Slack Key Guitar Playing – The Elusive Artform

Guitar slack key is a fingerpicking style that has been well hidden by its most famous exponents. Finding books, notes, or tutorials about playing guitar slack key is a series of dead ends where recording studios and music publishers have stopped recording and publishing and guitar players who specialize in playing slack key prefer playing for family gatherings rather than finding ways to spread words about art they.

We often associate guitars and ukulele with Hawaiian but they are quite recently imported into Hawaiian culture. Understanding the way the guitar was introduced to this country is a matter of which version of the story you like the most. One version says that American and Spanish cowboys were invited to work in Hawaii in the mid-1830s to help the newly imported cattle population. Another story is that Hawaiian people helped the Argentine navy with something or something else in Monterey, California. Whatever the truth, Hawaiians take string instruments and adapt them to their own culture and how to express their feelings.

By the way, let’s explain an unusual name for this style of guitar. The name “slack lock” refers to the practice of changing guitar tuning by turning a tuning key so that the strings are loose, or “loose”. The end result of this adjustment is usually in the form of “open adjustment” which means the guitar is tuned so that the open string sounds a chord. But sometimes sometimes a loose key guitar player plays at a standard tuning, so apart from tuning, what distinguishes the slack key from playing other fingerstyle guitars? Well, there is a repertoire. Playing the slack key guitar usually accompanies songs whose themes are rooted in the country of Hawaii – mountains, palm trees, seas – southern sea islands.

The G major chord turned out to be a popular open setting for Hawaiian guitarists. This is D G D G B D, from lowest to highest, and they call it Taro Patch tuning. Other types of settings are called Wahine settings and include the seven main ones, for example D G D F # B D. Other loose key settings are called “Gabby’s C” and CG E G A E.

Another aspect that makes special slack locks is the unique use of standard finger retrieval techniques such as hammers, pull-offs, slides, and harmonics. These guitar techniques used in a very personal way with guitar players sometimes use different tunings and techniques for the same song according to their current feelings. Playing slack keys has a variety of expression modes. Some players will still play melodies with little variation, others like to improvise on their basic theme. Other guitar players like the bell effect that is achieved by using harmonics.

If you are interested in listening to key Hawaiian guitar games, some of the names to watch out for are Sonny Chillingworth, Leonard Kwan, Moses Kahumoku, George Kuo and Ray Kane. These are some of the most prominent composers and slack key guitar players. If you look on YouTube for sagging key guitar videos you will find some uploaded by some dedicated guitar players who are working to spread the word about this beautiful art form.

The Elusive First Song of Rock and Roll

There have been many attempts to put the first rock and roll song, but rock historians broadly disagree with that one song. There are many songs to run, but before we get there, what exactly is meant by rock and roll songs?

Black rhythms and blues are known as the birthplace of rock and roll. This is distinguished by 4/4 times, the beat of high tempo, and the emphasis on the saxophone to carry a solo in eight middle bars. Rock and roll can hardly be seen from rhythm and blues, except rock and roll uses guitars to play eight middle solos rather than saxophone. At least that’s my definition. Rock and roll is responsible for the appearance of an electric guitar.

If you read one of the history of rock and roll, the first famous rock and roll song fell to one of the following: Wynonie Harris, with “Good Rocking At Midnight” (1953), “Sh Boom”, by The Chords, (1954 ), (the first “race” record to penetrate the top 10 of white), and “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets (1954).

Although these are all breakthrough songs, in one way or another; they are no match for being the first rock and roll song. First of all, they all used saxophone to carry eight middle, and second, they posted the date of the song that I believed to be the “first” rock and roll song.

This song is “Saturday Night Fish Fry” points. 1 and 2, by Louis Jordan (1949). Louis Jordan, maybe the first black man to receive wide acceptance by white people. While mostly known as rhythm stars and black blues in the forties, he was the first person to use the guitar as a solo instrument. The song repeatedly uses the phrase “it was rockin”, and it’s a big hit, in the top ten juke boxes of the year.

For the first Rockabilly song ever, I nominated “We Going To Roll and Rock” by Eddie Zack and his cousin Ritchie in 1953. If there were older rockabilly songs, I didn’t realize it.

I am proud to say that I have a copy of 78rpm of these two songs. (“We Going To Roll and Rock” is very rare.)

The Elusive Guitar

“… the guitar is just an extraordinary instrument. It’s everything: bartenders, psychiatrists, housewives. It’s everything, but it’s hard to understand” – Les Paul – Legendary guitarist and Les Paul Guitar creator

You might like to hear guitar playing but don’t want to be a musician. Even so, you can still be hypnotized by a mixture of soothing and savage sounds flowing from six dynamic strings. In this article we will look at three ways for a richer and more informed guitar experience for those who are not players. The first two lines are very straight forward … The third will require time travel and a little imagination.

As a basic sound, the first key to guitar knowledge is through sound. One must hear the soft acoustic tones and thunderous electric booms. So, take out your music collection. Browse carefully, just listen to how the guitar fills or sometimes takes the main stage. If I can recommend only one song for you to experience, it will be “Sunlight on Water” by Carlos Santana. Pay attention to the emotions they cause in you. What rhythm captures your enthusiasm, what sounds do you live with for days? Are they entertaining, annoying, fun?

You can also have friends playing guitar for you, (I can almost guarantee they will be happy to be asked) or go listen to concerts or listen to street singers. Guitar is always there to be heard. This is a guitar – difficult to understand but present dynamically, as Les Paul said.

Second, besides sound, the guitar has a visual presence with many beautiful styles featuring various wood and wood grains. Some electricity has eccentric art painted on the face and headstock, or even on the sides and back! Mark St. John from KISS has his own creations, big mouths with painted teeth on the body of the guitar. It’s interesting what we humans do with making this string. Many visual messages appear to be combined with sound. Some of them are quite dark, some are funny, some are romantic. Online you can find photo contests for guitars, with a large gallery of stunning images. The guitar that we ‘see’ has gained tremendous power to inspire awe.

The third key involves time travel. If you enjoy exploring history, this won’t be difficult. A fast journey of 400 years, from 1610 to 2010 can be fun, like riding a magic carpet. Wait and hurry back to the 1600s!

Around 1610, when the Renaissance was going well, Italian cities hosted many street musicians playing lute, theorbos, vihuelas and chitarrones. Composer Monteverdi often writes madrigal songs, or secular songs (different from religious songs of the time), specifically for their type of audience. Classical guitars develop from three main sources: harp, vihuele and lute. It can also be influenced by Greek kithara. The words ‘guitarra morisca’ and ‘guitarra latina’ actually appear in 13th century literature, in a poem by Juan Ruiz which depicts two stringed instruments. Vihuela players may be similar to today’s street singers, entertaining buyers who passed on the main square of many cities in Italy in the early 1600s. In fact, pre-1510 carvings showed a player picking vihuela on the roadside. Who knows? Maybe the first busker!

Next is baroque guitar, named by Anton Birula. It was small, about the size of a modern ukelele bariton, and had nine, sometimes ten intestinal strings. A painting of c.1672 by Johannes Vermeer describes a young woman holding one of them. Famous makers of these new instruments are Alexandre Verboam II and Dominico Sellas. History records at least one famous baroque player, one David Ryckaert III, who lived from 1612 to 1661, in Antwerp.

From around 1750 until around 1820, the guitar developed further into a 6-string instrument. An innovative designer named Antonio de Torres is credited with the first large model. He did this to improve his voice, and succeeded. In many ways the body itself is awkward and heavy, but that is definitely a step forward.

During the same period a luthier named Johann Stauffer, from Austria, developed six strings with a “f” shaped headstock. The headstock is a paddle-like part at the end of the neck where the strings are circular around the rotating machine nut to ‘tune’ the guitar. This particular guitar looks much more artistic and inviting. By the way, the term ‘luthier’ describes an expert guitar maker. A photo of this guitar appears in Martin’s great book, 2000 Guitars, the Ultimate Collection (2009).

In 1833, Christian Friedrich Martin arrived in New York City. As a maker of gifted instruments, he soon produced a copy of Stauffer which became American. The larger size, named 00, became very popular years later, in the 1870s. This happened when Sears and Montgomery Ward began to emerge as retail giants, so you can imagine the massive demand for this new instrument. Lower production costs place instruments within the range of average family prices and the promotion of their versatility by giants causes a surge in purchases. Soon most families have at least one player somewhere in their ranks.

The other big seller right now is Washburn Style 108, which is in great demand in Chicago and Detroit. This is the creation of George Washburn Lyon, who has gained experience repairing guitars with Ditson Guitar Company, a well-known supplier of their time. Washburn has recently returned from extinction, about 125 years since its development.

In the early 1890s, Orville Gibson played with harps and guitars, even mandolins. In his shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he created the arch-top guitar. The back and sides are made of walnuts, not ordinary rosewood. These instruments are large, with wide headstock and easy grip. In 1902, Orville sold its ownership in return for retirement, but its name continued to be written.

Now that we have passed 200 years, we will continue the ‘guitar trip’ in the next article. Remember the names Martin and Gibson, they are still the two biggest guitar brands in the world. The years between 1810 and 2010 were filled with human discoveries and dramas. I invite you to return for a whirlwind tour that observes improvements in acoustic guitars plus the emergence
electric guitar. I admit that this brief review has just begun to reveal some of the events and personalities involved in the evolution of modern guitars. Stay tuned for Part 2.