Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Solitudes

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Solitudes

Article excerpt

On a summer evening in 1970, a teenaged Kinloch Nelson was driving his family's car with his Gibson J-50 in the back seat, alongside it a Sony reel-to-reel recorder and recent audio tapes of his guitar compositions, when the vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Nelson was fortunate to escape with only minor whiplash injuries, but the Gibson sustained major damage to the soundboard. Meanwhile, the tapes and recorder were completely unharmed, despite having flown out of the car window and onto the highway.

An insurance payment allowed Nelson to purchase a brand-new Martin D-18, which he used to record a bunch of new compositions, many of which have remained in his repertoire. Since that time, Nelson has performed, taught, and even authored a self-published instructional book, Alternate Tunings for Guitar. Over the years, he occasionally thought of rerecording the songs, but he ultimately decided it would be an exercise in futility to try to recreate the vibe and sound of these early recordings.

Selections from both the pre- and postaccident tapes have been compiled on the excellent new Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (Tompkins Square Records). "Solitudes," one of the first pieces Nelson wrote on his D-18, is in a striking and unusual tuning-low to high: C G D D B D-an interesting variation of open G (D G D G B D). To get into this tuning from standard, lower string 6 by two whole steps, strings 5 and 1 by a whole step each, and string 3 by a perfect fourth (at unison with string 4)-moves which Kinloch originally made spontaneously. …

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