FINGERSTYLE GUITAR is the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking (plucking individual notes with a single plectrum , commonly called a "pick"). The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with FINGERPICKING, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk , blues and country guitar playing in the US. See below .
* 1 Technique * 2 Advantages and disadvantages
* 3 Nylon string guitar styles
* 3.1 Classical guitar fingerstyle
* 3.1.1 Notation * 3.1.2 Alternation * 3.1.3 Tone production
* 4 North American tradition
* 5 Other acoustic styles
* 5.1 Folk baroque * 5.2 "New Age" approach * 5.3 Percussive approach * 5.4 Funky approaches * 5.5 African fingerstyle
* 6 Slide, steel and slack-key guitar
* 7 Electric guitar
* 7.1 Fingerstyle jazz guitar * 7.2 Electric blues and rock
* 8 Notes * 9 References
Because individual digits play notes on the guitar rather than the
hand working as a single unit (which is the case when a guitarist is
holding a single pick), a guitarist playing fingerstyle can perform
several musical elements simultaneously. One definition of the
technique has been put forward by the Toronto (Canada) Fingerstyle
Physically, "Fingerstyle" refers to using each of the right hand fingers independently to play the multiple parts of a musical arrangement that would normally be played by several band members. Deep bass notes, harmonic accompaniment (the chord progression ), melody, and percussion can all be played simultaneously when playing Fingerstyle.
Many fingerstyle guitarists have adopted a combination of acrylic
nails and a thumbpick to improve tone and decrease nail wear and
chance of breaking or chipping. Notable guitarists to adopt this
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
* Players do not have to carry a plectrum; but fingernails may have to be maintained at the right length and in good condition. * It is possible to play multiple non-adjacent strings at exactly the same time. This enables the guitarist to play a very low bass note and a high treble note at the same time. This enables the guitarist to play double stops , such as an octave, a fifth, a sixth, or other intervals that suit the harmony. * It is more suitable for playing polyphonically , with separate, independent musical lines, or separate melody , harmony and bass parts, and therefore more suitable to unaccompanied solo playing, or to very small ensembles, like duos in which a guitarist accompanies a singer. Fingerstyle players have up to four (or five) surfaces (fingernails or picks) striking the strings and/or other parts of the guitar independently; that does not equate to four plectrums, since plectrums can strike strings on both up and a downstroke easily, while fingers can only achieve alternation with hard practice. (an exception to this may be found in the flamenco technique of rasgueado . * It is easy to play arpeggios ; but the techniques for tremolo (rapid repetition of a note) and melody playing are more complex than with plectrum playing. * It is possible to play chords without any arpeggiation , because up to five strings can be plucked simultaneously. * There is less need for fretting hand damping (muting) in playing chords, since only the strings that are required can be plucked. * A greater variation in strokes is possible, allowing greater expressiveness in timbre and dynamics. * A wide variety of strums and rasgueados are possible. * Less energy is generally imparted to strings than with plectrum playing, leading to lower volume when playing acoustically. * Playing on heavier gauge strings can damage nails: fingerstyle is more suited to nylon strings or lighter gauge steel strings (but this does not apply to fingerpicks, or when the flesh of the fingers is used rather than the nail, as is the case with the lute .)
NYLON STRING GUITAR STYLES
Nylon string guitars are most frequently played fingerstyle.
CLASSICAL GUITAR FINGERSTYLE
John Williams Main article: Classical guitar technique
The term " Classical guitar music" can refer to any kind of art music played on a nylon string guitar, or more narrowly to music of the classical period , as opposed to baroque or romantic music . The major feature of classical fingerstyle technique is that it enables solo rendition of harmony and polyphonic music in much the same manner as the piano can. The technique is intended to maximise the degree of control over the musical dynamics, texture, volume and timbral characteristics of the guitar. Careful attention is paid to the physical posture of the player. Thumb, index, middle and ring fingers are all employed for plucking. Chords are often plucked, with strums being reserved for emphasis. The repertoire varies in terms of keys, modes, rhythms and cultural influences. Altered tunings are rarely employed, with the exception of dropped D .
Fingerings for both hands are often given in detail in classical guitar music notation, although players are also free to add to or depart from them as part of their own interpretation. Fretting hand fingers are given as numbers, plucking hand fingers are given as letters
FINGER NOTATION FINGER NOTATION
Thumb T Thumb p
Index 1 Index i
Middle 2 Middle m
Ring 3 Ring a
Little 4 Little c or x or e
In guitar scores, the five fingers of the right-hand (which pluck the strings) are designated by the first letter of their Spanish names namely p = thumb (pulgar), i = index finger (índice), m = major finger (mayor), a = ring finger (anular), c = little finger or pinky (chiquito).
The four fingers of the left hand (which stop the strings) are designated 1 = index, 2 = major, 3 = ring finger, 4 = little finger; 0 designates an open string, that is a string that is not stopped by a finger of the left hand and whose full length thus vibrates when plucked. On the classical guitar thumb of the left hand is never used to stop strings from above (as is done on the electric guitar): the neck of a classical guitar is too wide and the normal position of the thumb used in classical guitar technique do not make that possible. Scores (contrary to tablatures) do not systematically indicate the string to be plucked (although in most cases the choice is obvious). When an indication of the string is required the strings are designated 1 to 6 (from the 1st the high E to the 6th the low E) with figures 1 to 6 inside circles.
The positions (that is where on the fretboard the first finger of the left hand is placed) are also not systematically indicated, but when they are (mostly in the case of the execution of barrés) these are indicated with Roman numerals from the position I (index finger of the left hand placed on the 1st fret: F–B♭–E♭–A♭–C–F) to the position XII (the index finger of the left hand placed on the 12th fret: E–A–D–G–B–E; the 12th fret is placed where the body begins) or higher up to position XIX (the classical guitar most often having 19 frets, with the 19th fret being most often split and not being usable to fret the 3rd and 4th strings).
To achieve tremolo effects and rapid, fluent scale passages, and varied arpeggios the player must practice alternation, that is, never plucking a string with the same finger twice. Common alternation patterns include:
* i–m–i–m: Basic melody line on the treble strings. Has the
appearance of "walking along the strings".
Classical guitarists have a lot of freedom within the mechanics of playing the instrument. Often these decisions with influence on tone and timbre – factors include:
* At what position along the string the finger plucks the string
(This is changed by guitarists throughout a song, since it is an
effective way of changing the sound (timbre) from "soft" (dolce)
plucking the string near its middle, to "hard" (ponticelo) plucking
the string near its end).
* Use of the nail or not: Modern classical guitar playing uses a
technique in which both the nail and the fingertip contact the string
during normal playing. (
Concert guitarists must keep their fingernails smoothly filed and carefully shaped to employ this technique, which produces a better-controlled sound than either nails or fingertips alone. Playing parameters include:
* Which finger to use * What angle of attack to hold the wrist and fingers at with respect to the strings. * Rest-stroke apoyando ; the finger that plucks a string rests on the next string—traditionally used in single melody lines—versus free-stroke tirando (plucking the string without coming to a rest on the next string).
FLAMENCO GUITAR FINGERSTYLE
Flamenco technique is related to classical technique, but with more emphasis on rhythmic drive and volume, and less on dynamic contrast and tone production. Flamenco guitarists prefer keys such as A and E that allow the use of open strings, and typically employ capos where a departure is required. They often strengthen their fingernails artificially.
Some specialized techniques include:
* Picado: Single-line scale passages performed apoyando but with
more attack and articulation.
* Rasgueado: Strumming frequently done by bunching all the right
hand fingers and then flicking them out in quick succession to get
four superimposed strums (although there are a great many variations
on this). The rasgueado or "rolling" strum is particularly
characteristic of the genre.
* Alzapua: A thumb technique with roots in oud plectrum technique.
The right hand thumb is used for both single-line notes and strummed
across a number of strings. Both are combined in quick succession to
give it a unique sound.
Bossa nova is most commonly performed on the nylon-string classical guitar , played with the fingers rather than with a pick . Its purest form could be considered unaccompanied guitar with vocals, as exemplified by João Gilberto . Even in larger, jazz-like arrangements for groups, there is almost always a guitar that plays the underlying rhythm. Gilberto basically took one of the several rhythmic layers from a samba ensemble , specifically the tamborim , and applied it to the picking hand.
NORTH AMERICAN TRADITION
Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham playing an amplified acoustic guitar using fingerpicking technique Mark Knopfler , performing with his band Dire Straits in 1981, demonstrates his fingerpicking style on a Fender Stratocaster solid-body guitar
FINGERPICKING (also called thumb picking, alternating bass , or
pattern picking) is a term that is used to describe both a playing
style and a genre of music. It falls under the "fingerstyle" heading
because it is plucked by the fingers, but it is generally used to play
a specific type of folk, country-jazz and/or blues music. In this
technique, the thumb maintains a steady rhythm, usually playing
"alternating bass" patterns on the lower three strings, while the
index, or index and middle fingers pick out melody and fill-in notes
on the high strings. The style originated in the late 19th and early
20th centuries, as southern blues guitarists tried to imitate the
popular ragtime piano music of the day, with the guitarist's thumb
functioning as the pianist's left hand, and the other fingers
functioning as the right hand. The first recorded examples were by
players such as
Blind Blake ,
Big Bill Broonzy ,
Memphis Minnie and
Mississippi John Hurt
Fingerpicking was soon taken up by country and Western artists such
as Sam McGee ,
Ike Everly (father of
The Everly Brothers ), Merle
Travis and "Thumbs" Carllile . Later
Chet Atkins further developed the
style and in modern music musicians such as Jose Gonzalez, Eddie
Vedder (on his song Guaranteed) and David Knowles have utilized the
style. Most fingerpickers use acoustic guitars, but some, including
As mentioned above, fingerpicking has similar roots to and may have
been inspired by ragtime piano . An early master of ragtime guitar was
Blind Blake , a popular recording artist of the late 1920s and early
1930s. In the 1960s, a new generation of guitarists returned to these
roots and began to transcribe piano tunes for solo guitar. One of the
best known and most talented of these players was
Dave Van Ronk
CARTER FAMILY PICKING
Carter Family picking , also known as "'thumb brush' technique or the 'Carter lick,' and also the 'church lick' and the 'Carter scratch'", is a style of fingerstyle guitar named for Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family 's distinctive style of rhythm guitar in which the melody is played on the bass strings, usually low E, A, and D while rhythm strumming continues above, on the treble strings , G, B, and high E. This often occurs during the break .
This style is commonly played on steel string acoustic guitars.
Pattern picking is the use of "preset right-hand pattern" while
fingerpicking, with the left hand fingering standard chords . The
most common pattern, sometimes broadly (and incorrectly) referred to
Travis picking after
Middle X X - X X - Index X X - X X - Thumb X X X X - X X X X -
The thumb (T) alternates between bass notes , often on two different strings, while the index (I) and middle (M) fingers alternate between two treble notes , usually on two different strings, most often the second and first. Using this pattern on a C major chord is as follows in notation and tablature : Travis picking. Play (help ·info )
However, Travis' own playing was often much more complicated than this example. He often referred to his style of playing as "thumb picking", possibly because the only pick he used when playing was a banjo thumb pick, or "Muhlenberg picking", after his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky , where he learned this approach to playing from Mose Rager and Ike Everly . Travis' style did not involve a defined, alternating bass string pattern; it was more of an alternating "bass strum" pattern, resulting in an accompanying rhythm reminiscent of ragtime piano.
CLAWHAMMER AND FRAILING
AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GUITAR
Main article: American Primitivism John Fahey
American primitive guitar, or American Primitivism , is a subset of fingerstyle guitar. It originated with John Fahey , whose recordings from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s inspired many guitarists such as Leo Kottke , who made his debut recording of 6- and 12-String Guitar on Fahey's Takoma label in 1969. American primitive guitar can be characterized by the use of folk music or folk-like material, driving alternating-bass fingerpicking with a good deal of ostinato patterns, and the use of alternative tunings (scordatura ) such as open D , open G , drop D and open C . The application or "cross-contamination" of traditional forms of music within the style of American Primitivism is also very common. Examples of traditions that John Fahey and Robbie Basho would employ in their compositions include, but are not limited to, the extended Raga of Indian classical music , the Japanese Koto , and the early ragtime-based country blues music of Mississippi John Hurt or Blind Blake .
OTHER ACOUSTIC STYLES
Main article: Folk baroque
A distinctive style to emerge from Britain in the early 1960s, which
combined elements of American folk, blues , jazz and ragtime with
British traditional music , was what became known as 'folk baroque'.
Pioneered by musicians of the Second British folk revival began their
careers in the short-lived skiffle craze of the later 1950s and often
used American blues, folk and jazz styles, occasionally using open D
and G tunings. However, performers like
Davy Graham and Martin Carthy
attempted to apply these styles to the playing of traditional English
modal music . They were soon followed by artists such as Bert Jansch
John Renbourn , who further defined the style. The style these
artists developed was particularly notable for the adoption of
D–A–D–G–A–D (from lowest to highest), which gave a form of
suspended-fourth D chord, neither major nor minor, which could be
employed as the basis for modal based folk songs. This was combined
with a fingerstyle based on
Travis picking and a focus on melody, that
made it suitable as an accompaniment. Denselow, who coined the phrase
'folk baroque,' singled out Graham's recording of traditional English
folk song 'Seven Gypsys' on Folk,
In the early 1970s the next generation of British artists added new
tunings and techniques, reflected in the work of artists like Nick
Tim Buckley and particularly
"NEW AGE" APPROACH
William Ackerman started
Windham Hill Records
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"Percussive picking" is a term for a style incorporating sharp attacks on the strings, as well as hitting the strings and guitar top with the hand for percussive effect. Flamenco guitarists have been using these techniques for years but the greater resistance of steel strings made a similar approach difficult in fingerstyle until the use of pickups on acoustic guitars became common in the early 1970s. Michael Hedges began to use percussive techniques in the early 1980s.
"Funky fingerstyle" emerged in the mid 2000s, as a style in which the
sounds of a full funk or R">
The six string guitar was brought to Africa by traders and
missionaries (although there are indigenous guitar-like instruments
such as the ngoni and the gimbri or sintir of
Herbert Misango and
George Mukabi were fingerstyle guitarists from
Tony Cox (b. 1954) is a Zimbabwean guitarist and composer based in
Cape Town ,
SLIDE, STEEL AND SLACK-KEY GUITAR
Even when the guitar is tuned in a manner that helps the guitarist to perform a certain type of chord, it is often undesirable for all six strings to sound. When strumming with a plectrum, a guitarist must "damp" (mute) unwanted strings with the fretting hand; when a slide or steel is employed, this fretting hand damping is no longer possible, so it becomes necessary to replace plectrum strumming with plucking of individual strings. For this reason, slide guitar and steel guitar playing are very often fingerstyle.
Main article: Slide guitar Example of a bottleneck, with fingerpicks and resonator guitar .
Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar . The term slide refers to the motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides: the necks of glass bottles. Instead of altering the pitch of the strings in the normal manner (by pressing the string against frets ), a slide is placed on the string to vary its vibrating length, and pitch. This slide can then be moved along the string without lifting, creating continuous transitions in pitch.
Slide guitar is most often played (assuming a right-handed player and guitar):
* with the guitar in the normal position, using a slide called a BOTTLENECK on one of the fingers of the left hand; this is known as BOTTLENECK GUITAR; * with the guitar held horizontally, with the belly uppermost and the bass strings toward the player, and using a slide called a STEEL held in the left hand; this is known as LAP STEEL GUITAR .
Main article: Slack-key guitar
Slack-key guitar is a fingerpicked style that originated in
FINGERSTYLE JAZZ GUITAR
The unaccompanied guitar in jazz is often played in chord-melody style, where the guitarist plays a series of chords with the melody line on top. Fingerstyle, plectrum, or hybrid picking are equally suited to this style. Some players alternate between fingerstyle and plectrum playing, "palming " the plectrum when it is not in use. Early blues and ragtime guitarists often used fingerstyle. True fingerstyle jazz guitar dates back to early swing era acoustic players like Eddie Lang (1902–1933) Lonnie Johnson (1899–1970) and Carl Kress (1907–1965), Dick McDonough (1904–1938) and the Argentinian Oscar Alemán (1909–1980). Django Reinhardt (1910–1953) used a classical/flamenco technique on unaccompanied pieces such as his composition Tears.
Fingerstyle jazz on the electric guitar was pioneered by George van
Eps (1913–1998) who was respected for his polyphonic approach,
sometimes using a seven string guitar .
Wes Montgomery (1925–1968)
was known for using the fleshy part of his thumb to provide the bass
line while strumming chordal or melodic motives with his fingers. This
style, while unorthodox, was widely regarded as an innovative method
for enhancing the warm tone associated with jazz guitar. Montgomery's
influence extends to modern polyphonic jazz improvisational methods.
Joe Pass (1929–1994) switched to fingerstyle mid career,making the
Virtuoso series of albums. Little known to the general public Ted
Greene (1946–2005) was admired by fellow musicians for his harmonic
Lenny Breau (1941–1984) went one better than van Eps by
playing virtuosic fingerstyle on an eight string guitar . Tommy Crook
replaced the lower two strings on his Gibson switchmaster with bass
strings, allowing him to create the impression of playing bass and
Chet Atkins (1924–2001) sometimes applied his
formidable right-hand technique to jazz standards, with
Duck Baker (b.
1949), Richard Smith (b. 1971),
Woody Mann and
Tommy Emmanuel (b.
1955), among others, following in his footsteps. They use the
fingerpicking technique of
Fingerstyle has always been predominant in Latin American guitar
Laurindo Almeida (1917–1995) and Charlie Byrd
(1925–1999) brought to a wider audience in the 1950s. Fingerstyle
jazz guitar has several proponents: the pianistic
Jeff Linsky (b.
1952), freely improvises polyphonically while employing a classical
ELECTRIC BLUES AND ROCK
The solid-body electric guitar is rarely played fingerstyle, although
it presents no major technical challenges. Slide guitarists often
employ fingerstyle, which applies equally to the electric guitar, for
J. J. Cale *
* ^ "
* Pearson, Wyn (2008). Hybrid Picking. Mel Bay Publications Inc. ISBN 978-0-7866-7607-1 .
* v * t * e