Guitar Ethnographies: Performance, Technology, And Material Culture

The guitar is arguably the most popular musical instrument in the world. If you have one in your home, then you have a rare gem. Not that this gem is rare, but you need to have one to understand why it is most treasured by musicians worldwide.

Globally, the guitar creates sounds that thrill listeners. But in some locations, this musical instrument receives little or no attention when it comes to making music. In the study of music and its cultural context (Ethnomusicology), the guitar has also received little attention.

In this article, we are going to focus on the performance, technology, and the material culture of guitar, and see reasons why many should invest in this instrument. This focuses on different fields from several continents, which helps in understanding the context of the article better.

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What is Ethnomusicology?

In simple terms, it is the study of music both in its social and cultural context. Ethnomusicology makes it easier to see how widely the use of guitar has been adopted in several cultures and among different social classes.

The media often overlook the endeavour of countries that are striving to gain popularity when it comes to the use of guitar. Online platforms also do not point out how quickly some cultures are adopting the use of guitar.

Several musical traditions often involve the use of musical instruments, but in most cases, the guitar is not part of such instruments. Studies are being conducted by some social class and culture to adopt the use of guitar in their traditions. Irrespective of the genre or musical culture (even if not yet discovered), the guitar has an important role to play.

Guitar Performance

In the summer of 1997, at a Guitar Culture project during the International Association for the study of popular music conference in Kanazawa, Japan, many were made to appreciate the beauty of the guitar. Players used their ability on this instrument to connect their audience to the local music, and the musicians. One notable thing about this connection is that the locals can only,  due to language differences, communicate effectively with the use of guitar. And the audience was indeed delighted as they found an instant mode of connection and communication.

One issue, The World of Music released in 1994 as edited by Cynthia Schmidt, highlights the use and value of guitar in African countries. This issue points out that guitar is a glocal instrument (possessing both local and global considerations). The guitar is indeed a globally-travelling instrument since local and global forces use it. This helps preserve the cultural identity of this instrument, even if not really obvious to the outside world.

There are several other research that has provided clear evidence that the guitar is an excellent musical instrument, that is essential for the creation of music, and uniting people with different musical backgrounds and ideas.

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Guitar has also been performing when it comes to serving as a symbol of national identity for several African countries. Music became more institutionalized with the birth of the electric guitar in several continents local music.

Many have adopted this instrument both before gaining independence and after gaining independence. And it is not slowing down a bit when it comes to the use of the instrument.

The usefulness of the guitar and performance is also highlighted by growth. This instrument grew to be one of the primary tools used by nationalist leaders in some countries to deliver their ideas and shape the nation’s identity.

The Guitar Technology

Another essential thing to consider is the guitar technology. The guitar as an instrument is portable, versatile, and rugged. This instrument is easy to construct, although it requires paying attention to details as much as possible. No wonder in several African countries, this instrument has become so popular that it comes second only to the drum.

Another excellent thing about the guitar is its mobility. The guitar can travel all across the world, and remain intact, thanks to its Guitar-Ness both in form and function. The guitar possesses a global sonic and visual signature that makes it stand out among other musical instruments. This instrument represents the best approach to the creation of musical instruments.

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Material Culture of Guitar

There is only few information regarding the development of the ethnomusicology of the guitar. Only a few studies show the importance of the ethnomusicology of guitar. Thanks to development, the story has changed significantly.

In the life of those who play, admire, or make the guitar, this instrument is of very high importance. Guitar has a narrative power on the life of users. Undoubtedly, the guitar is one fantastic instrument that fulfils an incredible cultural and social role.

Both its design and physical features, the guitar help improves the lives of users. This instrument can be used as a toy for kids, as a musical object, as an art object, nostalgia object, and all these are useful to humans.

The Guitar is an instrument that exists in chains of technology that include instruments and tools for making it, or ones that are sometimes necessary for performing in connection with the guitar and recording.

All from music producers, mixers, composers, engineers, performers, and arrangers benefits from the intentionality and effectiveness of this instrument.

Wrap Up

Indeed, the guitar is an instrument that has grown in popularity. This instrument has also connected both the rural and the urban world. And as it stands, the instrument keeps upholding values, legends, myths, and beliefs, which help in challenging both in music and beyond music. The shape, substance and form of the guitar are primarily significant.

Conclusively, I say that your focus should not only be on how an instrument helps in making music. Pay attention to the consumption of this instrument i.e. how it affects socialization and human culture. Within its scope and contemporary setting, the guitar keeps helping and delivering insights into the culture of music.

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