West African Music Instruments
There are a number of competing entities that want to take credit for the origins of the slide used in guitar playing. The Hawaiian influence can not be denied. But it is known that in West Africa a string attached to a gourd was played with a bow and the pitch changed by sliding a bone on the string.
The Slide For Guitar Playing
The West African traditional music brought to America with the slaves combined with the slide for guitar playing created a haunting sound that increased the popularity of the guitar. A prerequisite of the slide was an American version of the West African bow called the jitterbug.This was used by negro slaves in the early 1900’s in what would be an early version of blues. When the string was plucked a slide, possibly bone, slid along a single string. The sound could be similar to the human voice and caused a haunting sound.
The Guitar Is Cheaper And More Portable Than The Piano
The guitar was becoming more popular in the early 1900’s because of cost and portability.It could be mail ordered and was a way for those living in rural areas to get a musical instrument. With the African experience of the jitterbug it was a natural progression for useingknives, bone or glass to change pitch on the strings of a guitar.
The Hawaiian Influence
The guitar was becoming more common and very important in the development of “roots Music.” A Hawaiian musician by the name of Joseph Kekeku made a slide guitar recording. It was popular in the states and added to the popularity of the Negro slide blues style.The music spread and caused manufacturers to increase production of guitars. National, Gibsonand Rickenbacker were producing resonators. The Hawaiian lap steel was becoming more popular than the Spanish-style guitars. The Hawaiian influence began to spread into all types of folk music. Blues, mountain hillbilly and country with a dobro style all added slide into their repertoire.
The Development Of Slide Guitar
Although differing cultures like to lay claim to inventing slide guitar it developed by a cross-section of nationalities. The American melting pot helped the development as it did with all the roots to major genres of music. The development of slide led to the likes of Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House and many more. Slide guitar music is an American phenomena just like Rock and Roll, Jazz, Cajun, Motown, Bluegrass, Country Western and Swing.
Roy Rogers is an accomplished blues and slide guitarist! You can find his and other guitarist’s music by clicking the link in the Itunes banner.
Top Slide Guitar Players
. Bonnie Rate
. Robert Johnson
. Johnny Winter
. Son House
. Mississippi Fred McDowell
. Roy Rodgers ( not the cowboy )
. Rory Block
. Elmore James
. Ry Cooder
. Blind Willey McTell
. Joe Walsh
. Lead Belly
. Eric Clapton
. John Fehey
. Leo Kottke
There are many more. Most of these players can be found on youtube. Leo Kottke and Ry Cooder are
two that influenced me into playing slide. Please check my What is slide guitar page.
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