Music Theory and Composition : Music Theory and Composition

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

The Acoustic Guitar

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The Acoustic Guitar

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The acoustic guitar is in the chordophone classification of musical instruments. The acoustic and electric-acoustic guitars are also the highest sellers by volume* within the guitar sub-classifications of stringed or fretted instruments. Its capabilities, durability and ease of transport have helped to make it the preferred instrument for many throughout entire generations. Its ability to blend with a variety of other instruments have helped to draw large audiences as well as smaller audiences in more intimate settings adding value to its versatility.

The acoustic guitar is capable of producing a wide array of sound color. A variety of articulations are available for the acoustic guitar as well as the high number of sound producing methods and techniques used to produce the various sounds the acoustic guitar is capable of. These include such things as hammer-on, pull-off, scrape, slap, slide, mute, strum, pick, pluck, finger style, etc. The acoustic guitar is also capable of producing percussive sounds adding to its versatility and wide variation of tonal colors.

The acoustic guitar is quite capable as a solo instrument due in part because of the various articulations and performance techniques it is capable of. Further still, the acoustic guitar is often used as a rhythm instrument supporting other instruments in an instrumental group or a band. Between these two main capabilities you will find its use in several music genres such as country, blues, jazz, rock, bluegrass and other genres where it serves either as a lead instrument or as a rhythm instrument. More often the acoustic guitar is used in both manners. Consequently, the acoustic guitar is highly regarded by those who play it as well as by those who enjoy listening to the music played on this most amazing fretted instrument.

An acoustic guitar luthier has wide variety of features and options available for the acoustic guitar buyer permitting an impressive level of personalization when seeking custom built acoustic guitars.

Examples of the various sound producing methods and the resulting sound characteristics possible on this instrument can be clearly heard in the video that follows. Of note is the wide use of several performance techniques used by Andy McKee, the performer in this video, which clearly demonstrates this point. He uses these methods quite elegantly in order to draw out the various sonic qualities. Watching the video one gets an understanding of the complex sounds and further an understanding of how a single instrument can produce multiple voices on a single instrument. Just listening, without watching the video, it is easy for a person to think they are listening to more than one instrument playing together rather than all of the sound variations coming from one instrument.

I would suggest watching the video several times paying close attention to the various tonal colors as well as the techniques Mr. McKee uses in this performance. In particular, please watch and listen for various performance techniques including finger style playing, percussive tapping, guitar harmonics, hammer-on, pull-off and strumming of the strings. All are employed and demonstrated in the video providing insights into the amazing possibilities, capabilities, unique sounds and the sonic options available to the performer while playing the acoustic guitar.

A special thank you to Andy McKee and YouTube for hosting this video for us to use here under the embed rules for non-commercial educational use of YouTube hosted videos. The music performed is the international version of “Hunters Moon” from McKee’s new CD “Joyland“.

This brief overview of the acoustic guitar should give you plenty to think about when selecting an instrument for yourself or when seeking some inspiration when writing your own music for this instrument. The acoustic guitar is a popular choice for many performers. It is an excellent aide in composition and for expressing yourself and your musical creativity. We hope this article will at least provide enough information for you to consider seeking out the acoustic guitar as your next instrument. Maybe, as a result, you will be so inspired as to make your preferred instrument the acoustic guitar.

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The Acoustic Guitar

Citation – *Source – The Music Trades – April 2010, “The Toughest Year in Anyone’s Memory”, pages 45, 46, 48 and 70. The article includes a variety of statistics for most musical instruments in the US marketplaces for the instruments included in the article. The information shown below is for the 2009 calendar year. The acoustic guitars represents an annual retail sales volume total in USD of $391,423,000 whereas all other fretted instruments combined had a retail sales total volume of $170,000,000.

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