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Old 01-10-2021, 05:37 AM
NormanKliman NormanKliman is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 502

Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
Hopefully there's some clarification amongst the verbosity here...
Yes, of course there is. Thanks for such a considerate and thoughtful post.

Gary Davis said on several occasions that he played with only thumb and forefinger, sometimes adding, “because that’s all you need.” It seems clear he greatly developed that style, but I assume he wasn’t its creator. It sounds to me like Blind Blake played almost entirely with thumb and forefinger. You might remember that I was asking about West Coast Blues a while back. That’s the only one of his that I’ve spent some time studying, so maybe I shouldn’t be talking (you’ve studied more of his material than I have, as I recall), but it seems to me he used mostly thumb and forefinger. When I play West Coast Blues, I have to slip in a middle finger once in a while, and I assume he did, too, but nearly all of it can be played without the ring finger. Once you start using the thumb with a little more oomph on beats 2 and 4—enough to carry through to the trebles—, it’s surprising how much can be done with just thumb and forefinger. As you say,
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
that style doesn't generally require more than two fingers
I haven’t heard anyone in the first half of the 20th century use their ring finger as part of their approach to playing guitar (to be clear: using it frequently and in American blues and folk music). Now then, there are plenty of old players I’ve never listened to, or maybe I’ve heard it done and haven’t noticed, so it’s just an educated guess.
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I was just surprised when you described the style as "developed in the late 20th century"
I could have worded it more precisely (“last half of the 20th century”), and, again, it’s just a guess based on what I’ve heard. My idea is that “fingerstyle” (second definition in post #24) has seen a lot of change in recent decades and is still in a state of flux. If I’m right about nobody relying on their ring finger in prewar days, that’d be the first development, and the most recent would be alternate tunings, percussive effects and fretboard tapping, which aren’t new but have become much, much more common than they were just 20 years ago. So, in that sense, I see it as a new or greatly rejuvenated style.

Thanks for the response. I hope I haven’t given you the wrong impression, because I’ve respected your knowledge and experience from day one. If you disagree with anything I’ve written or something doesn’t make sense, feel free to point it out and I’ll do my best to respond (a little more nicely).
Resources for flamenco guitarists. Transcriptions now available in PDF and MP3:
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