I've been listening to a lot of acoustic blues from the masters lately. Players like Big Bill Broonzy, Bo Carter, Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller.
I've been slowing down their songs (thanks to Transcribe) and doing some deep listening. I've been listening for things like if they're playing with picks or bare fingered, if a chord's being played with an upstroke or a downstroke, and if the fretting hand thumb is being used to fret with.
Here's the Reverend with his thumb and one finger approach.
Next up is Blind Boy Fuller. Gary Davis was one of Blind Boy Fullers teachers. He also played on some of Fuller's recordings like Rag, Mama, Rag (look for an upcoming lesson on this song). From listening to him, I suspect that Fuller played with thumb and 2 fingers.
Bo Carter was an especially memorable player. He was a member of the gifted Chatmon family that was centered around Jackson, Mississippi. He's mostly remembered for the raunchy, sex oriented songs that make up much of his recorded work. We guitar geeks will also note his interesting runs and chords and his
sophisticated thumb and 3 (sometimes 4!) right hand technique.
What I've noticed in all of this research is how strongly the personality of each player comes through. In the long run, it doesn't matter so much how you approach the guitar. The bigger thing is that you approach and play the guitar in a way that's reflective of who you are.
I have several new lessons in the works. They include songs by Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill Broonzy and Bo Carter as well as some technical exercises. The first of the technique building exercises can be found here toward the bottom of the page.
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Mel Bay Month
Sheet Music Plus is having a sale on Mel Bay publications through January 27. It's a good chance to buy some great instructional materials at a 20% savings.
That's it for this month. I'll see you in February!
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