultaneously,synchronicallyand diachronically,then the characteristicsof this
music and musical referents becomefreely interchangeable.The effect of this
in
diversity
be
can
plurality and
experienced the work of several performers
includingAntonio Forcione,a guitaristwho freely mobilisesa wide rangeof styles
and modes of performancethat draw from historically and culturally diverse
128Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology Knowledge, trans. Sheridan Smith, A. M.,
of
(New York: Harper Colophon, 1976), 23.
129Kramer, Jonathan D., 'The nature and origins in musical postmodernism' in
Lochead, Joseph and Auner, Judy (eds.), Postmodern Music and Postmodern
Thought (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 2 1.
78
referents-
for example African music and EuropeanGypsy jazz. 130Asa practicing
later.
be
discussed
in
I
this
this
will
reflected my own work and
musician cansee
The impact of digital recording technology with its added clarity and
its
influence
levels
has
low
to
own
on performancestyle.
volume
exerted
sensitivity
Performersfrom the first half of the 20th century, in an attempt to project the
relatively low volume of the guitar, played instrumentswhich were strung with
fingerpicks.
Apart
heavy-gauge
heavy
stringsand pluckedwith
gaugeplectrumsor
from revivalist styles, this technique of playing has diminished in popularity (and
it
is
be
by
historical
to
that
styles,
necessity)
replaced a consensus
unless replicating
moreefficient andeffectiveto play with a softerattack.Digital recordingallows the
recording of acoustic instruments at very low volume levels and in any environment,
therefore, the subtle nuancesof performance can be easily captured and performers
can play without restrictions.This has encouragedexperimentationin performance
techniquesand the supplanting of electric guitar techniques such as fret-tapping and
flamboyantstring bendingontothe acousticguitar.131
The earlyhistory of soundrecordingis characterised
by recordingsystemsthat
were capableof capturinga single performance,the selected'take' was immutable
and fixed in time, a singularrecordof an actualevent,music was experiencedas a
whole, a completeentity, the performerwho was in the presenceof the listener(s)
played complete pieces and a coherent repertoire. It was not until the development
of magnetictape recordingand later multi-track recordingthat a finishedrecording
-
producedsometimesafter severaltakes-
could be edited to producea final
130Forcione, Antonio, Tears
ofJoy (UK: Naim, CD087,2005).
131King, Kaki, Legs To Make Us Longer (USA: Red Ink, WK92426,2004).
p.79
132
version. Editing was achievedthrough either the recordingengineercutting the
tapeandreattachingthe cut endswith adhesivetape,or different 'takes' on parallel
tracksbeing compiledto createa finished recording. The ability to edit, after the
recordinghad taken place,changedthe natureof recordingpracticeforever as the
final composite recording was not necessarily an actual record of a musical
performance,it could be a compositeof severalrecordings.With the developmentof
digital recording systemsthe transition from a relatively crude editing system,
although very effective in skilled hands,to a system with almost limitless flexibility
was achieved.In such a recordingenvironmentwhere technicalperfectioncan be
achievedthrougha combinationof repeatedperformanceand editing, it is usefulto
consider how the pursuit of 'perfection' affects the practice of the performer.
Michael Channan in Repeated Takes talks of Busoni complaining about 'the strain
andartificiality of recording'andthe 'brutal objectivity of the microphone',this is a
feeling common to most recording musicians as the pressureto perform quickly and
133
is
accurately acute. To some degreethis can be alleviated when using digital
recordingequipmentas the opportunitiesfor multiple takes and editing after the
eventarelimited only by the storagecapacityof the recordingmedia,the processing
power of the recordingsystemand the patienceof the producer.The atmosphere
createdduring live performancethat encouragesthe performer to play 'in the
moment' and take greater musical risks with expression and improvisation, can be
by
knowledge
the
that inaccuraciesin the initial recordingcan be easily
reinstated
removedand severalrecordingtakes can be edited togetherto producea finished
recording.
132
The recordingtapecould be erasedanda new recordingmadeon the sametape.
133Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(London
andNew York: Verso, 1995),127.
p. 80
Audio waveformscan be edited down to the resolutionof individual audio
beats
300
samples,for examplea seriesof demi-semi-quavers
per minute
playedat
(a substantialmusical achievementfor any performer)would produce32 slicesof
informationin one second,a digital recordingsystemrunning at a samplerate of
96kHz produces 96,000 samples per second,therefore each note would be sampled
600 times.134This fragmentation of the musical performance (a concept of
postmodernism)has become more exaggeratedwith digital systems, as any
recording can be edited down to a resolution of one sample, copied, and reordered.
The option to edit after recording allows, often encourages,the musician, engineer
and producerto constructand edit new and existing work, to montagepreviously
recorded material, manipulate the sonic qualities of recordings and to edit and
rearrangemidi information.Michael Channanrefersto how 'music,becomesmore
and more fragmented1135
and this is evident not only the editing of previously
recorded material, but in recording studio practice, musicians often restricted by
financial and time constraintsare encouragedto use editing to saveon studio and
sessionfees.Editing is part of the recordingprocessand not an adjunct to it and
thereforehas a direct effect on the performancepractice of musicians:in some
circumstanceit is only necessaryto accuratelyrecord 'chunks' of music which can
then be collated into a manufacturedwhole.136 The very availability of editing
functions demandsthat they be used; editing has becomeenmeshedin the very
134Digital recording
systems 'sample' an audio waveform at various sample rates
ranging from 44.1 kHz -44100
samples a second, to 192 kHz -192,000
persecond.
135Channan,Michael, RepeatedTakes(London
samples
and New York: Verso, 1995), 155.
136In some cases
single notes, chords or percussive strikes are recorded and reassembledlater into musical sequences.
p.81
fabric of the recordingprocess.Although this techniqueof recording is used by
musiciansacrossthe full spectrumof ability the approachdoes mean that an
inexperienced
playercan avoid the difficulty of executingparticulardifficult pieces
in favour of constructingthem from a series of smaller segments.Recording's
original purpose- to capturewhat is real, hasbeentransformedinto a processthat
is morefrequentlyemployedto embellishor in somecasessanitisethe real. Editing
andmanipulationof previouslyrecordedmaterialis not only a processof correction,
but a creative tool. The musician in some casesbecomes a donor, offering musical
ideasthat canbe renegotiatedto sucha degreethat they barelittle relationshipto the
original material.No longeris the finishedrecordingan immutableartefact,a fixed
'record' of an actual musical event, the digital encoding of the recording, the very
digitisation and conversion of musical waveforms into a binary code produces a
work which can be endlesslyreusedand reworked.There are parallelsto be drawn
with Roland Barthes use of the word 'scriptor' as an alternative to author in
describingone who assemblestexts, from which the readerderivesmeaning- the
in
is
A
reader this case refers to the music producer/com
poser. recording not
necessarilyfixed within a particularcontextwith a singularfunction andmeaning,it
137
is always available for reassemblyand the creation of new meaning. This is
particularly evident in the use of musical samples,where previously recorded
be
can
reusedand reworked.The very essenceof music is derivedfrom a
material
fragmentation
processof
anda reductionto an editabledigital code.
I haveapproachedthe recordingof the PhD portfolio with an awareness
of the
editablefunctionsof digital recordingandthis hashada direct effect on my working
in
methodology, some casesI have used a 'click track' to enable multi-track
137Barthes,Roland,Image,Music
and Text(London:Fonatana/Collins,1977).
p. 82
live
in
have
I
to
take
and
music
place
others
recorded
recording
-
the particular
is
discussed
in
detail
later.
Accepting
that
part
editing
modalities
are
working
more
of the recording process places particular strictures on the performer, the most
be
being
'click
to
the
track'
useof
ubiquitous
when constructedmusicaleventsare
138
It requires a very experienced musician to play with expression
together.
edited
and accuracyto a click-track and this can greatly affect the natureof the recorded
music. Spontaneityis sometimesrestricted in favour of achieving metronomic
accuracy, and fluctuations in tempo, diminuendo and accelerando, all natural
of performance,haveto be electronicallyprogrammedand 'quantised'to
processes
139
maintainconsistencyand accuracy. As audio editing programmesare becoming
more sophisticated the ability to alter the position and length of an audio signal, to
time-stretch musical sections -
increasing and decreasing tempi -
to 'auto-tune"
andcorrectthe pitch of notesandto alter the timbre of singleor multiple notes,have
140
become
functions.
In my own work I am aware that becauseof time
also
editable
in
(high
busy
I
constraints
calibreprofessionalmusiciansare
people) may only need,
someinstances,one good recordedpassageof a specific musical phrase;I can then
and reusethe materialin any way I choose.Correctiveediting to timing
reassemble
and pitch errorscan be usedto correctinaccuraciesof performanceand this I have
applied as necessary-
experiencedmusicians are aware of this and not
138
The 'click track' is a metronomicpulsethat producesa 'click' at a predetermined
tempo.Eachrecordingneedsto be madeusingthe click track asa timing guide.
139The processof automaticallylocking recordednotesto
a pre-determinedgrid.
139Melodynesoftware,manufacturedby Celemony,
enablesthe editing of audio
pitch, length,andtimbre.
p.83
is
in
the
the
trust
paramountand a
producer
with
process,
although,
uncomfortable
discretion
is
essential.
certain
The domestication and institutionalisation of recording facilities is
democratisingas there are more studios in domestic homes and educational
institutionsthen thereare professionalcommercialstudios;this allows the luxury of
time and lack of financial imperativesthat until recentlywerethe preserveof major
performersand record companies.It is possibleto set up a high quality digital
recording system for around E5,000 compared to between E30,000 to E50,000 for a
comparableanalogue systemten years ago; the differences between professional and
amateur studios are becoming less distinct, with the result that professional
recording studios are being squeezedout of a competitive market in which amateur,
semi-professional and professional are capable of creating high quality recordings.
Although professional recording studios often have the advantage of acoustically
designedrecording rooms, esoteric and specialist equipment, and experienced staff,
the availability of professionalquality equipmentat affordableprices,alignedwith
the portability of lap-top computers-
making recordingpossiblein any space-
and the expandingmarket in recordingtuition books and magazines,has createda
thriving cottageindustry.Informationandcommunicationis increasinglydistributed
through the internet and anyone with the necessarysoftware, hardwareand a
sufficiently fast internet connection can participate within a global, international
musical community. The performer through new modes of communicationcan
dissolvebarriers of geographyand interchangedigital-audio files in cyber-space.
With proprietarysoftwareCubaseRocket and ejamming, subscriberscan book a
virtual studio spaceand collaboratewith others in the production of music, and
throughDigital-Delivery andYouSendlt,digital audio files canbe transferredto any
84
location.141The recordingprocessI undertookin producinga recentcommercialCD
illustratesthe degreeto which boundariesof time and location havebeendissolved
by digital technology. One song was recorded in five different locations, four in the
UK and a vocal performanceby internationalartiste Sting that was recordedin
Tuscany, Italy. The recording was produced on a range of digital recording systems
in
from
domestic
andrecorded spacesranging
a
garageto a million poundrecording
studio.The working tracks and finishedmix were then transmittedthrough Digital
delivery to various parts of the world including the USA and Italy. 142
The
Effect
Digital
Recording
My
Practice
of
on
During the last twelve years, in addition to producing and performing on other
commercial recordings, I have been involved in three substantial acoustic-guitar
recordingprojectswhosetime span,1995-2007,hasbeenconcurrentwith a general
movement from analogue to digital recording and it is useful to reflect on the
substantialimpactthat this hashad in establishingmy own working practice:project
#1 -a
commissionby an internationalguitar magazineto transcribeand recorda
143
'classic'
series of
acoustic-guitar pieces; project #2: the production of a CD, The
JazzGuitar Duo, 144for commercialrelease,which includednew recordingsof some
of the earliestrecordedguitar-duets(transcribedand re-recorded)and a composition
141Cubase Rocket by Steinberg Media Technologies is
a proprietary 'cyber' studio
in which subscriberscan book time and work on collaborative recordings. Ejamming
offers subscribersthe possibility to play in real-time with other performers acrossan
intemect connection. www. ejamming.com
142Richardson, Gerry, This "at
WeDo (Jazz Action, JAI 0,2007).
143Total Guitar Magazine Issues#3-30 (Bath: Future Publishing. February
1995-Mayl997).
p.85
145and project #3: The PhD portfolio
for
'The
Suite
Two
Guitars';
commission
the recording of a range of compositions for the acoustic guitar.
Project #l: (1995-1997), was produced using analogue recording equipment
disc
The
tracks,
techniques.
or CD, were
original
which wererecordedon vinyl
and
transcribedby firstly recordingthem onto analoguetape,slowing down the playback
in
determine
densely
detailed
to
the
someof
sections- which resulted
speed
more
a lowering of the playback pitch, identifying aurally the musical rhythms and
pitches, transposing them back into the original key, notating the parts by hand,
learning the parts on the guitar and re-recording the track in the appropriate style. To
ensureaccuracyand the right 'feel', the original tracks were recordedonto twotracks of a multi-track analogue tape recorder (if originally recorded in stereo) and
the new parts were recorded on to two additional parallel tracks. When the playing
was sufficiently accurateand all of the original inflections recreatedlong arduous processof rehearsaland repetition -
througha
the new recording was mixed to
DAT and subsequentlytransferredby the publishingcompanyto a finished CD.146
This linear process of recording relied upon traditional working methods of
transcription,notation,rehearsalandrecording.
Project#2: The recordingof the JazzGuitar Duo: this was the first substantial
projectthat I undertookusingdigital technologyandasmy experienceof the process
was new the working methods were also experimental. After an initial attempt using
analoguetape, it was decidedthat becauseof the limited time available,the whole
144Birkett, JamesandSinclair,Rod, TheJazzGuitar Duo (JPC 102,2000).
145Commissionedby: The Arts Council of England,The MusiciansUnion, The
Universityof Newcastle-Upon-Tyne,
Music Dept.,JazzAction andAshleyMarks
Publishing.
146DAT: Digital Audio Tape
86
by
the
available working methods offered
processwould make use of all of
The
digital
based
to
the
system used
edit.
ability
recording,
particularly
computer
Mac
Apple
installed
Power
VST
Cubase
computer,
on
a
recording
software
was
digital
Yamaha
DSP
to
analogue
soundcard which provided an
equippedwith a
considerably lower than 24bit/96kHz
conversion resolution of 16bit/44.IkHz -
147
#3
when
recording
project
used
resolution
.
The whole process was experimental
anddevelopedas the work proceeded,the methodof transcriptionand notationwas
the same as project #1, but the compilation of the recording was substantially
different. An effective recording methodologydeveloped:each piece would be
in
be
sections,
each
section
would
constructed
played along with a click-track, at
least three times, and the final section would then be a composite of the three
'takes', created by cutting and pasting selected sections together. Any inaccurately
into
be
track
mixed
and
pickednotesor omissions,would addedon anotherparallel
the final master track. This proved to be an efficient method of recording and one
that producedan accuratelyexecutedperformance,but subjectivelylacksa degreeof
in
in
be
the
tempo
that
and
spontaneity
natural variation
expected music
would
performance.This can be illustratedby comparingthe original and the recreated
recordingof the samepiece-
'Stagefright, the first recordedin 1934by Dick Mc
Donoughand Carl Kress (CD #5/track #2) and the secondrecordedin 2000 by
147CubaseVST: proprietaryaudio-recordingandmidi sequencersoftware
by SteinbergMedia Industries.
manufactured
A samplerateof 44.1kHz produces44100samplesof soundper second,whereas,a
kHz,
96
produces96000samplesper second,eachof thesesamples
samplerateof
containsa quantityof informationdeterminedby the bit depthof the file, a 16bit
file sampleconsistsof around64000'slices' of informationwhilst a 24 bit file
consistsof around16million 'slices' of information.
p.87
148
#1).
#5/track
The first recording was carried
Sinclair
(CD
JamesBirkett and Rod
out on early electrical recording equipment, which at the time was a great
improvementon the results of early acousticrecordingmethods.An immediately
background
is
in
difference
tracks
the
the
the
of
presence
audio quality of
obvious
level
#
1.
The
#2
track
the
track
of surface
and absenceof residualnoiseon
noiseon
is
be
taken
this
the
as
recording
original vinyl recordingcannot quantified
noiseon
from a re issuedCD, but an assumptionis made that it is similar to that on the
is
Certainly
this
the
recording.
substantial and
on
surface
noise
reference
recording
amountsto approximately30% of the overall volume of the track, whereason track
#1 there is no audible backgroundnoise.149The frequencyspectrumof the two
tracks is also noticeably different and a fairly crude but indicative analysis was
carried out using a frequency analyser: track #2 is mostly between 25OHz-4kHz
peaking at 50OHz, with a noticeable drop above 4KHz -
frequencies
the
most of
above 4kHz appearto be tape hiss; track #1 is mostly between 80Hz-16Khz with an
evenresponsebetween250Hzand lK. This largevariationin the frequencyrangeof
the recordingsis to be expectedas early electrical recordingwas only capableof
capturing frequencies up to approximately lOkHz'50 Track #2 exhibits a
considerabledegreeof wow and flutter, which is indicativeof the recordinghaving
beenrecordedor playedon equipmentthat ran at an uneventempo,whereastrack #I
148McDonnough, Dick and Kress, Carl, 'Stagefright' The Pioneers TheJazz
of
Guitar (Yazoo Records, 1057,1928), and Birkett, Jamesand Sinclair, Rod, TheJazz
Guitar Duo (UK: JPC102,2000).
149The level of background noise evident in the original
recording was detennined
by readingsfrom a VU meter on the playback system.
150Multi-meter is a Logic Pro 7
plug-in module, which is designedto analysethe
frequency spectrum of a recording.
P.88
151Track #2 is
#1
in
in
and
stereo: this
no
audible
variation.
mono
exhibits
recorded
hasa profoundeffect on the effectivenessof the musicalarrangement,in fact, when
mixing track #1 it was noticeablehow panning the guitars in stereo had the
immediateeffect of making the instrumentssoundmore isolatedand less unified
thanthe original. As a result it was felt necessaryto usea narrow stereo-pan-width,
comparedto modemproductionmethods,to maintaina senseof unity. Becauseof
the monorecordingon track #2 andthe fact that the two instrumentswere probably
recorded on one microphone, it is harder to differentiate between the two
instrumentsthan on track #1, which was recordedusing two microphonesonto two
separatetracks. Track #2 is noticeably faster than track #I and the tempo is much
more variable, this is probably the result of track #1 being recorded to a click-track
and the resultant mathematical averaging of the tempo, whilst track #2 was played in
a much freer manner.The synthesisedreverbusedon track #1 is evident,probably
due to the lack of background noise, whereas any reverb on the original recording
hasbeenmaskedby a high-levelof surfacenoise.The choiceto useflat-top guitars
ratherthancello guitars,ason the original recording,greatlyaffectsthe tonal palette
as cello guitars tend to emphasisthe middle frequenciesand this could partially
accountfor the reducedfrequencyrangeof the original recordings.The picking style
on track #2 is very precisebut deliveredwith a somewhatstiff, almostmechanical
articulation that is very much in keeping with the performance style of the era.
Whilst this type of mechanisticanalysismay seemto be contrivedand be in
dangerof stating the obvious, it is an indicator of how the medium and working
151Wow and flutter: the terminology
usedto describe the effect produced when a
magnetic tape recorder runs at an uneven speedand createsnoticeable, although
oftenminor, fluctuationsin pitch.
p.89
methodshave impactedon musical interpretationand performancestyle. Whereas
the reduceddynamic range of the original recordingssoundsto the softest-
the ratio of the loudest
restrict the musician's'expressivecompass'as musicians
are requiredto play loudly and restrict the use of softer dynamics,the resultant
clarity of digital recording systemswill capture sound over a wide dynamic level. In
dense
harmoniesand polyphoniclines are more distinguishable,nuancein
addition,
performancetechniques more easily expressed,subtleties in tonal variations
achieved,the characterof instruments and individual musical lines more identifiable
152
instruments
the
and
spatial placement of
more accurately reproduced. Perhapsthe
greatestsurprise was the degree to which transferring a performance from mono to
stereo recording had such a dramatic effect on the musical integrity of an
arrangementand as such is a useful point to consider when writing and recording
duetsfor two similar instruments.
Project #3, which was bom from a desire to further explore, through processes
of composition,performanceand recording,the musical characterof the acoustic
guitarandwas stimulatedby the experienceof the first two projects.The work fully
utilises the integrationof digital technologiesinto the creativeprocessand makes
full useof the inter-textualand convergentmodesof practicethat make it possible
for an individualto functionasan independentpractitionerandproducer.The role of
the independentproducer is a direct reflection of the democratisingeffect of
digitisation,as artists, being freed from the financial and technical restrictionsof
analoguesystems,can singularlyor in small groupstake on multiple creativeroles.
The fact that my role is multi-functional, I function as performer, Composer,
engineerand producer,enablesme to fully shapeand control the creativeprocess,I
152Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(London
andNew York: Verso, 1995),68.
P.90
jurisdiction
have
full
in
location,
time,
music
at
any
over all
can record
any
and
aspectsof the work; it is arguablethat a substantialelementof the characterof the
musicis determinedby the chosenmodusoperandi.
The digital tools employedare Sibeliusnotationalsoftwareand Logic Pro 7
audio and midi-sequencing software, installed on two Apple Macintosh computers,a
laptopand a G5 tower.1531 have madefull use of the interactiveand inter-textual
functions of digital technology (notational and audio) and adopted working
methodologies which allow ease of use, almost infinite flexibility of editing at all
stages of creation, are responsive to different modes of working and can quickly
ideas
for later development.The use of notationaland audio/midi
capturemusical
software are central to my own practice and as score writing and recording are
becoming closer together exert an increasing effect on the compositional process.
Notatedscorescan be exportedas midi-files and to somedegreeaudio recordings
be
converted into a score, the user can edit a score by adding and removing
can
material in 'real-time' and 'step-time' and by importing 'midi files' from other
154
programmes. Unlike the linear working methods of analogue recording, digital
systemsoffer a non-linear approachwhere any part of the work can be accessedin a
non-sequentialmode. This free-flowing digital material could be consideredas
similar to 'hypertext', a term coinedby TheodorH.Nelson in the 1960sto describe
trionsequential
writing', wherethe readercanaccessandtraverseinformationby any
route of their choice; in this casethe writer (composer/performer)
can accessand
153Sibelius;proprietarynotationsoftware
producedbyAvid Technologies.Logic
Pro 7: proprietaryaudioandmidi-sequencingsoftwareproducedby EMagic.
154Midi-files containsequenced
midi informationthat canbe convertedinto
however
notationsubstantialediting is usuallyrequiredto convertthis
informationinto a useablescore.
P.91
manipulateall of the digitally stored information digitised scores-
files,
midi-files and
audio
limitless
155
in
them
and combine/separateand edit
almost
ways.
The sheer flexibility
and multi-textuality
of the process allows systems of
compositionand arrangementwhich embraceboth aural (organic) and textual
(academic)traditions, the notationaly literate and illiterate musician can use the
samesoftwareto createmusical compositions,inputting sequencesof notes and
chordsthrougha MIDI compatibledevice,a midi-guitar pick-up and/orby 'hand' in
156
a conventional scholarly manner. Whilst inputting material by hand is more
accurate, software packages are becoming more 'intelligent'
in quantising the
rhythmicvariantsof real-timeperformanceand are able to produce,within limits, a
readablescore.
In creating the compositions I have consciously adopted two distinct
the scholarlynotatedtradition andthe organicimprovisedtradition.The
approaches,
first approach involves developing musical ideas by writing conventional scores
using notational software and this has the substantial advantageover written
it
that
notation
can be playedback andmonitoredthrougha MIDI playbacksystem.
Sometimesthe musical ideashavebeenwritten directly to the score,at othertimes,
musicalideasdevelopedon the guitar havebeentranscribedand addedto the score;
an interactiveand intuitive approachwhere one method doesn't take precedence
overthe other. Whena compositionandarrangementis substantiallydeveloped,the
is
from
Sibeliusasa midi-file and importedinto Logic Pro, usingthe
exported
score
midi-file anda click track as a template,acousticinstrumentsarethen recordedlive.
155Nelson, Theodor, quoted in Landlow, George, 'Hypertext
and critical theory' in
Trend, David, (ed.), Reading Digital Culture (Malden, Oxford and Victoria:
Blackwell,2001), 100.
p. 92
Substantial editing to the score will then take place to reflect the performance
elementsthat become apparent when the composition is realised. Where musicians
have been employed to play specific parts and the performance idiolect of particular
into
ideas
be
these
accommodated
and approaches,
can easily
playerssuggestnew
the emergingarrangement.Theseeditsarethen workedon in the notatedscoreand
the processtransfersbackwardsand forwards until a finished result is achieved.
Sometimesthe edits are substantial,using cut and pastetechniquesto move whole
sections of music (audio and notated) around within the arrangement and this may
final
to
the
right
up
continue
mixing stage. This flexibility of working mirrors the
elaboraterehearsaland developmentprocessesof live ensembles,but with the
distinct advantagethat the financial and time considerations of using live musicians
is eliminated. Indeed, the 'freedom' offered to the lone producer can in some
is
become
is
determine
the
there
to
respects
problematic,as
no one
work
when
complete. My experience of being employed as a session musician on other
is
financial
imperative
that
time
of commercial
projects
constraints,
a
recording
projects,result in an expectationthat the recordingwill be completein one or two
takes.As a lone producerworking in the digital domain (where the tape is never
full) the processof creationcanbe open-ended.
The secondworking methodis substantiallydifferent andreliesuponmethods
develop
that
through performance and improvisation. This is an
composition
of
in
tradition
established
aural music where musical ideas develop through
156
Notescanbe written on a staveby usingmouseor keyboardcommands.
p.93
157
Roland
Barthes
a practicethat
performance,
refersto asmusicapractica. Channon
comments:
musicapracticais nothingbut the form that musicalknowledgetakesdirectly
from musical practice.Theoreticallyfiltered or not, fundamentallyit has no
158
theory
needof
or even notation.
The musicdevelopsthroughprocessesof performanceand improvisationandwhile
would contestthat in this casethe music is intrinsically informedby a theoretical
knowledge, notational systems serve little purpose as the compositions are
intentionally performer-centric and any transmission to others will be aural. The
form of the music tendsto be cyclic, whererepeatedthematicideasare interspersed
improvisational
with
episodes that are intended to express particular performance
skills. My working approach is to develop the musical ideas in real-time, then record
the pieceas it develops,in this way the recordingprocessbecomesa form of instant
feedback.After exhaustive developmentthe tune will be recorded live. The
technologyin this caseis transparentandthe end result shouldfeel spontaneous
and
organic.In addition,anothercompositionalmethodwas inspiredby Mick Goodrick,
in
his
book
TheAdvancingGuitarist, suggeststhe compilation of improvised
who
materialin the following manner,on the first daythe performerrecordstwo minutes
improvised
daysthe performerlistensto the
of
music,on the secondandsubsequent
previously recorded two minutes and adds a further two minutes, only when thirty
159
is
does
listen
the
minutesof music complete
to the whole recording. As
performer
157Barthes,Roland, 'Musica Practica' in Image, Music
and Text (London:
Fonatana/Collins,1977).
158Channan,Michael,MusicaPractica (London
andNew York, Verso, 1994),28.
159Goodrick.Mick, TheAdvancingGuitarist:Applying Guitar Techniques
and
Concepts(Hal LeonardBooks, 1987),100.
p. 94
digital recordingtechnologyis perfectly suited to this mode of working, I have
inspiration
improvised
this
technique
the
the
as
andusedsomeof
material
employed
for some of the recordings on CD #3: notably 'Mmm Interesting', 'The Darkest
Hour' and 'You Cooda' Told Me'. The flexibility, intuitive nature and senseof
freedomoffered by this process,seemsto encouragea varied and imaginative
musicalresponseand producesa streamof musical ideaswhich can be editedand
developedinto completecompositions.
In a designateddigital recording system-a
digital audio workstation (DAW)
or a computer host running audio recording software - the number of available of
tracks is limited only by the processingpower, storagespaceand memoryof the
recording system.The availability of multi-tracking facilities makes it possible for a
single performer to record all of the parts for a single performance. Whilst this is
convenientand offers a flexible range of working methodologies,it removesthe
interaction between differing performers and raises questions regarding the degreeto
interplay
is
which
an integral part of a musical performance.For some types of
musicthis may not be important,but if we considerthat performanceidiolect - the
individual identifiable voice of a performer
-
is a prime factor within popular
music practice,then it takes on a new significance.If music is a communicative
interactiveprocess,the reduction of the interplay to a single or small pool of
disallows
the organic conversational interplay achieved during group
perfonners,
performance,the stylistic palette of individual inflections and range of musical
interpretationbeing restrictedto the abilities and inclinationsof the lone producer.
Someperformersor music idioms demandthat recordingtakes place collectively
andwithout a 'click track', this is particularlytrue of jazz and 'roots' music where
p.95
importance
immediacy
is
be
than
to
and
of
more
authenticity
often perceived
metronomicaccuracy.To presenta senseof balanceand contrastto the portfolio,
someof the recordinghastakenplacelive with an emphasison the interactivenature
in
Here
have
been
the
of performance.
recordings
completed a real acousticspace
later
live,
however,
the
musiciansperforming
with all of
someoverdubswere added
for
the
and
reasons this are discussedin the commentarysection. Some of the
musicalmaterialsusedhaveevolvedfrom the '2min compositionexercise'andhave
been developed into lead sheets and the performers were selected becauseof their
individual performancecharacteristics.All of thesepoints are consideredin more
detail in sections5 and6.
Digitisation is ubiquitous: to be distributed the material must be digitised,
even if the recording is made on analogue equipment, the artefact will become
digitised when transferredto CD, it is therefore inevitable when the instrument
transcendsfrom the private to the public space.Even the systemsof accessingmusic
have altered as the iPod generationexperiencemusic internally, directly from
headphones,
not externally through air movementwhich is mediatedby external
factorssuchasthe sizeandresonance
of a listeningspace,this hasa particulareffect
on the defining of recordingparameterssuchas stereo-imagingwherethe detailed
useof stereobecomesmore exactandthereforeof a greaterimportance.The means
of production and distribution of all musical products is increasingly located in the
digital agora and in my own practice,once encodedthe music never leavesthe
digital domain,it is recorded,mixed down to a stereo-file,transferredto iTunes,160
161
iPod
to an
uploadedfor digital transfer or recordedto a CD. Whilst digital
160Proprietary software manufacturedApple, Inc.
161A proprietary MP3 player
manufacturedApple, Inc.
p. 96
recordingis not without its detractorsand the comparativequalitiesof digital and
analoguerecording are often debated,the enormousdifference in the cost of
producing and distributing analogue recordings and the rapidly developing
improvementsin digital recordingwill probablymarginalisethese debatesto the
rarefiedworld of the audiophileand lessso to the practicingmusician;particularly
as a new generationof musiciansand consumershave grown up with, and openly
embrace,digital technology.
3: ACOUSTIC PRACTICE
As discussed in chapter #1, musical characteristics of the contemporary acoustic
guitar can be traced both diachronically (historical stylistic families) and
synchronically (culturally diverse styles), and it has become as prevalent in 'art'
it
music as is in 'popular' music. The acoustic guitar is a signifier of immediacy and
intimacy, authenticity and tradition, ethnicity and diversity and artistry and maturity.
This chapter will attempt to place guitar practice in a broader cultural context and to
considerthe determiningfactorsthat haveimpactedon the natureof acousticguitar
practice.
3.1
Contemporary Practice: an historical and cultural overview.
To understandthe context in which acoustic guitar practice exists, it is necessaryto
considerthe modem instrumentsdevelopmentin relation to the broadercultural
movements of postmodernism/modernismand anti-modernism. The term
contemporaryis not in any senseintendedto signify a senseof modernity, i.e.
contemporarybecauseit is modem,but contemporaryin that it reflectsa postmodern
plurality where many styles, some modem some historic, coexist and the
p.97
from
is
free
draw
to
any place or
practitioner
referents
contemporary
on musical
time. With this in mind contemporarypracticewill be consideredin relationto the
threebroadculturalcategoriesmentionedabove.Whilst mindful that thereis always,
in this type of analysis,the dangerof producinga crude mechanisticlisting and
categorisationof prevailing characteristics,it is a useful starting point in attempting
a morenuancedand deeperunderstanding
of the diversityof contemporarypractice.
In addition, it must be recognisedthat the work of any musician/ performer
/composer may be placed in differing categories at different times and as such will
neverbe entirelydiscreteanddistinct.
Postmodernism
To some degree postmodern thinking challenges the dictum 'Art for Art's sake',
which was bom out of a 19thcenturydistastefor industrialisationand a desirefor a
return to a golden age of romanticism, by prefiguring a return to the valuing of
specific cultures and their differences. Postmodem music is therefore often
characterisedas being a free-flowing interplay of musical hybrids and fusions,
eclecticism,juxtaposition of historical and cultural traditions and the resulting
fragmentation.But in reality manymusic practicesexist that expresssomeof these
qualities but may not necessarilyconsideredas postmodern.It is worth being
mindful of JonathanKramer's commentthat it is more fruitful to think of the
concernsof a movementas being an attitudelistener-
of the composer,performerand
rather than a list of markersthat can that can be checkedoff. 162An
162
Kramer,David, 'The Nature and Origins ofMusical Postmodernism'in Lochead,
Judy and Auner, Joseph,(eds.), 'PostmodernMusic and PostmodernThought '
.
(New York andLondon:Routledge,2002).
p. 98
in
listen
but
in
'how
to and usemusic
terms
compositional
we
also
attitudenot only
of othereras'.163Kramer arguesthat it is us that havebecomepostmodernand by
associationthe way that we use music has defined the music itself. 'Music has
become postmodernas we, its late twentieth-centurylisteners have become
postmodern',in other words, it is in the way that we listen, composeand perform,
164Theremust be truth in this assertionas
that elementsof the postmodememerge.
listeners,
as
writers and performersare conditionedby the world in which we
we
live, a world in which the whole history of recorded music coexists and is available
in a variety of media. Our choice is to reject, absorb,combineor play with these
ideaswith a sometimes-ironicsensibility. I'm awareas a practitionerof the vast
body of work that constitutes acoustic guitar music and of my own esoteric
developmentas a guitarist which, rather than being linear in its development,has
beenformedby often randommeetingsandexposureto othermusiciansandmusical
have
I
learnt
from
styles.
others and from listening and the opportunity to do this has
increasedexponentiallywith an increasein the digital communicationrevolution.
In consideringhow a postmodernattitude may be expressedit is useful to
considerthe work of two guitarists, Antonio Forcione and Bill Frisell. Italian
guitarist Forcione,as mentionedearlier, draws upon a wide rangeof historic and
culturally locatedstyles,the percussiveslapsof flamencomusic,the improvisational
sensibilities of European gypsyjazz, the rhythmic complexities of African music and
performancetechniquesof 'classical' guitar, these he combineswith the electric
guitartechniquesof 'string-tapping'and soundprocessing.In a moreconsciousand
163
lbid, 14.
163
lbid, 15.
P.99
blends
juxtaposes
American
Frisell
the musical
and
guitarist
also
elaborateway
but
jazz,
blues,
African
and classicalmusic,
country,
rock, middle-eastern,
stylesof
in a way that at times appearsless cohesiveand often exertsan ironic sensibility
From
'We're
Not
diverse
for
the
track
musical styles collide,
exampleon
where
Around Here' from the album Nashville he juxtaposesthe traditional instruments
andharmonyof a countrybandwith angularmusicalphrasesand dissonantchordal
165
but
juxtapose
historical
Both
performers
voicings.
andcultural musicreferents, to
in
degree
in
latter,
juxtapositions
degree
lesser
the
the
a greater
where
are overt and
the former,wherediffering stylistic referencesare more gently absorbed.If attitude
is a prime considerationof a postmodernpracticethen this is probablymoredistinct
in the work of Bill Frisell whose music has been described as a 'postmodern
Americana', a free flowing
166
recontextualising of American MUSiC. This
comfortableengagementwith the presentand the pastthroughthe reuseof diverse
musical references,recording practice and instrumentation, present a universalising
collageand an attitudewhich accordswith the postmoderndiktat of a rejectionof
'the linearity of historical progress',a consciousness
of the existenceof all recorded
music and the withdrawal of a modernistdictum to reject the past. Kramer sees
postmodernmusic as an attitude that is anti-historical and history as a cultural
constructand as such dernotesthe importanceof an historical lineage,in so doing
this allows the postmoderncomposerto 'enterinto a peacefulcoexistencewith the
past' and not be in a permanentstruggleto challengeand repudiatewhat has gone
165Frisell, Bill, 'We're Not From Around Here' Nashville (Nonesuch Records,
79415-2,1997).
166www.songtone.
htm. Levy, Adam,Post
com/press/frisell/guitarplayerl999.
ModemAmericana-BillFrisell digs into his roots. (10.5.07)
P. 100
before.167This is very much an attitudethat concordswith my own practice,where
for example, the composition 'Afro-Diz' is a conscious musical collage of African
musical referents and 'It's Not My Fault' openly engagesin a process of musical
fragmentation.To deny the historical musical developmentof the instrumentin
one9sown aestheticrealm is to ignorecenturiesof musicalacculturationand a rich
organic musical language that is deeply ingrained in our consciousness.
Postmodemismrecognisesthat the past sharesthe same recorded spaceas the
digitised
documentary
local
is
intertwining
increasingly
the
a
present,
record which
and the global and in so doing transfiguring and re-contextualising music. In a
in an attemptto
technologicallydominatedworld the producer/performer/composer,
find an individual voice (a modernistconcept),has at their disposalthe complete
history of recorded music, from which, they can freely extract musical elementsand
idiomatic performancestyles and fashion hybrids from a multiplicity of pluralist
voices -
assuming sufficient income, a computer and an internet connection.
Musical unity, the presenceof an over archingform and structureto a musical
composition,is of prime importanceto the modernistandthe anti-modernist,but for
differentreasons,to the modernistform denotesthe rational,to the anti-modernistit
denotesa conformancewith stylistic traditions;unity is of lesserimportanceto the
is
therefore a useful defining characteristic.JonathanKramer
and
postmodernist
considersthat:
167Kramer, David, 'The Nature
and Origins of Musical Postmodernism'in
Lochead,Judy and Auner, Joseph,(eds.), 'PostmodernMusic and Postmodern
Thought' (New York andLondon:Routledge,2002), 18.
P.101
For both antimodernism and modernists, unity is a prerequisite for musical
sense;for some post modernists,unity is an option.
168
The whole notion of musical unity is therefore not only of lesser importance to the
incomplete
is
but
fact
the
that
the
partial
of
world a place
postmodernist, reflects
increasingly
the
technology-saturated
society,where
and
product
of
an
experiences
our attentionis sought,often simultaneously,by a multiplicity of aural, visual and
textual media. The very production of contemporarymusic is in itself often a process
fragmentation,
as recorded music is assembled from a discontinuous series of
of
musical experiences that are reassembled during a final process of editing and
The discontinuity of modem lives and short attention spansof the
assemblage.
169
'has
4Its Not My
for
fragmentation'.
technology
consumersof
created a context
Fault', presentedin the portfolio, representsthis very fragmentation in its conception
and realistion, the composition is consciouslyfragmentedand episodic and the
recording process makes full use of processesof digital editing -
cut and paste
techniquesandthe sonicmanipulationof acousticsounds.A postmodernacceptance
of fragmentation in music demotes in importance the existence of an over arching
schema and encouragesthe inclusion of different music types, for example, the
linear
cyclic and
modesof vernacularmusic,wherethe functionalrole of indigenous
or situated music (ritual, song and dance) determinesthe need for repetition,
embellishments then occur in an additive linear progression. This cyclic nature
168Kramer, David, 'The Nature
and Origins ofMusical Postmodernism' in Lochead,
Judy and Auner, Joseph, (eds.), 'Postmodern Music and Postmodern Thought
(New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 15.
169 Kramer, David, 'The Nature
and Origins of Musical Postmodernism' in
Lochead, Judy and Auner, Joseph, (eds.), 'Postmodern Music and Postmodern
Thought' (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 19.
102
improvised
development
large-scale
forms
favours
the
organic
an
of
and
precludes
imposed
than
an
schema; it is acknowledged that large-scale works also
rather
contain cyclic structures,but these are usually part of a larger compositional scheme.
Formalstructuresare lesscommonin the aural music traditionsbut are evidentin
some early-recorded material, for example in some of the early guitar duets where
Stagefright,asmentionedearlier,is a goodexample.170Whilst large-scaleworksand
formal structuresare sacrosanct
to the modernistcomposer,a postmodem'attitude'
accepts that many diverse elements can exist within a composition. Again
guitarist/composer Bill
Frisell,
whilst
at
times
employing
conventional
compositional processes,has more recently chosen to allow the music to develop
through improvisation, bringing together performers that he enjoys musically and
letting the music develop out of preparedmusical sketches.171This could be seenas
a postmodern response in actively eschewing large scale and rationalised
compositional methods in favour of fragmentation; the absence of a schema
encouragesfragmented music ideas, plurality and eclecticism, by encouraging the
interaction of individual voices and the granting of musical autonomy to the
performers.
Modernism
A modernist aesthetic or 'art' music practice exists in some acoustic guitar practice,
where the intention is to signify and attempt a dislocation of traditional continuities.
It is evident in the work of such performersas Robert Fripp, who interestingly
170Birkett, JamesandSinclair,Rod, TheJazzGuitar Duo (UK: JPC102,2000).
171In responseto a questionaboutcompositional
in
approaches
at a workshop The
OperaHouse, Newcastle upon Tyne, November 2003.
p.103
developedreturnedmore to acousticguitar playing after a substantialperiod of
his
have
followed
to
the
the
seems
electric
guitar
and
approach
modernist
playing
in
instrument.
Fripp,
Robert
to
the
seekingto exert a
acoustic
who
progression
modernistrefiguring of guitar music, hasdevelopednew methodsof working with
the specific intent of breaking with traditional practice.
Fripp's Guitar Craft
in
instrumental
to
and philosophicalapproach guitar playing
movementoffers an
which he specifies a new tuning system,the type of instrument to be played, the way
the instrument is to be held and a precise pedagogy for the development of playing
172
technique. His conceptualapproachto performanceand compositionis designed
to remove all previously acquired 'guitaristic' conceptions and to challenge the
orthodoxy of common practice. The devotees undergo an extremely disciplined
routine of instruction and progress through various levels of 'craft' to become
instructorsandspreadthe movement.Others,for exampleDerekBailey,havesought
to carry on in the 'free' improvisation tradition, using the guitar in a randomised
aleatoricmodein which the instrumentbecomesa resonantbox for the creationof
173
freed
from
the confinesof receivedguitar practice. The way that
sound-scapes,
is
acousticity viewedby the modernistis different from that of the rootsor revivalist
performer:the modernist readily uses instrumentsthat are electro-acousticand
hybrid designsto producea modified acousticresponse,not at all naturalisticmore
an enhanced'supra' acoustic sound, whilst roots and revivalist performers pursuean
unadulterated 'natural' sound where acousticity is a sign of authenticity and
tradition,
172Tamm, Eric, Robert Fripp: From King Crimson to Guitar Craft (Boston and
London:FaberandFaber,1990).
173Bailey,Derek,Improvisation(USA: Ampersand02,2006).
104
Anti-modernism
Anti-modemist concerns are reflected in practices that attempt to maintain
continuitywith historicalstylesandto revivetraditionalpractice.The music is often
performedon authenticinstrumentsthat are either replicasof original designsor
original instrumentsfrom the relevant era; a fetishism not only for stylistic
convention but the original artefacts,vintage instruments, amplification and
recording systems, often for the sake that they are old, not necessarily better. The
practice is intentionally anti-modem and attempts to recreatemusical practices of a
perceived'golden age'. The availability of record back-catalogues,specialist
broadcastingand music festivals, have createdan outlet for performers who practice
revivalist music styles, where importance is placed on a continuanceof tradition and
authenticity. Contemporary performers such as The Be Good Tanyas, Jessie Sykes
and Gillian Welch could be describedas anti-modem in their traditional approachto
the performance of music: the acoustic instruments are played in a traditional way
174
and amplified using simple microphone placements rather than pick-up systems.
Some bluegrass performers have taken this approach further by returning to
traditional recording and performancetechniqueswhere everyone standsaround one
microphone,moving closer as necessaryto forefront particular instruments.The
practice of performing at low volume levels to an audience weaned on the rock
aestheticof high volumeis in itself a statementof authenticity.
The difficulty with categorisationbecomesless distinct when considering
croots'music,which is rootedin a traditionalmusicallineagebut often realisedin a
174Wclch, Gillian, Hell, 4mong The Yearlings (USA: Acony Records-ACNY
470102,2001).
p. 105
been
by
has
The
the
context.
aided
popularity of roots music
contemporary
digitisationof historic recordings,giving the audienceand performereasyaccessto
back cataloguesof recordedmaterial and it is accessto these materialsthat has
for
the performersof rootsmusic.Rootsmusic standsoutside
new
markets
spawned
of the concernsof the modernist,beingbuilt uponauralmusicaltraditionsandwhat
Anne Le Baronref ers to as a simple type of automatic music createdthrough
improvisation,repetitionand embellishment.
175The music doesn't possessa largescale form as it tends to be basedon cyclic patternsand has a tendencyto be
episodic in structure;oscillating betweenrecurring ostinatosor simple harmonic
sequencesto which improvised episodes,adornmentsand flourishes are freely
added. Examples of this approach can be found in flamenco, blues, country and
European folk music, for example, 'Angie' by Davy Graham,"' 'The Boy Plays
Guitar while Kissing the Girl' by The Reverend Gary Davis,"' 'Hats Off To Davey'
178
in
'Afro-Diz'
Musical unity is not consciously challenged, as in
the
portfolio.
and
the sense employed by the postmodemist, but it is disfavoured and demoted in
importance,what is evident is that the overall form, as a musical journey, is of lesser
importance than the
relationship between the
ic/harmon
ic scheme rhythm
isorhythmic
-
repeated
and the improvisations. The performer becomes
175Barron, Anne, Le, 'Reflections
of Surrealism in Postmodem Musics' in Lochead,
Judy and Auner, Joseph(eds.), 'Postmodern Music and Postmodern Thought ' (New
York and London: Routledge, 2002), 15.
176Graham, Davey, 'Angie', The Guitar Player Plus (See for Miles Records Ltd.,
SEECD 351.1963).
177Davis, The Reverend, Gary, 'Boy Plays Guitar While Kissing the Girl' The Blue
Guitar and Banjo of the Rev. Gary Davis (Prestige PR7725,1964).
178'Afro-Diz', 'Hats Off To Davey' CD#2 PhD
portfolio.
106
is
less
the
the
the
to
the
process
characterof
music;
realisation and
central
by
be
in
its
intention
is
to
to
that
performed
others.
not createmusic
compositional
3.2
Pedagogy
A pedagogictradition for the classical guitar has existed for over 200 years during a
have
in
both
techniques
repertoireandperformance
period which a musicalcanonof
beenestablished.Around the middle of the 19'hcentury howeverthe guitar as an
instrument of the classical orchestra fell out of favour, to be replaced by the modern
in
describes
Victorians'
Tim
Brookes
the
as
an
example
of
what
pianoforte
'fascinationwith the gigantic' and it was not until the early 20'h century when
Segovia toured Europe and the USA that it made its reappearanceas a classical
instrument. During this period the modem guitar was left to develop a new trajectory
unrestrainedby a structuredpedagogictradition and Brookes refers to this as
'possibly the greatest thing that happened to the guitar', as the guitar was left
unrestrainedduring a period that witnessedthe emergenceof the musical forms of
179
blues.
The lack of a defined pedagogicstructure allowed the
early jazz and
developmentof highly differentiatedand personalisedstyles, and encouragedan
in
learned
doing.
by
listening
tradition
aural
unfettered
which players
and
Irving Sloanecommentsthat:
Until after the Civil War, few Americans knew how to read music. Self-
taughtinstinctivemusicianshipwasthe rule. Music without words,basedon
formaltheoriesof counterpointandharmony,was in fact unknownto most
Americansuntil the latenineteenthcentury.
179Brookes, Tim: during a telephone conversation Saturday October 29h 2006.
on
p. 107
This lack of a tradition rootedin classicalEuropeanmusichelpedshapethe
characterof Americanmusic.Rhythm,the stepchildof classicalmusic,anda
strongmelodicline becamethe hallmarksof the folk, hillbilly, andjazz
180
American.
traditions that are uniquely
The natureof auralmusicalcultures,the inherentneedto improviseandto adaptto
differing demands,form the basisof manyguitar styles,in fact, someof the more
interesting styles have developedwhere players were attempting to emulate other
instrumentaltechniqueson the guitar, for example, in western swing when steel
guitar players attemptedto sound like horn sections, in blues and ragtime when
guitarists such as Blind Blake developed guitar styles that soundedlike piano players
and when blues players such as Charlie Patton used a slide to mimic the wailing
humanvoice.The essenceof readingandauralculturesintrinsically differ: the
develops
culture
a text based(notated)canonof musicover a periodof time,
reading
which establishesand confirms conventions of performance, whilst the aural culture
fluid
a
musicalcanonthroughrepetitionandperformance,the very natureof
creates
which altersasit is passedbetweenperformersand listeners.
Channonrefersto this relationshipbetweennotatedmusicandauralcultures:
Jazzandblues,with their rootsin improvisationandoral tradition, initially
lackednotatedformsat all. The first written blues(usingthe twelve-bar
shapewhich would later influence rock 'n' roll) were published around
1913-1915,rapidly followed by the first recordedblues'181
180Sloane,Irving, Steel-StringGuitar Construction(New York: E.P.Dutton & Co.,
Inc., 1975),8.
181Channan,Michael, RepeatedTakes(London and New York: Verso, 1995), 45.
P. 108
Functionallythe purposeof notationin the two traditionsdiffered,in popularsong
andclassicalrepertoirethe notatedmusicpresentsa standardised
melodyand
harmonicsequence
asdefinedby the composer,in musicfrom the auraltraditions
notationis transcribedfrom performanceandwasalwaysintendedasa templatefor
individual interpretation. Channanrefers to how the availability of recordings
affectedinterpretation:
the role of the recordwas not to substitutefor the written score,which did
not exist in jazz; it communicatedwhat cannotbe indicatedin any score,the
nuancesof articulationandtimbre that areamongthe centralstylistic concerns
ofjazz.
182
Channan talks of jazz, but there is a commonality with all aural musical styles as
having accessto a recording and to experience nuances of articulation and timbre
alleviatedthe needto be in the presenceof the performer- the performercould be
relocated into the 'presence' of the listener. The effect that this has had upon the
developmentof musical styles and their subsequenttranscendence
from localised
marketsto global marketscannotbe overestimated.To the aural musician,whose
learning
means
of
very
relied on being in the presenceof a performer,the recording
broadcasting
industry
brought a constant flow of new material. Harold
and
Courlander,quotedin Channon,refersto a feedbackthat is producedwhen another
performer takes a recorded song, adaptsit to his own performance style, and then re-
183
recordsthe song. Paradoxically,althoughthe processmirrors the aural tradition,
whereperformancestyles are basedon what is heardand passeddown, recording
182Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(LondonandNew York: Verso, 1995),19.
183
lbid, 51.
P.109
becomes
initiate
fixing
the
a
process
of
canonisation
record
can
and
of style where
the standardisedand approved version.
The popularity of the guitar in the early years of the 20thcentury is reflected in
the existenceof specialistmagazines,tutor books,andtranscriptions.In the United
Kingdom,the BanjoMandolin and Guitar Magazine(BMG) wasfirst publishedin
1903andalthoughinitially containingmoretranscriptionsof banjoandmandolin
music,includedin the 1920sthe Hawaiianguitarandukuleleand increasingly
featuredthe plectrum guitar.184During the 1930smany tuitional books for the
by Eddie
plectrumguitaristwerepublished:the ModemAdvancedGuitar Method185
Lang,the Manualof PracticalHarmonyfor the Guitarby JamesMarchisio186and
Modem Plectrum Guitar Playing by Dick Sadler.187In addition, transcription books
of popular recordings such as the Dave Berend publication of Eddie Lang and
LonnieJohnsonguitarduetsbecameavailable.Thesetranscriptionswerehowever
perfunctory, being greatly simplified for the sake of brevity and easeof performance
andthey carriedwith theman implicit assumptionthat the performerwould have
alreadyheardthe recordings- the transcriptionspointedto the recordings.
From my own experienceof listening to early blues recordings, where
performers often used differing tunings systems and played in idiosyncratic
performancestyles, it was often very difficult to understandhow individual
184BMG: Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar (London: Chappel Music, 1903-1973).
185Lang, Eddie. (ed. Dave Berend) Modern Advanced Guitar Method (New York:
Robbins Music Corporation, 1935).
186Marchisio, James.Manual
ofPractical Harmonyfor the Guitar (London: Francis
Day and Hunter Ltd., No publication date).
187Sadler,Dick. Modern Plectrum Guitar Playing (London: Herman Darewski
Music Publishing Co., 1938).
P.110
techniqueswere achieved.This becameeasierwhen I discoveredspecialistguitar
188
books
CDs
DVDs
Guitar
Player.
Guitar
tutor
and
magazines,
magazinessuchas
arenow commonplace;a surveyof materialsin the Ashley Marks Publishingon-line
(Fretsonly.
com) revealsan expansiverangeof tuitional materialcovering
catalogue
189
rangeof guitar styles. In addition, specialistguitar periodicals,
a comprehensive
190
coveringa wide rangeof guitar styles,arecurrentlyon sale.
3.3
Notational systems
Two structurallydifferent systemsexist for the notationof guitar music,standard
notationandtablature,the standardnotationalstaff employedin musicfrom the
Europeantradition and tablature, a graphic pictorial systemthat has been in use for
over 250 years.Although most early twentieth-century transcriptions and tuitional
materialsfor plectrumstyleandclassicalguitarwerewritten in standardnotation,a
choice that probably reflects the formality and notational hegemony of the
industry,
tablaturewasoccasionallyused- StefanGrossman,the
publishing
Homespun
of
records,claimsto own a Hawaiianguitartutor from the
proprietor
1920sand some nineteenth-centuryparlour songswritten in tablature.191In
both
contemporarypractice
systemsareused,but thereis considerabledebatein
188Guitar Player Magazine (USA: Grove Press)
189
www. fretsonly. com
1901was commissionedto write 32 tuitional
articles for Total Guitar magazine,
Future Publishing Ltd.,
191HomespunRecords specialize in
acoustic guitar tuitional materials. The
historical
of
piecesthat are written in tablature were outlined in an email
existences
(Appendix 1).
P.111
it
is
debates
To
to
the
tablature.
these
usefulto
validity
of
understand
relation
considerthe historicaldevelopmentof both systems.
FemandoFerandiere'sArte de tocar la guitarra espanolapor müsica (Madrid
1799),is the first known instructionmanualto teachguitar playersto readfrom
standardnotation;previously,guitarmusicfrom the earliestknown book of
192
livre
dances
for
French
Le
the
of popularsongsand
arrangements
guitar,
premier
dechansons,gaillardes,pavannesetc.,Paris1552(oneof a seriesof four books),
were written using the graphic notational systemof tablature. In 1639, the tablature
systemwas extendedwhen Juan Carles y Arnat's Guitarra espailolay vandola,
Gerona,alsoincludeddiagramsandillustrationsof handsplayingchordson the
193
fingerboard. Although the use of tablature was also common to other instruments
such as the lute, the viola da gamba,and the Northem-European organ, Ferandiere's
publicationbrokewith a 250 yearold tradition of usingtablatureasthe solemeans
of writing guitar music. Whilst offering a broader repertoire basefor the guitar, the
in
system
of
writing
very
a genericratherthanan instrument-specificstyle is
significant.Grunfeldmakesthe following observation:
This soundsa new andominousnotein the literatureof the guitar-a themeof
instrumentaltransvestismwhich we shallhaveoccasionto heara greatdeal
194
during
the romanticera.
moreabout
192A seven-stringed
instrument,six of the stringswereset in threedoublecourses
plus one melody string.
193Grunfeld, Frederic V., TheArt
and Timesof the Guitar -An
Illustrated History
(New York: Da CapoPress,Incorporated,1974),59.
194Grunfeld,FredericV., TheArt and Timesof the Guitar An Illustrated History
(New York: Da CapoPress,Incorporated,1974),140
112
Although his commentsre an instrumentaltransvestismrelateto the romanticera
they sound a warning of the potential loss of identity for guitar music. The adoption
in
function
the
the
through
could
guitarist
which
of standardnotationcreated means
a broadermusicalspherebut alsocreateda divide andmusicalhegemonythat would
hegemony
is
literate
from
This
the
the
reflected
notationaly
performer
rest.
separate
in the fact that transcriptionsand tuitional materials for classical guitar and the
plectrumguitar stylesof the early20thcenturyweregenerallynotatedin the received
style, whilst music from the aural traditions, consisting of a simplified melody and
guitar accompaniment,were representedin a graphical musical shorthand as chord
boxes. Examples in this form can be found in sheetmusic and songbooksof the 19th
and early 20th centuries where notated piano arrangementswere provided for the
literate
and chord boxes and/or chord symbols provided for the guitar,
musically
banjo or ukulele; players of rhythmic instrumentswere expectedto constructa
195
suitable musical accompaniment. Whilst this hierarchy was often the result of
expediencyand brevity, it also reflectsparticularunderstandings
aboutthe role and
musicalauthorityof particularinstruments,the
the world of musicalliteracyandstrummedor picked string
pianorepresented
instruments,ratherthan bowedinstruments,an auralmusic culture.Tablaturedidn't
disappearaltogetheras evidencedby Stefan Grossman,and it is significant that
tablature was revived to notate Hawaiian slide guitar music, the music of an aural
musical culture, which becauseof the use of open-tuningsand the elaborate
glissandosandmicrotonalpitches,createdby using a slide, is very difficult to notate
195Chordbox: a graphicrepresentation
of the instrumentneck,markedwith finger
positions.Chordsymbols:a nomenclaturewhich indicatesthe chordroot-note,the
p. 113
in standardnotation.196For similar reasonsit madea significantreturn in 1969,with
the publicationof StefanGrossman'stranscriptionbooksof early bluesand ragtime
tunes,this could be seento mirror a cultural shift at the end of the 1960stowards
traditionalformsof musicandsignaleda returnto the useof tablaturein mainstream
197
music publications. Tablatureas a notationalsystemfunctionedas an effective
musical shorthandfor the non-readingguitarist of a new generation,who, being
dislocatedfrom the continuitiesof traditional aural music cultures, found it very
difficult to gain first hand experience of American music other than through the
occasional touring artist and scarce recordings; some American guitarists notably
John Fahey and Stefan Grossman sought out the original performers. Tablature
offered a specialised system that could indicate precise performance characteristics
of what were often idiosyncratic playing techniques. In the caseof blues and ragtime
tunes tablature was re introduced becauseof its functionality and graphic clarity and
was a rational choice for music styles which are characterized by the use of nonidiosyncratic
tunings,
standard
and often complex techniques.
Examples of both methods of notation, standardand graphic (tablature and
chord diagrams) are still used in contemporarypractice, but the choice of system is
often articulated with particular ideasof legitimacy and authority. The debateis
often polemic, with those favouring the standardnotational system stressingits
universality and the self-imposed limitations of an instrument specific systemtablature, in its simplest form, indicates the position of notes but not the pitch,
chordalquality andanyalterationsto the standardintervallic relationshipsLe G7
(b5)
196Describedin an email communicationof 4.11.06.(Appendix2)
197Grossman,Stefan,TheCountryBluesGuitar (USA: Music SalesCorporation,
1968).
114
intervallicor rhythmicinformation.Whereasadvocatesof tablaturestressits graphic
indicate
in
is
the
to
explicitly
position
of
useful
ability
notes,which particularly
tuningsareusedand
contrapuntalmusicsuchasfinger picking,whennon-standard
whenguitaristictechniquessuchasslide or tappingareemployed.In addition,asa
graphic positional, rather than pitch-related, system,it provides accessibility for
thosewho do not possessa notationalliteracy.Although in its simplestform
tablatureonly indicatesthe positionof noteson the guitar neckandexcludes
information,
it
can function as a complete musical systemthat precisely
rhythmic
indicatespitch, notevalues,andthe rhythmicandmetric relationshipof notes.
The inherentcomplexityof the guitar,which resultsfrom the multiple
locations in which most notes can be found, presentsparticular difficulties for the
composeror transcriber: where standardnotation indicates the note implicitly, a
is
but
its
location,
tablatureindicatesthe noteexplicitly,
pitch
specified
specific
not
determining a precise location for eachnote. I would argue that becauseof its
genericmusicalqualitiesstandardnotationis important,but that a cogentargument
canbe madefor the useof tablatureasa usefulsystemthat explicitly describes
guitar-specifictechniques.In the following examplethe guitar arrangementis played
in the opentuning DADGAD andit is apparenthow tablatureprovidesprecise
information
in
a graphicfrom andin this instanceis mucheasierto read
positional
thanstandardnotation.
p. 115
Section 3.3, rig #I: The Black Isle
Acoustic Guitar
U-7
AcousticGuitar
To elaborate, the following mechanistic analysis reveals the difficulty in
notating and sight-reading guitar music: the lowest five notes E2-G#2 (where middle
C is C4), and the highest five notes G#5-B5 (on a nineteen-fret instrument) are
in
in
between
34
(77%)
the
two
single
a
position,
other
notes
are playable
playable
198
five
positions. The availability of multiple locations in which the same pitch
and
can be played, but with a distinctly different timbre, createsan instrument which is
rich with timbral possibilities but is also complex to play, difficult to accurately
notateand challengingto the sight reader.To make a comparisonwith the piano,
be
can
each
note
played in only one position and with a possibility of five
where
fingerings,producesfive fingeringoptions- assumingthat onehandis usedto play
in
the
phrase,
guitarist
some caseshas to select from 20 possible
a particular
fingers
five
(four
and
positions) to produce the same note, in addition
combinations
to coordinating both the picking and fretting hands.
198An alphanumerical systemestablishedby The Acoustical Association America
of
for definingthe pitch of notesby usinga pitch nameandoctavenumber,for
C=
C4.
Middle
example,
116
The common practice of writing guitar music on one stave determines that
The
be
below
ledger
lines
have
to
the
stave.
guitarsrange
used
above
and
several
from a low E2, written belowthe third ledgerline belowthe staveto the highestnote
C6 (on a twentyfret instrument)two octavesabovemiddle C, written abovethe fifth
ledger line, necessitatesthe use of an additional eight ledger lines:
Section3.3, fig #2: the written range
-cr
Composerswill often avoid the full range of the guitar's compass and simplify the
but
is
this
parameters
not always the case,Martyn Harry's composition
performance
'Grace 2003', commissionedfor the Jazz Guitar Duo, spansfrom a E2 on the
bottom string to a B5 and presentsa particular challenge to read and execute.
Section 3.3, rig #3: bar no. 105 from
Grace 2003 cNIartyn Harry
Someattemptshavebeenmadeto addressthis issuein the publication of classical
in
is
the
which
repertoire
guitar
notated in its actual pitch across bass and
guitar
199
When standard notation is employed, position indicators and
treble clefs.
fingerings
are also notated;this howeveris achievedautomaticallyusing
sometimes
tablature.The useof openstrings,a performancecharacteristiccommonto acoustic-
199Elliker, Calvin, Your Cry Will Be a Whisper, USA" Pennsylvania, Merion
Music,c1996).
p. 117
guitar-music and particular techniques such as 'harping' make copious use of openstrings alternating with fretted strings, to create a cascadeof overlapping notes and
#4).
is
fig.
(see
this
tablature
clearer
much
when
written
as
again
Section 3.3, fig #4: Extract from Hats Off To Davey
Guitar
Guitar
Where non-standardtunings are used the complexity is expanded exponentially: the
relocation of musical pitches on the guitar neck and often increasedpitch range can
be difficult to encompasswithin a stave,with the result that notating and reading
becomemore complex. Certainly, most players would baulk at the thought of sight-
readinga conventionallynotated piece in a non-standardtuning. Therefore,the
reasonfor writing somemusic in standardnotation hasto be questioned,if it does
not make the performanceof the music easierthen why is it notatedin this way.
Therearetwo answersto this question,onethat musicaltraditionswill often dictate
that the receivedsystemis usedand secondlythe useof the universalsystemmakes
musical analysis possible. In conclusion, the arguments for a textual orthodoxy and
but
they shouldnot deprivethe performerof a practical
are
compelling
universality
interpreted
systemof tablature.Paradoxically,it is technologythat is
easily
and
118
historic
two
the
systemsas notational software programmes allow music to
uniting
bewritten in eithersystemthenconverted(with carefulediting)to the other.200
3.4
Acoustic guitar / Electric guitar
infers
To employ the neologism'acousticity, to describeacoustic-guitar-practice,
that it differs from the electric guitar in more ways than simply its acoustic
resonance,and as such necessitatesan investigation into its specific musical
andperformancetechniques.As the conceptof the acousticguitardid
characteristics
not exist before the advent of the electric guitar pick-up -
practice-
all practice was guitar
any discrete,distinct and identifiablemodesof practicehavedeveloped
as a result of this division. However,althoughboth the electric guitar and acoustic
guitar share functional musical qualities and commonalities of practice, the flat-top
acoustic guitar becamethe vehicle for new distinctly acoustic guitar techniques. It is
in these distinct modes of practice that acoustic practice can be defined. The
hybridised electric-semi-acoustic guitar -
an acoustic instrument specifically
designedto be amplified- hasbeenomittedfrom theseconsiderationsasit at times
functionsin the samerole asthe solid-bodiedelectricguitar, as in the caseof blues,
and at other times, particularly in jazz, tends to function in a similar role as the
201In
acousticguitar.
addition, contemporarydevelopmentsin amplification and
instrumenttechnologyare producing a range of hybrid instrumentsthat possess
202
both
instruments.
the
performanceandsonicqualitiesof
someof
200Sibeliusnotationalsoftwareby Avid Media Industries.
201The semi-acousticguitar is the signatureinstrument blues
of
guitaristB.B King
jazz
Martin
Taylor.
guitarist
and
202Godin(Canada)haveproduceda rangeof guitarsthat
areequippedwith piezo
acoustic,electricmagnetic,andmidi pick-ups.
P.119
For reasonsof pragmatism,mostguitarplayersfunctionasboth electricandacoustic
low
levels;
in
demand
settings
volume
particular
which
at
performance
players:
in
it
is
idiomatically
instrument
has
the
appropriate
and
a
signifying
role
as
where
the performanceof folk and 'roots' musicandto createtimbral variationasa
textural alternative to the electric guitar. However, some performers can be
asbeingeitherprimarily acousticor electric-guitarplayers:Martin
categorised
Simpsonis primarily consideredto be an acoustic-guitarplayerwhereasHank
Marvin is perceived as an electric-guitar player, others, for example Mark Knopfler,
Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder and Pat Metheny, appearto be equally comfortable and
in
both
the acoustic-guitarplayerin
modes.Sowhat characterises
convincing
relation to the electric player and is it possible to define what divides or unites the
two approaches?Obviously the resultant sound is determined by the mode of
electricor acoustic,but the simply drawndistinctionbetweenan
performance,
(modified)
and un-amplified (natural) timbre is insufficient as a descriptor
amplified
in
differences
performancestyles.To a largedegreethesedifferencesarebound
of
instrument
is morecloselyassociatedwith solo or
the
musical
role,
with
acoustic
up
smallensemblepracticewhilst the solid-bodiedelectric-guitarfunctionsprimarily as
203
partof a rhythm-section.
It is this role asa solo instrumentor part of a small ensemble- the guitar-duo,
string-band,or accompanimentto a voice or other melodic instrument -
that has
development
the
of particularperformancetechniques,with the player
necessitated
functioning,often simultaneously,in a rhythmic,percussive,harmonicandmelodic
Lomax
Alan
black
to
the
that
refers
way
role.
guitar pickersturnedtheir instruments
203A rhythm-sectionis comprisedof a percussionplayer(usuallydrum-kit), bass
player,anda minimum of onechordalinstrument.
120
into one-pieceorchestrasby employinga rangeof rhythmicandpercussive
techniques:
black countryguitar pickerstaughttheir instrumentsto sing the bluesand,at
the sametime, to serveasone-piecedanceorchestras,evokingthe multiple
patternsof the old stringbandby beating,picking, plucking,hammering,
204
pushingandsliding.
This differs from the role of the electricguitar,which in the contextof a rhythm
section,where everyonetakes on a highly differentiated role, tends to adopt differing
different
times. To achieve this multi-functional role of
performance
at
modes
han-nonic
rhythmic, percussive,
and melodic -
the acoustic-guitarist often adoptsa
finger picking or hybrid-picking technique. It could be argued that acoustic players
tend to employ finger-picking styles and electric-guitar players tend to use plectrum
technique,andwhilst this blunt distinctionreflectscertaintruismsthereareobvious
'rule
to
this
of thumb', two striking examplesbeing the plectrum guitar
exceptions
stylesof the acousticgypsy-guitar-players
andthe bluegrassflat-pickers,who with
the useof a plectrumproducepercussiverhythmicaccompaniments
andflurries of
preciselyarticulatednotes.Interestingly,Doc Watsona foundingfatherof the
bluegrassguitar styleoriginally developedthe styleon electricguitar andonly
transferredto acousticguitarto satisfythe 'traditionalist, demandsof the 'folk
205
revivalists'. So,whilst therearetendenciestowardsdifferent picking practice
fingerpickingv plectrumstyle- fingerpickingstylesaremorecommonlyusedand
204Lomax,Alan, TheLand nere BluesBegan(New York: The New Press,1993),
352.
205Whenperformingat the NewportFolk Festivalin 1963.
p. 121
?
06
The ability to perform complex
in
highly developed acoustic-guitar playing
from
American
"a
the
picker"
of
real
will
earn
epitaph
rhythmic picking patterns
acousticguitaraficionados.
Picking
styles
-
Thepickingtechniqueemployedby guitarplayersis subdividedinto thosewho
fingernail
finger
the
those
the
or
and
and
who
use
or
picks
use
plectrums
primarily
flesh of the fingertips and thumb. The variation in picking techniques is as old as
being
both
finger-picking
itself,
techniques
common
with
and
plectrum
guitar music
throughout the history of stringed instruments,Grunfeld, describesa plectrum, made
from an eagle's talon, being in use in Al-Andalus (Andalucia, Spain) as early as AD
207
in
it
from
(peflola).
14'h
1015 and again the
century where was made
a quill
Howeverthe choiceof a particulartechniquehasa profoundeffect on the quality of
the note produced and the execution and development of particular musical styles.
Bluegrassandswing-guitarstylesowetherecharacterto the preciseuseof heavygaugeplectrums,Travis-pickerChetAtkins andslide-guitarbluesguitaristBob
Brozmanuseof thumbandfingerpicks,bossa-novaguitaristLouis Bonfa and
208
fingers
12
Leo
Kottke
Canadian string guitarplayer
to the useof
andnails.
Sometimesparticulartechniquescanbe tracedbackto their historicalroots,as in the
'founded
Lang
"single
Eddie
who
a
melodic
string" style (punteadoas
of
case
206As previouslystated,playersof semi-acousticguitar are includedin this category,
andsolo-jazzplayers.
particularlycountry-guitar-pickers
2'7Grunfeld,Frederic,V., TheArt and Timesof the Guitar An Illustrated History
(NewYork: Da CapoPress,Incorporated,1974),56.
208Travispicking: a styledevelopedby Merle Travis wherea thumb-pickis usedto
line.
bass
alternating
play a strong
122
jazz
Italian
in
fusing
the
to
the
terminology)
with
popular
older
rasgado,
opposed
does
Italian
favours
Italian
the
the
tradition
the
the
as
plectrum
guitar
useof
guitar',
before
jazz
banjo
Eddie
Lang
tradition
played
andplectrum
styleswhich
mandolin
209
changingto guitar. The choiceof plectrumor fingernailsis sometimesdependant
damage
the nails andthereforeare
the
type
strings
of
used,
steel
strings
easily
upon
fingerpicks
with
played
a
plectrum
or
whereasnylon stringsrespond
usually
effectivelyto the useof fingersandnails.Thesedistinctionsservewell to markthe
historic developmentof some guitar styles, but contemporary practice reflects many
variants to traditional practice with some nylon-strung players using plectrums (John
McLoughlin,Antoine Forcione)andsteel-stringplayersusing fingersandnails (Leo
Kottke and Tony McManus); this is probably the result of improved amplification
technology which alleviates the needto produce a high volume levels, leaving the
guitarist to experiment with a variety of picking techniques. Whilst different picking
stylescan createtextural differences, this is not an absolute, a plectrum is generally
usedon steelstringsto createa percussivetexturebut Louis Bonfa playingon nylon
strings can createa similar effect with the back of his nails. Somejazz guitar players
favourthe plectrumbecauseof the evenness
of timbre acrossdifferent stringswhilst
finger
use
picking techniques:WesMontgomeryandJim Mullen usethe
others
thumbof the picking handto spectaculareffect.Whilst somegeneralisations
on a
between
picking techniquesand acoustic or electric instruments and
relationship
picking stylesandmusicalidiomscanbe made,manydeviationsfrom these
tendenciescanbe commonlyfound.With this caveatthe following tendenciescan
be determined:plectrumstyle is effectivefor executingsingle-notelinesand
rhythmiccompingwith a precisearticulationandconsistencyof timbre, but has
209
Ibid, 258.
p. 123
inherentlimitationsimposedby reducingthe picking possibilitiesof any plectrum
stroketo a single chord, arpeggio or note. Whilst the combining of melodic and
is
it
balance
to
achievable,
single-note
requiresconsiderableskill
rhythmicmaterial
with chordalinterjectionsandlimits the possibilitieswhenplaying
passages
contrapuntallines. To overcome these limitations the plectrum guitarist will often
adopta hybrid-pickingstyle,which combinesthe useof the plectrumwith oneor
two of the fingersof the picking handto pluck additionalnotes.Fingerpicking
styles,whilst often not possessingthe picking power or timbral consistency of the
plectrum,offer numerouspicking options:the thumbcanbe usedto play basslines
2
10
is
timbral
when
a
andmelodicpassages
particular
weight required - whilst
the index,middleandannularfingers(the little finger is lessoften used),provide
harmonicandmelodicmaterial.211In summationfinger-pickingor hybrid-picking
stylesprovidea greatdegreeof flexibility andthe possibility of combiningbasslines, rhythmic interjections and melody lines simultaneously, they are therefore
in
morecommonlyused acousticguitar styleswherethe function of the instrument
is to providemultiple musicalroles,rhythmic,percussive,harmonicandmelodic.
Plectrumtechniquesoffer an evenness
of timbre, a strongpercussiverhythmic
texture,increasedvolumeandareoftenusedwhen a performeris working with
instruments
is
lessnecessityto undertakesimultaneous
there
chordal
and
other
multi-functional roles. In my own practice, I have developed plectrum and finger
broad
techniques
to
achieve
a
rangeof performancepossibilitiesand
picking
variation:for example,plectrumtechniquesareusedin Tut it In The Pocket',
210Thethumbprovidesmorefleshandmasswith which to
strike the string.
211The soundproducedby the thumbandfingersmay differ,
and consistencyof
timbreacrossall fingersis difficult to achieve.
p. 124
'Mmm Interesting'and Its Not My Fault' andfinger picking techniquesin Dark,
and'Afro-Diz'.
Tunings
-
Thefact thatthe instrumentcanbe retunedeasily,unlike fixed pitch instruments
suchasthe pianoor accordion,hasmadeexperimentationwith tuning systems
Although alternativetuning systemsareusedon the electricguitar,
commonplace.
this is less common and the tunings used are usually derived from the acoustic
is
It
worth noting thatthe guitarsstandardtuning, from low to high E-A-D-Gguitar.
B-E, wherefour string pairsaretunedan intervalof a fourth apartwith onepair, the
secondand third, tuned a major third apart, is an anomaloussystem and a
contrivanceto maintain a separationbetweenthe top and bottom strings of two
octaves.The advantageof the standardsystemis that it makesthe playingof six
string-barre-chordspossible and this aids the guitarist to move easily between
differentkey centres;this factorwascrucialto the instrumentsmoderndevelopment
asit produceda guitarwhich could functioneffectivelyin the diatonicmusic
traditions.However,the standardtuningderivedfrom nineteenth-century
European
is
systems only oneof manypossibilities,the desirefor the acousticguitaristto
experimentwith tunings,which aremoresuitedto particularmusicalgenresand
is
is
in
natural
and
common
globalguitar practice.
styles,
Bob Brozmancomments:
the diatonicEuropeansystemof music is, in fact, the odd manout in
world musiccultures,the restof the world preferringthe more
mathematicallysimpleandthereforenatural-soundingmodal approach.Open
tuningsnot only facilitatethis, but alsoprovidedronestrings,makingselfp. 125
in
G
Open
For
tuning
major
occurs
mucheasier. example
accompaniment
the guitarmusicof: Hawaii, Mississippi,westAfrica, southAfrica,
212
Philippines,India, Mexico, [and] SouthAmerica.
Many guitaristsuseopentuning systems,both to resolvethe complexityand
difficulty of playingsolo acousticguitarandin the pursuitof new timbres,these
tuningswith their easeof accessto dronenotesandsimpleprimary chordsare
particularlysuitedto modaltonalitiesandmusicthat remainsin the samekey ccntre
213
In some casesthis simplification and
and as such often simple vemacular music.
be
may alsoa musicallimitation, Bob Brozmanarguesstronglyfor the
naturalness
validity andvalueof modaltonalitiesasbeingpredominantaroundthe world and
that diatonic music systemsonly account for only '20% of music', the rest being
214
made up of rhythm, pitch variation and percussion. Whilst open tuning systems
maylimit the harmoniccomplexityof music,they offer a rich paletteof timbral
possibilities creating resonantchordal voicings, multiple drones, increasedmelodic
development-micro-tonal systemswhenusedin conjunctionwith a slide,
percussivepossibilitiesandtuning systemsthat reflectthe characteristicsof the
instrument; the guitar is not attempting a 'musical transvestism' as suggestedearlier
by Grunfeld,it is usedto performin specificallyguitaristicmodesof practice.Bob
Brozmangoesfurther by sayingthat Westerndiatonicmusichasprobablyrun its
developments
the
as
all
new
course
arein the modalsystemsof global musicrather
212Smith.ChristopherJ.,'The Celtic guitar:crossing
cultural boundariesin the
twentiethcentury' in Bennet,Andy andDawe,Kevin, (eds.), Guitar Cultures
(Oxford andNew York: Berg,2001),232.
213Interviewwith JamesBirkett, CD #6 PhD portfolio.
214In conversationwith Bob Brozmanat BeckfootHouse,Cumbria 26.11.06
on
126
diatonictraditions-a
thanwesternised
contentiousbut thoughtprovoking point. A
is
in
Tunings.
included
7.0:
tunings
to
section
used
commonly
reference
Percussive
qualities
-
Soprevalentarethe useof percussivestrikeson both the stringsandthe guitar body
instrument.
thatthe acousticguitarcould almostbe consideredasa tuned-percussion
As the resonatingstringsof the guitarareamplifiedthroughthe flexible membrane
be
instrument
the
they
the
to
the
strikes,
whether
soundboard,
responds percussive
of
dynamic
the
the
of
performer
and
variable
attack of notes and chords,
action
picking
or physical strikes and slaps on the guitar; it is this percussivequality which very
instrument
from
the
the solid-bodiedelectricguitar.
acoustic
separates
clearly
JamesBirkett comments:
you areusingthe way that the instrumentis fundamentallybuilt ...to createthe
it
is
the
material
madefrom, the actualdesign,structureandresonance,
music,
you are using that as part of the music, you are absolutely not using that with
215
an electricguitar.
Althoughthe bodyof the electricguitardoeshavean effect on the soundand
instrument,
it
is
the
of
muchlesspronouncedandutilised asa musical
resonance
in
than
the caseof the acousticguitar.Al Di Meloa talking aboutthe
parameter
John
McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia says:
of
playing
acoustic
guitar
with
experience
You can't strum an electric the way we strum acoustics.You can switch from
rhythmto leadvery comfortablyon acoustic,but not on electric.It's easierto
216
havea conversationon acoustic.
215Interviewwith JamesBirkett, CD 46 PhD portfolio.
216Al di Meola in GuitarPlayerMagazine:March 1981(USA: GPI Publications,
1981).
p. 127
Thepercussiveaspectof the instrumenthaslong existedin the rhythmically
by the useof
dynamicmusicof Flamenco,wherethe guitarstyle is characterised
(blows,or fingernailstrokes)on the instrument'ssoundboardandthe
Ggolpes'
fingers
hands.
Using
body
the percussive
the
the
the
and
of
of
guitar
with
striking
for
de
has
become
the
the
and
almost
rigour
of
guitar
extremely
popular
qualities
Emmanuel
Antonio
Tommy
and
solo
guitarist
such
as
with
players
contemporary
Forcionehavingabsorbedthe techniqueinto their live performancesandparticular
it
have
Deeb
Kaki
Thomas
King
and
a central part of their
made
exponents
217
performancetechniques.
Usingthe materialfrom which the instrumentis madeto producepercussiveand
dynamic qualities producesa very physical reaction, JamesBirkett again comments:
it is definitely a physical interaction; this is a very personal physical
have
that
relationship you
with the makingof notesandthe sound,andthe
218
body.
those
through
vibration of
notes
your
The acousticrespondsdifferentlyto the electricguitar andthe playerinteraction
with the instrumentis moreof a physicalfull-body experience.The electrificationof
the instrumenthasdetachedthe soundsourcefrom a personalphysicalinteraction
instrument
detached
the
to
a
separated
soundandalthoughthis mediationwith
with
has
and
amplification
creatednew timbresandsonic landscapea
electricity
fundamentalphysicality has been lost.
Sonic
timbre
characteristics
and
-
217King, Kaki, Legs ToMake UsLonger(RedInk WK92426,2004).
'18Interviewwith JamesBirkett 1.11.06,CD 46 PhD portfolio.
p. 128
A characteristicof the instrumentis its relativelyshortsustain,the initial transient
createdby the strike of the pick or finger diminishesvery quickly and it is this short
the performanceof particularstyles
percussivetransientto eachnotethat encourages
finger
Long
the
picking,
rhythmic
strumming
and
rapid
execution
of
notes.
sustainednotesarenot possiblebut a notecanbe extendedby usinga slide,
tremolandopicking andvibrato: a bottleneckor slide extendsthe sustainof the note
by applyingan exaggerated
vibrato,the 'slide' is movedrapidly backwardsand
forwardsalongthe lengthof the string,encirclingthe chosenpitch andusingthe
friction betweenthe string andslideto produceadditionalvibration; with
tremolandopicking a note is repeatedlypickedto extendthe duration;applying
vibratoby pushingandpulling a string acrossa fret extendsthe lengthof the note.
This lack of sustainencourages
the playingof manynotes,if long sustainednotes
arenot possibleplayerswill tendto fill out silencesby playingmorenotes.The lack
the useof open-stringsasdronesandsympathetic
of sustainalsoencourages
tonalities:whenplayinga frettednoteif the openstringsarenot dampedtheywill
resonantsympatheticallywith the selectedpitch andthis devicecanbe used
effectively.The useof open-stringsis disfavouredin someguitar styles,particularly
whenthe guitar is playinga melody,asthe consistencyof timbre producedby using
fretted
all
notesis consideredto be preferableandthe uncontrolledsustainof an
open-stringcancauseproblemswhenamplified.Whilst open-stringsmay be utilised
for their simplicity of use,in providingthe simpleharmoniclanguageof vernacular
music,executionof primarychordsandthe resonantpowerof unrestrictedopenstrings,they canalsobe usedin sophisticatedwaysto exploit the naturalresonances
of the instrument- it is to take advantageof openstringsthat flamencoguitarists
in
play the first position.Acousticguitarplayersimplicitly makeuseof these
p. 129
drone
for
as
notes,
pivotal
points
ostinatos,additionalor optional note
resonances
in
finger
'harping',
in
picking,
using
a
capo
open-tunings,
when
and
choices
in
these
techniques
the
chordal
voicings;
all
of
copiously
areused
extended
portfolio.
3.5
PerformanceStyle: virtuosity and repertoire
In referenceto flamencoguitarplaying,PeterManuelrefersto 'guitar-technique
fetishists,who hoot and howl after every lightning sixteenth-note run', a similar
be
during
the performances
can
witnessed
response
of manycontemporaryacoustic
is
there
where
an expectation of virtoustic performance and great
players,
importanceis placed on the performers ability to amazethe audiencewith a display
219
brilliance.
This is in someway inevitable,in that the solo-guitar
technical
of
is
player performingto an audiencethat demandsentertainment;Maurice
Summerfield views this is as nothing new as performers have always vied for
attentionin an extremelycompetitivemassmarket,Paganini,for example,was
renownedfor his flamboyantandextravagantviroustic displays. The link between
musicandentertainmentis so stronglywoventhat it is to be expectedthat an
audiencewill at times expectto be amazedby virtoustic dexterityaswell asmusical
andinterpretiveability. This compoundedwith an increasingemphasison visual
demand
will
also
a greatervisual display.Perhapsthe guitar at this
performance
in
21"
has
the
century
maturedto a similar point to that achievedby the violin
point
in the middle 19thcentury.Hasthe guitarreacheda nadir, a summativepoint, have
219Manuel,Peter,Flamencoguitarýhistory,style,
statusin Coelho.Victor A., (ed.),
TheCambridgeCompanionto the Guitar (Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,
2003),23.
p. 130
is
developed,
techniques
the
all that remains,
now emergedand
substantial
all of
display
development,
from
virtoustic
compositional
pastiche,
novelty
and
apart
in
In
technique
style
over
substance?
and
an
expression
of
anaestheticgrounded
fretboard
he
James
Birkett
to
the
of
olympics
presence a
with
refers
conversation
with their ability to
andthe way in which performersaregradedin accordance
performtricks ratherthan expressa compositionalor interpretativeability: 'the
just
is
here
but
firework
display
the
that
there,
released
and
part of
pyrotechnicsare
is not a central point of the performing experience', there is a place for virtoustic
but this shouldn'tbe the primary focusof any
displayin all musicperformances
220
performance. Whilst youngerperformersandlessexperiencedguitaristsmaybe
dazzledby the exciting pyrotechnics,whether it is on electric or acoustic guitar, it is
is
the
whether
music
enhancedratherthanbackedinto a cornerand
questionable
limited by an over emphasison the techniqueof the individual performancerather
than the broader development of a repertoire base. Is there a problem when
musicis derivedfrom an individualisticapproachratherthana
contemporary
communalestablishingof repertoire?JamesBirkett asks:
'How muchis establishedasrepertoire...in the sameway that Segoviain
manywayssetup the repertoirefor Classicalguitar' and 'Is the virtuoso
thing, oneof the waysof attractingattentionandgettingan audience you
...
have
to draw attention to yourself as being a phenomenabecause
almost
thereis no establishedrepertoirebaseT
Thesearevalid questionsbut probablyquestionsthat applyto largeareasof popular
is
If
there
not a 'systematicbaseline setof techniquesasagainthere
practice.
music
for
are the classicalguitar', this personalisingof the instrumentproducesan arenain
220Interviewwith JamesBirkett CD #6 PhD portfolio
131
be
tricks
may
at the expenseof a musicalandcompositional
which performance
logic andperformancebecomesso personalised
that the 'soundworld' that an
221
for
be
impossible
individualcancreatemay
to recreate another. It hasto be
for
different
function
the solo performerwhere
that
composition
serves
a
recognised
it is oftenasa vehiclefor their own technicaldisplay,andthat entertainmentvalue,
increasingly
important
been
becomes
has
always
a part of musicperformance,
which
in a massmarketwhereindividualplayershaveto establishparticularstylistic
in
markers order to gain any recognition.
4.0
4.1
PERSONAL CREATIVE PRACTICE
Formative development
My first substantialmemory of the guitar is of watching the Beatles perform 'She
222
You'
Thank
Your
Lucky
Stars.
The power of the music, the physical
Loves
on
Beatles,
the
the exotic clothes and rebellious long hair, combined with
of
presence
the screamingadorationof teenagegirls wereinstantlyarticulatedwith an
instrumentthat seemedto offer entrdeinto an adult sexualisedworld - the electric
I
have
Although
heard
must
seenand
guitar.
guitarsbeforethis time, I hadnever
beenso affectedby, andfelt suchan inextricablefascinationwith, a musical
instrument.
As an electric instrument was well beyond my meagre income as a paper-boy,
I boughta very cheapacousticguitar from a second-hand
shop;it wascheapbecause
severalof the strings were rusty, some of the machine-heads(tuning pegs) were
damagedand the guitar could only be tunedwith the aide of a pair of pliers. What
"' Interviewwith JamesBirkett CD #6 PhD portfolio.
22222ndAugust 1963,ThankYour Lucky Stars:ABC Production.
p. 132
but
door,
boy
'electric'
to
the
me,
next
guitar wasa completemystery
constitutedan
in
his
teddy-boy
mid-20's, confidently explainedthat mains-voltageelectricity
a
(240volts) ran through the guitar strings and that is why electric guitarists used
fretting
hand
have
fingers
to
the
the
on the stringsat the sametime as
of
plectrums,
the picking hand would result in electrocution-
an imaginative if somewhat
misguidedexplanation.I did for some time consider wiring the strings of my
instrument
to the mains to see if this would work, luckily, when I
acoustic
mentioned this theory to my father his reaction halted my invention of a truly
electrifiedguitar.
Growing up in a mining village in CountyDurhamduring the 1950sand 60s,
my experience of the guitar and access to guitar players was through a limited
exposureto guitar music on television, radio, and records and not through real-life
encounters;unknown to me, severalother people in my locality were undergoing
similar experiences.The 'otherness' of the guitar, created by this senseof distance,
addedto the exoticismof the instrumentand its playersandheightenedmy sensesto
the existenceof anotherparallelexciting world. The guitar to me was an exotic and
remoteinstrumentand articulatedwith my adolescentideasof glamour,youth and
excitement.
owe my formative musical training to five sources,my father, radio,
television,recordingsand the Christianchurch:a curiousmix of the pious and the
father
My
wasa self-taughtmulti-instrumentalistwhosemusicalexperience
profane.
and repertoire,as an anglicisedScotsman,was confinedto popular Scottishsongs;
with his skills he helped me to tune the guitar and identify simple chords.The
learningof music as demonstratedby my father and grandfatherwas primarily an
learnt
by
doing, when watching my grandfather play the
one
aural process,
p. 133
harmonicaandaskinghim how I could learnto play,he replied,"Ach its easysonall
is
is,
it
bla"
bla,
bla,
is
do
the
result
a major
suck, suck,suck,
and surely
suck,
you
listened
intently
I
to
Having
ethos,
auto-didactic
a
strong
establishing
scale.
in
increasingly
became
mimicking the guitar parts on
successful
recordingsand
by
frustration
followed
This
and
processwas alternatelyone of puzzlement
records.
inaccurately)
in
(often
fulfilment
I
my
succeeded
playing
when
a great senseof
favourite guitar lines -
the JamesBond theme tune was a particular milestone.
Although I was unaware of the importance of nurturing aural skills, this exploratory
interact
later
freely
learning
to
with
would enable me
and experiential process of
from
Conversely
traditions.
other
aural
and
musicians
my experiencewith the
music
less
learn
from
Bert
to
materials
was
peclagogic
useful,
an
attempt
available
Weedon's 'Play In a Day', the instructional manual that is cited by many as their
introductionto guitar playing, was of limited value: the chord shapeswritten as
but
diagrams
the notated tunes were of little value to someone
were
useful
chord
223
later
discovered
had
1
that there
on
embarked
an
aural
musical
education.
who
wereothertuitional materialsavailable,of which I was unawareat the time, but the
practice of using standardnotation and the limited stylistic range of materials
have
been
of interestto me (seesectionon pedagogy).
availablewould probablynot
Perhapsthe most unexpectedinterfacewith the 'devil's music' was my association
local
the
church and church youth club, which led me to spending two summers
with
224
Northumberland
Christian
the
summercampon
coast. This was a formative
at a
from
the confinesof pit-village life, I was
experience
as,
removed
and enlightening
223Weedon,Bert, Bert Weedon'sPlay in a Day GuideTo Modern Guitar Playing
(London:ChappellMusic Ltd., 1957).
p. 134
from
broad
to
came
a
geographicand social
other
young
people
who
exposed
being
I
Here
three
met
particular
guitar
players,
who
severalyearsolder
spectrum.
thanme, had a much wider experienceof music: from them I learnt to finger-pick
and was exposed to the songs and guitar styles of progressive-folk-guitarist Bert
Jansch,blues and embryonic attempts at jazz-guitar. This was a true epiphany for me
(musicalnot religious),as I could watch closely and play alongsideplayerswhose
knowledgeand experiencewas more advancedthan my own. This experience
convergedwith my growing awarenessof an emerging music counterculture (1968),
a new cohort of acoustic performers, Bob Dylan, Donavan, Nick Drake, John
Martyn and Michael Chapman and a tradition of exciting guitar music. The problem
was finding this music as it was rarely broadcast; the solution necessitated a
determinedsearchfor old recordings.Oneof the most influential recordingsI found
was a recording of American rural-blues,the discovery of which led to a rich
in
seam
which the acoustic-guitar was central and its proponents played in
musical
fascination
A
and
compelling
anunorthodox
manner.
with the historicaltraditionsof
hadbegun.
the acoustic-guitar
Concurrentlythe allure of the exoticandhighly sexualisedworld of the
led
in
direction,
guitar
me
another
electric
onewhich would give me the opportunity
to performand,importantly,to makemoney.The sonichegemonyof the electric
for
the
acoustic-guitar
sidelined
many years to performances in small social
guitar
anddomesticsettingsanda seriousreturnto the instrumentdidn't comeaboutuntil
the first electro-acoustic
guitarsbecameavailableandre-established
the possibility
Having
performance.
workedasa guitar playerfor approximately39 years,
of public
224The churchhall would laterbecomethe venuefor rehearsing first band
my
and
first 'gig' in front of an audience.
p. 135
it
in
was not until the
settings,
of
performance
guitar
a
wide
range
playing electric
early 1980sthat the technical limitations of acoustic amplification were sufficiently
into
be
introduced
live
for
to
the
performance.
guitar
new electro-acoustic
resolved
Acousticguitarmusichadneverleft the performancestage,but to the working
issues
to resolvethat until a simple
technical
there
were
so
many
professional,
instrument
transducer,
the
the
was
emerged,
piezo
methodof amplification
feedback,
lack
to
subject
quality
sound,
and
of volume.
poor
a
unpredictable,
4.2
Current Practice
My practice is located in the concreteexperienceof performance,composition,
recording, and education and my experienceas a performer, composer, and producer
of guitar music provides a strong contextual base from which to consider
have
I
practice.
performedon the guitar on radio, television, movie
contemporary
CD
in
toured
the United Kingdom, Europe, Eire
vinyl
and
releases,
sound-tracks,
festivals
Romania,
performed
at
major
and venues,composedand recorded
and
been
transcribed
the joint recipient of an Arts Council of Great
recordings,
music,
Britain touring award and composition commission, written tuitional articles for an
internationalpublishingmagazine,worked as an educatoron an bachelorof music
honours degree programmein jazz, popular and commercial music and have
deliveredspecialistperfonnanceworkshops.
I continueto performon both electricandacousticguitar,but havebecome
increasinglyfascinatedby the acousticinstrument:its history andmusical
developmentencompassing
a wide rangeof diverseguitar practice,muchof which
development
the
of the electricguitarpick-up. In addition,I havebecome
predates
increasinglyawareof the acousticguitarasan instrumentthat is separateand
136
distinctfrom the electricguitar,an instrumentthat is definedby its acousticnature
fascinating
for
difference
has
become
increasingly
it
is
that
this
me.
and
4.3
Acoustic Guitar Practice
Thecompositionalframeworkis purposefullyguitar-centric(instrumentspecific)
structurallyandcontextuallythat
andis intendedto highlight the mechanisms,
influence the guitarist as a composer/arranger.225All of the pieces in the portfolio
have beenwritten to highlight the expressiveperformance and sonic characteristics
instrument,
for
is
in
'The
Black
Isle'
the
example
performed
of
a DADGAD tuning,
in
it
is
Celtic
from the inherentresonances
guitar
music,
and
oftenused
offeredby
this modal tuning that the composition draws, in contrast, 'For You' employs a less
guitar-centric, more abstractcompositional approachthat develops through different
key centres,at timestonally at othertimes in parallelharmonicshifts,to producea
pieceof musicthat could be performedon any instrument.Whilst the guitaristic
is
'The
Black
Isle'
of
self evident,'For You' providesan explorationthe
nature
guitarstimbrebyjuxtaposingit in a settingwhich reliesuponthe fore fronting
qualitiesof the recordingmediumto featurethe guitar asa melodicand improvising
instrument.The settingof the guitardiffers but it is the timbral andharmonicpalette
is
focus
that
the
the
central
of the composition.Although someof the
guitar
of
be
instruments
they are intended to function as
performed
on
other
could
pieces
'guitaristic' that is guitar-centredcompositionsthat expressspecificperformance
225Structurally:the inherentcharacteristics
of the instrument;pitch range,timbre,
tunings,stringgauge,andtension.Contextually:styleand idiomatic factors,groove,
form andrhythmicstyle.
p. 137
importantly
instrument
the performancestyle of the
the
and
of
characteristics
performer(s).
In developingan instrumentspecificapproachto composition,it is essentialto
instrument
from
the
the
of
understand performanceandphysicalcharacteristics
be
divided
be
drawn.
These
the
the
of
can
elements
music
can
performance
which
into physicalcharacteristics:
the limitationsof the instrumentimposedby its design
instrument
be
in
the
the
can
andperformancecharacteristics: variousways which
played.
Physical
characteristics:
tuning: the standardtuning of the instrument produces fixed pitched notes
betweenE2 and B5 (in some casesC5) a span of approximately three octaves
anda fifth. This rangecanbe alteredby usingdifferenttuning systems.See
section 7: Tunings;
chordalvoicings:the standardsix-stringguitar limits the voicing of anychord
to six simultaneouspitchesandin somecases,whereadjacentvoicesare
by small intervals,six separatepitchescannotbe used;
separated
stringgroupings:variationsin the groupingof stringsarerelativelycommon,
the mostcommonbeingthe 12 string instrument,wherethe bottomthree
have
an additional course of strings tuned an octave higher and the top
strings
threestringsa coursetunedin unison.Many variationsto this exist, the most
commonbeingthe nine-stringguitarusedby Lonnie JohnsonandBig Bill
Broonzywhereonly the top threestringsaredoubled;
138
bridge
differs
depending
between
distance
the
the
the
nut
and
on
scale-length:
the manufacturer;somearedesignedwith a longerscalelength to maintain
moretensionwhenslacktuningsareused;
body shape:some guitars are designedwith a single cutaway to the lower part
in
half
body
'cutaway',
the
to
the
the
neckjoint,
circle
guitar
a
adjacent
of
shape,facilitatesaccessto the higherfrets;
necklength:mostmodemacousticguitararefitted with a guitar neckthat
joins the bodyat the 14'hfret,howeverthe neckon nylon-strungclassical
guitarsandsomesteel-stringguitarsjoins the body at the 12'hfret. Luthiers
preferthe 12thfretjoint as it createsa greaterdistancebetweenthe soundhole
and the bridge creating more resonancein the soundboard.
Performance
characteristics:
-
limited
the
sustain:
amountof sustainmakeit particularlysuitedfor rhythmic
andpercussivestrokesandmaintainingdefinition betweenrapidly executed
in
finger-picking
notes
styles and single string runs;
volume level: limits its performancerole;
dynamiclevel: althoughthe guitar is a relativelyquiet instrument,certainlyin
relationto otherchordalinstruments,for examplethe piano,accordionor
banjo, it can produce a wide range of dynamic levels;
open strings: the presenceof 'open' strings has impacted on the keys in which
is
guitarmusic oftenwritten andperformed.Consequentlythereis a tendency
for guitarcompositions,particularlyarrangements
that don't featurea bass
player,to be in keyswherean openstring canbe usedasa tonic or dronenote:
p. 139
226
/minor.
/minor,
G major
E major /minor, A major /minor, D major
Althoughthis is sometimesseenasa limitation, it doesencouragethe useof
openstringsin creativeways:openstringscanbe usedas dronenotes,strong
in chordvoicingsandalternativenotechoicesto producetimbral
resonances
variation;
0
tunings:the ability to retunethe guitarallows for a largedegreeof
performanceflexibility;
0
percussion:the percussivenature of the instrument allows for strikes, blows
andtapson the stringsandguitarbody,to be incorporatedinto performance;
0
picking styles: common to other stringed instruments, the strings can be
strummed,plucked with fingers, fingernails or picks;
0
pitch alteration: the pitch of individual or combinations of strings can be
alteredby usinga slide,bendsandvibrato;the timbre of eachnote canbe
varied in many ways and micro-tonal pitches and elaborate glissandoscreated;
the ability to play the samenotein severaldifferent positionson the guitar
allowsin someinstancesfor up to five timbral variationsfor any singlenote.
4.4
CompositionalPractice
'All art is a synthesisof improvisationandorder 227
The compositions, whilst paying homageto historical and idiomatic traditions,
juxtapositions,
to
contemporary performance techniques, and
attempt explore new
the soniccharacteristics
of the instruments.Thereis no overarchingthematic
in
to
that
the
serves
unify
work,
as
narrative
a large-scalecomposition,but a series
226The rangeof 'open' keyscanbe simply extendedby using
a capo(capodastra)
on higherfrets.
227Mike Leigh (Film director):The SouthBank ShowOctober13thOctober2002.
140
discrete
compositionseachof which attemptto engagewith performanceand
of
idiomaticcontexts.The intentionof the compositionsvary in that someprovidea
text, a notatedscore- an artifactthat could be usedfor further
transmutable
othersareperformer-centred
andaim to expressesthe musical
performance,
language
is
in
harmonic
The
the
varied, someexamplesthe
performer.
characterof
harmonicschemais drivenby an abstractedmusicallogic andat othertimesby
is
in
harmonic
times
the
vocabulary advanced
guitaristicpractice, otherwords,at
key
several
changes,parallel and diatonic harmony and many
and contains
is
in
in
harmonic
You'
'For
the
alterations
as
and
scheme
otheroccasions
chromatic
intentionallysimpleas in 'Afro-Dizwhich is basedon the to useof dronesand
This
Peter
Manuel's
concords
with
comments on the relatively simple
ostinatos.
harmonic languageof Flamenco guitar, where guitar harmonic practice 'evolved in
directconnectionwith the guitarratherthandevelopingasan abstractharmonic
lines
the
along
of Western common practice'; he is making the point that
repertoire
guitarstyleshaveadopted,stylizedandsometimessimplified a harmoniclanguage
to suit the instrumentandthis is particularlyevidentwherethe guitar is usedin
modalopen-tuningsandthe emphasisis on othermusicalelementsratherthan
harmonic complexity. 228The compositional processat times reflects Western
notationalpracticeandat othersan aural'organic' approachin which performance
integral
improvisation
to the compositional method, Channon comments
are
and
that: 'In the Afro-Americantradition,compositionandperformancearepart of a
228Manuel, Peter 'Flamenco guitar: history, style and status' in Coelho. Victor A.,
(ed.), TheCambridgeCompanionto the Guitar (Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity
Press,2003),30.
141
between
distinction
the
that
compositionand
singleact', an acknowledgement
229
fixed.
is
always
not
performance
I recognizethe way in which my musicalideasandexpressionare drawnfrom
Julia
Kristeva's
listening
the
of
assertions
and
experience
and
my own performing
in
is
how
degree
texts;
true
this
to
their
to
texts
existence other
thatall
owe
some
is
the
that
to
practiceof musicalstylistic
and
reflects
within
grounded
music
relation
families.230Whereevidenceof musicalinfluenceandquotationwas an issuefor
is
the
of
postmodernism
accepting of the polymorphous
modernists, non-linearity
influence
traditions:
musical
andquotationauralmusic
aural
without
of
existence
instrument-specific
In
to
an
musical tradition, where musical
would not exist. adding
be
is
how
'guitaristic'
instrumental
this
the
can
practice
product of a
approach,
and
denied?If our lives areconstructsderivedfrom an amalgamof experiences,how
learning
In
learn
to
do
than
through
of
mimicking?
my
own
experience
other
else we
(outside
in
late
1960s,
the
to
the
player
only
method
available
an
aspiring
play guitar
dance
band
'aural'
the
and
guitar)
was
studyingof others,a process
classical
of
listening
in
involved
to
vinyl records an attemptto absorbandreplicatewhat
which
language
it
is
heard;
through
these
and
of
absorbing
processes
a
musical
was
is
However,
that
traditions
when style casually
aural
endure.
performancestyle
drawnfrom a broadrangeof historicalandculturalreferentsandbecomesseparated
from a musical context, the resultant hybridisation of style could be considered as an
down
I
musical
watering
of
other
cultures.
and
would arguethat
appropriation
becauseall of the compositionsareintendedfor performanceon a particular
instrumentandthereforeadaptedto the musicalcharacterof that instrumenta new
229Channan,Michael,RepeatedTakes(LondonandNew York: Verso, 1995),52.
230Kristeva,Julia, Serniotike(Paris:Tel Quel, 1969).
142
flexibility
is
In
the
and
nature
of the
context automaticallycreated. addition nomadic
draw
from
has
the
to
andadaptthe music around
always
encouraged
guitarist
guitar
them.
In summationtherefore,the compositionsare intendedfor performanceon the
large
degree,
to
they arean expressionof my own musical
and
a
guitar,
acoustic
in
inherent
in
being
I
the
that
such
an
approach,
recognise
weaknesses
personality.
idiosyncrasies
my
own
areoverly exposed,and attemptingto
soperformer-centred,
be
wide
range
of
styles
such
a
may
over ambitious. However, the breadth of
cover
history
my
own
varied
reflects
musical
and the realization of the portfolio
approach
establishesa specific set of personaland musical challenges.
4.5
Modalities of Creative Practice
It hasbeenmy intentionthus far, to establisha contextfor contemporarypractice
through undertaking a nuancedand reflective study of the synchronic and diachronic
factorsthathaveshapedthe musicalcharacterof the acousticguitar,the instruments
historicaldevelopment,andits relationshipto broadercultural practice.Although I
amawareof the potentialdifficulties of drawinga history backwardsfrom the
presentandthe dangersin drawingconclusionsfrom narrativehistories(as
discussedin section2.1), 1considerthat a cohesiveargumentfor the impactof
specific historical and cultural practices has been developed and clearly articulated.
Thevalueof carryingout suchdetailedresearchis in establishinga contextfor my
inform
that
to
one
serves
and
my own creativepractice.As a practitioner
work
own
forty
I
years
am awarethat my own development,and in
approximately
of
has
been
that
the resultof randomencountersof
many
others,
often
probability
linear
than
a
progression,thereforethe opportunityto systematicallyresearch
rather
p. 143
factors
have
influenced
that
the
codify
contemporarypracticeprovidesan
and
invaluablebasefrom which my own work canbe considered.
Wherelarge-scalecompositionsachieveartistic unity throughthe presenceof
is
theme,
the
this
arching
aesthetic
or
philosophical
over
unity
of
an
portfolio, which
discrete
is
drawnfrom the expositionof
of
a
series
of
compositions,
comprised
instrumentspecificcomposition:it is the performancecharacteristicsof the
instrumentthat arebeingexploredratherthanan abstractedtheme.It is useful
therefore,in consideringthe essence
of contemporarypractice,to attemptto define
specificperformancecriteriaandproposea seriesof modalitiesthat circumscribe
this diversity of practice. Drawing on my researchinto the development of
it
becomes
practice
evident that three distinct, but not always discrete,
contemporary
be
of
can
practice
proposed,and where each focuseson specific aspectsof
modes
performativity, compositional practice, and mediation by technology. It is not
intendedthat eachmode is distinct and discrete as it is acceptedas axiomatic that
somemusical piecesmay overlap particular modes, this is not however considered
flaw
in
the proposition as the purpose of defining modes is purely
a
as a weaknessor
structural -
it provides a framework in which creative practice can be developed.
Thereforethe portfolio is presentedin three parts, three recorded sections, each
Each
a
particular
working
mode.
mode encompasses,in varying
representing
degrees,performance,composition improvisation, and an engagementwith
technology.Written notationis used,asappropriateto the practice,but the recording
is consideredto be the finishedartifact:it is within the recordedperformancethat all
The scoresfunction asworking
of the creativemusicalelementsareencapsulated.
documents;they havebeenproducedaspart of the compositionalprocessratherthan
for live performance(exceptin modality#3). As materialhasbeendevelopedduring
144
the recordingprocess,someupdatingof the scoreshastakenplacebut this hasonly
beendoneon a pragmaticbasisandwherenecessary,
the scoresthereforeserveto
intended
information
discrete
documented
always
as
specific
and
are
not
convey
compositions.
Thethreemodalitiesof creativepractice:
1.
Technological:practicethat fully embracesand interactswith technologyand
interaction
intentional
this
the
effects
of
are
andevident.
where
Traditional: practice where technology functions only to record the music and
to simulateacousticenvironments.
3.
Interactive:wherethe creativeemphasisis placedupon improvisationandthe
interaction of performers and where the performance takes place in real time
and in real spaces.Technology functions only to record the music and to
simulateacousticenvironments.
Eachmodalityis intendedto expressparticularcharacteristicsof the instrument
notablythe acousticquality andguitaristicnaturebut in addition is centredwithin a
particularmodeof practice.
#1: Technological
Modality
-
Practicethat fully embracesandinteractswith technologyandwherethe effect of
this interactionis intentionalandevident.
p. 145
Primarycharacteristics:
digital
recording systems,notational software packages
practitioner/producer:
in
intertextual
#2,
Chapter
the
outlined
of
creative
practice,
as
processes
and
havemadeit possiblefor a musicianto functionas a lone practitionerby
takingon severalor all of the creativeroles,composer,arranger,performer,
engineerandproducerandonly employingthe servicesof other performersas
necessary;
instrumental balance:any instrument, regardlessof their inherent sonic
canbejuxtaposedwith otherinstrumentsin any musicalsetting.
characteristics
The sonic emancipation of the acoustic guitar -a
with sound technology -
product of the interfacing
allows the, often intimate, musical voice of the
guitar to be fore-fronted in any ensemble;
sonicmanipulation:whenrecordedandparticularlywhenthe audiosound
is
digitized,
the resultantcodecanbe endlesslymanipulatedand
source
altered;this hasresultedin the acousticguitar beingreunitedwith the electric
in
its
limitless
to
guitar
ability createan almost
sonicpalette.
#2:
Traditional
Modality
-
Practicewheretechnologyfunctions,primarily, to recordperformanceandis evident
only the processof recording and the simulating of acoustic environments.
Primarycharacteristics:
formal (notated)andintuitive (improvised)modesof compositionthat express
the acousticqualitiesof the instrument;
solo andsmall ensembleperformance:compositionsarrangedfor the sologuitar,guitar-duo,and,guitarandpercussion;
p. 146
guitar-centriccomposition:the compositionsserveto expressspccific
idiomaticperformancecharacteristics
of the instrument.
3:
Improvisation
#
Interaction
Modality
and
-
This modeldrawsuponprocesses
of improvisationandinteractionthat occurin a
is
in
The
to
technology
that
simple
varietyof performancesettings. relationship
digital technologyallowsthe recordingof expansivetractsof music without the
limitations of material cost:
interaction: the creative emphasisis placed upon the musical interaction
betweenselectedperformers brought together to create music in real time and
in real spaces;
interpretative and improvisational skills: the compositional stimuli vary from
to 'lead sheets'andskeletalmusicalstimuli that the
completearrangements
interpretative
through
their
realize
own
performers
and improvisational skills.
5.0
THE RECORDED PORTFOLIO AND COMMENTARIES
p. 147
The intentionof this sectionis to providea contextfor the recordedtracks,notjust
but
in
individual
To
to
the
posited
creative
modes.
also
pieces,
relation
aid clarity
as
the portfolio andthe commentaries
arepresentedin threepartswhereeach
brief
is
In
to
a
outline of eachrecording
corresponds particularmode. eachsection,a
given,alongwith a moredetailedconsiderationof the genericmodeof practicethat
drawsuponspecificdetailsfrom individualtracksto illustrateparticularpoints.In
this way,the specificaimsof eachof the compositionswill be consideredin direct
relationship to the outlined modesof production.
Although three modeshave been posited as descriptors of contemporary
it
be
practice,
should
recognised,that it was never intentional that each
creative
individual composition should slavishly adhereto specific criteria, as to do so would
distort
it
is
Rather
the
nature
of
creative
practice.
artificially
consideredas
may appearin someor all modes;what it is
axiomaticthat certaincharacteristics
being argued,is that there exist tendenciesin each different practice that impact
uponthe musicalandcreativevoice andassuchareworthy of consideration.
1:
Technological
(CD
Modality#
#1)
-
in this sectionis to expressthe
The intentionof eachrecording/composition
that result from the interactionof
particularperformanceandmusicalcharacteristics
composition,andtechnology.As previouslyoutlined,the interaction
performance,
betweenthe acousticinstrumentandtechnologicalprocesses
hashada significant
effecton performanceandcompositionalpractice,andthe instrumentssonic
is
It
degree
taken
that
the
to which this interfacewith
as
axiomatic
characteristics.
technologyis overtly apparentin the finishedrecordingswill vary as it is often in the
148
have
been
the
that
working
methodologies
most greatly
processof producing music
influenced.
This sectionis comprisedof five compositions:Lydian Dance,For You, It's Not My
Fault, Songsof Summer Past, Put It In The Pocket.
feel
is
based
dance
Dance:
Salsa
Lydian
the
the
track
on
rhythmic
of
a
is
by
the
rhythmic
pulse
provided
congas,shakerandtriangle andthe
stylewhere
bass
line
bass
between
plays
a
which
varies
acoustic
playing an accentedsemith
nd
before
beats
2
4
bar,
feeling
forward
the
to
and
of
each
create
of
quaver
a
bass
line of the B section. The melody,
the
and
crotchet-beat
walking
momentum,
derived from an A Lydian mode, develops from a simple melodic motif through a
processof melodicextensionandaugmentationandhasbeenarrangedfor flute and
acousticguitarto providea contrastbetweenthe percussiveattackof the guitar and
the soft transientof the flute. A diatonicharmonyin 3rdsand4ths hasbeenadded
to the melodyto providea texturalandharmoniccontrastto the melodic motiE This
tunehasbeenincludedin this sectionas it is the processof multi-track recording
that hasallowedthe freedomto experimentwith a broadrangeof textural voicesfor
the acousticguitar in spreadingharmonicallydensechordsover two andthree
guitars -
in a similar way to the techniquesemployed by the early guitar duos.
Performers:
Guitars:Rod Sinclair
Neil Harland
Double-bass:
Percussion:Paul SmithandRogerHempsall
Flute:GarryLinsley.
p. 149
is
ballad.
The
You:
For
of
comprised
a strongmelodic
composition
ajazz
themeanda highly developedharmonicschemathat alternatesbetweentwo
juxtaposes
The
the acoustic guitar with a string
arrangement
contrastingsections.
'pad'
flute,
that provides a chordal
section,
and
a
midi
rhythm
quartet,
been
for
has
The
two acousticguitars,
arranged
composition
accompaniment.
drumkit, flute, sequenced
double-bass,
midi pad,anda string quartetof first violin,
secondviolin, viola, andcello.
Performers:
Guitars: Rod Sinclair
Double-bass:Neil Harland
Drum kit: Paul Smith
Flute: Garry Linsley
Violin: Stuart Hardy
Strings section and midi-pad sequence:Rod Sinclair.
is
from
Not
Fault:
It's
My
title
taken
the
a speech-textwarningwhich was
by
used the Apple Macintoshcomputeroperatingsystem9, andwas often an
indicatorthat a seriousprocessingfault hadtakenplace.Being so reliant duringthe
developmentof this portfolio upon computer software score and recording packages,
I, on severaloccasions,becamethe victim of technologicalfailure andlearnedto
dreadthe auto-generated
computerizedresponseof 'it's not my fault'. I was inspired
by this technologicaldisclaimerto write a musicalresponsethat reflectedthe
inter-textual
form
The
nature
of
computer-based
recording.
andmusical
postmodem
elementsof the pieceareangularto reflectthe often-dramaticswing betweenperiods
150
frustration
works
smoothly,
and
when computersseem
when
everything
of elation,
to havetheir own agenda.
Performers:
Guitars,Rod Sinclair
Neil Harland
Double-bass,
Drumkit, PaulSmith
Hammond Organ, Gerry Richardson
Sequences:Rod Sinclair.
Songs
Summer
Past:
be
that
of
a
composition
with
a
melody
could
also
lyrics.
for
The standardtuning system of the guitar where
the
setting
of
used
adjacentstrings are tuned in intervals of fourths (with the exception of the major
third intervalbetweenstringsthreeandtwo) makesthe playing of chordsbuilt from
harmony
be
to
relatively easy.The A section of the composition tune
a quartal
feature
by
this
use
of
particular
embellishingthe main melodicthemewith
makes
harmony;
this is thencontrastedwith the B sectionwhich usesa
elementsof quartal
ternaryharmony.The title of the compositionreflectsthe songlike melodyandthe
lyrical flowing quality of the instrumentation.The melodyand improvisationare
played on a nylon-string guitar -
the Americanised version of the 'Spanish' guitar
is
in
to
the
used
contrast
with
a
rhythm
which
section
which
several
of
instrumentshavebeensequenced
andthe soundsgeneratedfrom midi triggered
loops.
The useof sequenced
instrumentsplaying soundsamplesis a
samplesand
decision
instruments
intended
the
to soundsequenced
as
are
conscious
ratherthanan
imitationof acousticinstruments,asis oftenthe case,andcontrastwith the acoustic
In
percussion.
additionto the acousticallyrecordedguitar,the digital
and
guitars
P.151
has
been
duplicated
file
has
been
to
that
a
midi-signal.
andconverted
usedto
audio
trigger other samplesoundsto create further textural opportunities and emphasise,
thejuxtapositionof the organicandthe technological.
Rod Sinclair
Guitarsandsequences:
loops:RogerHempsall
Percussion
in
Put
It
In
Pocket:
'funk'
the
a
simple
and
repetitive
composition
a
idiom where the musical interest is provided by the rhythmic pulse and interplay of
the rhythmsectioninstruments,the texturalcontrastof acousticand electric
instruments,and the guitar improvisation. The tune is purposefully simple in both
form and melodic content as my intention was to emphasisthe strong rhythmic
characteristicsof funk music as expressedin the title 'Put It In the Pocket', where, in
'in
describes
the
the effect of achievingan effective
parlance,
music
pocket'
popular
difference
in
A
substantial
exists
relation to most music from this genre in
groove.
havereplacedthe idiomatically standard
that acousticguitarsanddouble-bass
4electric'bassandguitar,andthe 'horn' sectionconsistsof flugel horn andtenor
to providea light texturallybalancedresponseto the acousticguitar.
saxophone
Performers:
Guitars:Rod Sinclair
Double-bass:Neil Harland
Drum kit: PaulSmith
Tenorsaxophone:GarryLinsley
Flugelhom: DaveHignet
HammondOrgan:GerryRichardson
Rod Sinclair.
Sequences:
152
The availabilityof relativelyinexpensivetechnology(comparedto the analogue
lone
function
the
to
composer
asa
producerwho calls uponthe
equivalent)allows
in
have
All
the
this
as
of
compositions
other
musicians
necessary.
section
of
services
beenproduced(composed/recorded/mixed)
with an overt useof the available
Scoreshavebeenproducedusingnotationsoftware(Sibelius),
technologies.
imported
into
(Logic
Pro7)
to
and
audio/sequencing
as
midi-files
software
exported
function as either a template for the overdubbing of acoustic instruments, or, to
in
All
the
tracks
this sectionhavebeenconstructedfrom a
of
midi-sounds.
generate
for
be
the
track
sometimes
expediency,
of
multi-tracking,
where
same
will
process
repeatedseveraltimes and the through a processof cut and pastetechniques
into
(compiled)
'comped'
or
a single track, or where the ability to spread
assembled
musicalmaterialover severaltrackscancreatea particularauraleffect that would be
difficult to reproducelive, for example in 'Lydian Dance' where for part of the
four
(five
in
bar
3
1).
Although
acoustic
guitars
are
used
someof the
no.
arrangement
harmonic
be
by
structures
could
played
oneguitar,with somealteration
underlying
to the voicings,usingseveralguitarsallows four andfive note chordsto be voiced
instruments
different
to achievea wider moresonically 'open' voicing:
across
Section 5. rig. HI: extract from Lydian Dance
Allia7tOll)
14 -14
Guitar
At igii 4F
Allia7(011)
-
:; t.
41t
Allia7t#ll)
-k4:4
11
fe ýP
IF, -N-
PE
PE
Pt
pt-
.
-pq
6-=
Guitar
Odli951! -2
T,
AII
4
MM
r
Ama7(011)
If
G#Ma7(#Il)
MIAMI)
AD.
Guitar
G#niU7(#Il)
ý11
L.
---.
Ama7(#Il)
dh
IIIJ.
r- t
-F
--u=-Iý-I,
p. 153
3
.....
g
C,*#Illa7t #11)
----I
In 'It's Not My Fault', the acousticguitarsin bars 17-27aredoubledand spread
divide
in
The
to
the
chordal
voices
sucha way and
spectrum.
ability
stereo
across
duplicatetracksacrossa wide stereofield createsa broaderspreadof chordaland
texturalvoice.
Theuseof acousticandsynthesised
or sampledsoundsin this sectionrange
from 'Lydian Dance',whereall of the instrumentsareacousticallyrecorded,to
'Songs of Summer Past', where all of the instruments, except the acoustic guitars
The
are
sampled
or
synthesized.
percussion
choice of using acoustic
some
and
instrumentsor digital samplesis sometimesaestheticand sometimes pragmatic, in
Tydian Dance' the juxtaposition of multiple acoustic guitar voices is artistic, in
'Songs of SummerPast', sequencedrhythmic loops and mediated sampled sounds
are intendedto createcontrasting textural and rhythmic layers to the sonically
acousticand natural sound of the nylon-strung guitar. In It's Not My Fault',
acousticand sampled instruments are dynamic juxtaposed. Very often however, the
decisionis pragmatic,particularlywhenthe practicalimplicationsof using live
instrumentsandmusicianscanbe prohibitive,for example,in 'For You', the string
by
produced
parts
were
stringsamples,then laterthe first andsecondviolin
quartet
have
I
overdubbed
with
an
acoustic
were
violin;
parts
would
undoubtedlypreferred
to recorda full string-quartetbut the practicalimplicationsof time andmoneywere
however
This
reflects real world practice as many professional
prohibitive.
in
film
industry
the
particular
almostexclusivelyusesampledorchestral
composers
leading
film
Hans
Zimmer,
a
composer,hasinvestedover a periodof time
sounds:
154
in a largelibrary of string,sampleswhich he usedrecentlyon the featurefilm
Piratesof the Caribbean:At World'sEnd."'In 'Put It in The Pocket' the useof a
Organ
Hammond
(some
Fender
Rhodes
and
piano
parts
andsampled
midi sequence
idiom.
but
this
to
the
repetitiverhythmicnatureof
oo arepragmatic suited
Therelativelylow volumelevel of the guitarrestrictsthe size andtype of
be
in
the
acoustic
guitar
can
performedacousticallyandwithout the
ensemble which
has
the
amplification
which
always
an
effect
on
acousticsound.
additional
aid of
-
Multi track recording removesthe performance limitations of the acoustic guitar,
imposedby its relatively low volume, and allows it to be recorded acoustically and
mixed with any ensemblesize or type. In two of the compositions 'For You' and
'Lydian Dance', a live recording could have been attempted, although the guitar
be
have
from
to
the restof the ensemble,but in 'Put It In
effectively
separated
would
the Pocket' and 'It's Not My Fault' where the guitar is juxtaposed with a
dynamicallyloud rhythm sectionthis would havebeenimpossible.
Oncerecordedin the digital domainthe soniccharacterof the instrumentcanbe
has
been
in
'Put
It In the Pocket' wherethe
this
and
manipulated
used
easily
dynamiclevel of the guitarhasbeencompressed
to achievea greateroverall
dynamic level and 'It's Not My Fault' which contains a reverse 12-string guitar
doubling
distorted
tracks
the
of
guitar
and
a
acoustic guitar solo, and in
sample,
I Songsof SummerPast'wherethe acousticguitar signalis augmentedwith an
additionalmidi soundsample.
231White.Paul(ed.) Soundon SoundPirateSchemes:Film Music andThe Future
of
The SampledOrchestra.(Cambridge:MediaHouse,July 2007),p 58
P.155
In summary,this particularmodeof working producesa wide rangeof
instruments
time,
the
flexibility in the useof resources
to
and
musicians,
ability
in
be
(although
the other modes),
this
achieved
canalso
sonicallymanipulatesound
its
inherent
instrument
The
juxtapose
to
regardless
of
volume.
any
andopportunities
instruments
to
to
the
arranger
use
multiple
providea
of
considerations
conventional
balancebetweenmusicaltextures,asin orchestralarrangement,are removed.In
between
different
transferring
the
media- notation,midi,
material
ease
of
addition,
digital audio files -
allows a flexible range of working methods. The disadvantages
flexibility
The
the
of working methodsandthe ability
advantages.
of
corollary
area
to manipulatethe recorded material, with virtually no limitation, can result in a
is
be
that
as
can
never
concluded
material
always
reworked, extended, and
process
lone
Also,
the
to
ability
work
as
a
producer can separatethe producer
re-positioned.
from the musicalstimuli of others,in a conventionalprocessof composition
be
informed
by
input
the
the
music
can
andobservationsof
>>
performance,
rehearsal
'click
Because
the
track' andor quantizedmidiof
necessity
of
using
a
others.
it
high
level
multi-tracking
when
requires
experienced
musicianswith a
sequences,
of interpretativeandtechnicalskill to removethe musicalsterility of the 'click track'
feel
to the recordedperformances.
an
appropriate
add
and
#2 Traditional (CD #2)
Modality
-
This modeof practiceis describedastraditionalin that the working practiceof the
is
largely
by
technologically
recording
process
and
unaffected
compositional
practicesandall of the piecescould be performedacousticallyin a live
_''determined
The
formal
compositional
process
engages
situation.
notatedand
performance
p. 156
'guitar-centric'
traditions
to
express
specific
andacousticperformance
organicaural
characteristics.
This sectionis comprisedof five compositions:'A Long Way Home', 'Dark', 'AfroDiz', 'Sorry To SeeYou Go' and 'Hats Off to Davey'.
inspiration
for
duet
Way
during
Long
Home:
long
the
this
guitar
came
a
-A
inspired
by
the constant movement and rolling rhythm of the
and
was
carjourney
intended
build
To
I
this
to
achieve
car.
upon the guitar style of 'Sorry To
moving
SeeYou Go', but with a greaterfocus on the development of the accompanying
harmonic
The
styles.
guitar
and rhythmic structure emerged first and the
rhythm
from
derived
improvising
over the developing accompanying part. It is
melody was
thereforea simple theme that is supportedby an intricate and rhythmically strong
is
This
technique
particularlyevidentin the introductionwhere
accompaniment.
bass
lines
2
combines
walking
and chordal interjections to create a strong
guitar
rhythmicstatement.
Section 5, rig. #2: A Long Way Home
Intro
Guitar
Eadd9.
B7/E
Eadd4
B7/E
Guitar
pýýr
-r -r -ý-r
In the B section,againthe predominantinterestis in the accompanyingguitarpart
thatnegotiatesthroughthreekey centres.The interactionbetweenthe two guitarsis
largelyrhythmic,andin particularpassages,
rhythmic andmelodic materialis
instruments
two
the
across
echoed
Guitars:Rod Sinclair
p.157
draws
its
from
Dark
lower
Dark:
the
the
name
use
guitar
piece.
of
a
solo
In
themes.
to
the
solo guitar techniques the melodic
play
melodic
of
guitar
register
lower
bass
is
the
the
strings
with
strings
played
on
upper
providing
material usually
is
in
harmonic
beneath
the
the
material
which
voiced
register
supporting
and
notes
the melodynotes.In this instance,the melodyis intentionallyvoiced in the lower
from
draw
different
is
further
the
this
to
sonorities
guitar;
pronouncedby
register
tuning the lower string down by one tone. The tempo is very slow to allow the
harmonically denseresonancesto project.
Guitar: Rod Sinclair
for
A
Afro-Diz:
The
is
title
this
composition
solo
guitar.
of
composition
a
-
African
it
intended
the
to reflect the
words
aphrodisiac
and
and
was
on
play
by
and
exciting
effect
created
combining the strong percussive rhythms
stimulating
andrepetitivemusicalphraseswhich arecharacteristicof African music.Thereis an
inherentdangerwhen appropriating the playing styles of the African sub-continent
in that it is easyto inadvertentlyreducea rich tradition of highly stylized,
differentiatedmusicstylesandsubtletiesof performancenuanceinto an
homogenisedparody; this was never intended, rather, the intention is to create a
homageto the great traditions in African music. Aware of this danger, the title
'Afro-Diz' pointsto the dizzyingarrayof existingstyles,andthe attemptto play
ideas
drawn
from
African
of
musical
a
range
musictraditions,it is not an
with
be
African
The
to
of
music.
a
piece
pieceis performedwith a percussion
attempt
Djembe.
a
playing
player
Guitar:Rod Sinclair
158
Djernbe: Roger Hempsall
duct
in
bossa-nova
See
You
Go:
To
Sorry
a
style.
a
guitar
Becauseof the popularity of the guitar in Latin America, it is present in many
indigenousmusicstyles;this is particularlytrue of bossa-nova,which was developed
by
Gilberto
Bonfd.
The
Joao
Luiz
such
as
and
rhythmic
style
players
asa guitar
is
bossa-nova
form
is
bars
long
the
tune
thirty-two
to
this
a
rhythm
and
underlay
beingcomprisedof sectionsAl (8 bars),A2 (8 bars),B (8 bars),A2 (8 bars).The
interaction
between
instruments
to
the
the
two
express
arranged
was
andthis
piece
hasbcen achicvcd by closcly intcgrating the two guitars, it is not simply an
for
arrangement melody guitar and accompanying guitar, as the two parts are closely
interwovento expressthe resonanceof the instruments.
Performers
Guitar 1: Rod Sinclair
Guitar2: JamesBirkett
improvised
fingerpicking
Davey:
Hats
to
tune.
an
off
in
As discussed
earlier,the guitaristDaveyGraham,spearheaded
a movement
British guitar music in the late 1950s,that drew freely on a wide source of musical
folk
European
American
blues
jazz
traditional
music,
and
andthe Oud
stylesEast
Middle
to
the
producea rich paletteof musicalandsonic
of
playing
impact
he
had
The
on shapingcontemporaryacousticguitar practiceis
possibilities.
he
through
the
example
encouraged
as
acousticguitaristto experiment
profound
forms.
is
'Hats
Davey'
in
to
off
musical
recognitionof his role in shaping
with new
p. 159
the music of the contemporaryguitar.
Guitar: Rod Sinclair
This section reflects a range of guitar playing traditions and as such is guitar
centricin styleandform. The compositionalapproach,arrangingmethodsand
in
the
techniques
reflect acousticguitar an unadornednatural state.
performance
The compositional approachin this section of the portfolio employs both notated
and aural methods. 'Sad to SeeYou Go', 'A Long Way Home' and Dark' were
developedthrough a combination of playing and writing in a score form, in contrast
'Afro-Diz' and 'Hats off to Davey' were developed through a processof
improvisation.
The
and
method through which the music has been
performance
developedhasa tangibleeffecton the musicalstructureof the completedpieces,
'Hats
Davey'
in
'Afro-Diz'
to
and
off
are
cyclic
and
episodic nature, 'Sad to
where
SeeYou Go', 'A Long Way Home', and Dark' have a more formally structured
both
with
sharingan A, A, B, A structure,but with somevariation
schema
musical
in the bar numbers:'Sadto SeeYou Go' -Al
(8 bars),A2 (8 bars),B (10 bars),A
(8 bars) 'Dark' and 'A Long WayHome' -AI
(16 bars),A2 (16 bars),B (16 bars),
A (16 bars).Differencesalsoexist in the harmonicschemewherethe two
improvised piecesare much simpler: 'Afro-Diz' is built on aD drone with a simple
harmonic progressionand 'Hats off to Davey', although predominately in A major,
harmonic
chromatic
and
parallel
some
movement,in the otherthreethe
contains
harmonicmovementis moreadvanced,in 'A Long Way Home' the tonality is
introduction
but
in
E
the
as
major
eachA sectionstartsin the relative
established
before
(C#
working towardsa resolutionat the endof the sixteenbar
minor)
minor
begins
in
E
The
B
C
to
section
major.
major,which is establishedduring a
sequence
160
two barmodulationwhereaG triad is suspended
over an E bassnote which
inversion
first
A
G
then
triad
triad.
to
suspended
over
an
and
a
aG
progresses
Section 5, fig. #3: A Long Way Home
A. Gtr.
A. Gtr
pý JE
The B section moves through three key centres C major (4 bars), A-flat major (4
bars) and Eb major (4 bars) before the introductory 4 bars are reintroduced to re
key
E
In
'Sorry
See
Go'
is
A
in aB
to
the
a
centre.
major
as
you
section
establish
B
develops
the
tonality
througha seriesof
and
contrasts
with
section
which
minor
harmonic
before
briefly
IN
I
progressions
resolving to G major, then
minor
dominants
through
to returnto B minor, the
a
series
of
secondary
modulating
harmonyandmelodyof 'Dark' is predominatelymodal(D Phrygian)contrasting
in
A-flat
(bars
25-27).
in
These
differences
harmonic
sections
major
short
with
complexityreflectboth the idiomaticmusicallanguageandthe compositional
is
for
in
be
harmonically
that
there
tendency
to
a
notated
material
more
method,
be
in
its
harmonic
language.
to
simpler
aural
music
and
use
of
a
complex
An importantfactor in acousticguitarmusic is the choiceof key anduseof
determine
both
they
the availability of openstringswith which to
tunings
as
guitar
'Afro-Diz'
is
drones
in
D Major anda droppedD
and
resonances.
written
provide
tuningis used(thebottomE string is tuneddown a toneto D), 'Dark' againusesthe
droppedD tuning,but with the whole tuning systemdetunedby a furthertone to
dropped
C
tuningwhich extendsthe melodicrangeandgivesaccessto the
a
produce
p. 161
in
C
G
The
three
other
pieces are standardtuning but the choice of
open and strings.
key is important in that it increasesthe resonanceof the instrument: the A section of
'A Long Way Home' is in E making use of open E, A and B strings, with a
B
contrasting section which modulatesthrough C, E-flat and A-flat major creating
different timbral resonanceas the root notes are on fretted strings and therefore less
key
The
the
choice
of
of B minor for 'Sorry To SeeYou Go' gives rise to a
resonant.
seriesof sympatheticresonancesfrom the unfretted 'open' strings B, G, D and E.
bass
line utilizing open strings. 'Hats off to
to
construct
opportunities
a
and creates
Davey' usesall of the open string notes particularly A and E as strong bass
resonancesand the rest to produce 'harping' effects.
The percussivequalities of the guitar are used extensively, particularly in 'Hats
off to Davey' and 'Afro-Diz', where the finger picking technique draws percussive
resonancesfrom the guitar strings and body. In Wro-Diz% dampening the strings
dramatically alters the resonantnature of the guitars timbre and this is achieved by
interweaving a piece of folded paper between the strings and close to the bridge. I
discoveredthis technique in the late 1960's when matchsticks were split and placed
banjo,
but
to
the
strings
emulate
a
was re introduced to the idea when seeing
on
Loueke
Lionel
playing with Herbie Hancock at the SageGatesheadon
guitarist
November 13th2006. The effect is compelling and by dampening the resonanceof
the strings, the percussivenature of the instrument is more greatly expressed.
Severalof the tunes draw directly from other guitar styles 'Afro-Diz' from
African guitar 'Hats off to Davey' from blues and country and jazz, 'Sorry to See
bossa-nova
from
Go'
and more tangentially, 'Dark', from Flamenco music.
you
'Afro-Diz' is a playful celebration of African guitar styles, the introductory motif is
drawn from musical and textural qualities of the Kalimba, the African thumb piano,
162
is
is
instrument
Africa
that
common
across
and
which
usedto produce
anancient
is
by
dampening
the
the string resonances
on
guitar
and
mimicked
ostinatos
cyclic
bridge.
hand
This ostinatoactsasa pivot aroundwhich
the
the
at
guitar
with
episodic improvised sectionsoccur. The tune develops through a series of musical
sectionsthat drawuponthe stylesof SouthAfrican townshipmusic,where strong
developed
themes
are
andrepeatedwith embellishment,andthe Malian
melodic
tradition of guitar playing exemplified by Ali Farke Toure.
Where two guitars are used,the arranging possibilities are greatly increasedas
the presence
of two melodic,harmonic,percussiveand instrumentsoffer a wide
In
'A
Long Way Home' both guitar
timbral
and
rhythmic
possibilities.
of
range
interact closely and this interaction becomesmore pronounced in the coda where the
figures
between
the two guitar parts.
move
rhythmic
same
Section 5, rig. #4: A Long Way Home
12
A. Gtr.
A. Gtr-
In 'SorryTo SeeYou Go', the combiningof two guitarsexpandsthe harmonic
introduction
is
the
and
section
particularlyeffective in its useof two
possibilities
In
'Dark',
'Sorry To SeeYou Go' and 'A Long
synchronous
parts.
and
syncopated
WayHome', specificsectionsof the musicarearrangedfor improvisationwhereas,
in 'Afro-Diz' and'Hats off to Davey',which weredevisedthrough improvisation,
the performeris reqiuiredto reinterpret,embellishand improviseat each
performance.
p. 163
A click trackhasbeenusedto recordthe guitar duetsbecause,whilst two
in
instance
live,
they
this
these
are
compositions
recorded
performerscouldperform
througha processof multi-trackrecordingandthe click track becomesimportantin
is
in
decision
The
to
this
the
two
way
pragmaticrather
record
parts.
synchronizing
difficulty
by
determined
has
been
the
time
constraintsand
thanaestheticand
of
finding someoneto learnor sight-readthe part.The useof a click track alwayshas
interaction
degree
it
to
take
impact
the
which
any
musical
can
place
upon
as
an
The
variation.
solo pieces were recorded using a
any
metronomic
restricts
artificially
'Afro-Diz'
live
live
track
click
was
and
recorded
of
recording
with a
combination
Djembe player, 'Dark' was partially recordedwith a click track but the pulse was
freely interpretedand variations in tempo played without the click, 'Hats off to
Davey'wasrecordedwithout a click track.Again, the choicein all caseswould be to
but
track
the time constraints of recording
the
any
click
without
pieces
record all of
its
encouraged moderateduse.
#3: Interaction and Improvisation (CD #3)
Modality
-
in this section,the intentionwasto realisecompositionsin real time andreal spaces
first
it
by
bringing
direct
to
the
togethera
was
mode,
and
executed
contrast
asa
selectedgroupof musiciansto createmusicpreparedcompositionalmaterial.In this
is
being
they
because
the
crucial
of
musicians
as
choice
are
chosen
process,
of their
individual skills and interpretative talents. Two recording sessionswere arranged in
different
two
to
with
of
material
a
variety
groupsof musicians:
which record
drum-kit, percussion,acousticguitar,
Group#1: a bandcomprisedof double-bass,
Dobroguitar,andfiddle.
The doublebassanddrumkit players(Neil HarlandandPaul Smith) areboth
international
and
reputationasperformers
professionalmusicianswith a national
p. 164
in
both
They
perform a wide range of music styles and are
and sessionmusicians.
in
for
North
England.
'first
the
professional
work
call'
musicians
of
as
considered
The Dobro guitar was played by Jim Hornsby who is a leading national exponent
Andy
Lawrenson
has
tours
and
recordings,
on
many
performance
and
and performed
has
in
in
Yorkshire
a
wide
experience
of
playing
vernacular
who
a musicianresident
folk styles,and,unusuallyfor a 'fiddle' player,jazz and popularmusic.
Group #2: a band comprised of double-bass,drum-kit/percussion, steel-string
acousticguitar and nylon-string acoustic guitar.
in this ensembleAdam Sinclair(drum-kit),Andy Champion(double-bass)and
JamieMcCredie (nylon-strung guitar) are representativeof a new generation of
instance
in
this
are graduatesof music education programmes performerswho
in
this instancethe BMus (Hons)Jazz,popularandcommercialmusic degreeat
NewcastleCollege. All three players are making a name for themselves as
The
in
both
instances
musicians.
acoustic
versatile
guitar
was played
accomplished
by myselL
Thetwo bandswerevery differentandthesedifferencesarereflectedin the
first
The
band
the
conducted.
process
was
recording
areall seasoned
way
but
degree
considerable
with
a
musicians
of differencein their skill
professional
base,where all of the musicians posseshighly developed aural skills and the ability
in
different
improvise
interpret
performance genres,a wide difference exists
to
and
in sight-readingskills. This differenceis directly relatedto their working practice,
the drummerandbassplayerrequirea high level of readingskills to functionas
in
a commercialmusicmarket,whilst the vernaculartraditions
players
professional
from which the Dobroandfiddle playerhaveemergedplacemore importanceon the
in
interpret
The
band,
to
specific
music
very
music
genres.
second
ability
aremuch
p. 165
youngerprofessionalmusicianswho havedevelopcdtlicir skills through
improvise
confidently
academic/instrumental
studyandwho canall
andsight-rcadat
a high level.The compositionschosenfor eachrecordingsessionwere carefully
important
has
is
to
the
this
a
point and
particularplayersan
conceived suit
considerable
effect on the way the musicwascomposed,arranged,communicated,
interpreted,performed,andrecorded.
Session#1:
Fourpieceswerepreparedfor the first sessiontwo asa featurefor the Dobroguitar
andtwo asfeaturefor the fiddle player.In eachpair of compositionsonewasvery
prescriptivewith detailednotatedpartsandthe other,a muchmoreskeletal'lead
sheet', this was a purposeful decision to leave room for interpretation and
improvisation. The two-featured players were each given one part that was intcnded
to presenta challengeto their own perfonnancestyle,andone piecein which their
improvisationabilities could be comfortablyexpressed.
Two pieceswritten to featurethe Dobroplayingof Jim Hornsby:'You Cooda'Told
Me' and'Hang on JP.
You Coodal Told Me: a countryballad for slide guitar.The Dobro guitar
canbetunedin manydifferenttunings,but the mostcommontuning, andthe one
preferredby Jim Hornsby,is open'G' majortuning (seetunings),this makesplaying
in G majorandcloselyrelatedkeyseasy,but muchmorediflicult whenchromatic
harmony,key changesandalterednotesarepresent.Knowing the playing styleof
Jim, I wantedto write a piecethat, I hoped,would presenta challengefor him both
melodicallyandharmonically,thereforethis compositionis considerablymore
complexthanmostcountryballads.The A sectionstartsin G maj or but modulatcs
into B minor andA minor andcontainsseveralsecondarydominantchordsandtri166
harmonic
develops
B
through
the
a
parallel
tonesubstitutions,and
modally
section
B
In
G
finally
the
dominant
gth
to
to
major. addition,
resolve
chords
movementof
Dobro.
by
improvised
for
the
and
guitar
solos
sectioncontainsspace
by
duct
JJ:
this
as
a
guitar
rccordcd
was
originally
composition
on
-Hang
JamesBirkett andRod Sinclairaspart of 'The SuiteFor Two Guitars' on tile album
TheJazzGuitar Duo andI havealwayswantedto try a new arrangementwith a
differentrhythmicfeel. The title refersto JJ Calewho is a leadingexponentof
Americancountrybluesmusicandis renownedfor his 'laid back' laconicgrooves,
thereforethis compositionseemedideally suitedto a laid backrhythmic treatment.
The compositionconsistsof a simple 'head', which wastaughtaurally,and
interactivity.
improvisation,
for
interpretation,
and
substantialspace
Two pieceswerecomposedfor Andy Lawrenson:'The Black Isle' and 'The Darkest
Hour'.
influcnccd
by
in
Celtic
Black
Isle:
style,which was
a composition a
-The
imagesof the Black Isle (Scotland),this island,althoughmoreaccuratelyan
extendedpeninsular,combinesa ruggedHighlandlandscapewith beautiful
seascapes,
and is hometo both a thriving agriculturalandmodemtechnological
community.This piecehasat its essencemanycharacteristicsof Scottishmusicthe
ballad,the dance,andthe useof drones,but to reflectthe modernizationof the
Scottishhighlandsis morecosmopolitanin form and instrumentation.The piccc is
is
ballad
A,
three
themes:
of
which
comprised
main
section a simplemelodic
harmonizedwith diatonicchordsanddrones,B an interludein B minor, with some
chromaticismin the melodyand 'C' a rhythmicvariationstartingwith a unison
melodyin a 9/8 rhythm moving into an improvisationsectionin an alternatingthree
p.167
bar
9/8,
by
followed
bars
6/8
bar sequence
two
of
after a climatic
a
of
consistingof
ballad.
This
introductory
fiddle
the
to
composition
the
returnsus a repriseof
point
in
influence
Celtic
fiddle
the
the
to
music
playinga
the
of
player express
requires
lyrical
the
to
the
maintheme,cadenzasand more
guitar,
countermelody
described
be
in
C.
The
improvisation
tune
asa
could
part
challenginglyan extended
into
be
developed
that
a more extensive
could
smallpieceof programmemusic
island,
A;
is
Each
the
section
of
characteristic
of a
section representative
piece.
tradition and lyrical melody, section B; reflection and contemplation and C; dance
andrhythmicexcitement.
is
hour
darkest
it
is
the
The
Darkest
Hour:
that
the
perception
a
common
-
blues
for
This
dawn,
before
terrors.
time
night
simple
a
of night noisesand some
one
is intendedasan evocationof the darknessof this hour and is comprisedof a
dissonantandmicro-tonalmelodythat is setagainsta repetitivewalking bassline
is
by
drum-kit.
fractured
The
the
composition writtcn
and
rhythmicpaletteprovided
in D'minor but both the melodyandharmonyareambiguousasthe microtonalslurs
producepitchesthat lie betweenthe major andminor third intervals.As the fiddle
andDobrocanproducemicrotonalslursanddrones,this is a perfectchoiceto
providean underscoreof unsettlingglissandos,drones,anddissonantsounds.AfIcr
the melodyis introduced,therearefour repetitionsof the 12 bar scqucnccincreasing
in intensity before the theme returns.
Session#2:
Eachof the playersin this secondline up areenthusiasticimproviserswho arc cagcr
to tacklenew material,thereforethe compositionis structuresto encourageboth
individualandcollective improvisation.
168
Mmm Interesting: a sambaarrangedfor drum-kit, doublebass,nylon-strung
acousticguitar,andsteel-strungacousticguitarThe title echoesthe responseof a
particularlistener'sfirst hearingof the piece.This compositionwas intcndcdasa
vehiclefor improvisationandto draw out the complementarybut contrastingtimbres
of combiningtwo guitars;the combinationof nylon and steelstrungguitarsandtwo
playerswith different individual stylescreatesmanyopportunitiesfor interplayand
the contrastingof timbre.The compositionis in a sambastyle and the arrangement
containsseveralvariationsin texture.The melodicthemeis playedon the stcclstrung guitar with the nylon-strung guitar playing an accompanying rhythm pattcrn,
this developsthroughinto a seriesof improvisations,connectedby bridging
sections,where each instrument has the opportunity to improvise and interact with
the rhythmsection.The bridging sectionsareall rhythmicallyvaried and include
'faux' Flamencoinflections(bars75-78),unisonlines,and polyrhythms
The intentionof this modewasto createa portfolio of musicthrougha proccssof
interactionandimprovisationand is in direct contrastto mode#1 (multi-track
recor ing). Increasingly,'live' recording,whereall musiciansarepresentin the
samespaceandrecordingtakesplacein real time, is becomea rarefiedexpcricnce.
This modeof recording,which entereda modernageof sophisticationwhen
'electrical' recordingemerged,attemptedto capturea 'live' musicpcrformancc,but
whenmulti-trackrecordingbecamepossible,it correspondinglydiminished.
Althoughsomelistenersplacegreatvalueon the notion of the unadornedlive
experience,with the exceptionof the recordingof a live stageperformance,it has
becomeincreasinglyrareasthe demandsfor accurateperformance,andthe financial
constraintsof musiciansandthe musicindustrydemanda flexible recordingprocess.
p.169
Live recordingreliesuponthe availability of all of the musiciansat a specifictime, a
in
both
of
rehearsal,
an
appropriate
space
acousticresonanceandsize.
process
and
All of thesefactorshavean impacton the finishedprocess.The time demandsof
this processcanvary greatlydependinguponthe skill baseof the musicians:
musicianswith highly developedreadingandinterpretativeskill are in greatdemand
assessionandcommercialbandmusicians,wherethey areexpectedto work quickly
in
in
differing
andaccurately a rangeof
styles,conversely,manymusiciansarc
demandfor their specificperformanceskills, which areoften by their very nature
idiosyncratic,highly specialisedandindividually stylized. With the lattertype of
musician,the working processis usuallyauralandrehearsalis an intrinsic part of the
learningprocess- the musicianslearnby doing.Becausethe first bandconsistedof
two sessionmusiciansandtwo vernacularmusicians(I count myself ashaving
qualitiesof both),the preparationfor the recordingsessionwas different for both,
scoresandpartswereavailablefor all, but in addition,demotrackswere recorded
for the 'aural' players.The 'aural' playersweresentparts(including tablatureparts
for the Dobro player- seesectionon tablature)andaudiorecordingstwo weeks
beforethe recordingsessionandthe 'session'playersreceivedtheir partson the day.
This arrangement
wasagreedto by all of the parties,but the outcomewas not as
expected.The fiddle andDobro playertelephonedtwo daysbeforethe sessionto
declarethat they weregoingto havedifficulties with the parts.This in both cases
wasdueto the fact that both hadallowedinsufficienttime to prepareand, I assume,
thatthey consideredthat their performance,aural,and improvisingskills would be
sufficientto carrythemthroughon the day.This wasan interestingif not irritating
scenario,asI hadexplainedto themboth that at leastonecompositionhadbeen
written to challengetheir expectations,not in an unachievableway, but to stretch
p. 170
their performanceboundaries.Both had failed to appreciatethe extent to which tills
in
difflculties
togcthcr
Because
at
the
everyone
getting
of
would requirepreparation.
the sametime, I decidedto conductthe sessionasarrangedandto recordeverything
live, but, with sufficient soundseparationto allow any repairsto rccordcd
later
date.
to
take
at
a
place
performances
The recordingsessiontook placeover a five hour periodand involved playing
final
take
times
of eachpiecewas
agreed
an
until
composition
several
each
high
The
the
well
with
a
musicians performed
results were as expected,
achieved.
level of interactionandimprovisationtaking place,however,both the fiddle and
dobroplayerperformedat their bestin their musical'comfort zone', addinga great
but
failed
interpretive
to
to
each
piece,
musicality
senseof musicalcharacterand
by
However,
during
the
stimulated
sections.
challenging
more
performadequately
later
'overdub'
both
being
to
to
they
the processof
a
week
return
opted
challenged,
the weakermusicalsections;this wasgenerallysuccessfulbut it was decidedlater to
JP
Isle'
'Hang
fiddle
'The
Black
the
with thoseof another
on
and
on
replace
parts
performer.
In contrast,session#2 wasconductedin a very different manncrasall of the
dcvelopcd
highly
high
too
possessed
standard
and
musicianscould sight-read a
interpretiveandreadingskills. The compositionwasrehearsedthen playedseveral
timesuntil a finished 'take' wasachieved.In comparingthe two sessionsthe
contrastbetweenthe differing musicianswasquite striking, andalthoughI was
awareof the potentialdifficulties in runningsession#l, I thoughtthat with sufficient
organizationandappropriatemodesof communication(tab notationandaural
be
difficulties
that
would overcome,what I didn't considerwas that
recordings) any
to a particularmodeof working andmusical
the auralmusicians,so accustomed
p.171
in
function
this
to
fail
idiom,would
to appreciatethe amountof work necessary
modality.
6.0 SUMMARY
that I intendedto establishmodalitiesof
In the introductionto this thesis,I suggested
contemporaryacousticguitarpractice,thougha processof research,composition,
been
have
Three
positedandpresentedas a portfolio of
modalities
andperformance.
is
dcrincd
the
3CDs
modality
andon eachthe characterandcontentof
recordingson
by a particularcreativeapproach,working methodologyand methodof recording.In
the
intended
is
the
to
of
nature
acoustic
the
elucidate
creativework
addition,asall of
instrument, the conceptsof 'guitaristic practice' and 'acousticity', arc central to the
has
been
the
the
portfolio
pivotal points around which
creative work, and provide
developedand the modalities of practice defined. Acousticity, has been defined in
early chaptersas, 'a conceptual signifier and product of sonic qualities and cultural
values', and consideration has been given to the expression of these sonic qualities,
in
in
the practice.
themselves
the
reveal
and
way which cultural signifiers
As it is the acoustic sound qualities of the instrument that are being expressed,
instruments,
has
been
the
the
taken
the
space
and
recording
with
choice
of
care
great
in
instruments
have
been
The
recorded naturally resonant
recording medium.
deal
been
has
of
consideration
spaces
and
a
great
given to the choice of
acoustic
instrument.
In
to
the
their
most casesthe recorded
and
position
relative
microphones
(in
been
has
then
treated
cqualisation
only
a
small
of
corrective
with
amount
signal
order to remove undesirable resonances)and the addition of reverberation to
enhanceor recreatea particular type of acoustic space-'Dark'
is a good example of
this where a long reverberation time has been used to create the effect of a large
172
resonantspace.By contrast,in orderto achievea particulareffect and to elucidate
someof the techniquesof sonicmanipulationmadepossibleby digital recordingand
audioprocessing,the original acousticsignalhasbeenalteredto sucha dcgrccthat it
is
is almostdevoidof its original acousticcharacteristics,
the
or,
acousticsignal
enhanced
with an additionalmidi-triggeredsoundsample- the former is
demonstrated
in the slide guitar solo in 'It's Not My Fault' and the latter in 'Songs
of SummerPast'.
It hasbeenargued,that the cultural locationof the acousticguitar is a direct
resultof the developmentof the electricguitar andthe resultantbinary oppositionof
the 'natural' acousticguitar andthe 'technologically'definedelectric guitar,as
suggestedearlier:
If the electricguitar signifiedmodernitythenthe acousticguitar significd
tradition andauthenticity;it functionedasa signifier for the organic
community,the naturalworld andanti-modernism.
However,eventhoughsucha harddistinctionbetweenthe electric guitar and
acoustic-guitarhasto somedegreediminishedwith guitar manufacturerssuchas
GodinGuitarsproducinginstrumentsthat cansimulateacousticand/orelectric
qualitiesin one instrument,acousticityremainsa potentsignificr of a musical
languageandcultural practice.In the portfolio thereare manyexampleswhich draw
musicalreferencesfrom vernacularmusictraditions,within which acousticity
continuesto function asa signifier of tradition andthe continuity of a musical
language,for example,Celtic music 'The Black Isle', folk andblues'llats off to
Davey',African guitar 'Afro-Diz' countrymusic 'Hang on JP andbossa-nova
'Sorry to SeeYou Go'.
p.173
Thetwo neoligismsacousticityandguitaristicare interlinkcd, as it is the
particularperformancepractice
acousticnatureof the instrumentthat encourages
andtechniques,which in turn highlight its soundcharacteristics-a
relativelyquiet
intimatesound,percussivenatureanda relatively shortsustainwhich favoursthe
its
importance
Also
are flexible musical
repetitionof single-notesandchords.
of
drones,
lines,
the
to
combinationsof all
chords,
characteristics; ability play single
three,andto be tunedto differenttunings.Whenusedin combination,as in the
guitar duo, the potential musical options increaseexponentially, offering the ability
to play extendedchordvoicings,contrapuntallines andthe division of musicalroles
betweenaccompaniment
andmelody.All of thesecharacteristicshavebeen
in
expressed the portfolio: variation in tuning systemsin 'The Black IsIc', Wro-
Diz', 'Hang on JP and 'Dark; the combinationof two guitarsin 'Sorry To SeeYou
Go' and'A Long Way Home'; the percussivequalitiesin 'Hats off to Davey', 'AfroDiz', 'Mmm Interesting'; extendedchordal voicings and the combining of several
guitarsin 'Lydian Dance' andSongsof SummerPast'; the extensiveuseof open
stringsasdronesin 'The Black Isle', 'Hats off to Davey', 'Afro-Diz' and 'Dark'; the
useof openstringsto producespecialeffects,for exampleharping,in 'Ilang on JP,
'Hats off to Davey; finger picking stylesin 'The Black Isle', 'Hats off to Davey',
'Afro-Diz', 'Hang on JP, 'A Long Way Home'; plectrum styles in 'Mmm
Interesting','Lydian Dance', 'It's Not My Fault' and 'Put It In the Pocket'; slide
guitar in 'It's Not My Fault' andDobro guitar in 'The Black Isle', '11angon JP
The expressionof particularperformancestyle and idiolect hasbeen
throughthe compositionof particularpieceswhich are intendedto
encouraged
expressthe particularperformancecharacteristicsof choseninstrumentalists,for
in
example 'Hang on JP, 'You Cooda'Told Me', 'The Black Isle', 'Dark' and
174
'Mmm Interesting',andsometo expressthe very particularperformance
In
To
Davey'.
'Hats
in
interpretation
'Afro-Diz'
individual
off
and
of
characteristics
the former,the compositionsareshapedby a pre knowledgeof the performcr(s)
idiolect
be
for
to
intended
the
to
performance
allow
ability andstyleandare
improvisation,
developed
have
been
in
latter
through
the
the
and
pieces
expressed,
intended
degree,
the
to
therefore,
to
performance
express
an
even
greater
are
is
level
In
the
of virtuosity expected
subjectivitiesof
performer. all cases,a certain
for
is
the performersability.
the
constructed
as
a
showcase
as material
It hasbeenarguedthat, sincethe mid 1950s,it is hasbeenthe solid-bodied
functioned
has
dominated
Western
that
and
asa potent
music
guitar
popular
electric
signifier of youth, commercialism and a particularly overt sexuality, whereas the
in
binary
has
if
it
does
the
pole
a
opposition,
acoustic guitar,
signify
opposite
functionedto signify intimacy,tradition and,perhaps,artistry,maturity and
reflection.The role of the electricguitar andits pre-eminencein rock forms of music
but
is
it
dynamism
energy,
oflen the acoustic
and
signifiesa powerfularticulationof
instrument(or semi-acoustic)which is evidentin forms of music moretraditionally
associated
with artistry andmaturity- Westernart music,and someforms ofjazz,
blues,countryandfolk music;this suggestsmorethan a casualassociationbctwccn
acousticity, artistry and maturity. Several pieces in the portfolio allude to this sensc
of tradition and perhapsartistry, 'For You' sets the acoustic guitar with a string
quartetand 'Dark' adoptssomeof the techniquesof othermoretraditionalsolo
guitarformsby drawingupon inflectionsof Flamencomusic andthe Spanishand
classicalguitarmusicaltraditions.
The globaldistributionof the guitar and its appropriationinto local and global
formsof music,haveresultedin an eclecticrangeof music andesotericmodesof
p. 175
be
It
is
in
degree
the
to
this
must
portfolio.
recogniscd
reflected
practiceand
some
however,that anyportfolio of this size,andthe creativework of one individual,
does
however,
The
portfolio
of
practice.
a
small
area
couldonly possiblyrepresent
illustratean assimilationof differing cultural andmusic practices:funk 'Put It in The
Pocket;jazz ballad'For You'; bossa-nova'Sorry To SeeYou Go'; samba'Lydian
Dance'and'Mmm Interesting';countrymusic 'Hang on JP and"You CoodaTold
Me'; Celtic 'The Black Isle'; folk 'Hats off to Davey'; blues'The DarkestHour';
African music 'Afro-Diz'; Latin 'Songs of Summer Past'; classical/flamcnco 'Dark';
jazz/rock/fusions 'It's Not My Fault'.
A diversityof socialandcultural practiseshasbeenreflectedin the useof
aural and notated music traditions and they are representedin the modalities of
creative practice; aural traditions of composition ('Afro-Diz' and 'Hats off To
Davey')andnotatedtraditionshavebeenused(Tor You' and 'Lydian Dance').
Wherenotatedmusichasbeenproduced(examplesexist in all modalities),its form
andpurposediffers. In modality#1, the scorefunctionsasa compositionalformat
into which materialcanbe directly written andthen usedto producepartsfor
performingmusicians,whenproducedin softwarescorewriting packagesit canalso
be exportedasa midi-file andusedto producean audiotemplatefor the
overdubbingof acousticinstruments,or, for the triggeringof midi sounds.In
modality#2, notatedmaterialhasbeenproducedasappropriateto the musicalstyle
andarrangingformat: it is necessary
whenarrangingguitar duetsandsomesolo
material,but in othercases,compositionaldevelopmenthasbeenthroughan aural
process,thereforeis not notated.In modality#3, the scoreprovidesworking parts
for readingmusiciansandbecauseof the interactivenatureof the process,is less
detailedthan in modality#1. At all timesthe notatedmaterialis intendedto
p. 176
communicateanddevelopmusicalmaterialratherthan to be a finished entity in
itself.
It hasbeenarguedthat technologicaldevelopmentshavehad a profoundcffcct
on the practiceof acousticguitar musicandthat any recordedperformanceis, by its
very nature,mediatedby the technologicalprocessesof recording,the effect of this
mediationis evidentin the portfolio and in all threepositedmodalities.What differs,
however,is the degreeto which this technologicalmediationhasan overt or covert
effecton the recordedproductandthe degreeto which this mediationis intentionally
expressed,
or merelya functionalmethodof capturingthe performance.The degree
to which this mediationby technologyis expressedin the portfolio spansfrom the
covertrecordingof the solo guitarcompositions,'Hats Off to Davey, and 'Afro-Diz'
(modality#2), to the overt sonicmanipulationof the acousticguitar in 'It's Not My
Fault' and'Songsof SummerPast' (modality0). Oncedigitized, sonic
manipulationis possiblewith all recordedmaterial(assumingthat there is sufficicrit
separationbetweeneachof the recordedinstruments),for example,in 'Songsof
SummerPast' (modality#1), the audiosignalof the nylon- acousticguitar was
convertedinto midi dataandusedto trigger sampledandsynthesisedsounds,
whereasthe 'live' acousticguitar in 'The DarkestHour' (modality #3) was sound
processed
after the recording.In modality#2, digital reverbis usedto simulateor
accentuate
real environmentsand is usedmostelaboratelyin 'Dark'.
A fundamentaldifferencein the productionof the portfolio is in the working
methodsof recordingthe music.It hasbeenarguedearlier,that it wasthe
developmentof electricalrecordingandlatermulti-track recordingthat changed
foreverthe practiceof musicians,andthat it is currentlythe effect of digital
recordingpracticethat is shapingthesechangesonceagain.It seemsthat the concept
p.177
'live'
distinguish,
is
becoming
less
'live'
to
as
most
recording
easy
of
recording
takesplaceon multi-trackrecordingequipmentandthe 'live' take is in cffect a
level
depending
the
tracks,
of acousticseparation
upon
seriesof separated
which,
betweenthe instruments,canbe editedand sometimesre recorded.Can anyone
exceptthosepresentat the recordingof a particulareventdetermine,after the event,
is
doubtful
live,
It
whether
also
which partsof a recordingwere
or, a simulacra?
thosein attendance
at a live stageperformancecould distinguishwhetherany postproduction editing of the 'live' recording has taken place or any additional material
hasbeenadded-unless strikingly different. Furthermore,is it of importanceto the
listener?In the portfolio, the differencesbetweenmodalities#1 and #3 are self
evident, as the natural variation of tempo in the latter is a product of the recording
methodology.It is usefulto comparetwo similar tracksin similar idioms, 'Lydian
Dance'and'Mmm Interesting',the first wasmulti-track recordedto a click track,
andthe latterrecordedlive with no overdubs.The differencesbetweenmodes#I
and#3 areself evident,asthe naturalvariationof tempoin the latter is more
appropriateto the musicalidiom andwherethe former containsa high degreeof
detailwith multiple overlaidguitarparts,the latter is morespontaneous,
and
rhythmicallyanddynamicvaried.To manypeopleI suspectthesedifferenceswould
be indistinguishableandthereforeunimportant,to others,the knowledgethat one is
a 'live' performanceandthe otherconstructedthrougha processof multi-track
recordingwould signify an authenticityandperhapsartistry in the former; for wc
know that the performerscan indeedperform.
The decisionto producea live or multi-trackedrecordingalsoaffectsthe
compositionalprocess,in modality#1, the compositionalprocessis fluid asall
materialcanbe alteredandmanipulatedat any part of the process,andalthoughthis
178
bccn
has
'click
is
it
less
#3,
track'
uscd.
is to someextenttrue of modalities
so, as no
For example,the drum kit in 'Its Not My Fault' (modality # 1) could be replacedat
in
impossible
Hour',
in
Darkest
'The
difficult
be
or
anypoint, but this would very
instruments.
between
leakage
#3)
because
the
(modality
Interesting'
'Mmm
sound
of
Wherea click track is used,sectionsof the compositioncanbe, through a processof
in
'It's
for
in
dramatic
freely
ways, example
reorganizedandreordered
cut andpaste,
Not My Fault', substantialpartsof the drum-kit and guitar havebeencopiedand
reused-this
fragmented mode of reworking is reflective of the postmodcrn ethos of
this composition.Multi-tracking could alsobe seenas reflectinga new aesthetic
in
for
'Put
It
feature
is
the
the
music
example
of
where metronomicpulse a central
In the Pocket'. Although cut and pastetechniques can be applied to modes #2 and
#3, this is greatlyrestrictedby the morenaturaland lessmetric rhythmic flow of this
'tightening'
Katz
the
effect of recordingandthat:
on
remarks
recordingmethod.
Overthe courseof a century,therehasbeena noticeablemove in classical
less
fewer
tempos,
towards
markedtempo
and
with
steadier
performance
232
fluctuations.
If this is true in classicalmusic,it is certainlytrue in other forms of musicthat owe
their natureto the recordingprocess.
My own working preferenceis to recordasmuchof the track as possible
in
track,
click
real time, to a multi-track recordingsystem,while
without a
preservingasmuchsoundisolationbetweenthe instrumentsaspossible. This
retainsthe optionto overdubadditionaltracksandrcpair/rcplacepartsof the original
live tracks,but importantlyretainsthe spirit andenergyof live pcrformancc.This
describes
the working practiceof modality #3, whereall trackswhcrc
closely
most
232Katz, Mark, CapturingSound(USA: Universityof California Press,2004),23.
p. 179
being
'The
later,
have
the
live,
but
taken
notable
most
place
overdubs
recorded
Black Isle'. This choiceis howevertemperedby the pressuresand demandsof
in
has
impact
the
life,
technology
which
very
way
the
shaped
of
contemporary where
As
the
to
ability
exists
perform.
ultimately
and
musicianswork, communicate
4construct'a finishedcompositionfrom performancesoften separatedin time and
locality (fuelledby developmentsin communicationandrecordingtechnologies)the
financial
by
determined
the
large
is
pressures
and
to
extent
a
practice
modalityof
imply
does
This
a crudetechnological
not
availabilityof particularperformers.
determinism,but reflectsthat fact that the availability of particulartechnologiesdoes
affectpractice.
Katz againsuggeststhat 'we mustrememberthat in the end,recording'sinfluence
beings
human
it
is
itself
in
human
and practitioners,albeit
as
we
actions',
manifest's
33
oftenwithin confines,who decidethe extentto which we engagewith tcchnology?
7.0 TUNINGS
Manytuning variationsexist, somearealterationsto standardtuningsandothersarc
referredto asopentunings.An 'open' tuning describesa tuning that producesa
chordwhenthe open(unfretted)stringsareplayed,the chord is generallymajor but
233Katz, Mark, CapturingSound(USA: University of California Press,2004),3.
P.180
is
key'
'slack
in
tuning
to
The
term
or
used relation
other
someminor tuningsexist.
'slack tuning', this refers to the common practice of tuning strings down in pitch,
in
in
decrease
in
the
tension
tuning
to
a
than
andresults
up, producean open
rather
the stringandthe structureof the guitar.
Tuningsusedin the portfolio:
Alteredtunings:
D-A-D-G-B-E
Dropped 'D' tuning -
standardtuning with the bottom string
dropped to D. Used in 'Afro-Diz' and 'The Darkest Hour'.
E-A-D-G-B-E
Nashville tuning -
the bottom three strings are tuned an
Nashville
higher
tuning.
than
systemusesa
standard
octave
bottom
the
three strings E, A
tuning
modified standard
where
lighter
by
D
gauge strings and tuned an
and are replaced
instrument
has
fewer
is
lower
higher,
that
the
an
result
octave
it
and
makes
resonances
particularly suitable as a rhythm
lower
frequenciesmakesthe guitar stand
lack
the
of
guitaris
in
in
This
tuning
out a recordingmix.
used 'Songsof
SummerPast'and 'The Black Isle'.
Open tunings:
D-G-D-G-B-D
Open 'G' or Sebastopoltuning. Used for the rhythm guitar in
'Hang on JP.
D-A-D-G-A-D
Developedby British guitaristDavy Grahamin the late 1950s,
in an attemptto emulatethe soundof the oud.This tuning has
neithera major or minor tonality, asthereis no 3rd, but
possesses
strongdronesanda pronouncedsuspendedfourth
(D-G). This tuning is usedin 'The Black Isle'.
b
p.181
G-B-D-G-B-D
Dobro tuning usedin 'You Cooda' Told Me'.
Examplesof other tunings:
D-A-D-F#-A-D
Open 'D' Spanish tuning predatesthe American Civil War
Spanish
from
is
derived
its
the
song
popular
and name
Fandango.
E-B-E-G#-B-E
'Cross-Spanish'tuning usedby bluesplayer Son House- the
in
i.
but
tuned
Spanish
tuned
up
pitch.
e.
not slack
sameas
E-B-E-G-B-E
Used by blues player Skip James-a
minor key variant of
cross-Spanishtuning.
D-A-D-G-A-C
derived from an ADG
C-G-D-G-C-D
234
derived from a CDGCD Banjo tuning.
C-G-D-A-E-G
Robert Fripp's Guitar craft tuning.
anjo tuning.
8.0 GLOSSARY
Capo: a movablemechanicaldevicethat clampsover the guitar neckandmakesit
possibleto retainthe useopen-stringsandfingeringswhilst playing in different keys.
234DADGAC sawmill tuning, CGDGCDG sustuning. Examples'Payday'and
'Dark Holler' from Simpson,Martin, Righteousness
and Humidity (TSCD540,
2003).
p. 182
Chord box: a graphic display of a chord shapeas it would appear on the guitar
fretboard
Comping: ajazz guitar terminology for playing chords in an even rhythmic style.
Cross-picking: requires the player to accurately pick non-adjacent strings.
Digital audio converter: converts an audio signal into a digital code.
Falsettas- flourishesbetweenvocal- strophes
fingers
fit
the
and
onto
Finger picks: picks made out of plastic or metal and which
thumb.
Fretboard: the playing surface of the guitar neck on which frets are fixed.
Golpes - blows or fingernail strokes on the instrument.
Guitar bridge: a wooden or metal bridge on which the strings are supported above
the guitarbody.
Guitaristic: a neologismthat is intendedto describea practicethat is functionally
locatedon the instrument.
Hammer ons and hammering: a techniquein which a finger is placedon the
fretboardandanotherfinger 'hammers'anotherhighernoteonto the fretboardto
producea smooth(legato)ratherthana picked (staccato)note.
Isorhythmic: a repeatedrhythmicand/orharmonicschemeto which improvised
episodes,flourishesandadornmentsareadded.
Lead sheet: A simplified music score containing the minimum of compositional
rhythmic style andsometimesbassline.
materialthe melody,harmony,a suggested
Luthier: a makerof stringedinstrumentssuchas guitar or violin.
Machine-heads:(tuning pegs)a mechanicaldeviceto which the stringsareattached
andtightenedor slackenedto raiseor lower the stringtension.
p. 183
Midi pad: a sustainedchordalaccompaniment,
which is 'triggered' from a midisignal.
PIectrum: an implementmadefrom variousmaterials,including plastic andmetal,
which is held betweenthe thumb andfore finger andusedto pluck the guitar strings.
Picado:singlenoteruns.
Pick: refersto a methodof picking guitar stringsandto the plectrumwith which
the strings are picked.
Punteado: the playing of single string lines.
Rasgado/rasqueado: a rhythmic strumming style incorporating the four fingers and
thumb of the strumming hand.
Saddle: A plastic or metal attachment set into the guitar bridge on which the strings
rest.
Soundboard:the resonantsurfaceof the guitar onto which the bridge supportingthe
strings is fixed.
Slide: a tube,usuallymadeout of glassor metal,which is pressedagainstthe guitar
stringandmovedup anddownthe guitarneckto producea rangeof varying pitches
andglissandos.
Tailpiece: a metal anchorto which the stringsareattached.
Tonc-woods: wood that is used in guitar making which is particularly suited to
producinga pleasingresonancein an acousticguitar.
Tremolando: the rapid repetition of a note or notes.
Trigger (midi): a midi deviceusedto sendinformation(trigger) to a midi sound
device.
p. 184
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p. 193
10.
CD CONTENTS
CD #1
Track list:
1.
Lydian Dance
2.
For You
3.
It's Not My Fault
4.
Songsof SummerPast
5.
Put It In the Pocket
CD #2
Track list:
1.
A Long Way Home
2.
Dark
3.
Afro-Diz
4.
Sorry To SeeYou Go
5.
Hats Off To Davey
CD #3
Track list:
1.
Mmm Interesting
2.
Hang On JJ
3.
The Black Isle
4.
The Darkest Hour
5.
You Cooda' Told Me
CD #4:
Additional recordings.
Track list:
I.
Blue Day
2.
Riff-Raff
194
Reference recordings.
CD #5:
Track list:
I.
Stageffight -The Jazz Guitar Duo
2.
Stagefright - Dick McDonough and Carl Kress
3-8
Compositional material: 2min exercise.
Interviews.
CD #6:
Track list:
1.
Interview with JamesBirkett.
CD #7:
The Jazz Guitar Duo: James Birkett and Rod Sinclair
ILAPPENDICES
Email correspondence:
1. Email from Stefan Grossman
2. Email from Tim Brookes (author of Guitar: an American Life)
p. 195

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