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or playing fingerstyle,
is a technique for playing the guitar, or some other stringed
instrument using the fingertips and/or fingernails, rather than
with a plectrum (or "pick"). It is used for classical guitar,
and some other acoustic styles, but it has found its way into
other genres as well.
fingerstyle guitar is
a style of fingerpicking. It includes elements of blues, ragtime,
country, gospel, jazz, and many regional music traditions.
American fingerstyle guitar is
commonly played on steel string acoustic guitars with 6 or 12
strings. While it is played on just about every type of guitar,
these are most common and characteristic. Music arranged for
American fingerstyle playing can include chords, arpeggios and
other elements such as artificial harmonics, hammering on and
pulling off with the fretting hand, using the body of the guitar
percussively, and many other techniques.
Though not commonly used today,
the term "Travis picking" was once widely understood to describe
the common style of alternating-bass fingerpicking used by American
fingerpickers from the 1950s into the 1970s, after the great
country guitarist and songwriter Merle Travis.
American primitive guitar
is a subset of American fingerstyle guitar. It originated with
John Fahey, whose first record album Blind Joe Death
(1959) inspired many guitarists such as Leo Kottke, who made
his debut recording of 6 and 12 String Guitar on Fahey's
Takoma label in 1969. American primitive guitar can be characterized
by the use of folk music or folk-like material, driving alternating-bass
fingerpicking with a good deal of repetitious ostinato
patterns, and the use of alternative tunings (scordatura)
such as open D and drop D