#1
Anyone a fan of American Primitivism? I love this stuff, it is excellent. For those that don't know what it is it is a stripped down solo acoustic performance that incorporates everything from blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, folk, classical, avant garde, hindustani, anything really and is often fingerpicked in altered tunings. Guys like John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho, etc. Just wanted to know if there were any other fans on UG.

Links:

Leo Kottke:

Vaseline Machine Gun

Last Steam Engine Train & Stealing

John Fahey:


Poor Boys Long Way From Home

Red Pony

Peter Lang:


Wide Oval Rippoff

Snaker Ray Has Come And Gone

Wikipedia Article:

American Primitvism
#2
I absolutely love the music shown in those clips, but the bull**** talk around it pisses me off big time. Why distinguishing this as a genre? Why giving it such a silly and inapropriate name? What does 'primitive' mean in this context? It seems highly sophisticated music to me. Who came up with the bla-bla? The artists themselves or the trendy culture critics? I am a great lover of all kinds of arts, but as soon as I hear talk like on that Wiki-page you linked to, I'm off.
I strongly feel that musicians should stick to the Zappa doctrine: Shut up and play your guitar.
But then again; the music shown in the samples is really great.
Last edited by Marcel Veltman at Jul 13, 2008,
#3
Quote by Marcel Veltman
I absolutely love the music shown in those clips, but the bull**** talk around it pisses me off big time. Why distinguishing this as a genre? Why giving it such a silly and inapropriate name? What does 'primitive' mean in this context? It seems highly sophisticated music to me. Who came up with the bla-bla? The artists themselves or the trendy culture critics? I am a great lover of all kinds of arts, but as soon as I hear talk like on that Wiki-page you linked to, I'm off.
I strongly feel that musicians should stick to the Zappa doctrine: Shut up and play your guitar.
But then again; the music shown in the samples is really great.


Uhm actually it was the innovator of the genre named John Fahey who coined the term. It was meant to mean "untutored" and was a play on the French Primitive art movement, which was basically self taught artists. For example, if you notice John Fahey will occasionally stumble over some licks or use a thumb over the neck technique which he uses to fret notes on the E and A string, neither of those things would be done by a trained guitarist of the time.
Last edited by rock_and_blues at Jul 13, 2008,
#4
very interesting music to say the least. the songs from the links are great!
#5
I dunno...
Three objections

First: What poses a distinct genre that deserves to be given a name? This matter can't even be resolved when discussing genre's like Classical or Country. In music (or any other art) there are hardly ever clear cut boundaries; it's all fuzzy round the edges. A particular song can qualify as being folk, rock, country, pop, jazz and blues all at the same time. There are so many categories already that it is hardly ever neccesary to invent a new one. Especially in the case of 'American Primitive' I see no need for this at all. Lot's of folk and country artists do things like this without anybody noticing anything out of the ordinary.

Second: What do you mean by 'incorporating (naming a lot of genres)' To my opinion music is one of the most eclectic art forms around, and everybody picks up everything from everybody else. All music is fusion of some sort, especially American music. Once again 'American Primitive' doesn't stand out enough to deserve a name of it's own.

Third: There is nothing special about lack of virtuosity. A song being played by an uneducated amateur doesn't lose it's place in a genre for that reason. Beside that, the lack of technique in mr.Fahey's playing is not at all evident. Maybe if you compare it with a classical player having had formal education, but with the average country picker he comes along fine, even with those who perform and record on a professional basis. So while primitivity is no reason to name it a genre, this particular music is not primitive enough to be qualified as such.

All in all I think this kind of talk has a high level of Mierda del Toros, as the Spanish would never call it. It's there to impress to know-a-lots in the audience and among the critics, and obviously mr. Fahey knows what kind of talk to use to sell his country picking to a culturally educated and very critical audience. That in itself is a highly sophisticated art form that mr. Fohey masters at a more than primitive level.

I like his music more though.
#6
Actually, this is the "form" in which I play. However, like Marcel Veltman, I disagree with terming it "American primitivism".

And LOL at "mierda de toros"
My God, it's full of stars!
#7
I'm a big fan of John Fahey! Theres a great set of videos on youtube of him being interviewed/playing

/e: But I can't find them.. Wouldn't surpise me if they've been removed due to copyright infringement or some rubbish.
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god
Wandering, wandering in hopeless night
Out here in the perimeter there are no stars

Out here we is stoned
Immaculate.
Last edited by Highbinder at Jul 13, 2008,
#8
I have to agree with Dreadnought and Macrce Veltman.

American Primitivism? Sounds a hell of a lot like some old country blues to me.
It's Only Rock and Roll, But I like It
#9
Listen I didn't name it. That is it's name as called by the movement's founder and innovator John Fahey, and given to most of the performers on his Takoma record label. If you have an issue with the name take it up with him (although John Fahey is dead, so it may be a bit hard), as it is his invention. One of his objectives was to keep the folkies from calling it new age and to keep the hippies from calling it folk, it is neither. It is a solo performance of a synthesis between American roots styles with classical and world styles. He named it, not me, I go by his name. Mr. Fahey died a broke alcoholic, his goal was by no means "to sell his country picking to a culturally educated and very critical audience.". Call it whatever you will, I will use the name he gave it. Let's just discuss the music.
#10
Veltman, you talk too much, giving the impression you like to hear yourself pontificate a lot. If the matter of genre names "can't even be resolved" then why go on about it? Your tone is worse than the "know-a-lots" you claim to detest. Isn't it enough to appreciate the posting and enjoy the music?

Quote by Marcel Veltman
I dunno...
Three objections

First: What poses a distinct genre that deserves to be given a name? This matter can't even be resolved when discussing genre's like Classical or Country. In music (or any other art) there are hardly ever clear cut boundaries; it's all fuzzy round the edges. A particular song can qualify as being folk, rock, country, pop, jazz and blues all at the same time. There are so many categories already that it is hardly ever neccesary to invent a new one. Especially in the case of 'American Primitive' I see no need for this at all. Lot's of folk and country artists do things like this without anybody noticing anything out of the ordinary.

Second: What do you mean by 'incorporating (naming a lot of genres)' To my opinion music is one of the most eclectic art forms around, and everybody picks up everything from everybody else. All music is fusion of some sort, especially American music. Once again 'American Primitive' doesn't stand out enough to deserve a name of it's own.

Third: There is nothing special about lack of virtuosity. A song being played by an uneducated amateur doesn't lose it's place in a genre for that reason. Beside that, the lack of technique in mr.Fahey's playing is not at all evident. Maybe if you compare it with a classical player having had formal education, but with the average country picker he comes along fine, even with those who perform and record on a professional basis. So while primitivity is no reason to name it a genre, this particular music is not primitive enough to be qualified as such.

All in all I think this kind of talk has a high level of Mierda del Toros, as the Spanish would never call it. It's there to impress to know-a-lots in the audience and among the critics, and obviously mr. Fahey knows what kind of talk to use to sell his country picking to a culturally educated and very critical audience. That in itself is a highly sophisticated art form that mr. Fohey masters at a more than primitive level.

I like his music more though.
Last edited by abaraba at Jul 14, 2015,
#11
Well, I was around when Kottke hit the scene and knocked everybody out. Fahey wasn't getting the airplay then, but he was definitely mentioned in the same breaath.
That was back when I was just starting to pick up the instrument, and many of my already-playing friends were trying to figure out what Kottke was doing...
We had one fellow who had been trying to capture one of Kottke's songs from his first album, "Six and Twelve String Guitar", and could not figure out what he was doing at one point......Kottke broke a string......

Back before easy digital "punch out" corrections, they just left it in.

I don't know if this rather small group of guitarists might be classified as a separate genre, but they were highly influential and I suspect that a lot of the "space" music that came after was so influenced.
#12
I guess I play stuff more or less in that category, untutored fingerpicking, full of clams. I think that the name is a bit pretentious and self-serving though. What about Bert Jansch, one of the greats, and a Brit, and all the early blues players?

EDIT I think this might be called Ämerican primitive even if played by a Brit-Australian

Worried man

It is a single one-off take. The guitar had a re-entrant tuning, and it was out of tune, not deliberately. About halfway through I had a major ****-up and had to try a recovery. We thought it was daft enough to be worth keeping.
Last edited by Tony Done at Jul 15, 2015,
#14
Quote by rock_and_blues
Anyone a fan of American Primitivism?


I just discovered John Fahey last week, and the exact same tunes you listed (Red Pony/Poor Boys Long Way from Home). Great stuff. Totally different guitar from what I'd heard before, and probably more similar to Flamenco (Red Pony at least) than anything else. Odd observation huh? I'd consider Fahey's music to be folk music, but he'd have bristled at that.

I don't have any problem with Fahey calling it "American Primitivism". He pretty much admits he just pulled it out of his butt to describe untutored play (same as other guys have said). However I think the term applies more to the music he was playing....lots of stuff Fahey played was created and never written down on a sheet before he came along, hence "untutored" music. Couldn't get the above link for Red Pony to work so I'm linking it below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSh-YsyjpXk
Last edited by TobusRex at Jul 15, 2015,
#15
i like this stuff. who cares about the name? -it just let's me know where to find it really.

how about gillian welch and dave rawlings? -good stuff imo.
Last edited by ad_works at Jul 16, 2015,