Friday, May 14, 2010

Anno 2010 - Finger Picking

From time to time it's historically important to remind people, who finally have opened their ears for Oscar Alemán and his musical genius, that his style of playing the guitar was rooted in a technique known as 'fingerpicking' in American tradition. Fingerpicking simply means that the guitar is picked using your fingers instead of being plucked with a plectrum. However, this technique is not of American origins only, it has always been the 'natural' way to approach the instrument in times before the plectrum plucked guitar emerged as a solution to sound amplification in a jazz context. At an early age Alemán adapted the fingerpicking technique from playing the cavaquinho, the four stringed Brasilian ukulele-like instrument, and his approach certainly was unusual for the average player of that instrument. Unlike other cavaquinho players Alemán adapted a fingerpicking technique more commonly used by Brasilian guitarists, the size of the instrument fit his fysical abilities at his age, thus he employed the technique he had watched guitarists using taking on a learning process that depended on what he heard and what was possible to do with the instrument. An individual attitude to playing he kept for the rest of his life, refined to the level of virtuosity and adapted to the six string guitar. - It's a thrill to listen to Alemán's first musical effort, the tune 'OA 1926', played on the cavaquinho using fingerpicking technique, the tune sounds like a ragtime piece that could have been a part of the standard book of any of the American ragtime guitar players of the time, but the difference of course is that Alemán picked the tune on a cavaquinho and only had four strings at hand. How would this tune sound, if picked on a six string guitar? I just found an example of an answer to that question at YouTube that I like to share below. - From a live performance recently at 'La cuadrada' (Mar del Plata, Argentina) Agustin Luna plays a solo recital of a medley of tunes from the Alemán book including a reading of 'OA 1926' - Enjoy!