>, C, and E, not the first harmonic choice you'd imagine from a die-hard old-timer. Blake's adventurous guitar playing and songwriting skill (the rare ability to write songs that sound at once contemporary and archaic) has been a big influence on contemporary primitivists such as Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and Old Crow Medicine Show, and though his more recent recordings have focused on simpler guitar styles and the deep traditional repertoire, tradition-minded flatpickers continue to reference his solo recordings for the essential values of roots-oriented virtuoso guitar playing. -Scott Nygaard Fond of C and G positions, Blake often capoed to the fifth or seventh frets, extending the guitar's open-string strumming range upward. PACO E LUCIA AG April 1988 "Purity' is understanding flamenco, it's knowing how to play it, it's knowing how to jump in at a fiesta and play for a singer or dancer, straight and simple, and to be able to pull off something crazy as well. Now if you only pull off crazy stuff without knowing how to do the simple things, adn you don't know how to be simple when the moment calls for it, then there might be a problem there." -Paco de Luca FLAMENCO GUITARIST Tomatito once jokingly referred to Paco de Lucia as "Santo Paco" in recognition of the miraculous way he transformed flamenco. Since his emergence as a youthful prodigy in the 1960s, de Lucia has influenced everything about the flamenco guitar, from the way it is held to the harmonies used and its relationship to other musical forms. his inventive approach to the guitar has inspired fellow flamenco artists to push the boundaries of the art form as well. The result has been a creative, voracious music that takes in influences from around the world while remaining closely attached to its roots. It's as if an entire generation had been shaped by the restless imagination of one artist. but de Lucia's work reaches far beyond the limits of flamenco. he has played with jazz artists such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and Al Di Meola; performed the music of classical composers such as Joaquin Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla; and worked with film makers, choreographers, and musicians from around the world. Still touring nearly 50 years after his first public performance, de Lucia remains at the vanguard of the an form he has done so much to transform. Paco de Lucia was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez in the southern Spanish port city of Algeciras in 1947. his father and brothers were his first guitar teachers, but he absorbed flamenco's essential forms, rhythms, and musical language simply by growing up in a flamenco household. Paco (the Spanish nickname for Francisco) left school at the age of nine and began practicing ten to 12 hours a day. In 1962 he and his brother, singer Pepe de Lucia, performed at the Concurso Internacional de Jerez de la Frontera, an important flamenco competition. Although Paco was too young to enter the competition, the audience demanded that he receive first prize, so the judges awarded him a special prize. Paco spent the early part of his career much like any child prodigy: touring, building a reputation, and working with established artists. his recordings and videos from this period show astounding skill, but don't yet reflect his unique musical voice. his solo albums from the late '60s, La Fabulosa Guitaira de Paco de Lucia (1967) and Fantasia Flamenca de Paco de Lucia (1969) show him imitating the musical depth, creativity, and expressive power of the great guitarists of the previous generation, particularly Nino Ricardo and Sabicas. De Lucia's originality began to flower when he met the flamenco singer Jose Monge Cruz (Camaron de la Isla). Although de Lucia's extraordinary talents are evident from his earliest recordings, the elements that define his style began to clearly emerge in his second album with Camaron, Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos. later albums like Almoraima, Fuente y Caudal, and the extraordinary Solo Quiero Caminar show that de Lucia had arrived at a genuinely new place in flamenco, but this early recording shows some of the first steps he took in getting there. In the opening falseta of the first piece on Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos, the soleares from which the album gets its title, de Lucia adds an F*-G appoggiatura over a B" chord (measures 2 and 3 of Example 1). The resulting chord, consisting of E, F*, ?*- , D, and E notes, suddenly transforms the Phrygian scale into a whole-tone scale. he repeats this shift a moment later when he moves the figure up a fourth (measures 6 and 7). The resulting augmented chords are something genuinely new in flamenco. to hear a solo guitar version of this falseta, listen to the soled "Celosa" on his recording Fantasia Flamenca, released around the same time. De Lucia's ability to play picado - singlenote runs at blazing speeds - has fascinated many players. an important aspect of his picado technique lies in how well and how quickly he can cross from one string to another. on Y No Llegastes a Quererme, a granaina from Cocia Vez Que Nos Miramos, de Lucia plays a one-measure 16th-note run at above 204 bpm, impressive enough to get an "ole!" from Camaron. It's the string crossing equivalent of a tongue twister (Example 2). Notice that the picking-hand fingering calls for strict alternation of the index and middle fingers. It's counterintuitive, but it's the only way to get the necessary articulation. It would be hard to overestimate de Lucia's influence on contemporary flamenco guitar. many young guitarists challenge themselves by taking on some of his most virtuosic solos, such as "Entre Dos Aguas" or "Mi Nino Curro." While pure technical virtuosity is an important part of de Lucia's music, what makes his music truly unique is his restless intellect. his technique and musical invention have always existed in the service of his desire to redefine flamenco. As he once said, "La barriga se sacia rapido, el espiritu no se sacia nunca." (The belly is soon full, but die spirit is never satisfied.) -Stephen Dick ANI DIFRANCO AG March/April 1995 DiFranco attributes her aggressive guitar playing to her early yars performing in rowdy venues. "My techniques is the Darwin school of guitar playing-adapt or die. you develop a strong sense of survival doing gigs in bars where you're forced to develop a style that gets people to shut up and listen . . . I grew up with an acoustis guitar in my hands, I like the way you can bend and hit and abuse an acoustic. you can do a lot of slapping and pulling on one, which you can't do with an electric." -Dan Oullette HARD TO BELIEVE, but it's been 20 years since Ani DiFranco was, as she once put it in an Acoustic Guitar interview, "first poking my little badger head out of the folk music underground." The young songwriter from Buffalo with the combat boots and shaved head didn't stay underground for long - the passion and poetry in her songs soon won her a fervent fan base and the admiration of many musicians. One measure of DiFranco's profound influence, particularly on female songwriters, can be found in the online music store CD Baby, where the subgenres under folk include "Like Ani" and "Like Joni." DiFranco started on guitar as a folk fingerpicker, but even at the time of her self-titled debut (1990) she was beginning to find alternative approaches to accompaniment that were a better match for the intense, often jittery energy in her music riian conventional fingerpicking or strumming. Example 1 shows one simple way she broke out of typical accompaniment patterns, even while playing in standard tuning with familiar chord shapes. instead of a using a chord arpeggio or strum, pick three strings simultaneously with your thumb, index, and middle fingers. to create a staccato effect, quickly damp the strings with your fretting hand by loosening your grip on the fretted strings and touching the open strings. Example 2 shows a softer side of DiFranco's guitar style, as heard in songs like "32 Flavors." For this example, drop the first string to D and capo at the third fret. In this example, you fret the fifth and second strings in several positions, starting at the tenth fret above the capo (the 13th fret if you're counting from the nut). DiFranco often uses this kind of repeating pattern as a melodic counterpoint to her vocal. most of DiFranco's songs are in an everchanging array of alternate tunings, one of which, E B B G B D, is used in the next two examples. Tune your first string down to D. your fourth string way down to B (an octave below the open second string), and your fifth string up to B so that the fifth and fourth strings are in unison. Example 3 is a hard-driving groove with lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs as well as percussive harmonics at the 12th and seventh frets - a sound typical of DiFranco's mid-'90s music. her right- hand attack is tough to emulate, especially because she has often used long acrylic nails on fingers wrapped with electrical tape. with these heavy-duty claws, she can pick, strum, slap, and rake the strings very aggressively (so much so that she needs an extra large pickguard to protect her guitar top). like a lot of alternate-tuning players (including Joni Mitchell), DiFranco often moves the same shape around the neck, letting open strings ring through the changes. In Example 4, the chord shape starts at the eighth fret and slides up to the tenth fret. after that, play an open-string Em followed by the same chord shape at the third fret. If you like the sound of this E tuning, here are a couple of variations to try: EBBGAD (for the hard funk of "Shy") and E B B F= B E ("Angry Anymore," capoed at the third fret). For singer-songwriters, the essential lesson of DiFranco's music is that an acoustic guitar can deliver so much more than basic backup. Detune it, slap it, stroke it, get whisper-quiet, thwack it it like a snare drum - the sound of your instrument should be as personal and unique as your songs themselves. - Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers JOHN FAHEY AG January/February 1992 Leo Kottke, who was discovered and recorded by Fahey. told me, "John is one of the heroes of whatever this country has for a culture - including his attitude, that persona he created. . . . what John made available to everybody was a point of view that really didn't exist before he came along. Point of view is the whole thing in a nutshell, no matter whether it's music or prose or whatever you're talking about. Technical innovation is something a computer can do, but point of view comes from people like John." -Dale Miller JOHN FAHEY was one of die more colorful and influential fingerstyle guitarists of die last half of the 20th century. he first gained notoriety with his legendary 1959 debut recording, which was titled 'John Fahey" on one side and "Blind Joe Death" on the other. only 100 copies were pressed, and it took Fahey three years to sell them, but the album introduced Fahey's style, which he called "American primitive guitar," a difficult-to-characterize mix of blues, ragtime, hymns, and spirituals, blended with a modern 20th- century classical sense of dissonance. Fahey continued this eclectic approach in 1963's follow-up, Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Militaiy Waltzes, and his prolific recording career found him recording everything from Christmas music to Indian ragas until his death in 2001. Besides his own music, Fahey played an important role in developing and introducing new artists as well as bringing older artists back into the limelight. Fahey signed many artists to his Takoma Records label, including Peter Lang, Robbie Basho. Rick Ruskin, and, most famously. Leo Kottke, who was greatly influenced by Fahey's style. Fahey also recorded pianist George Winston and tracked down bluesmen Skip James and Bukka White, helping bring them back to the public's attention. Fahey sold Takoma in 1979, and later cofounded Revenant Records, which is known for its Grammy Award- winning box set of Charley Patton's recordings. At its most basic, Fahey's music features a solid blues underpinning, with a strong and relentless alternating bass, leading many to mistake his recordings for those of some old undiscovered bluesman. Example 1 is a typical sequence, in open-D tuning. Fahey's syncopated picking style, with slightly bent notes, creates a simple yet effective bluesy sound. Fahey used a variety of alternate tunings, from the basic open D and open G used by many blues players to more exotic choices. Example 2 shows one of Fahey's more adventurous tunings, a modified version of open G, with the sixth string tuned all the way up to G, in unison witJi ttie fifth string. This tuning allows Fahey to play an alternating-bass style with steady quarter notes alternating between the fifth and sixth strings, creating a steady drone on the low G. In spite of the "primitive" label, Fahey often displayed impressive technique, creating a wall of sound from a combination of open strings and sheer picking speed, a style that Leo Kottke leveraged to great advantage. a lick like the one in Example 3 played up to speed creates a 12-string-guitar-like sound. One of the most interesting aspects of Fahey's style is his frequent use of dissonance. Example 4 is basically a V-I progression in the kev of B, but the F'7 chord includes a sharp five (D) as a drone note and a bass line that moves from the flat nine (G) of F* to the root to the flatted seventh (E) and back, before resolving to a B chord thiat also contains a sharp five (G). Resolving tension was not always a high priority for Fahey, and he would sometimes drone on dissonant figures like the F#7 pattern for extended periods, creating a trance-like effect. Fahey also borrowed polytonal techniques from modern composers, as shown in Example 5, which superimposes D7, E7, and F*7 chords over a D root. like the man himself, Fahey's music can be something of an enigma: simple and "primitive" at times, dark, dense, intellectual, and abstract at others. Even 50 years after his first release, young fingerpickers are rediscovering the depth of Fahey's music, and his influence continues to be felt through Aie music of Leo Kottke. Peter Lang, and others who were influenced by this pioneer of solo instrumental acoustic guitar music. - Doug Young MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT AG Hurt's music seemed customis new audience. The songs were often narrative, and his relaxed vocal stylings were easy to understand. on guitar, Hurt's gift was for devising beautifully melodic figures set against the swinging rhythm of sturdy, thumbpicked bass lines. he made it sound easy, and many of today's great players found the metaphorical Holy Grail of fingerstyle guitar by imitating him. As Happy Traum says, "You think what he's doing is simple, but it's actually very complex. - Steve James ASK ANY ROOTSY FINGERSTYLE GUITARIST to name die first song they learned and, as often as not, "My Creole Belle," "Louis Collins," or "Make me a Pallet on your Floor" will be cited. The smooth alternating bass lines and cleanly picked melodies characteristic of Mississippi John Hurt's playing have influenced guitarists from John Fahey, Jerry Garcia, and Doc and Merle Watson to Beck, Bruce Cockburn, Jack White, and countless others. Hurt's mellow mix of blues, folk songs, and original tunes, along with his gentle, grandfather^ persona made him the most popular of the rediscovered bluesmen of the early 1960s. Hurt had two different musical careers, separated by decades of farming and playing local functions around Avalon, Mississippi, his hometown. his 1928 sessions, one in Memphis and one in New York, were the result of a recommendation to an Okeh Records A&R man by Willie Narmour, a fiddler whom Hurt occasionally accompanied. after making his recordings, Hurt returned to Avalon and his rural lifestyle. In the 1950s two of his sides were included in Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, introducing his sound to a generation of musicians who were to spearhead the folk music revival of the 1960s. Tom Hoskins was a member of a small group of blues enthusiasts who began searching for some of these long unheard artists. In Hurt's "Avalon Blues" he found a clue in the line "Avalon, my hometown, always on my mind," located the town on a map of Mississippi, traveled there, went to Stinson's general store, inquired about Hurt, and was directed to the tiiird mailbox up the hill. Hoskins was thrilled to find that Hurt's musical skills had not diminished with time. Hoskins convinced Hurt to come to Washington DC and record for the Library of Congress. Shortly after that, he played the Newport Folk Festival and spent the next three years performing and recording as he enjoyed an unexpectedly revived musical career. Hurt passed away in his sleep on November 2, 1966, leaving behind a legacy of songs that have become folk-blues standards and a guitar style that still inspires young guitarists to put down the flatpick and get their fingertips a little closer to the strings. The main characteristics of Hurt's infectious style are the solid alternating-bass lines played with the thumb and the melodies and variations he would pick with his index and middle fingers. Hurt played songs in all the open keys of the guitar and in some open tunings like G and D, but C position was his favorite. In this example of Hurt's style, which I call "Avalon Calling," the bass notes alternate on the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings. once you've mastered the pattern as written, here's a technique used by Hurt that will add fullness to your bass sound, making the bass notes sound fatter: roll your thumb across two strings as you pick the bass note. look up Mississippi John Hurt on YouTube and you'll find videos that show close-ups of his picking hand doing just this. have fun with this style of picking and check our Hurt's 1928 sessions (released by a few labels) and 1960s recordings for Vanguard or the Library of Congress for a treasure trove of great songs. - Orville Johnson The main characteristics of Hurt's infectious style are the solid alternating-bass lines played with the thumb and the melodies and variations he would pick with his index and middle fingers. PAUL SIMON AG July/August 1993 "I take a much more pianistic approach to the writing, with leading tones and [paying attention to] what the bass is. . . . It's not always the root in the bass. The bass line moves with a certain logic that dictates how the chords are voiced, as opposed to barre here, barre there, strum there. so for ballads, you can write more interesting changes with that approach on guitar." - Paul Simon AS a GUITARIST, SONGWRITER, AND SINGER, and the creative force behind the popular 1960s soft-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon proved he could craft chart-topping songs within an acoustic pop format, but it was his later solo work that showcased his versatility. on albums like his solo debut, Paul Simon (1972), and even more notably on Graceland and Fdiythm of the Saints, his songs spanned multiple genres and styles - whether he was playing with a Latin-tinged or Jamaican rhythm section, collaborating with African drummers, or strumming his guitar in front of a traditional rock band. behind all of this masterful songwriting was Simon's deft guitar playing. While some guitarists hone one set of techniques to produce a signature style, Simon drew from many guitar techniques to create an accompaniment that worked best for each individual song. As his career progressed and his songwriting evolved, so did his playing. Simon's energetic, rhythmic strumming incorporates syncopated patterns and chord changes- a hallmark of songs like "Mrs. Robinson," "Cecilia," "America," and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." Example 1 shows a pattern similar to his playing on "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." Notice all the syncopated chord changes - each chord except die initial D chord falls between beats. Follow the accents to re-create Simon's driving feel. Simon also uses moving hass lines to walk between chords in progressions. Example 2 joins C and am chords with a bass line that moves from C through B to a, momentarily creating a C/B chord with the B bass note. also notice that the bass line continues to move in a stepwise manner through G and F. This motion is similar to the changes in the Simon and Garfunkel hit "America." when Simon plays with his fingers, he often uses alternating- bass fingerpicking. Example 3 shows a pattern similar to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer." Use your ring finger to rock between the fifth and sixth strings in the first measure (and notice how this example uses a walking bass line similar to Example 2). Simon also colors his songs, often creating an ethereal sound by mixing suspended and "add" chords with less conventional fingerpicking patterns. Notice how the repeating progression in Example 4 elicits a meditative tone similar to songs like "Scarborough Fair" or "Sounds of Silence." As Simon began exploring African and South American music on Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, he incorporated musical elements from these cultures in his playing, often creating flowing single- note riffs or rhythmic partial-chord backup lines. Example 5 shows a triplet-based single-note backup similar to Simon's playing in "Crazy love." parts like this sound best as a contrast to the foundational rhythm provided by bass and drums, whereas Simon's earlier playing often stood on its own rhythmically - it was often the sole musical backup to Simon and Garfunkel's voices. Because of his diverse influences and playing styles, Simon has influenced modern-day musicians all across the musical spectrum. his use of alternating-bass fingerpicking helped pass that style along to several generations - first to singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin and later to the next generation of subtle pickers like Iron and Wine. and his multicultural musical explorations influenced artists from Talking Heads front man David Byrne to singer- songwriter Brett Dennen. - Andrew DuBrock Simon's energetic, rhythmic strumming incorporates syncopated patterns and chord changes-a hallmark of songs like "Mrs. Robinson," "Cecilia," "America," and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." For an in-depth lesson on Paul Simon's alternating-bass fingerpicking style, see the Acoustic Rock Basics "Alternating-Bass Fingerpicking" lesson at AcousticGuitar.com. Copyright String Letter Publishing Dec 2010 (c) 2010 Acoustic Guitar. provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Acoustic Guitar Legends" />

Acoustic Guitar Legends

Six acoustic guitarist who changed the way we think about and play the guitar 44

NORMAN BLAKE full strums, cross-picking and flashy licks combine in this traditionalist’s solo flatpicking style.

46

PACO DE LUCIA The flamenco master initiated a revolution in the Spanish style with modern harmonic choices and unparalleled virtuosity.

48

ANI DIFRANCO The singer-songwriters insisted song accompaniment features alternate tunings and infectious aggresive grooves.

50

JOHN FAHEY The folk and blues primitivist combines open-tuning bass patterns with contemporary classical harmonies.

52

MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT a solid alternating bass Is key to his deceptively simple songbased blues playing.

54

PAUL SIMON a planlsti harmonic sense multicultural musical influences Intoirn this soft-rock lcoWs guitar style.

While learning all the basic chord voicings, scale positions, and picking patterns is important when you’re learning to play the guitar, many of us picked up the guitar primarily because we wanted to play “like Joni,” “like Dave,” “like Tony” or “like Leo.” In the absence of compelling musical heroes and role models, learning the guitar becomes just a physical exercise. yes, you need to train your fingers to work the strings and neck of the guitar, but you need the spark of inspiration to make music.

these six guitarists have inspired countless guitarists to learn to play the guitar, and in these lessons, we’ll give you a few examples of their influential and memorable playing. The acoustic guitar, of course, can be heard in all sorts of music, so we’ve gathered a variety of legends here, from the timeless folk/blues fingerpicker Mississippi John Hurt and traditional flatpicker-to- the-stars Norman Blake to the innovative flamenco master Paco de Lucia and fingerstyle iconoclast John Fahey to singer-songwriters Paul Simon and Ani DiFranco, who have made their acoustic guitars equal partners in their songerait.

AG =From the Acoustic Guitar archives.

see the video of the music examples at AcousticGuitar .com/ legends

NORMAN BUKE

AG November/ December 1991 Blake left-hand patterns tent to remain tethered, with surping obviousness, to the chord progression. he holds fast to the root and the fifth in each chord, coaxing the melody out of the runs in between. “In this style of playing.” Blake says, ‘it’s very very Important to keep the sound of the chord going. It makes the style selfcontained. It sounds good if you’re playing by yourself or with one other person. It’s an oldfashioned way of playing, but it just means you’re getting the most out of the open strings.”

-J.D.KIeinke

THOUGH HE IS OFTEN thought of as a staunch traditionalist. Norman Blake has spent more time than most acoustic flatpickers in the public eye (or ear). Raised in rural Georgia with a passion for old- time country music, Blake was playing in June Carter’s band by the time he was 22, an association that soon led him to gigs with Johnny Cash’s TV show band and the hot-shot Nashville studio ensemble that recorded Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album. these were followed by stints with Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez (including her hit recording of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”), and John Hartford, whose 1971 album with Blake, Vassar Clements, and Tut Taylor, Aereo-Plain, was a virtual blueprint for the burgeoning 1970s hippie-grass movement, a precursor to today’s acoustic and rootsoriented jam band scene.

As a solo artist, Blake’s series of albums in the early 70s established him as a godfather of flatpicking, member of a royal quintet, along with Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Clarence White, and Dan Crary, whose styles came to define the style. Blake’s debut recording, ostensibly a solo affair, with minimal backup from Tut Taylor, mixed traditional fiddle tunes and original instrumentais with old-time songs and distinctive originals, including the now classic “Ginseng Sullivan,” just the first of many Blake-penned songs that would enter the folk/bluegrass canon, along with “Last Train from Poor Valley,” “Church Street Blues,'” “Nashville Blues,” and others.

on these solo, or near-solo, recordings, Blake’s guitar is the band, and his style emphasizes eighth-note-based strums, providing a treble accompaniment to his melodic variations on the middle strings. Fond of C and G positions, he often capoed to the fifth or seventh frets, extending the guitar’s open-string strumming range upward. Example 1 recalls Blake’s playing on songs like “Randall Collins” and “Church Street Blues” (from The Fields of November) . Notice how Blake works in midrange melodies and strum variations on the high strings, adding a high G note to the C chord in measure 3, and leaving the high E string open against the F chord (measures 2 and 6), for a subtle major-seventh flavor.

While his studio recordings hew toward originals and obscure traditional songs, in live performances he had no qualms about displaying his virtuosity on standards like “Arkansas Traveler.” “John Hardy,” or “Nine Pound Hammer,” all of which he plays on the astonishing 1976 Takoma album Live at McCabe’s. Example 2 shows a typical flamboyant pass through “Nine Pound Hammer” from this recording, complete with mandolinstyle melodies (bars 1-2), rampant chromaticism (bar 3), and flashy pull-offs (bar 5). Example 3 is also from this live flatpicking feast and shows both Blake’s strum- heavy melodic style (the upstrokes inserted between the C-D-E-F bass in measure 1) and his clever yet understated harmonic sense: the chord created by adding the B:’ melody note to an Fmaj7 chord consists of the notes F, B>>, C, and E, not the first harmonic choice you’d imagine from a die-hard old-timer.

Blake’s adventurous guitar playing and songwriting skill (the rare ability to write songs that sound at once contemporary and archaic) has been a big influence on contemporary primitivists such as Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and Old Crow Medicine Show, and though his more recent recordings have focused on simpler guitar styles and the deep traditional repertoire, tradition-minded flatpickers continue to reference his solo recordings for the essential values of roots-oriented virtuoso guitar playing.

-Scott Nygaard

Fond of C and G positions, Blake often capoed to the fifth or seventh frets, extending the guitar’s open-string strumming range upward.

PACO E LUCIA

AG April 1988 “Purity’ is understanding flamenco, it’s knowing how to play it, it’s knowing how to jump in at a fiesta and play for a singer or dancer, straight and simple, and to be able to pull off something crazy as well. Now if you only pull off crazy stuff without knowing how to do the simple things, adn you don’t know how to be simple when the moment calls for it, then there might be a problem there.”

-Paco de Luca

FLAMENCO GUITARIST Tomatito once jokingly referred to Paco de Lucia as “Santo Paco” in recognition of the miraculous way he transformed flamenco. Since his emergence as a youthful prodigy in the 1960s, de Lucia has influenced everything about the flamenco guitar, from the way it is held to the harmonies used and its relationship to other musical forms. his inventive approach to the guitar has inspired fellow flamenco artists to push the boundaries of the art form as well. The result has been a creative, voracious music that takes in influences from around the world while remaining closely attached to its roots. It’s as if an entire generation had been shaped by the restless imagination of one artist.

but de Lucia’s work reaches far beyond the limits of flamenco. he has played with jazz artists such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and Al Di Meola; performed the music of classical composers such as Joaquin Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla; and worked with film makers, choreographers, and musicians from around the world. Still touring nearly 50 years after his first public performance, de Lucia remains at the vanguard of the an form he has done so much to transform.

Paco de Lucia was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez in the southern Spanish port city of Algeciras in 1947. his father and brothers were his first guitar teachers, but he absorbed flamenco’s essential forms, rhythms, and musical language simply by growing up in a flamenco household. Paco (the Spanish nickname for Francisco) left school at the age of nine and began practicing ten to 12 hours a day. In 1962 he and his brother, singer Pepe de Lucia, performed at the Concurso Internacional de Jerez de la Frontera, an important flamenco competition. Although Paco was too young to enter the competition, the audience demanded that he receive first prize, so the judges awarded him a special prize.

Paco spent the early part of his career much like any child prodigy: touring, building a reputation, and working with established artists. his recordings and videos from this period show astounding skill, but don’t yet reflect his unique musical voice. his solo albums from the late ’60s, La Fabulosa Guitaira de Paco de Lucia (1967) and Fantasia Flamenca de Paco de Lucia (1969) show him imitating the musical depth, creativity, and expressive power of the great guitarists of the previous generation, particularly Nino Ricardo and Sabicas.

De Lucia’s originality began to flower when he met the flamenco singer Jose Monge Cruz (Camaron de la Isla). Although de Lucia’s extraordinary talents are evident from his earliest recordings, the elements that define his style began to clearly emerge in his second album with Camaron, Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos. later albums like Almoraima, Fuente y Caudal, and the extraordinary Solo Quiero Caminar show that de Lucia had arrived at a genuinely new place in flamenco, but this early recording shows some of the first steps he took in getting there. In the opening falseta of the first piece on Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos, the soleares from which the album gets its title, de Lucia adds an F*-G appoggiatura over a B” chord (measures 2 and 3 of Example 1). The resulting chord, consisting of E, F*, ?*- , D, and E notes, suddenly transforms the Phrygian scale into a whole-tone scale. he repeats this shift a moment later when he moves the figure up a fourth (measures 6 and 7). The resulting augmented chords are something genuinely new in flamenco. to hear a solo guitar version of this falseta, listen to the soled “Celosa” on his recording Fantasia Flamenca, released around the same time.

De Lucia’s ability to play picado – singlenote runs at blazing speeds – has fascinated many players. an important aspect of his picado technique lies in how well and how quickly he can cross from one string to another. on Y No Llegastes a Quererme, a granaina from Cocia Vez Que Nos Miramos, de Lucia plays a one-measure 16th-note run at above 204 bpm, impressive enough to get an “ole!” from Camaron. It’s the string crossing equivalent of a tongue twister (Example 2). Notice that the picking-hand fingering calls for strict alternation of the index and middle fingers. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s the only way to get the necessary articulation.

It would be hard to overestimate de Lucia’s influence on contemporary flamenco guitar. many young guitarists challenge themselves by taking on some of his most virtuosic solos, such as “Entre Dos Aguas” or “Mi Nino Curro.” While pure technical virtuosity is an important part of de Lucia’s music, what makes his music truly unique is his restless intellect. his technique and musical invention have always existed in the service of his desire to redefine flamenco. As he once said, “La barriga se sacia rapido, el espiritu no se sacia nunca.” (The belly is soon full, but die spirit is never satisfied.)

-Stephen Dick

ANI DIFRANCO

AG March/April 1995 DiFranco attributes her aggressive guitar playing to her early yars performing in rowdy venues. “My techniques is the Darwin school of guitar playing-adapt or die. you develop a strong sense of survival doing gigs in bars where you’re forced to develop a style that gets people to shut up and listen . . . I grew up with an acoustis guitar in my hands, I like the way you can bend and hit and abuse an acoustic. you can do a lot of slapping and pulling on one, which you can’t do with an electric.”

-Dan Oullette

HARD TO BELIEVE, but it’s been 20 years since Ani DiFranco was, as she once put it in an Acoustic Guitar interview, “first poking my little badger head out of the folk music underground.” The young songwriter from Buffalo with the combat boots and shaved head didn’t stay underground for long – the passion and poetry in her songs soon won her a fervent fan base and the admiration of many musicians. One measure of DiFranco’s profound influence, particularly on female songwriters, can be found in the online music store CD Baby, where the subgenres under folk include “Like Ani” and “Like Joni.”

DiFranco started on guitar as a folk fingerpicker, but even at the time of her self-titled debut (1990) she was beginning to find alternative approaches to accompaniment that were a better match for the intense, often jittery energy in her music riian conventional fingerpicking or strumming. Example 1 shows one simple way she broke out of typical accompaniment patterns, even while playing in standard tuning with familiar chord shapes. instead of a using a chord arpeggio or strum, pick three strings simultaneously with your thumb, index, and middle fingers. to create a staccato effect, quickly damp the strings with your fretting hand by loosening your grip on the fretted strings and touching the open strings.

Example 2 shows a softer side of DiFranco’s guitar style, as heard in songs like “32 Flavors.” For this example, drop the first string to D and capo at the third fret. In this example, you fret the fifth and second strings in several positions, starting at the tenth fret above the capo (the 13th fret if you’re counting from the nut). DiFranco often uses this kind of repeating pattern as a melodic counterpoint to her vocal.

most of DiFranco’s songs are in an everchanging array of alternate tunings, one of which, E B B G B D, is used in the next two examples. Tune your first string down to D. your fourth string way down to B (an octave below the open second string), and your fifth string up to B so that the fifth and fourth strings are in unison.

Example 3 is a hard-driving groove with lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs as well as percussive harmonics at the 12th and seventh frets – a sound typical of DiFranco’s mid-’90s music. her right- hand attack is tough to emulate, especially because she has often used long acrylic nails on fingers wrapped with electrical tape. with these heavy-duty claws, she can pick, strum, slap, and rake the strings very aggressively (so much so that she needs an extra large pickguard to protect her guitar top).

like a lot of alternate-tuning players (including Joni Mitchell), DiFranco often moves the same shape around the neck, letting open strings ring through the changes. In Example 4, the chord shape starts at the eighth fret and slides up to the tenth fret. after that, play an open-string Em followed by the same chord shape at the third fret. If you like the sound of this E tuning, here are a couple of variations to try: EBBGAD (for the hard funk of “Shy”) and E B B F= B E (“Angry Anymore,” capoed at the third fret).

For singer-songwriters, the essential lesson of DiFranco’s music is that an acoustic guitar can deliver so much more than basic backup. Detune it, slap it, stroke it, get whisper-quiet, thwack it it like a snare drum – the sound of your instrument should be as personal and unique as your songs themselves.

– Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

JOHN FAHEY

AG January/February 1992 Leo Kottke, who was discovered and recorded by Fahey. told me, “John is one of the heroes of whatever this country has for a culture – including his attitude, that persona he created. . . . what John made available to everybody was a point of view that really didn’t exist before he came along. Point of view is the whole thing in a nutshell, no matter whether it’s music or prose or whatever you’re talking about. Technical innovation is something a computer can do, but point of view comes from people like John.”

-Dale Miller

JOHN FAHEY was one of die more colorful and influential fingerstyle guitarists of die last half of the 20th century. he first gained notoriety with his legendary 1959 debut recording, which was titled ‘John Fahey” on one side and “Blind Joe Death” on the other. only 100 copies were pressed, and it took Fahey three years to sell them, but the album introduced Fahey’s style, which he called “American primitive guitar,” a difficult-to-characterize mix of blues, ragtime, hymns, and spirituals, blended with a modern 20th- century classical sense of dissonance. Fahey continued this eclectic approach in 1963’s follow-up, Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Militaiy Waltzes, and his prolific recording career found him recording everything from Christmas music to Indian ragas until his death in 2001.

Besides his own music, Fahey played an important role in developing and introducing new artists as well as bringing older artists back into the limelight. Fahey signed many artists to his Takoma Records label, including Peter Lang, Robbie Basho. Rick Ruskin, and, most famously. Leo Kottke, who was greatly influenced by Fahey’s style. Fahey also recorded pianist George Winston and tracked down bluesmen Skip James and Bukka White, helping bring them back to the public’s attention. Fahey sold Takoma in 1979, and later cofounded Revenant Records, which is known for its Grammy Award- winning box set of Charley Patton’s recordings.

At its most basic, Fahey’s music features a solid blues underpinning, with a strong and relentless alternating bass, leading many to mistake his recordings for those of some old undiscovered bluesman. Example 1 is a typical sequence, in open-D tuning. Fahey’s syncopated picking style, with slightly bent notes, creates a simple yet effective bluesy sound. Fahey used a variety of alternate tunings, from the basic open D and open G used by many blues players to more exotic choices. Example 2 shows one of Fahey’s more adventurous tunings, a modified version of open G, with the sixth string tuned all the way up to G, in unison witJi ttie fifth string. This tuning allows Fahey to play an alternating-bass style with steady quarter notes alternating between the fifth and sixth strings, creating a steady drone on the low G.

In spite of the “primitive” label, Fahey often displayed impressive technique, creating a wall of sound from a combination of open strings and sheer picking speed, a style that Leo Kottke leveraged to great advantage. a lick like the one in Example 3 played up to speed creates a 12-string-guitar-like sound.

One of the most interesting aspects of Fahey’s style is his frequent use of dissonance. Example 4 is basically a V-I progression in the kev of B, but the F’7 chord includes a sharp five (D) as a drone note and a bass line that moves from the flat nine (G) of F* to the root to the flatted seventh (E) and back, before resolving to a B chord thiat also contains a sharp five (G). Resolving tension was not always a high priority for Fahey, and he would sometimes drone on dissonant figures like the F#7 pattern for extended periods, creating a trance-like effect. Fahey also borrowed polytonal techniques from modern composers, as shown in Example 5, which superimposes D7, E7, and F*7 chords over a D root. like the man himself, Fahey’s music can be something of an enigma: simple and “primitive” at times, dark, dense, intellectual, and abstract at others. Even 50 years after his first release, young fingerpickers are rediscovering the depth of Fahey’s music, and his influence continues to be felt through Aie music of Leo Kottke. Peter Lang, and others who were influenced by this pioneer of solo instrumental acoustic guitar music. – Doug Young

MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT

AG Hurt’s music seemed customis new audience. The songs were often narrative, and his relaxed vocal stylings were easy to understand. on guitar, Hurt’s gift was for devising beautifully melodic figures set against the swinging rhythm of sturdy, thumbpicked bass lines. he made it sound easy, and many of today’s great players found the metaphorical Holy Grail of fingerstyle guitar by imitating him. As Happy Traum says, “You think what he’s doing is simple, but it’s actually very complex. – Steve James

ASK ANY ROOTSY FINGERSTYLE GUITARIST to name die first song they learned and, as often as not, “My Creole Belle,” “Louis Collins,” or “Make me a Pallet on your Floor” will be cited. The smooth alternating bass lines and cleanly picked melodies characteristic of Mississippi John Hurt’s playing have influenced guitarists from John Fahey, Jerry Garcia, and Doc and Merle Watson to Beck, Bruce Cockburn, Jack White, and countless others. Hurt’s mellow mix of blues, folk songs, and original tunes, along with his gentle, grandfather^ persona made him the most popular of the rediscovered bluesmen of the early 1960s.

Hurt had two different musical careers, separated by decades of farming and playing local functions around Avalon, Mississippi, his hometown. his 1928 sessions, one in Memphis and one in New York, were the result of a recommendation to an Okeh Records A&R man by Willie Narmour, a fiddler whom Hurt occasionally accompanied. after making his recordings, Hurt returned to Avalon and his rural lifestyle. In the 1950s two of his sides were included in Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, introducing his sound to a generation of musicians who were to spearhead the folk music revival of the 1960s. Tom Hoskins was a member of a small group of blues enthusiasts who began searching for some of these long unheard artists. In Hurt’s “Avalon Blues” he found a clue in the line “Avalon, my hometown, always on my mind,” located the town on a map of Mississippi, traveled there, went to Stinson’s general store, inquired about Hurt, and was directed to the tiiird mailbox up the hill. Hoskins was thrilled to find that Hurt’s musical skills had not diminished with time.

Hoskins convinced Hurt to come to Washington DC and record for the Library of Congress. Shortly after that, he played the Newport Folk Festival and spent the next three years performing and recording as he enjoyed an unexpectedly revived musical career. Hurt passed away in his sleep on November 2, 1966, leaving behind a legacy of songs that have become folk-blues standards and a guitar style that still inspires young guitarists to put down the flatpick and get their fingertips a little closer to the strings.

The main characteristics of Hurt’s infectious style are the solid alternating-bass lines played with the thumb and the melodies and variations he would pick with his index and middle fingers. Hurt played songs in all the open keys of the guitar and in some open tunings like G and D, but C position was his favorite. In this example of Hurt’s style, which I call “Avalon Calling,” the bass notes alternate on the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings. once you’ve mastered the pattern as written, here’s a technique used by Hurt that will add fullness to your bass sound, making the bass notes sound fatter: roll your thumb across two strings as you pick the bass note. look up Mississippi John Hurt on YouTube and you’ll find videos that show close-ups of his picking hand doing just this. have fun with this style of picking and check our Hurt’s 1928 sessions (released by a few labels) and 1960s recordings for Vanguard or the Library of Congress for a treasure trove of great songs.

– Orville Johnson

The main characteristics of Hurt’s infectious style are the solid alternating-bass lines played with the thumb and the melodies and variations he would pick with his index and middle fingers.

PAUL SIMON

AG July/August 1993 “I take a much more pianistic approach to the writing, with leading tones and [paying attention to] what the bass is. . . . It’s not always the root in the bass. The bass line moves with a certain logic that dictates how the chords are voiced, as opposed to barre here, barre there, strum there. so for ballads, you can write more interesting changes with that approach on guitar.”

– Paul Simon

AS a GUITARIST, SONGWRITER, AND SINGER, and the creative force behind the popular 1960s soft-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon proved he could craft chart-topping songs within an acoustic pop format, but it was his later solo work that showcased his versatility. on albums like his solo debut, Paul Simon (1972), and even more notably on Graceland and Fdiythm of the Saints, his songs spanned multiple genres and styles – whether he was playing with a Latin-tinged or Jamaican rhythm section, collaborating with African drummers, or strumming his guitar in front of a traditional rock band. behind all of this masterful songwriting was Simon’s deft guitar playing. While some guitarists hone one set of techniques to produce a signature style, Simon drew from many guitar techniques to create an accompaniment that worked best for each individual song. As his career progressed and his songwriting evolved, so did his playing.

Simon’s energetic, rhythmic strumming incorporates syncopated patterns and chord changes- a hallmark of songs like “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “America,” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” Example 1 shows a pattern similar to his playing on “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” Notice all the syncopated chord changes – each chord except die initial D chord falls between beats. Follow the accents to re-create Simon’s driving feel. Simon also uses moving hass lines to walk between chords in progressions. Example 2 joins C and am chords with a bass line that moves from C through B to a, momentarily creating a C/B chord with the B bass note. also notice that the bass line continues to move in a stepwise manner through G and F. This motion is similar to the changes in the Simon and Garfunkel hit “America.”

when Simon plays with his fingers, he often uses alternating- bass fingerpicking. Example 3 shows a pattern similar to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” Use your ring finger to rock between the fifth and sixth strings in the first measure (and notice how this example uses a walking bass line similar to Example 2). Simon also colors his songs, often creating an ethereal sound by mixing suspended and “add” chords with less conventional fingerpicking patterns. Notice how the repeating progression in Example 4 elicits a meditative tone similar to songs like “Scarborough Fair” or “Sounds of Silence.”

As Simon began exploring African and South American music on Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, he incorporated musical elements from these cultures in his playing, often creating flowing single- note riffs or rhythmic partial-chord backup lines. Example 5 shows a triplet-based single-note backup similar to Simon’s playing in “Crazy love.” parts like this sound best as a contrast to the foundational rhythm provided by bass and drums, whereas Simon’s earlier playing often stood on its own rhythmically – it was often the sole musical backup to Simon and Garfunkel’s voices.

Because of his diverse influences and playing styles, Simon has influenced modern-day musicians all across the musical spectrum. his use of alternating-bass fingerpicking helped pass that style along to several generations – first to singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin and later to the next generation of subtle pickers like Iron and Wine. and his multicultural musical explorations influenced artists from Talking Heads front man David Byrne to singer- songwriter Brett Dennen.

– Andrew DuBrock

Simon’s energetic, rhythmic strumming incorporates syncopated patterns and chord changes-a hallmark of songs like “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “America,” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”

For an in-depth lesson on Paul Simon’s alternating-bass fingerpicking style, see the Acoustic Rock Basics “Alternating-Bass Fingerpicking” lesson at AcousticGuitar.com.

Copyright String Letter Publishing Dec 2010

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tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.californiachronicle.com/articles/yb/152968931Thu, 02 Dec 2010 09:22:03 GMT 00:00“>Acoustic Guitar Legends

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  1. hi, new to the site, thanks.

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