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Introduction: Guitars, Cultures, People
and Places
Kevin Dawe and Andy Bennett

The guitar is in every respect a global phenomenon. The instrument has gained a central place in, and has helped to define, musical genres worldwide. Both electric and acoustic variations of the guitar are commonplace elements in the music of a variety of cultures around the world. As such, it is very difficult to provide satisfactory accounts of the guitar's cultural appeal using monocultural accounts. Rather, it is important to gain a sense of the guitar as a globally mobile instrument whose form, tonal textures and associated playing techniques are the product of its appropriation and use in a variety of locally specific musical contexts. Equally important in accounting for the cultural significance of the guitar is an understanding of the cultures to which the instrument itself has given rise. The term ‘guitar culture’, as it is used here, refers to the guitar makers, guitar players and audiences who imbue guitar music and the instrument itself with a range of values and meanings through which it assumes its place as a cultural icon. A key question addressed by this book is how, why and in what ways people use the guitar in the musical construction of self, others and communities. In other words, we are interested in the meanings that guitar makers, guitar collectors, guitar players and their audiences bring to guitars and guitar music. Similarly, we are also interested in examining the ways in which guitar makers, makes of guitar, and guitar players themselves become icons at national and global levels.

In order to examine the guitar phenomenon, we have assembled an international group of scholars working in a range of academic disciplines. As such, this book constitutes something of a first, bringing together for the first time in a single volume a collection of original studies of the guitar grounded in a wide range of disciplines including musicology, ethnomusicology, anthropology, ethnography, sociology, folklore, cultural studies and cultural history. Most of the contributors to this book have been directly involved with the guitar, for example, as performers, teachers and collectors, for a number of years. Combined with this experience, the contributors offer a wide range of theoretical perspectives on the role of the guitar in musical culture, the studies presented here arising out of varying degrees of direct and personal engagement with the instrument and with the societies and cultures that surround and create it.

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Guitar Cultures
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Notes on Contributors ix
  • 1 - Introduction: Guitars, Cultures, People and Places 1
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 2 - The Guitar in the Blues Music of the Deep South 11
  • Notes 25
  • References *
  • 3 - Unplugged: Blues Guitarists and the Myth of Acousticity 27
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 4 - ‘plug in and Play!’ Uk‘indie-Guitar’ Culture 45
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 5 - Handmade in Spain: the Culture of Guitar Making 63
  • Notes 82
  • References *
  • 6 - The Guitar as Artifact and Icon: Identity Formation in the Babyboom Generation 89
  • Notes 113
  • References *
  • 7 - Into the Arena: Edward Van Halen and the Cultural Contradictions of the Guitar Hero 117
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 7 - The Guitar Cultures of Papua New Guinea: Regional, Social and Stylistic Diversity 135
  • Notes 154
  • References *
  • 9 - Hybridity and Segragation in the Guitar Cultures of Brazil 157
  • Notes 174
  • References *
  • 10 - Rock to Raga: the Many Lives of the Indian Guitar 179
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Index 209
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