Friday, July 07, 2006

Blues Instruments - The Guitar.

I've read in Gerard Herzhaft's Encyclopedia of The Blues and other places that the guitar, became popular and cheap just as the first bluesmen began to develop their sound. At the time among white rural musicians the banjo and the fiddle were just as important as the guitar if not more popular.

The guitar was more flexible and allowed for making blue notes and the creation of a true blues scale. Because the guitar was a cheap instrument and it could produce a wide range of effects it dominated the playing of the early black musicians. The early bluesmen, did not play the guitar the way it was played by classically trained musicians, just as they also played the harmonica in a different way then in classical music. Most black musicians were not trained in classical music at the time anyway.

The early bluesmen, such as Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson adapted fingerpicking, in which the melody is interwoven among the alternating bass notes and flatpicking, which helps to create the idea of a lead guitar. In flatpicking, the musician plays the melody line, note by note, with a pick. This allows the guitar to accompany a singer in a call and response technique which is familiar to almost every fan of the blues. Where the singer sings a line, and then the guitar repeats that line or vice versa.

It is reported that Lonnie Johnson probably invented this technique thus forever codifying the guitar's place in both blues and later rock and roll. The idea of flat picking lead to the electric guitar, which really allowed the bluesmen and women to express themselves. Thus you get guitars crying and displaying emotions as seen in the playing styles of musicians like B.B. King, T. Bone Walker and later Stevie Ray Vaughn.

To read more about the many blues guitarist check this out Blues Guitarists @ wikipedia.

A little guitar trivia; The guitar has come to be called many different colloquial names over time such as:


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