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  #31  
Old 01-02-2022, 08:06 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
So how would you refer, in the fewest possible words, to the style of playing that (for instance) Ed Gerhard uses in his "Water Is Wide" arrangement?

He's using fingernails to play slowly and freely in an altered tuning with no identifiable alternating bass. That's about 17 words and it would nice to have a 1, 2 or 3 word phrase that most people understood to mean that style.
I see no problem with "fingerstyle". I've certainly never - in the more than 50 years I've been playing with my fingers - understood that term to refer to a specific kind of fingerstyle, as is being suggested here. I.e.,"some sort of blues or folk alternating bass style."

When I want to refer to that specific type of fingerstyle I call it "alternating bass." Otherwise, for me, "fingerstyle" includes classical guitar as well as all kinds of folk and blues guitar playing which does not use a pick. (I realise there is a style which sounds like fingerstyle but uses a pick: namely "hybrid picking", which is of course a name for that style in its own right!)

And I also know that the "alternating bass" style goes by one or two other names: "thumb style", "Travis picking", or (I believe) "Piedmont style". ("Travis picking" is perhaps a slightly narrower technique within that style, involving damped bass.)

As I said above, it seems to be that the people who use "fingerstyle" to mean nothing but "alternating bass" must come from the American country/folk/blues community, where the "normal" way of playing guitar is with a flatpick (strumming or bluegrass flatpicking), and the most common way of playing without a pick is "alternating bass" - so the latter would be what they usually mean by "fingerstyle".

That's obviously crazy - narrow, parochial. And as irritating in its way as those classical fans who use the word "music" to refer to classical music alone, as if other kinds of music don't exist or are not worthy of consideration. (And I just saw another instance of latter in a newspaper this very day!)

To any sensible person, "fingerstyle guitar" ought to mean the guitar played with the fingers (including the thumb!) - in whatever genre - so obviously includes Gerhard's style. In fact the only difference between his style and conventional classical guitar technique is that he is using steel strings.

There was a term in use back in the 1960s to refer to the fancier kind of steel-string fingerstyle, which was "folk baroque". That did indeed include certain baroque classical influence, but also blues and jazz along with the folk influences. It was mostly not "alternating bass", although the most well-known folk-baroque players also used alternating bass frequently. But generally speaking it was all "fingerstyle" or "fingerpicking" - that's what those guys would have called it anyway (probably more likely the former). Gerhard might well have been lumped with them back in the day.
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Last edited by JonPR; 01-02-2022 at 08:13 AM.
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  #32  
Old 01-02-2022, 08:33 AM
12barBill 12barBill is offline
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I thought this was a lighthearted topic and nothing that was all that serious. Gee... I still think that.
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  #33  
Old 01-02-2022, 08:56 AM
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Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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I thought this was a lighthearted topic and nothing that was all that serious. Gee... I still think that.
In keeping with the lighthearted tone...

I just spent the last hour really jumping off the deep end of the pool. I've been learning to flatpick/crosspick and was working on my string-skipping (playing open voiced triads on strings 5-3-1 over and over and over). It was driving me crazy so I just started grabbing the 1st string with my middle finger and flatpicking the 5th and 3rd string notes.

OMG that's "Alternating Bass" and it's "Hybrid Picking" all at once. I'm having buzzword overload!!!

I'm going to just call that picking style "Shazam" and nobody can stop me.
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  #34  
Old 01-02-2022, 09:05 AM
12barBill 12barBill is offline
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In keeping with the lighthearted tone...

I just spent the last hour really jumping off the deep end of the pool. I've been learning to flatpick/crosspick and was working on my string-skipping (playing open voiced triads on strings 5-3-1 over and over and over). It was driving me crazy so I just started grabbing the 1st string with my middle finger and flatpicking the 5th and 3rd string notes.

OMG that's "Alternating Bass" and it's "Hybrid Picking" all at once. I'm having buzzword overload!!!

I'm going to just call that picking style "Shazam" and nobody can stop me.
Haha. Or doing the altflatfingerhyroll. Play on Brent!!

Last edited by 12barBill; 01-02-2022 at 09:19 AM.
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  #35  
Old 01-02-2022, 10:52 AM
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I thought this was a lighthearted topic and nothing that was all that serious. Gee... I still think that.
Isn't language fun? It's liquid in my mind. So when I frail on my guitar with my finger picks and jump from alternating bass to picking single strings and pinching I have no idea what I'm doing besides making noise. I don't think I should be doing some pattern this way or that. I just play my songs keeping the beat and putting in fills when the mood strikes me. I know I'm a hack but people seem to be impressed by it at times. I fashion my guitar/music from the old blues originators. I play what I feel however I want. Most of them were not taught much about guitar and they are who allot of people are learning from. It's my musical expression.
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  #36  
Old 01-02-2022, 11:40 AM
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Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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Isn't language fun? It's liquid in my mind. So when I frail on my guitar with my finger picks and jump from alternating bass to picking single strings and pinching I have no idea what I'm doing besides making noise. I don't think I should be doing some pattern this way or that. I just play my songs keeping the beat and putting in fills when the mood strikes me. I know I'm a hack but people seem to be impressed by it at times. I fashion my guitar/music from the old blues originators. I play what I feel however I want. Most of them were not taught much about guitar and they are who allot of people are learning from. It's my musical expression.
I’ll bet a very large portion of frequent AGF participants would cite “the old blues originators” as a major influence and source of inspiration for their guitar playing. Unless you are totally a classical music purist (not that there’s anything wrong with that) if you grew up in America there is blues in the DNA of most music you’ve ever listened to. Guitar player, fiddler, piano, singer, horn guy, you name it.

But I think it is guitar players specifically who aren’t just influenced by blues indirectly but who literally want to play their instrument as much like early 20th century blues guitarists as they can. No other form of popular music is dominated by blues as the guitar (acoustic, electric, slide, whatever).
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  #37  
Old 01-03-2022, 11:07 AM
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I look at it this way. If all the guitarists wanted to sound like Charlie Patton where would guitar be today? They didn't all start out learning to play like Charlie and then after they learned it said to themsleves now I want to do it this other way.
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  #38  
Old 01-03-2022, 12:38 PM
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I thought this was a lighthearted topic and nothing that was all that serious. Gee... I still think that.
Me too. I might be pedantic, but I'm also light-hearted! Just entering into the pedantic spirit of the OP.
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  #39  
Old 01-03-2022, 06:36 PM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is online now
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Me too. I might be pedantic, but I'm also light-hearted! Just entering into the pedantic spirit of the OP.
Not pedantic; more mischievous.
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  #40  
Old 01-04-2022, 03:49 PM
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I look at it this way. If all the guitarists wanted to sound like Charlie Patton where would guitar be today? They didn't all start out learning to play like Charlie and then after they learned it said to themsleves now I want to do it this other way.
Having only started identifying as an "acoustic player" just a few years back, I'm sort of becoming disenchanted with how much the acoustic scene just seems to want to chase its own tail. The electric guitar never felt like that, but once you pick up an acoustic all the sudden if you dont fit into a handful of genre's, or specialize in one of only a few different techniques then by default you must be a hack. Just think where acoustic music would be if we all just happily explored whatever musical avenues we liked on the acoustic guitar, rather than worrying about what the purists think.
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  #41  
Old 01-04-2022, 08:11 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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In my mind, finger picking and fingerstyle playing are pretty much the same thing.

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  #42  
Old 01-07-2022, 07:56 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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I have been guilty of using the terms interchangeably but when I think of it a little more deeply, I think if there actually was a difference, fingerpicking would involve a more patterned style, alternating bass being one pattern of many. And fingerstyle would be less tied to an unflagging rhythm and a set melody, a more modern style as opposed to traditional.

But there is so much overlap and interchangeable use if you made a definition along these lines (or any other lines), a large percentage of guitarists would disagree as the words might mean something else to them. Meaning, I suppose, they are only partly defined, not yet ready for Webster's.
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  #43  
Old 01-07-2022, 08:31 PM
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I think of fingerpicking as basically pattern picking with mostly an alternating base and perhaps some melody syncopation thrown in here and there.

When I think of finger style, I think of performances like this:

Pete Huttlinger plays "Josie"

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  #44  
Old 01-07-2022, 11:27 PM
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I tried to address this in the article I did on "Fingerstyle" in Acoustic Guitar a few months ago. As with anything, you sort of have to ask the person saying it what they mean, since it's not like there's some authoritative definition.

But, what I tried to make the case for was that fingerstyle is a larger encompassing term. Tho some use it to mean a "style", it makes more sense as a technique. Andy McKee plays fingerstyle, but so does Joe Pass, Segovia, and Paco de Lucia. Jeff Beck, as well. Fingerpicking is more commonly understood to refer to a folk/roots sort of approach, anyone from Elizabeth Cotten to Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. Travis picking, etc.

But a rose by any other name.... You can check out my attempt to thread the needle and demonstrate some of the range of options here:

https://acousticguitar.com/learn-fin...ar-essentials/
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  #45  
Old 01-08-2022, 05:27 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
As usual, Bob, you place this discussion in its larger context beyond just our AGF echo chamber.

In particular when you say, "There is an audience out there that loves alternating bass arrangements to the exclusion of all other" that is what I've been trying to figure out how to say in several of these threads. I live in South Carolina and when I encounter people who either play or want to talk about "acoustic guitar playing" I've learned they invariably have one of two things in mind. They either think of Bluegrass rhythm guitar (with or without taking flatpicked solo breaks) or they are thinking of what you call "alternating bass arrangements".

The stuff Ed Gerhard does in the "Water Is Wide" vein might as well be classical guitar for all the relevance it has to people I've talked guitar with over the years. If it doesn't either have a strummed Bluegrass rhythm guitar part or alternating bass "fingerpicking" it's just not relevant.

Of course I meet tons of people who hear "guitar" and think "electric guitar" but that's a different discussion! As an aside, your reference to "chicken picking" is apt...I hear plenty of that coming from the electric guitar room in music stores.

P.S. I think much of Bob's accounting of things might be due to the simple fact that lots of people respond more to rhythm than to melody when experiencing music. I am quite the opposite, myself.
This post brings out (in my opinion) some very important points. Where you are (i.e. geographical region) can have a lot to do with what various terms bring to mind. Therefore, discussing what a particular word means in a forum with global participation, will bring out a discussion with various interpretations based on where a person hails from, whether that is pointed out as Brent so clearly does here or not.

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