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Research Paper

  1. 1. Knight 1Maidie KnightMs. BennettBritish Literature9 September 2011 The Evolution and Cultural Impact of the Acoustic Guitar “Among God’s creatures two, the dog and guitar, have taken all the sizes and all theshapes, in order not be separated from man.”(Segovia.) This quote by Andre Segovia shows thestrong bond between an instrument and mankind. For someone to make such a remark about apiece of wood with strings shows that it must be an influential and inspiring instrument. Indifferent cultures, the acoustic guitar means and impacts different forms of music that fits almostany style or taste in a culture. In one culture, it could be used to be uplifting or joyful. However,in another culture, the acoustic guitar could be used to show sympathy, or sorrow. Either way,that instrument is moving emotions. The way guitar affects emotion so powerfully is based ontechnique and form. There are many different ways a guitar is made and there are multiple waysto play the acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars have made huge differences in many cultures andhave impacted many individuals throughout the instruments’ lifespan. The acoustic guitar is aspecific art form that is used to display all of the diverse individual personalities and societies inthe world. The first signs of the guitar date back to over five thousand years ago("Strings to thepast").Starting out, historians could not match the modern day guitar to their findings. Therewere many possible relations. In Mesopotamia, the lute was a similar instrument that contained a
  2. 2. Knight 2flat back and curved sides("Strings to the past"). This instrument had a soundboard and frets. Asoundboard is what amplifies the sound the strum of the strings make. Also, in Greek culture, thekithara was similar to a guitar("Strings to the past").It is depicted in statues and paintings.Kithara is a word that closely relates to the word “guitar” ( afterthese instruments became popular; the Spaniards did a little bit of tweaking and created the“guitarra.”( In Spain, culture is a lot more positive, so the speed and beatsdiffered from earlier forms of guitar playing. The idea of the guitar spread around the worldwhen travelers exposed their forms of the instrument to natives of other countries and then thosecountries continued the cycle of introducing this new instrument. It is said to be that the first realguitar emerged in the sixteenth century, with a long neck containing many holes and one roundhole in the front known as a sound ("Strings to the past").This body was a lot larger than a luteand was known as a Vihuela.( Now, the instrument very closelyresembles the modern day guitar. The Vihuela had multiple strings like today’s guitar does( In the 1700s, the actual guitar that exists today was defined. A stringcalled the bass was added, along with steel and nylon strings, which are much more durable andcreate a more amplified and nicer sound. In European, the root word “guit,” means music, andthe root word “tar,” means string or chord, which is what a guitar is made up of( Starting in the late 1800s, a young boy living in Greece with his father, a timbermerchant, began constructing instruments ( This boy’s name wasAnastasios Stathopoulo, and he was very fond of the lute. By the age of seventeen, Anastasioswas ready to go out and start up his own business. He had everything from mandolins and violinsto lutes. Around the same time, Anastasios was also in the midst of creating a family. He had
  3. 3. Knight 3three sons and a daughter. His first son was named Epaminondas ( Astensions in Greece rose, the Stathopoulo family decided to move to America for greateropportunities. This migration was good timing on their behalf because in America, mandolinswere the greatest thing around, especially in New York, which is just where the Stathopoulofamily ended up ( America was full of musical inspiration. All kidstook some sort of music lesson and New York was the happening place for new outbreaks formusic. It is said that there was a music room in every house. The family business for theStathopoulos’s was expanding. When Anastasios died, his first son Epi took over( Epi’s name is where the term Epiphone comes from and Epiphonewas the best brand of violins and mandolins around. There were all kinds of models andimprovements. Gibson is a very popular brand name of guitar("Strings to the past").This is the guitar thatinfluenced Jazz in the 1920s. The 1920s were full of trends. However, in 1929, when the marketcrashed, even most businesses in America crumbled. Music was so powerful for people that thisregion of industry was hardly affected. Thinking back on the 1920s, most music was influencedby the Great Depression, which proves how meaningful the guitar really is. It was a small andaffordable tool that could output some sort of message; either positive or negative. Even when anegative message is being sent out through music, there is usually some positivity that comesfrom music, whether it is a result or just a form of realization. For example, when a group ofoppressed people use music to express their emotions, the song and music associated couldsound completely depressing and negative, which can cause someone to help them make thisstatement or some form of a resolution could occur, such as; civil rights, or even equal paying
  4. 4. Knight 4wages. With this being said, guitar is not something that could be easily done away with. It hasthrived and withheld through some hard times and still manages to impact people. In the 1950s and the 1960s, culture was facing a folk craze. Everything in this time periodwas about peace and tranquility. Now, what comes to mind when peace is mentioned? Prettysounds are definitely a candidate, and pretty sounds come from acoustic guitars. Music was usedto convey the message of strong emotion toward war, unfair labor, hard times, and what is goodand equal in life.The demand for an acoustic guitar has never decreased. Actually, as time goeson, demand for acoustic guitars continues to increase. The acoustic guitar demand was so highthat popular manufacturers such as Gibson could not keep up, so the Gibson Company had tofind ways to make production quicker. All companies were forced to decrease the quality of theirinstruments in order to keep the instruments easy for producers and affordable for consumers.Ibanez was a new company that recognized the big issue and jumped right into business. Thiscompany made guitars that were very similar to Gibson and Martin guitars, but were a lot moreaffordable and they still sounded decent. Ibanez could be considered the CVS branded medicineof guitar. The body styles were so closely related that Gibson threatened to sue. There was ahuge lawsuit over the whole issue and Ibanez stopped “copying” Gibson( all of that was over with, Ibanez did not give up. That companydid not want to diminish; therefore, the body styles of Ibanez guitars began to closely resembleMartin guitars ( It is said that history repeats itself, and in this case, thatis exactly what happened. Once again, Ibanez violated copyright terms and lost the company.( Many musicians start out with the simple acoustic guitar and move up to more complexinstruments, however, some stick with the acoustic guitar. Dave Matthews, born in South Africa,
  5. 5. Knight 5came to America to pursue a better life. His job was bartending at a local bar in New York.There, he found his love for music. Jazz was the most popular music played at the bar he workedat. Jazz is the music that gave the acoustic guitar its real beginning. Dave Matthews now has isband known as the Dave Matthews Band. This band is full of all kinds of instruments such astrumpets, violins, different guitars and keyboards. However, Matthews still uses the acousticguitar as his main instrument. The majority of his songs are formed around this instrument. TheDave Matthews Band is a very well-known musical group. When listening to some music bythem, the main instrument heard is an acoustic guitar; this instrument is the basis of almost all oftheir songs. Such an instrument helped Dave Matthews get to where he is today; on Top 20countdowns, music awards, and of course the radio. These are all great accomplishments thatcomes from Dave Matthews’s talent, but credit should be given to the introduction of theacoustic guitar as well. The popularity of the acoustic guitar has never been lost or replaced, even throughout allof the technological advancements in music. Nothing beats the rhythm and sounds an acousticguitar outputs; not even pop culture electronic music. Over the years, and many time periods, theguitar has evolved and impacted upcoming generations; therefore, it evolves again. It is like anever ending cycle that continues to influence more and more individuals and continue makinghistory. With all of the different societies that have transformed the acoustic guitar, it still retainsthe same motives and impact. No matter how much it is tweaked or reconstructed, the acousticguitar will never lose its value. If one day the acoustic guitar were to lose its value, it wouldalways have its name that has lasted for thousands of years. The acoustic guitar is not violent,dangerous, harmful, or disruptive. Furthermore, the acoustic guitar is just a soft-soundinginstrument used for good, and it cannot harm anything. The guitar’s impact on culture has
  6. 6. Knight 6withstood many transformations and still remains very superior. The acoustic guitar is also thebasis for almost all musical form, so without the acoustic guitar, music may not have made it thisfar. Guitars have not faced many hardships because they are so loved; they have never beendeserted or mistreated. There are not many instances where the acoustic guitar is a disruption anda society wants to get rid of it. The acoustic guitar will continue to thrive, especially at the rate itis going and has always been going. There is much good and positivity that comes from musicand that is shown multiple times in the history of it all. Guitar has clearly influencedenoughindividuals so that they want to “tweak” it into something new and inventive. Theacoustic guitar is used to reach out and appeal to one’s emotions. Each individual guitar playerhas his or her own style or soul that is imitated in their music. Acoustic guitar players are justlike painters; there are not any alike and all pieces of art are different and original. This statementshows that guitar is really influential on emotion. The impact of guitar has been greatly shown inAmerican history, and even world history. Every country has been impacted and made aninfluence and given guitar its unique styles it has today. There are such big movements relatedto the acoustic guitar and the playing of this instrument is so widely dispersed. Who knew apiece of wood and some string could make such a difference to mankind?