Monday, January 28, 2008
Andy McKee Inadvertently Invents a New Instrument
Have you seen this video? This guy is an incredible musician and is far more talented than I can hope to be. Because of the unusual way that he plays, it may be easy to simply write him off as a talented but gimmicky performer. But to do that would be ignoring the deeper implications of his playing style.
I'm not really sure if Andy invented his technique, but my observation here is purely theoretical anyway. Let's imagine that Andy McKee becomes incredibly famous. His music somehow becomes amazingly popular. It doesn't even have to be in his lifetime. Maybe 100 years from now, a prominent musician discovers his music and decides to learn the technique and share it with the rest of the world. Either way, when someone gets famous, others will imitate. Now say others try to play in his style. At first they will simply be called copycats, but as time wears on more and more will be adding their own style to Andy's original technique.
So regardless of how it happens, let's say that the Andy McKee style of playing has been popular for about 10 years. Big guitar companies like Fender and Gibson release a special model of guitar built specifically for that style, to cash in on it's popularity. It might have pads for hand percussion in specific places, or it will be shaped slightly different to allow more freedom of movement when playing (you'll notice that Andy's guitar is somewhat precarious resting on his right knee instead of his left). This new guitar type further legitimizes and solidifies the playing style. As years and years pass, more modifications and revisions will be made, until one day the Andy McKee style guitar will look very different from a standard acoustic, and will probably have it's own easy-to-say name. This is roughly how all instruments come into being; by evolutionary process.
Thus, you see that Andy McKee is inadvertently creating a new instrument. Or maybe he's doing it deliberately, I don't know the guy. He is a true musical pioneer, and there's a small chance that the scenario I described will actually happen. And now you can say you were there at the beginning.