Ragtime music probably had its peak between the late 19th century and the end of the 1st world war, where it was overtaken in popularity by jazz. Its a modified version of a march with a characteristic heavily syncopated rhythms. A closely related style, the cakewalk, preceded ragtime, both being primarily written traditions in that the music was handed from musician to musician by written music, rather than by performance. The most famous ragtime piece is probably the Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, although a lot of the music played by blues players such as Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and Elizabeth Cotton could also be described as ragtime guitar. Although this can be a tricky style to categorise there is chord progressions and patterns that crop up in several different tunes. The video and tab below show a basic style of ragtime playing based loosely on Blind Blake’s Southern Rag.
Bluegrass can be thought of as an offspring of country music. Like all country it has it’s roots in European folk music brought by settlers into the U.S. in the 19th century and combined there with an African e including the use of the banjo. The main instruments in early country music where fiddle, taken frim the scots and irish traditions, the spanish guitar and banjo from Africa, with the music characterised by driving rhythms and songs singing of everyday experiences such as ranching, mining, logging as well as bank robberies, train crashes and desperados on the run.
Bluegrass itself first appeared in its modern form in 1939 with the first performance of Bill Monroe and his blue grass boys, at the grand ole opry, with the name chosen as the Monroe brother hailed from Kentucky, the Blue grass state. Scruggs band features mandolin (an instrument originally from Italy), banjo, guitar, fiddle and bass and they sung songs from the country and blues repertoires along with gospel and work songs featuring multiple part harmonies. Continue reading
Who’s Got Rhythm – The Art of Rhythm Guitar
Rhythm Guitar – by far the most important aspect of guitar playing. For instance name one great soloist who was not also a great rhythm player. Jimi Hendrix – developed a whole new style of rhythm playing (little wing, and almost everything else he recorded). Hendrix spent years playing rhythm guitar on the ‘Chitlin Circuit‘ for Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson among many others. Eric Clapton – Check out any of Claptons live recordings, but I dont think he’s ever been better than on the Bluesbreaker with Eric Clapton album. Rory Gallagher – A good shout for the best ever popular music guitarist. He could do it all; fingerstyle blues and ragtime, searing solos and great rhythm on electric, acoustic and mandolin. My favourite Bert Jansch…his style is all about rhythm with an attack on the guitar verging on violent, Neil young, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Ray Vaughan the list could go on forever, but the point being, the easiest way to become a better guitarist is to work on rhythm. Continue Reading
Looking for a Song That will progress your Technique
So here’s the tricky bit about taking up the guitar, or any instrument, particularly when you’ve been out of the loop of learning for a while. You know what you want to play, because you listen to music, which is why you want to play in the first place, but there’s not an obvious path as to how to get there. So, to that end, I’ve written put a list of songs that I’ve used a lot in lessons and classes and that I think either demonstrate a technical or musical point that can then be applied to other pieces. Another advantage of using songs rather than exercises is building a repertoire, as the more stuff you know, the quicker it is to learn new things. Continue Reading
It’s Called a 12 Bar Blues
The 12 bar blues is almost certainly the most common form of blues, a music form that can be traced back to the late 19th century. Blues has its roots in Africa, although it is a quinticensually American music form which has many regional variations including, but not limited to Chicago blues, piedmont blues and mississippi delta blues. Musicians best known for piedmont blues include blind boy fuller, blind willie mctell, and possibly the best known sonny terry and brownie McGhee, with the style characterised by syncopated (meaning the emphasis is moved to between the beats) melody produced by playing the melody with the right and fingers while the right hand thumb keeps the beat.