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  1. #1
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    Default Did Mississippi John Hurt really invent alternating bass thumbpicking?

    I read that years ago that Mississippi John Hurt had made the claim that he basically invented the alternating bass thumbpicking he uses in all of his tunes. Could this be true? or was someone doing this long before he came around (he first recorded in 1928 I believe)

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    Blues is folk music; styles & tunes evolved informally across the generations. So it's unlikely any one person invented any one technique.

    You may know this, but many USAmerican Blues musicians are surprised to learn that bottleneck is West African, for example.

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    There's an old tradition to making this kind of claim .
    Muhammed Ali knew it well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie chitlins View Post
    There's an old tradition to making this kind of claim .
    Muhammed Ali knew it well.
    Cassius Clay was truly the first rapper I ever heard. But I'm white and was raised in Jim Crow culture. And the roots of rap are African. Not sure that's what you meant, Charlie...just my own free association

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    Signifying...
    Telling folks you're the greatest or invented this or that.
    It's a way of knocking folks down a peg that used to be more good-natured and less offensive than it is now.
    Being a Bluesman was more competitive then...or perceived to be.
    Dave van Ronk had a story about belting out Hoochie Coochie Man at a festival...giving it his all because he knew Muddy was there.
    When he asked Muddy how he liked it, Mud said something like, "That's supposed to be a FUNNY song, son."
    Now...there's an element of hyperbole and bragging in that song, but I SAW Muddy sing it, and there was nothing funny about his performance!
    He bumped Dave down a peg in that way he was accustomed to doing.
    Listen to Little Richard!
    I AM the architect of Rock and Roll! Jimi Hendrix was MY guitar player...."

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie chitlins View Post
    Signifying...
    Telling folks you're the greatest or invented this or that.
    It's a way of knocking folks down a peg that used to be more good-natured and less offensive than it is now.
    Being a Bluesman was more competitive then...or perceived to be.
    Dave van Ronk had a story about belting out Hoochie Coochie Man at a festival...giving it his all because he knew Muddy was there.
    When he asked Muddy how he liked it, Mud said something like, "That's supposed to be a FUNNY song, son."
    Now...there's an element of hyperbole and bragging in that song, but I SAW Muddy sing it, and there was nothing funny about his performance!
    He bumped Dave down a peg in that way he was accustomed to doing.
    Listen to Little Richard!
    I AM the architect of Rock and Roll! Jimi Hendrix was MY guitar player...."
    Gotcha, Charlie...And Jelly Roll Morton invented jazz...

  7. #7
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    From all I've read and heard, John wasn't a boisterous man. He certainly taught himself to play, and I've seen him quoted as saying he just "played guitar the way he thought a guitar should sound". There are many correlations between the way John and Elizabeth Cotten played, and Libba was self taught as well. Etta Baker played a similar style to Libba and John and she said she learned it from her dad.

    So, all of that is to say that while John probably didn't' "invent" the style, he certainly made it his own, as did Mrs. Cotten, and their influence has reached way outside the blues world (I'd venture a guess and say their influence is felt MORE outside of blues than in). Doc Watson, for instance, was enamored with him.


    It's all subjective, I suppose, but I've never heard any recorded examples of anyone playing anything even close to John Hurt before 1928 when John made his first records. I don't believe he was bragging or engaging in one upmanship, but it is obvious that his style of guitar playing wasn't the norm in Mississippi in the 1920's.



    Sent from my Z815 using Tapatalk

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    That alternating bass is getting into north Missisippi and the tail end of the Appalachia and Piedmont areas where if you listen to the white mountain man folk music its just about all alternating bass.
    Look at the Merle TRAVIS PICKIN SONGS! LOL
    That Travis style is where most of us white boys in the early 60s picked it up from "folk music" before we were exposed to black music other than Elizabeth Reed and Bukka White.
    Just as likely it originated in Ireland or Scotland.
    Once the Stones showed up with an album from Chess records it was all over for us as we made the association between rock and blues. Our Dad's would be forever annoyed by the constant beat of 'jungle music' LOL

 

 

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