I don’t know what it is about string instruments that mesmerize me so. The rousing strains of guitar music usually are enough to leave me in fits of ecstasy.
However, sometimes one needs to hear something more soothing. When I’m in this disposition, violins usually do the trick, but there is another instrument originating in the East which looks quite unwieldy, but produces the most orgasmic melodies imaginable – the Sitar.
When it comes to the Sitar, there is no better exponent of its power to tease the senses, than Ravi Shankar. I have chosen this video of a set he performed in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, during what is regarded as the precursor to Live Aid benefit concerts – The Concert for Bangladesh. The concert was organised by George Harrison of TheBeatles, in conjunction with Shankar.
Shankar is accompanied by Ali Akbar Khan, a well-known master of Indian music, on another beautiful string instrument, the Sarod.
For me, the most memorable part of the film Deliverance was the scene in which Ronny Cox on guitar, squares off against the inbred kid playing the banjo. Incidently, the composition made famous by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell for the film, was used without permission from the original composer Arthur Smith, who managed to sue the filmmakers successfully.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
Steve Martin is an actor who is more famous for his comedic roles in films, but is quite an accomplished banjo player too. Here he is accompanied by the Steep Canyon Rangers on the Late Show with David Letterman.
There are so many songs with great guitar riffs that I am partial to, but right now the one that’s playing in my head constantly is India/Mountain Time by Joe Bonamassa. I don’t know what it is about guitar riffs, but they cause my the fingers on one hand to involuntarily hold chords that are all wrong over an imaginary fret board, while the other strums on imaginary strings.
Air guitar is a phenomenon that affects many people the world over; I’m certainly not immune. But I tend to do it dead sober, even in public. I can’t help it, and here’s a reason why:
Hope that took you far away to another world. And don’t fight the impulse to straddle those imaginary strings; it’s quite okay to become afflicted too.