Normally I don’t care for flashy guitar players. High speed performances often lack articulation, clarity and dare I say it, musicality. Often they are very good theatrically but to me there is something of the “look ma, no hands” circus mentality in the approach. Having said all that there are exceptions, in particular Tommy Emmanuel and his performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow………
The opening splash of Artificial Harmonics should immediately grab your attention. Tommy has taken the Canadian guitar legend’s Lenny Breau’s approach to artificial harmonics to a whole new level. Many guitar players sprinkle natural harmonics through their performances but to play artificial harmonics with such speed and clarity almost defies belief. After the into he launches into an almost straight forward exposition of that beautiful melody. Then it is into a multitude of variations, harmonic explorations, muted runs, artificial harmonics and underlying bass runs etc. The performance is nothing short of astounding. This version is a master piece that sets the bar for acoustic guitar playing at a whole new level.
And, just in case you wonder how he does it check these clips
One last thought, do you notice how much attention Tommy pays to articulating the melody. Sure all the spectacular rhythms are there but for me the outstanding feature of his playing is being able hear clearly beautiful melodies.
[My thanks to Dave Prinn for reminding me of Tommy’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow]