Guitar Day falls on 11 February each year, an opportunity to highlight guitar’s huge contribution to music of all kinds. For while guitars might most immediately conjure up pop or rock, there’s great diversity in guitar music, and this sheer diversity gives guitar real scope to boost wellbeing.
Not only is there acoustic as opposed to rock guitar, but there’s also classical, jazz, baroque, bass and folk to name but some. When this six-stringed musical instrument was developed some 8oo years ago, in the 13th century, its inventors little knew what they were letting loose!
When there’s guitar music for every taste, most people will respond to hearing (or playing) guitar. It’s a great instrument to sing along to, and hearing someone in the street playing and singing immediately lifts the mood so that an everyday scene comes to life. I’ve reflected before in this blog how different music genres have such distinct impacts on mood and wellbeing. To some, rock guitar might be too loud, overwhelming and oppressive. But they might enjoy quieter guitar music, maybe folk songs or classical guitar. Other people could find these dreary or depressing, but feel motivated and uplifted by rock guitar. So there’s guitar music to lift mood, to get you dancing, to make you feel bright and more alert, but also to calm and relax you or to express sadness or other feelings.
If you think of the names of some famous guitarists, they only confirm how diverse this instrument can be: Hendrix, Segovia, Clapton, Karadaglic…In what other list would rock legends and classical musicians sit side by side? Bands like Led Zeppelin and U2 owe so much to the guitar, but so do genres like reggae.
To mark Guitar Day, try listening to different genres of guitar music on You Tube or as you stream music, and think about the different impacts it has on you. Classical guitar can be quite mesmeric to listen to, calming, absorbing and slow in the work of a composer like Rodrigo. Another genre where guitar can be important is folk, where it can be heard alone or accompanying countless folk songs. Here it can have power to unite people to listen and maybe sing along, and to express thoughts and feelings and memory.
Guitar’s importance in three particular dance traditions also demonstrates just how life-enhancing it can be. Try watching videos of these dance forms onlne: flamenco, salsa and tango. Flamenco’s rhythm and beat are built on its unique guitar style as it draws together music, dance and song. The guitar’s also central to salsa: in Cuba, the combination of Spanish guitar and African drumming – and now many other instruments as well – created salsa, another fast & intense dance form. And guitar’s integral to tango, where it weaves together with violin, double bass, piano and concertina to form tango orchestras, producing music and dance whirling with life.
Guitar can sound simple, but this hides real scope and complexity. No wonder then that guitar music has become an endless treasure trove of sound to uplift us all in so many different ways.
What do you think of guitar music? It would be great if you would like to share in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!