21st Century Guitar: Evolutions and Augmentations (forthcoming book for January 2023)

21st Century Guitar: Evolutions and Augmentations (forthcoming book for January 2023)

Edited by Richard Perks & John McGrath

With contributions and insights from John Schneider, Tolgahan Çoğulu, Ned Evett, Buzz Gravelle, Cenk Erdoğan, Tom Williams, Ant Law, Charlie Hunter, Katalin Koltai, Robert Strachan, Richard Perks, John McGrath, Nels Cline, Bill Thompson, Milton Mermikides and Amy Brandon

In the 21st Century, the guitar, as both a material object and tool for artistic expression, continues to be reimagined and reinvented. From simple adaptations or modifications made by performers themselves, to custom-made instruments commissioned to fulfil very specific creative needs, to the mass production of new lines of commercially available instruments, the extant and emergent forms of this much-loved musical instrument vary perhaps more than ever before. As guitars sporting multiple necks, a greater number of strings and/or additional frets become increasingly common, so too do those with reduced registers, fewer strings, and fretless fingerboards. Furthermore, as we approach the mark of the first quarter-century, the role of technology in relation to the guitar’s ever-changing identity is proving key. On-board processing units, external synergies with computers and the use of ultra-modern peripheral musical devices – ranging from EBow and effects processing, to engagement with laptops, robots and AR headsets – are allowing players to augment their performance setup and, in doing so, exponentially expand the guitar’s corporeal and timbral functionality. Such wide-ranging evolutions and augmentations of the guitar reflect the advancing performative and expressive needs of the modern guitarist and simultaneously afford them new creative potentialities; ultimately creating a feedback loop between artist and device, which further propels the guitar in fresh directions.

This collection comprises an assortment of contributions from academics, performers and dual-practitioners which examines the diverse physical manifestations of the guitar across the modern performative landscape and explores the creative possibilities these new forms afford. Musicological insights spanning performance practice, contemporary organology, and technological augmentation are interwoven with interviews featuring leading practitioners from an array of performance cultures from around the world, with each chapter exploring a different model of – or approach to performing with – the guitar from the emic perspective of the performing musician.

Published in Bloomsbury’s Music & Sound Studies Series, this volume provides significant insights into the rich array of guitar-based performance practices emerging and thriving in the 21st Century, and in doing so, invites the reader to reassess the guitar in terms of its identity, physicality and sound creating potentialities.

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