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Andy McKee

28 July, 2007 (12:01pm) | Blog

In the mid-1800′s, Spanish guitarist and guitar maker Antonio Torres Jurado developed the first modern guitar. Before him, there were many variations of stringed instruments resembling the modern guitar, like the sitar and the lute, but most of them didn’t have all of the qualities of the modern guitar that make it so easy to learn, and so diverse.

A lute

The guitar quickly became very popular due to the many different things that could be done with it. Most other instruments were restricted to one style of music or other due to the nature of how they were made. However, because of the control the musician has over it, the guitar can be used to play almost any style you can imagine.

An acoustic guitar

When it first came about, the classical guitar was mostly used for mellow pieces by the musical masters of that time. By the nineteenth century (due partially to how easy the guitar was to play compared to, say, the violin) most non-”masters” of music were able to play well enough to write their own songs. Slowly, more and more people were able to release their music to the general public than were able in the 1500′s; and less and Less of the music floating around was as well written as in the classical era.

An Eddie Van Halen electric guitar

Enter the Electric Guitar. The electric guitar was first patented by George Beauchamp of Texas, but was made available to the general public first by Danelectro. The electric guitar and its signature distorted sound were made popular by bands like the Beatles and Buddy Holly. Guitarists like Eddie Van Halen were able to completely master the art, while other less talented musicians resorted to such “cheating” methods as power-chords, which did not require as much coordination to play. Many modern punk bands have completely destroyed the art of the guitar and even music in general by playing the same music as other bands in a last ditch effort to get famous. Music is no longer an art to be appreciated and respected, but has turned into merely a tool to become a celebrity.

A dumb punk band

But thanks to musicians like Andy McKee, the beauty and respect of music is being preserved. McKee was born in 1979, in Topeka, Kansas, and at the age of 13, was given an Aria nylon string guitar by his father. He didn’t settle for just learning how to play the popular songs of the day to impress his friends, but was continually seeking to master his instrument through inventing new ways to get sound out of the guitar.

Andy McKee

Andy McKee uses a mix of strumming, hammer-ons, harmonics, and even the wood of the guitar itself to get a full sound with many undertones. His style of presenting the music, which completely ignores the popular style of projecting oneself onto the listener, has won the hearts and ears of many snobbish music lovers who listen to music for the music itself.

One of the few innovative musicians of our times, McKee has succeeded in proving that there is more to the guitar than just learning what others have already discovered. You can always find more innovative and creative ways to play music. We should never settle for the easy way out. Always strive to learn more and to better yourself.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14

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