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Thread: History & Guitar as the 'Peoples' Instrument

  1. #1
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    History & Guitar as the 'Peoples' Instrument

    This has been bugging me off-and-on for a couple of years. Something doesn't make sense.

    At least in the 19th and 20th centuries, the guitar has been viewed as a 'lesser' instrument...a commoner's instrument having little or no respect among musicians. My understanding is that it was not until Segovia popularized classical guitar was it considered worthy of serious consideration by most musicians.

    Now that may be an exageration, but overall I think it's well-established that the guitar was a peasant's instrument throughout most of its history. Is that true?

    If so...here's what doesn't make sense. It takes a LOT of work to get 'okay' at this instrument, and to master it seems to take about 20-30 YEARS. Sure, there are some folks who've spent about 8-10 years with it and they are extraordinary. But I think we'd agree, those folks have spent many hours each day practicing.

    What person, from the 16th through 19th centuries, has been able to spend even an hour a day idly didling around with ANY instrument? Have 'peasants' ever had the luxury of 1, 2, 3 or 4 hours a day (ANY day) to spend with such an activity?

    And how about the time it would take to make a guitar in, say, 1700? Time is money, even in 1700. Wouldn't you think a guitar (or lute or whatever) would be WAY more expensive in 1700 than one is today? I would.

    What am I missing here? I guess what I'm saying is this: I can understand how a recorder or wooden flute or harp could be a peasant's instrument--but not a guitar. Somehow this story doesn't hold up.
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  2. #2
    Groovemastah DanF's Avatar
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    Obviously I don't know the definitive answer either although I think it's an interesting question here is my hypothesis.

    I beleive the reason it does not add up is that you are using the current state of guitar playing as a metric. Remember that it wasn't until the 1930s on that guys like Chuck Berry, Charlie Christian or Eddie Lang were really playing soloist roles in music. The guitar was a "simple" accompaniment instrument. Guys like Freddie Green just banging out chords to accompany singers or soloists (saxophone, flute etc.).

    In that sense rather than learning to play piano concertos you learn a few chords and can strum out simple (you might call them "folk songs") The music of the era that you are talking about was not the same as the music of today so we cannot look at the complexities of playing todays most technical music as a measurement of the use of guitars hundreds of years ago.

    Anyway that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    -Dan
    Last edited by DanF; 07-27-2004 at 12:28 AM.
    "In improvised music you easily can tell who is a guitar player and who is a musician." - Maarten (fellow IBMer)

  3. #3
    In Love With Fusion Priest Becker's Avatar
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    I beilive the reason why the guitar was never taken to serously at first was not only was it a stringed instrument but was played as a percusive one. No one ever played it melodicaly for quite some time. It took along time for people to relize you can do alot of the same things on a guitar you can on a piano(except for play a chords and solo over it at the same time) . It just simply took some realization of its potential. We never knew the posibilitys of it untill players started revoulutionizing the way it was played in the same way with the piano. I'm not positive hear but I'm sure it wasn't regarded as much when it was first invented untill its potential was sceen. Almost in the same way that extream sports used to be taken. No one ever took them serioulsy at first thinking them no more than dare devils or what have you but if you look at them now they have created a whole industry on it and people are now breaking new ground on areas never thought able to be treaded on. But you are probley right about it in the past with the loots and what have you.
    Instrumental.

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