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Blind WillieJohnson: the slide technique

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Crina Lotca

on 18 December 2013

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Transcript of Blind WillieJohnson: the slide technique

Blind Willie Johnson: the slide technique
a presentation by:Crina Lotca

A bit 'bout Willie
Willie lost his mother as an infant and his dad later remarried. Willie taught himself guitar and started performing on street corners for tips. He became a Baptist preacher and street corner evangelist, preferring spiritual songs over the secular world of the blues.Regardless of his career ambitions, Johnson came to the attention of Columbia Records. The label signed the guitarist, his initial 1927 recording session for Columbia resulting in timeless classics like "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time," "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed," and Johnson's signature song, "Dark Was The Night (Cold Was The Ground)." Later sessions also included Johnson's wife, Angeline, on vocals.
Although Johnson would not record again after 1930, he continued to play the streets well into the 1940s, until his death from pneumonia in 1947. Through the years, Johnson's songs have been recorded by a number of folk, rock, and blues artists, including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, and Peter, Paul and Mary.
How is it special??? :D
The slide technique uses an object called a "slide" on the strings to vary the vibrating length and pitch. Ths is how Deny Tryon describes the specific sound of the slide guitar:
"The sound is unmistakable, cutting right to your heart, and emotions. It's distinctive voice, almost human-like, hangs in the night air like a soulful cry. That is the signature sound of the slide guitar."
What's slide technique?
Instead of altering the pitch of the strings in the normal manner, an object called a "slide" is placed upon the string to vary its vibrating length and pitch. This slide can then be moved along the string without lifting, creating smooth transitions in pitch and allowing wide, expressive vibrato.

A bit about "Blind Willie"
Blind Willie Johnson was born in Brenham, Texas, USA on January 22, 1897 and died on September 18, 1945. "Blind Willie" used the slide technique on the classical guitar. To make the slide effect, he would use a bottleneck,the back of his pocketknife, or sometimes a ringslider.
Let's hear it!
This clip demonstrates the slide technique very well. This is a difficult passage because of the speed this guitarist is going at. It takes lots of hard work and skill to be able to play like that. The player uses the steel slide to vary the vibrating length and pitch of the sound giving it a unique sound.
The slide guitar was discovered in 1898 by Joseph Kekuku in Honolulu, Hawaii and first heard on the mainland U.S. in 1915 at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition hld in San Francisco.
This technique was made popular by African American Blues artists. The first musician to be recorded using this style was Sylvester Weaver who recorded 2 solo pieces named "Guitar Blues" & "Guitar Rag"
The slide guitar technique is mostly used in blues because of its lingering almost sad sound that seems to pull at emotions.
Thank You :)
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