If you enjoy playing acoustic guitar music you will most likely have heard of Davy Graham. Some people believe he is the founder of the world music genre, some guitar players believe he invented the DADGAD tuning.
Davy was born in England in 1940. He grew up in the age of the "beatnik", the time when the values of society were being questioned by young intellectuals and the traditions of music were being challenged by the interest of young people in jazz. The changes in society that began in the nineteen forties and fifties also included the widespread use of drugs, and Davy Graham's career was all but destroyed by his substance abuse.
Davy's guitar playing roots were in folk music but his interests were much wider. Jazz was beginning to influence many musicians in the fifties and this, in turn led folk guitar players like Davy Graham in unexpected directions. One of these directions was towards the music of the middle east. It was commonplace for players of the slide guitar to deviate from the standard E A D G B E tuning but until Davy Graham began tuning his guitar to D A D G A D there was no one alternative tuning for guitarists interested in improvisation.
Davy Graham's DADGAD tuning gave guitar players a way of maintaining a predominant accompaniment while they explored new melodic and harmonic possibilities of the piece they were playing. This was a step further than simply tuning the guitar to an open chord as the slide guitar players often did.
If the DADGAD tuning started with Davy Graham, it is ironic that his most famous composition is played using standard tuning. In the early sixties Davy composed a tune called "Angie", named after his girlfriend. The piece is basically a set around three riffs, and every guitarist who has recorded it has added his own variations on the existing riffs or added his own. The theme that drives the piece is a descending chord sequence of A minor, G, F and E. This is a progression you will find in many styles of music, used in many ways but "Angie" seemed to fire up the imagination of everyone who heard it. The spelling of the tune appeared as "Anji" on Simon And Garfunkel's "Sounds Of Silence" Album.
Apart from Paul Simon, Davy Graham's guitar innovations of the nineteen sixties influenced many other guitarists over the next twenty years. Bert Jansch, John Renbourne and the members of folk-rock fusion bands like Pentangle and Fairport Convention owe a debt to Davy Graham.
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