Sunday, April 6, 2008

Toto with a Twist of Andy Mckee...

Usually when the concept of an "awesome guitarist" comes to mind, I immediately think of anybody the likes of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, or even John Petrucci. However, this only proved how limited my perception was of guitar playing excellence when I came across an acoustic guitarist on YouTube a few weeks ago.

This is a totally different path in guitar playing and Andy Mckee has taken that path to another level. Below is a completely acoustic guitar version of Toto's song titled "Africa". I was amazed that he manages to play the rhythm guitar of the song, whilst playing the vocal melody in between. Take careful notice at how he plays chords. Normally tapping chords is best left played on an electric guitar. But Andy is able to make the chords very audible on a steel string. He even sneaks in a few percussive strokes to the body of his guitar for added flavor.

Apparently, Andy's version of the song is a piece emulated by others. Below is a video of some kid, named Sungha Jung, who's able to play the piece as well. Although the kid needs to polish up the way he's playing it, the fact of the matter is that he CAN play it. I'll blog about this guitar prodigy on a future post. Damn kids these days.

Now back to regular Andy Mckee programming. I started searching for other videos of acoustic six string deity Mckee. To my astonishment his skill exceeds past 6 strings in a very unique way. While other guitarists wield a 12 string guitar to play something beyond 6 strings, Andy dons a custom made steel string guitar. The large bump/extension on the top of his guitar allows for thicker bass strings to be included in the guitar's possible notes. Although it hilariously resembles a bird house and the fact that the extension doesn't really have additional frets, those bass strings allow Andy to be creative in his song writing. The video below is one of Andy's compositions titled "Into the Ocean".

This guy is amazing, hands down. I remember taking classical guitar lessons from the nearest Yamaha school years ago. But I never really took it seriously because I wanted to play grunge songs. I really should've kept at it. I would've been able to play some of Andy Mckee's pieces by now.



dyosa said...

Andy McKee was introduced to me by my brother last year and it was McKee who prompted my brother (who's now 16 yrs old) to buy a classical guitar so he can play. Just like the kid in your video, my brother also got a copy of McKee's arrangements (he bought it at his website, i think) and been playing them. This McKee dude is awesome.

I love YouTube. :-)

Sangos said...

Yep I suppose Andy has aroused renewed interest in the amazing world of the acoustic guitar. And some his compositions like Africa delves into world music. Think the success of a musical style is packaging existing genres into a more contemporary(popular!?) format. And thats where Andy's versatility comes in apart from his unearthly technical skills. Speaking of which John Petrucci has got impeccable technique along with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. I was amazed at Satriani and Vai playing classical Indian melodies in the Tokyo G3 concert. And of course we have Petrucci's Glasgow Kiss. All this proves the composition versatility of these players and their complete mastery over the instrument. In fact these musicians are so insanely developed that I wont be surprised if they jam together to play the most refined form of music on know what- The Guitar