Michael Hedges – Originator of Tap?

Michael Hedges – Aerial Boundaries Live @ Red Rocks Amphitheater, 1986 :

If you’ve been current with Acoustic Guitar Videos, you’ve got to notice the huge influx of new guitarist that are playing in the tapping percussive style.

There might be some debate, but most people would agree that Michael Hedges is the acoustic guitarist that really made it popular. But don’t go thinking that this style is anything new. Tapping has existed in some form or another for centuries…
“Niccolò Paganini utilized similar techniques on the violin. A similar technique, called selpe, is used in Turkish folk music on the instrument called the bağlama. Roy Smeck used the two-handed tapping technique on a Ukulele in the 1932 film Club House Party.Jimmie Webster made recordings in the 1950s using the method of two-handed tapping he described in ‘Touch Method for Electric and Amplified Spanish Guitar’, published in 1952. Webster was a student of electric pickup designer Harry DeArmond, who developed two-handed tapping as a way to demonstrate the sensitivity of his pickups. The two-handed tapping technique was also known and occasionally used by many 1950s and 1960s jazz guitarists such as Barney Kessel, who was an early supporter of Emmett Chapman.”  read more about it here

Getting back to Michael- I  bought one of his early CD’s  a while back and was just so impressed with his timing and smooth transitions…. not to mention the innovations he created. Surely he is at the least responsible for modernizing it and bringing it into the forefront of the solo acoustic guitar world.

For those of you that don’t know, unfortunately Michael was taken away from us- killed in a car accident in late 1997, “Hedges died at the age of 43 in a car accident along State Route 128 in Mendocino County, near Boonville (about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of San Francisco). According to his manager Hilleary Burgess, he was driving home from San Francisco International Airport after a Thanksgiving visit to a girlfriend in Long Island, New York. His car apparently skidded off a rain-slicked S-curve and down a 120-foot (37 m) cliff. Hedges was thrown from his car and appeared to have died nearly instantly. His body was found a few days afterward. After his death, his record Oracle won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. see more

Here’s the description of this video:

“Michael Hedges performs his historical piece “Aerial Boundaries” from the 1984 album “Aerial Boundaries”. This performance took place at the “Red Rocks Amphitheater” near Denver, CO as part of the shooting for the 1986 Windham Hill label Laserdisc and VHS release “Windham Hill In Concert”, featuring Michael Hedges, Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges, Scott Cossu, Shadowfax. Info at http://www.nomadland.com/WH_in_Concer…


click here if you are interested in seeing and sampling his historic Windham Hill album releases… highly recommended.


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  1. Pingback: Mark Kroos: Dueling Himself with Dueling Banjos

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