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Tapping, also called tap style (tapstyle), touch-style , and two-handed tapping, is a guitar playing technique where a string is fretted and set into vibration as part of a single motion of being tapped onto the fretboard, with either hand, as opposed to the standard technique of fretting with one hand and picking with the other. Tapping is the primary technique intended for some instruments such as the Chapman Stick, and is the alternative method for the Warr Guitar and others. Tapped passages incorporate the techniques of hammer-on and pull-off, but with both hands freed to produce notes. Some players (such as Stanley Jordan) rely extensively or exclusively on tapping.
Tapping is an extended technique, executed by using either hand to 'tap' the strings against the fingerboard, thus producing legato notes. Tapping generally incorporates pull-offs or hammer-ons. For example, a right-handed guitarist might press down abruptly ("hammer") onto fret twelve with the index finger of the right hand and, in the motion of removing that finger, pluck ("pull") the same string already fretted at the eighth fret by the little finger of their left hand. This finger would be removed in the same way, pulling off to the fifth fret. Thus the three notes (E, C and A) are played in quick succession at relative ease to the player.
While tapping is most commonly observed on electric guitar, it may apply to almost any string instrument, and several instruments have been created specifically to use the method. The Bunker Touch-Guitar (developed by Dave Bunker in 1958) is designed for the technique, but with an elbow rest to hold the right arm in the conventional guitar position. The Chapman Stick (developed in the early 1970s by Emmett Chapman) is an instrument designed primarily for tapping, and is based on the Free Hands two-handed tapping method invented by Chapman in 1969 where each hand approaches the fretboard with the fingers aligned parallel to the frets. The Hamatar, Mobius Megatar, Box Guitar, and Solene instruments were designed for the same method. The NS/Stick and Warr Guitar are also built for tapping, though not exclusively. The harpejji is a tapping instrument which is played on a stand, like a keyboard, with fingers typically parallel to the strings rather than perpendicular. All of these instruments use string tensions less than a standard guitar, and low action to increase the strings' sensitivity to lighter tapping.
Some guitarists may choose to tap using the sharp edge of their pick instead of fingers to produce a faster, more rigid flurry of notes closer to that of trilling, with a technique known as pick tapping. Guitarist John "5" Lowery has been known to use it, and has nicknamed it a "Spider-Tap".
Tapping has existed in some form or another for centuries. Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) used similar techniques on the violin, striking the string with a bouncing bow articulated by left-hand pizzicato. Paganini considered himself a better guitarist than violinist,[ citation needed ] and in fact wrote several compositions for guitar, most famously the "Grand Sonata for Violin and Guitar." His guitar compositions are rarely performed in modern times, though his violin compositions enjoy multiple performances. Some musicologists believe he wrote his 37 violin sonatas on guitar and then transcribed them for violin. Well known to frequent taverns, Paganini was likely exposed to gypsy guitar techniques from Romani, "gypsies." He preferred playing his guitar for tavern customers instead of concert hall audiences.
Similar to two-hand tapping, selpe technique is used in Turkish folk music on the instrument called the bağlama .
Tapping techniques and solos on various stringed acoustic instruments such as the banjo have been documented in film, records, and performances throughout the early 20th century. Various musicians have been suggested as the originators of modern two-hand tapping. While one of the earliest players known to use the technique was Roy Smeck (who used a tapping style on a ukulele in the 1932 film Club House Party), electric pickup designer Harry DeArmond developed a two-handed method as a way of demonstrating the sensitivity of his pickups. His friend Jimmie Webster, a designer and demonstrator for Gretsch guitars, made recordings in the 1950s using DeArmond's technique, which he described in the instructional book Touch Method for Electric and Amplified Spanish Guitar, published in 1952.
Vittorio Camardese developed his own two-handed tapping in the early 1960s, and demonstrated it in 1965 during an Italian television show.
Tapping was occasionally employed by many 1950s and 1960s jazz guitarists such as Barney Kessel, who was an early supporter of Emmett Chapman.
In August 1969, Chapman developed a new way of two-handed tapping with both hands held perpendicular to the neck from opposite sides, thus enabling equal counterpoint capabilities for each hand. To maximize the technique, Chapman designed a 9-string long-scale electric guitar which he called "the Electric Stick" (and later refined as the Chapman Stick), the most popular dedicated tapping instrument. Chapman's style aligns the right-hand fingers parallel to the frets, as on the left hand, but from the opposite side of the neck. His discovery led to complete counterpoint capability, and a new instrument, the Chapman Stick, and to his "Free Hands" method. Chapman influenced several tapping guitarists, including Steve Lynch of the band Autograph, and Jennifer Batten.
The tapping technique began to be taken up by rock and blues guitarists in the late 1960s. One of the earliest such players was Canned Heat guitarist Harvey Mandel, whom Ritchie Blackmore claims to have seen using tapping onstage as early as 1968 at the Whisky a Go Go.George Lynch has corroborated this, mentioning that both he and Eddie Van Halen saw Mandel employ "a neo-classic tapping thing" at the Starwood in West Hollywood during the 1970s. Mandel would use extensive two-handed tapping techniques on his 1973 album Shangrenade. Another early example of the tapping technique can be heard in Terry Kath's "Free Form Guitar" from Chicago's debut album in 1969.
Randy Resnick (of the band Pure Food and Drug Act, which at one time also featured Mandel) used two-handed tapping techniques extensively in his performances and recordings between 1969 and 1974. Resnick was mentioned in the Eddie Van Halen biographyfor his contribution to the two-handed tapping technique. In reference to Resnick's playing with Richard Greene And Zone at the Whisky a Go-Go in 1974, Lee Ritenour mentioned in Guitar Player magazine January 1980 that
"Randy was the first guitarist I ever saw who based his whole style on tapping."[ citation needed ] Resnick also recorded using the technique in 1974 on the John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers album Latest Edition and has said that he was attempting to duplicate the legato of John Coltrane's "Sheets of Sound".
Steve Hackett of Genesis also claims to be an inventor of tapping as early as 1971.
Some players such as Stanley Jordan, Paul Gilbert, Buckethead, and Steve Vai were notably skilled in the use of both hands in an almost piano-like attack on the fretboard.
In the mid 1970s two-handed tapping started to break into the mainstream, when Frank Zappa started incorporating it into his songs, and performing them to large TV audiences. Eddie Van Halen went on to popularize the two-handed tapping technique in the late 1970s. Van Halen claims that his own inspiration came from Jimmy Page: "I think I got the idea of tapping watching (Page) do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971… He was doing a pull-off to an open string and I thought… I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around?"
Tapping can be used to play polyphonic and counterpoint music on a guitar, making available eight (and even nine) fingers as stops. For example, the right hand may fret the treble melody while the left hand plays an accompaniment. Therefore, it is possible to produce music written for a keyboard instrument, such as J.S. Bach's Two-part Inventions.
The main disadvantage to tapping is reduced range of timbre, and in fact it is common to use a compressor effect to make notes more similar in volume. As tapping produces a "clean tone" effect, and since the first note usually sounds the loudest (unwanted in some music like jazz), dynamics are a main concern with this technique, though Stanley Jordan and many Stick players are successful in this genre.
Depending on the orientation of the player's right hand, this method can produce varying degrees of success at shaping dynamics. Early experimenters with this idea, like Harry DeArmond, his student Jimmie Webster, and Dave Bunker, held their right hand in a conventional orientation, with the fingers parallel with the strings. This limits the kind of musical lines the right hand can play. The Chapman method puts the fingers parallel to the frets.
One-handed tapping, performed in conjunction with normal fingering by the fretting hand, facilitates the construction of note intervals that would otherwise be impossible using one hand alone. It is often used as a special effect during a shredding solo. With the electric guitar, in this situation the output tone itself is usually overdriven — although it is possible to tap acoustically — with drive serving as a boost to further amplify the non-picked (and thus naturally weaker) legato notes being played.
The overall aim is to maintain fluidity and synchronization between all the notes, especially when played at speed, which can take extensive practice to master.
Tapped harmonics are produced by holding a note with a player's fretting hand, and tapping twelve frets down from that note with the player's tapping hand (i.e. the note on the 4th fret of the A string is tapped on the 16th fret of the A string). Rather than hammering-on and pulling-off with the right hand, harmonics are produced by hitting the fret with a finger. This method of tapping can be heard in Van Halen's songs "Women In Love" and "Dance the Night Away". Early Metallica bassist Cliff Burton also utilized tapped harmonics on bass guitar on his noted instrumental piece "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth".
The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the modern acoustic and electric guitars, both of which use metal strings. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid-nineteenth century.
Sweep picking is a guitar playing technique. When sweep picking, the guitarist plays single notes on consecutive strings with a 'sweeping' motion of the pick, while using the fretting hand to produce a specific series of notes that are fast and fluid in sound. Both hands essentially perform an integral motion in unison to achieve the desired effect.
A fret is a space between two fretbars on the neck of a stringed instrument. Frets usually extend across the full width of the neck. On most modern western fretted instruments, frets are the spaces between the metal strips (fretbars) that are inserted into the fingerboard. On some historical instruments and non-European instruments, frets are made of pieces of string tied around the neck.
Slapping and popping are ways to produce percussive sounds on a stringed instrument. It is primarily used on the double bass or bass guitar. Slapping on bass guitar involves using the edge of one's knuckle, where it is particularly bony, to quickly strike the string against the fretboard. On bass guitars, this is commonly done with the thumb, while on double bass, the edge of the hand or index finger may be used. Popping refers to pulling the string away from the fretboard and quickly releasing it so it snaps back against the fretboard. On bass guitar, the two techniques are commonly used together in alternation, though either may be used separately.
The Chapman Stick is an electric musical instrument devised by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. A member of the guitar family, the Chapman Stick usually has ten or twelve individually tuned strings and is used to play bass lines, melody lines, chords, or textures. Designed as a fully polyphonic chordal instrument, it can also cover several of these musical parts simultaneously.
A pull-off is a stringed instrument playing and articulation technique performed by plucking or "pulling" the finger that is grasping the sounding part of a string off the fingerboard of either a fretted or unfretted instrument. This intermediate- to advanced playing technique is done using the tip of a finger or fingernail on the fretting hand. Pull-offs are done to facilitate the playing of embellishments and ornaments such as grace notes. Pull-offs may be notated in sheet music or improvised by the performer, depending on the musical style and context.
Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.
In music, strumming is a way of playing a stringed instrument such as a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin. A strum or stroke is a sweeping action where a finger or plectrum brushes over several strings to generate sound. On most stringed instruments, strums are typically executed by a musician's designated strum hand, while the remaining hand often supports the strum hand by altering the tones and pitches of any given strum.
Shred guitar or shredding is a virtuoso lead guitar solo playing style for the guitar, based on various advanced and complex playing techniques, particularly rapid passages and advanced performance effects. Shred guitar includes "fast alternate picking, sweep-picked arpeggios, diminished and harmonic scales, finger-tapping and whammy-bar abuse", It is commonly used in heavy metal guitar playing, where it includes rapid tapping solos, fast scale and arpeggio runs and special effects such as whammy bar "dive bombs". Metal guitarists playing in a "shred" style use the electric guitar with a guitar amplifier and a range of electronic effects such as distortion, which create a more sustained guitar tone and facilitate guitar feedback effects.
Finger vibrato is vibrato produced on a string instrument by cyclic hand movements. Despite the name, normally the entire hand moves, and sometimes the entire upper arm. It can also refer to vibrato on some woodwind instruments, achieved by lowering one or more fingers over one of the uncovered holes in a trill-like manner. This flattens the note periodically creating the vibrato.
In classical guitar, the right hand is developed in such a way that it can sustain two, three, and four voice harmonies while also paying special attention to tone production. The index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers are generally used to play the melody, while the thumb (p) accompanies in the bass register adding harmony, and produces a comparable texture and effect to that of the piano. The classical guitar is a solo polyphonic instrument, and it is difficult to master.
A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing. It usually has nylon strings, like the classical guitar, but it generally possesses a livelier, more gritty sound compared to the classical guitar. It is used in toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of flamenco.
The early romantic guitar, the guitar of the Classical and Romantic period, shows remarkable consistency from 1790 to 1830. Guitars had six or more single courses of strings while the Baroque guitar usually had five double courses. The romantic guitar eventually led to Antonio de Torres Jurado's fan-braced Spanish guitars, the immediate precursors of the modern classical guitar.
A guitar synthesizer is any one of a number of musical instrument systems that allow a guitarist to access synthesizer capabilities.
Randy Resnick is an American guitarist and saxophonist who has played with many prominent blues and jazz musicians, such as Don "Sugarcane" Harris, John Lee Hooker, John Mayall and Freddie King. He was developing both one- and two-handed tapping style in the early 1970s. He published a CD of his own music in 1995, "To Love" under the name Randy Rare. There is an example of his tapping work in the recording from that CD below.
Playing a string harmonic is a string instrument technique that uses the nodes of natural harmonics of a musical string to isolate overtones. Playing string harmonics produces high pitched tones, often compared in timbre to a whistle or flute. Overtones can be isolated "by lightly touching the string with the finger instead of pressing it down" against the fingerboard.
Free Hands is the name of Emmett Chapman's two-handed tapping method of parallel hands used on his Chapman Stick instrument, and on several other Stick-inspired instruments. Chapman first published his tapping lessons in book form in 1976, and called his method book Free Hands: A New Discipline of Fingers on Strings
Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:
The touch guitar is a stringed instrument of the guitar family which has been designed to use a fretboard-tapping playing style. Touch guitars are meant to be touched or tapped, not strummed.
In music for stringed instruments, especially guitar, an open chord is a chord that includes one or more strings that are not fingered. An open string vibrates freely, whereas a fingered string will be partially dampened unless fingered with considerable pressure, which is difficult for beginner players. In an open chord, the unfingered strings are undampened, and the player is able to exert maximum pressure on the fretted strings, to avoid unwanted dampening. On a regular six-string guitar, an open chord can have from one to six open strings sounding. In contrast, all of the strings are fingered for a barre chord, which requires greater technique to be allowed to ring freely. To dampen a barre chord, a player simply needs to relax the fingers. Fully dampening an open chord requires the player to roll the fingers of the left hand over the open strings, or else dampen with the right hand.