Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Inimitable Guitar Sounds of Derek Bailey

Originally posted on February 14, 2008

There are of course virtually infinite ways to play the guitar and an infinite number of styles possible. The late Derek Bailey tried to avoid any reference to harmony and, often, even any conventionally struck note. His musical vocabulary was made up of harmonics, string pulls, scratching the strings, and any or all manner of sounds.

He recorded a number of solo CDs, one of which, Improvisation (Ampersand), happens to be on my listening pile. It’s incredible what he does and what he DOESN’T do. Some people have reacted to his playing with, “Oh, anybody could do that.” But it isn’t so easy to speak a new instrumental language with the fluency he had. Try it. Or don’t. Nonetheless he pioneered a particular sound and nobody has done as well as he did in performing what he did.

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