December 7, 2023

Piedmont syle

For those of you out there who are keen on Pink Floyd I thought I`d write a little post that connects Pink Floyd to a certain part of guitar history, english music and  associated styles. At the beginning of their career Pink Floyd were a quintessentially English sounding band led by songwriter and folk singer Syd Barrett who had named the band after two Piedmont Style blues players Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Barrett`s contribution to music is highly evident in the poetic, lyric and sonic expression of The Pink Floyd`s debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn which ranges from avante-garde through to folk and used electronic sounds, Binson Echorec echo and tape editing.

It`s interesting to note that the early manifestations of the band, playing psychedelic song based music, were markedly sonically different from their later Roger Waters or David Gilmour driven sound and through name alone affiliated with a geographically and stylistically distinct guitar.  Little Pink Anderson, the son of PInk Anderson is still around and I spoke to him via email a couple of years ago. It`s interesting to note that Little Pink played in some of the last remaining Medicine Shows when he was a boy. The piedmont style of guitar is a blues music characterized by a fingerpicking approach on the guitar in which a regular, alternating thumb string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody line played upon the treble strings. Now that sounds complicated but it is in fact one of the simplest ways to articulate separate bass and lead lines on your guitar, almost in the fashion of Rag Time piano such as Scott Joplin and achieve a richness in sound. I recommend listening to Mississippi John Hurt to begin with as his affable and melodic approach, or check out the awesome Elizabeth Cotton for a technique that`s highly unique. We teach a basic fingerstyle lesson on our Songpond. And once you`ve tried that check out the amazing and uniquely percussive and melodic songs and techniques of our tutor Paul Ubana Jones, they really are absolutely something special.

Tomorrow I`m going to try and find a little time to look at the highly distinctive and wild playing style of Robert Johnson, something that even Eric Clapton acknowledges as being immensely challenging. Im off to listen to John Hurt, Sonny Terry and Brownie Macghee…and Paul Ubana Jones…London styles!

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