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The Guitar of Mississippi John Hurt Vol.1 Guitar Songbook

The Guitar of Mississippi John Hurt Vol.1 Guitar Songbook

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Published by jacendelica

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Published by: jacendelica on Sep 18, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/14/2013

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2
M
ISSISSIPPI
J
OHN
H
URT
S
M
USIC
John Hurt was born in Teoc, Mississippi in 1892, but livedmost of his life in Avalon, Mississippi. In 1928, after beingrecommended for recording by his neighbors, fiddler WillieNarmour and guitarist Shell Smith, John Hurt recorded 13 songsfor Okeh Records. He returned to Avalon and nothing was heardof him outside of his home area until 1963, when Tom Hoskins,a young Country Blues enthusiast, “rediscovered” him, recordedhim, and arranged for him to perform at the Newport andPhiladelphia Folk Festivals. From that point onward, until hisdeath in 1966, John Hurt traveled and performed, charmingaudiences wherever he went.Such are the bare bones of John Hurt’s life. What of hismusic? It has a quality of being simultaneously familiar andmysterious, because the more you listen to Mississippi JohnHurt, the more you realize how different he was, not only fromother musicians of his region, but from anyone else in theCountry Blues genre. His music bore some similarities to theplaying of Furry Lewis and Frank Stokes, both transplantedMississippians who lived in Memphis, but whereas both Furryand Frank were two-finger pickers who employed a lot of brushstrokes, John Hurt was a three-finger picker who seldom usedbrush strokes, preferring to pick single strings. John Hurt playedwith facility in E, A, D, G and C in standard tuning, as well asopen G and open D tuning. Of recorded country bluesmen of hisregion and generation, only Bo Carter shows comparable versa-tility. John Hurt’s characteristic rhythmic feel was utterly distinc-tive, featuring a driving alternation in the bass, varied with trickyomitted beats and connecting runs. His repertoire was huge,encompassing blues of his own composition, ballads, hymnsand forgotten pop ditties of his childhood.Playing Mississippi John Hurt’s songs puts you in a positionto appreciate his originality and imagination, as well as the factthat while his music was strong and clear, it certainly was notsimple. Continuing to play his music will help keep it alive. Let’sdo that.
 
3
A
BOUT
 
THE
T
ABLATURE
Most guitarists who transcribe songs using tablature havetheir own ways of communicating what the player who wishesto play a song will have to do to get the job done. In this respect,I’m like everyone else—I have my own wrinkles on the system. Ifyou observe the following points, I believe the tab will be clear.
Notes with downward stems are played by the thumb ofthe right hand. Notes with upward stems are played by thefingers of the right hand.
Where two notes are connected by a slur, the letters H, Pand SL indicate a hammer-on, a pull-off, or a slide. Anarrow curved upwards (
Á
) and the letter B indicates thatthe note is bent, and an arrow curved downwards (
˜
)indicates that the bend is released.
A straight arrow up or down (
er
) indicates a strum or brushstroke. The direction of the arrow indicates the direction ofthe stroke, relative to the strings represented by the lines inthe tablature.
The tablature employs the same methods of notatingrhythm as does standard music notation. A quarter note (
Œ
)has the same duration as two eighth notes (
ŒÂ
) or foursixteenth notes (
ŒÊÊÊ
). A single eighth note looks like
and a single sixteenth note has a doubled flag (
Ù
). Each ofthese note values has its own rest symbol, as wellthequarter rest (
Ô
), the eighth rest (
Ò
), and the sixteenth rest(
Å
). A dot following a note or rest adds on one half of thenote or rest’s rhythmic duration. An eighth note triplet(
ŒÍÂ
) divides one beat into three notes of equal duration.
The 12/8 time signature has four beats per measure witheach beat divided into three eighth notes. Thus the beat canbe broken into three eighth notes (
ŒÂÂ
), a so-called brokentriplet (
Œ ‰
), or one beat (
Œ.
), the dotted quarter note.
When a note is sustained or held across beats, the notesare connected by a tie (
Œ
Œ
). Where two notes are tied, onlythe first note is plucked by the right hand—the left handcontinues to hold the position for the duration of thesecond note. Thus ties are helpful not only for indicatinghow long notes should sustain, but also when the left handshould move.Good luck and have fun!

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