Daily Archives: May 4, 2008

Six strings

A couple of nights ago Andrew and I went to see Australian guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel perform solo to an audience of around 700 people. It was a change from the diet of violins we have been consuming lately. The concert was excellent. Brought to Canada by fingerstyleguitar.ca, Tommy played a range of pieces, both original compositions and familiar classics.

I’m not sure that I can adequately describe his style; he calls it finger style, but that doesn’t convey all that he manages to do with his hands and his instrument. He did an amazing amount of percussion during his pieces, a couple of pieces were more percussion than anything else. Using all parts of the guitar, including a large sanded area on the front where he scrapes his finger nails, he produces booming “drumbeats” and softer brush like effects. While he is playing on the strings he manages to sound like a whole band, his fingers moving all over the place, picking, strumming, and creating fantastic sounds and rhythms. We particularly enjoyed “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, the Beatles medley and “Guitar Boogie” but many pieces managed to captivate me.

As he chatted to the audience between songs we got a glimpse into the many experiences behind the music we were listening to. Playing guitar obviously gives him great joy, which he wants to share with everyone listening. His composition “Mombasa” came about while he was in Kenya with World Vision visiting his sponsor child. “Initiation” comes out of his experiences with the aboriginal people of Australia, and is apparently never the same from one performance to the next. Some of his songs are inspired by his friends and family, some by great guitarists he admired and who in turn admired him. It was a treat to sit and listen to such imaginative and impressive guitar playing.