gaberlunzie (UK, also "gaberlunyie") a beggar or beggar's wallet.
Gaelic the language of the Celtic people. There are five versions of Gaelic extant: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx, and Brittany. There has been a revival of the language in recent years, and it is now being taught again in some areas. Scots Gael can be heard in Cape Breton on Canada's east coast and turns up in modern recordings by performers such as the Rankin Family.
There are folk songs still published in Gaelic. Peter Kennedy's "Folksongs of Britain and Ireland" includes many (see books).
gaed (Scot., also "ganged") gone, went.
gaffer (British usage) specifically, the head organizer of a folk club or festival; in general, someone at the top - "When it comes to knowledge of folk songs and guitar playing, Martin Carthy is the gaffer".
Gahr, David one of folkdom's behind-the-scenes people about whom little is known, except that he has apparently photographed everybody in American folk music. His photographs have appeared regularly in Sing Out!, in Oak Publications, and on album covers since the late 50s. Much of his work has been published in the book "The Face of Folk", Citadel Press NY,, 1968, with text by music critic Robert Shelton.
galliard a baroque court dance popular in the 16th to 17th centuries. It's usually in triple meter and uses hemiola. It was often paired with a slower dance such as the pavane.
gambolier (pron. "gambo-leer") it seems to be used in songs as "gambler", but since the root of the word is "to frolic", it can also be used in the sense of "rake", or somebody having a good time irresponsibly.
gamut a bit of trivia for you: the word is an archaic term for the musical scale, so the popular phrase "run the gamut from A to Z" is incorrect usage; "A to G" would do it.
It's actually a contraction of "gamma-ut"; the Greek "gamma" stood for G, the lowest note in one of the medieval hexachords, and "ut" was the forerunner of our "do" in the do-re-mis. 17th-century musical dictionaries sometimes give the spelling as "gam-ut". See Guido d'Arezzo for the attributed origin of the do-re-mis.
gandy dancer see lining track.
gang (Scot.) go.
gar (UK, also "gaur") make, force, cause to happen.
garland dance a ritual ring dance - the dancers hold long strands of flowers, and these become woven into patterns as the dance steps progress.
Gateway Singers San Francisco folk group, quite popular from the late 50s through 1961. Lou Gottlieb was the bass player, and left to form the Limeliters. They had several albums on Capitol.
gauge in general, the diameter of the string used on stringed instruments. They are usually available in heavy, medium, light, and extra-light gauges. The smaller the diameter, the easier the instrument is to play, but the softer the loudness and tone. It takes some experimenting to reach a happy medium, so to speak.
The definition of heavy, medium, etc., varies with the manufacturer, so some musicians prefer to specify the gauge in thousandths of an inch; most companies now list this on the packaging.
Gaughan, Dick Scottish singer and guitarist who performs both traditional and contemporary songs. Along with Carthy, Martin he remains one of the best folk guitarists in the UK, if not the world - his Leader recording of dance tunes was a landmark effort. Few can match his singing of the epic ballads. Fred Woods of Folk Review said that Dick was "the best singer in the country" and possibly the best singer anywhere.
He played guitar and sang for the group Five Hand Reel for a few years, but left to continue a more traditionally-oriented solo career.
gavotte a baroque dance in duple meter with regular four-measure phrases, similar to the bourree but without the syncopation.
Georgia Bill pseudonym used by Blind Willie McTell.
genteel as Bert Lloyd (see Lloyd, A.L.) pointed out in his "Folk Song in England", many songs have been tarted up for the upper classes, complete with gooey words. Greensleeves is a fine example. See also bowdlerize. These songs stick out and wave flags at traddies, since the overblown lyrics have all the grace and flow of a man with a broken leg climbing a flight of stairs. In some cases, the heavy-handed editing produces a lyric that doesn't even make sense, because the main point has been snipped out.
Georgia Sea Island Singers started in the 1920s to preserve the culture and songs of the islands off the coast of Georgia. Their repertoire is a mix of gospel, rowing songs, work and play songs, etc. "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" is said to have originated in the Georgia Sea Islands. The group has played many major festivals and has a number of albums.
Geremia, Paul (1944- ) a Rhode Island guitarist, pianist, harp player, and vocalist who performs blues, ballads, ragtime, etc. He was influenced by older bluesmen such as Johnson, Robert, Anderson, Pink, and Hurt, John, as well as the urban interpreters like Van Ronk, Dave, Koerner, John, and Rush, Tom. He recorded for Folkways and Adelphi.
Gerlach, Fred a singer/guitarist specializing in the 12-string, and one who has preserved the complex arrangements of Leadbelly for that instrument. He made a Folkways album in 1962, "Folk Songs and Blues".
Gibson a famous guitar brand, one of the top US three along with Martin and Guild. The company was formed by Orville Gibson (1856-1918) in NY, later Michigan. After WWI, they produced guitars, banjos, and mandolins, and brought out an electric model after WWII (see also Paul, Les). The guitar lines were expanded after the guitar's popularity got a boost from performers such as the Carter Family; another peak occurred during the folk revival of the 50s and 60s.
Gibson, Bob (1931-1996) a popular Chicago and NYC folksinger during the mid-50s, Bob toured extensively and recorded for various labels (Riverside, Stinson, etc.) into the 90s. He had a great influence on the up-and-coming performers in the 60s, such as the Kingston Trio, Lightfoot, Gordon, Peter, Paul & Mary, and many others of the folk revival. He collaborated with Ochs, Phil, Baez, Joan, Silverstein, Shel, Paxton, Tom, Camp, Hamilton and Smith, Michael. His performances and songs are part of the roots of the revival.
gie (Scot.) give.
gig (from jazz argot) a public performance, which may consist of multiple appearances. A gig is usually paid, but playing for free just to do it is a matter of course in folk music. See money. As Ian Robb pointed out in a 1991 Sing Out!, the North American folk circuit is not large enough to support everyone who would like to make a full-time living from it. See also house concert.
Gilbert, Ronnie member of the Weavers from their inception in the late 40s and still performing as a singer.
gill (UK) with a hard "g", a glen; with a soft "g", a liquid measure equal to 1/4 pint and, in older songs, usually referring to liquor. The current gill served in English pubs is much smaller than this, closer to the North American shot of liquor.
gin 1. (Australian, with a soft "g") aborigine, esp. a woman. 2. (Scot. with a hard "g"), if.
glass harmonica a device invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761, and also called an "armonica". Nothing whatsoever to do with folk's harmonica - it was a series of different-sized glass bowls rotating on a spindle; touching the bowls with a wetted finger (obviously a digital instrument) produced tones. Some models had keyboards to eliminate wet fingers. Beethoven and Mozart wrote for it.
Glazer, Tom (1914- ) American folksinger from the 40s and 50s; see People's Songs. He was particularly successful with children's records; from 1950 to 1960 he sold about a half million albums.
glee 1. (from the OE "gliw", "music") Originally in the 18th-19th centuries, the glee was a specific type of a cappella choir piece. It had different settings for various groups of verses, but wasn't as complex as the full madrigal. The present meaning, as in "glee club", has lost all connection with this and simply means a singing group. 2. (Scot.) Glove.
Glesca (Scot.) Glasgow.
glissando a continuous, rapid glide up or down the scale - it can be produced by running the finger up or down the piano keyboard, or by sliding the lefthand finger on a violin neck to produce a gliding tone.
Glover, Tony Dave "Tony" Glover took his nickname to avoid being confused with Dave Ray, his colleague along with Koerner, John in Koerner, Ray & Glover; he was also called (apparently rarely) "Little Sun". His harp playing for the trio led to the writing of his tutorial "Blues Harp" for Oak Publications. He is also one of the few people from the university days in Minneapolis in 1959 who maintained a friendship with Dylan, Bob.
go down (UK). Child gives the definition as "be hanged", which would be consistent with its usage in many shanties. However, it's also used in mining songs as "go down to the coal". In some songs, it functions as a mere expression to keep things going.
Goldstein, Kenneth (1927-1995) prominent US folklorist and folksong collector as well as a record producer, having produced over 500 records of folk music. He has a number of books on folklore and song and is a widely quoted authority in various works.
goliard 12th- and 13-century minstrels who wrote songs based on church music of the time, but in favour of revelery in general. Carl Orff used verses by the goliards in his famous setting "Carmina Burana Suite".
goober peas the dictionary says that they're peanuts, but Lomax, Alan, collector of "Eating Goober Peas", said that they're chickpeas; it probably depends on the locality.
good- (Scot.) an in-law, such as goodson, goodbrother. Or as "goodman" or "goodwife", a husband or wife. Also spelled "gude" or "guid".
Goodman, Steve (1948-1984) singer-songwriter from Chicago who is probably best known for "Penny Evans" and "The City of New Orleans" (written in 1970), a plaintive song about the decline of the railroads, and a hit by Guthrie, Arlo in 1972. He also popularized "The Dutchman" by Smith, Michael. He was a hit at international festivals and clubs, and his wide-ranging repertoire even included a satire of C&W: "I was drunk the night Mama got out of prison..." and he even did commercial jingles for a while.
As Arlo wrote in Sing Out! "...his songs will survive a long time. It's nice that he left something that's going to outlive all of us." Steve died of leukemia in September, 1984.
goodnight ballad a song with lyrics said to be a dying confession, or the last words of someone, usually a condemned person. See also broadside. Lomax, Alan wrote "...the criminal is given an opportunity to tell his story and make an appeal for sympathy as he stands upon the scaffold. In other ballads the stories are reported with an obvious relish, although an apologetic moral may be tacked on at the end." For a condemned man who's anything but apologetic, see the brief history of "Sam Hall" under song family.
One of the best of the American goodnight ballads is "Hang Me, Oh, Hang Me" (aka "Been All Around This World", though there are other songs by this name):
"Hang me, oh, hang me,
And I'll be dead and gone. (2x)
Wouldn't mind the hangin',
But the layin' in the grave so long, poor boy,
I been all around this world.
Been all around Cape Girardeau,
Parts of Arkansas.
All around Cape Girardeau,
Parts of Arkansas,
Got so goddamn hungry,
I could hide behind a straw, poor boy,
I been all around this world.
Went up on the mountain,
And there I made my stand. (2x)
Rifle on my shoulder,
And a dagger in my hand, poor boy,
I been all around this world.
They put the rope around my neck,
Hung me up so high. (2x)
Last words I heard 'em say,
Won't be long now 'fore you die, poor boy,
I been all around this world."
gospel traditional music from the church, basically divided into southern white gospel (for example, as popularized by the Stanley Brothers) and black gospel (which greatly influenced freedom songs).
Gossett Jr, Lou best known as an actor, Lou started in the folk revival in Greenwich Village in the 60s. He is the author of "Handsome Johnny", recorded by Havens, Richie.
go the distance performers often arrive at a festival on a Friday night and proceed to sing and play and party and drink until dawn, blissfully forgetful of the fact that they may have workshops at noon on Saturday. Bleary-eyed and unedifying morning workshops are par for the course. The *real* Trojans are the ones who can claim to have been on the road for two weeks, doing exactly the same thing each night.
Said performers may or may not learn to pace themselves so that they retain enough energy to put on good night concerts. A close look at them in the afternoon beer tent may reveal this. Performers wearing dark glasses indoors are suspect.
gowd (Scot.) gold.
Gow, Niel (1727-1807) famous Scottish violinist who composed many reels and strathspeys that are still played today, such as "Farewell to Whisky" (his doctor's orders) and "Welcome Whisky Back Again" (apparently he got well). Note the odd spelling of "Neil".
grace notes notes of short duration used to ornament a melody. They can be removed without losing the essential tune, but add interest. In music notation, the grace notes are often printed in a smaller size and tied to the melody notes, and with a diagonal line through the stems. The grace note and main note share the allotted time value of the main note (the division is up to the performer). In stringed-instrument playing, grace notes are often played with the left hand - see hammer.
Graham, Davey (1940- ) British guitarist and singer from the 60s. He is little known to the public, but greatly influenced other guitarists (such as Renbourn, John and Jansch, Bert) with such compositions as his intricate finger-style instrumental "Angie" (which is sometimes seen as "Anji"). International music and jazz influenced his writing. He is said to have popularized the now-common DADGAD open tuning, which he adapted from Middle Eastern instrument tuning. He has a number of albums on Decca and Kicking Mule.
Grainger, Percy (1882-1961) Australian composer (later an American citizen). He collected folk songs and popularized several morris tunes that he heard in the Cotswolds, including "Shepherd's Hey". He received the morris tune Country Gardens (later "An English Country Garden") from Sharp, Cecil and had an enormous success with his arrangement of it. He also arranged "Londonderry Air", discussed under Irish music. His early phonograph recordings of traditional singers (such as the singers at Lincolnshire's Brigg Fair) are an important resource to both collectors and performers.
His compositions were full of folksong influence: one of his works was entitled "Mock Morris" and featured morris-like tunes. He was noted as being quite good at composing original tunes, although he's better remembered for his arrangements of existing material.
Although he did well as a composer and arranger, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians noted, "He has escaped the bane of importance." Many of us share that characteristic.
grammarie (UK, also "grammaree", "gramarye") in folksong, this refers to basic education (the three Rs), although the word is occasionally used to mean the occult, or magic. "Glamour" is still used in Scottish dialect with the meaning of magic. See also folk process for more on this word.
grand clef see great clef.
Grandpa Jones (1913- ) (Louis Jones) a Kentucky banjo player who began in radio work in the 30s. He learned frailing banjo in the late 30s and in 1942 joined a quartet called The Brown's Ferry Four - the other members were Travis, Merle and the Delmore Brothers. He also worked with Kincaid, Bradley in the 30s (it was Bradley who mainly invented the Grandpa image). From 1969 to 1992 he was a regular on the "Hee Haw" TV show.
He wrote and recorded "Eight More Miles to Louisville", which was also recorded in the 60s by Kweskin, Jim. After Hee Haw, he continued to perform with the Grand Ole Opry.
Grand Ole Opry a radio variety program that presented a wide range of country music, Appalachian music, etc., from 1926 to the present TV productions, which began in the 50s. It went national in 1939 when NBC carried it on network radio. Since its inception, the cast has included just about everybody who's famous in C&W. Since the 70s, it has gone big-time show-biz, located in a Nashville theme park called "Opryland USA". See also Macon, Uncle Dave.
In the early decades, the G.O.O. brought many rural musicians to the fore, capitalizing on the popularity of "hillybilly" music. They exploited the rural image, insisting on band names such as "Honey Drippers", "Possum Hunters", and so on.
grat see greet.
great clef (also "great staff", "grand clef") the bass staff and treble staff together, as in piano notation.
Great Folk Scare see folk revival.
gree (Scot.) prize, first place.
Greek modes see mode.
Greenbriar Boys see Herald, John.
Green Grow the Rashes-O a song by Burns, Robert and not to be confused with the song below.
Green Grow the Rushes-O aka "The Dilly Song", this is said to be of Cornish origin and was once used to teach the Creed. Some songbooks say that the meaning of the lyrics has been lost, leaving us with only a pleasant but cryptic ditty to sing around the campfire, but the "Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse" gives an explanation, which follows the lyrics below:
"I'll sing you One-O, green grow the rushes-O.
What is your One-O?
One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.
I'll sing you Two-O, green grow the rushes-O.
What is your Two-O?
Two, two, the lily-white boys cloth-ed all in green-O,
One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.
(continuing in a like manner, adding a number each time)
Three for the rivals
Four for the Gospel makers
Five for the symbol at your door
Six for the six proud walkers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Eight for the eight bold rangers
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Ten for the ten commandments
Eleven for the eleven who went to heaven
Twelve for the twelve apostles
One = God
Two = Christ and John the Baptist
Three = the Magi
Four = the Evangelists
Five = "possibly the Hebraic pentagon... but possibly the
five wounds of Christ."
Six = those who carried the waterpots at the feast of Cana
Seven = the Great Bear or the planets
Eight = the Archangels
Nine = either the orders of Angels or the joys of Mary
Ten = self-explanatory
Eleven and Twelve = the Apostles (eleven without Judas)
Greensleeves nope, Henry VIII didn't write it. It was first published in 1580 and may be much older than that. It's been around in various guises, including bawdy versions that probably would have had a simplified melody (one still around today as the song "Shepherd, O Shepherd, Will You Come Home"); the lovely setting we know today has been attributed to lutenist John Dowland (1562-1626). It was sung in the 17th century as a Christmas song with the words "The old year now away has fled, the new year now is enter-ed"; this is a waits carol, and the version in the "Oxford Book of Carols" (dated 1642 and listing the music as traditional).
It reached its second-lowest point with the genteel lyrics Bert Lloyd Lloyd, A.L. called "ghastly": "Alas, my love you do me wrong..." and bottomed out with the current gooey version played at Christmas time (the "What Child Is This" lyrics were written by William Dix in the 19th century).
greet (UK) to cry for, insist on. Also "grat", particularly as a past tense.
Gregorian chant plainsong used in the Christian church since it was accepted as a formal religion in the fourth century, though no notation of the music shows up until about the 9th century. Pope Gregory I (540-604) has his name firmly attached to the styles and the modes that are used, but musicologists doubt his actual influence. The stark simplicity can have a powerful effect; the chants have a simple unaccompanied melody, with harmonies that favor parallel fourths, fifths, and octaves, a harmony known as organum.
The notation of the earliest chants used simple shorthand symbols ( neumes) around a single horizontal line, and with no indication of meter. Later the single line became four, and the neumes incorporated indications of the timing.
By the 11th century, simple parallels had been abandoned in favor of various intervals in the harmony lines. The main melody, called the "cantus firmus", formerly at the top, could now be at the bottom, or even cross with the other melodies. In the 12th and 13th centuries, rhythm became more interesting with the addition of multiple harmony notes against each note of the cantus firmus; previously it had been note-against-note.
It's of interest that until the 13th century, the meter was always triple; duple meter was unthinkable. The idea was that triple meant perfection, partly from the religious aspect (the Trinity) and partly from natural philosophy (everything has a beginning, middle, and end).
The chant, together with its four-line notation and neumes, is still in use today, unchanged from its medieval form. This is remarkable in itself, but less so than the persistence of folk music forms, which travel through time without imposed standards (see moldy figs, organum, or the last part of collectors for related comments).
At present (1994) there is a best-selling CD of Gregorian chants by Benedictine monks - such a bestseller that there is even a parody of the recording: "The Benzedrine Monks", who do songs such as "We Will Rock You" and "Do You Think I'm Sexy" in the Gregorian style. The electric folk group Steeleye Span had a hit in the UK in the 70s with the a cappella chant "Gaudete".
See also Guido d'Arezzo, who worked out a symbolic system for the pitches in chant singing.
grog 1. In general, any alcoholic drink. 2. In the British navy in times past, a strong alcoholic drink (often rum) diluted with water. In the late 18th century, lemon juice was added to prevent the scurvy that crippled many of the world's navies. It could be truthfully said that grog won Nelson's victories for him, since other countries hadn't then found out how to prevent scurvy and often lost half their sailors to this vitamin deficiency. See limies. 3. A favorite subject for songs of good company - "Here's to the grog, the jolly, jolly grog, here's to me rum and tobacco..."
Grossman, Albert (1927-1986) co-producer of the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, and later manager for Dylan, Bob, Peter, Paul & Mary, Butterfield, Paul, Ian & Sylvia, Lightfoot, Gordon, Havens, Richie, Baez, Joan, and others. See also Dont Look Back.
The stuff of silly legends: writer Robert Shelton reported that Albert and Lomax, Alan got into a punchup at Newport 1965 because Albert felt that Alan (host of one of the blues workshops) had slighted the white blues of his client, Paul Butterfield. Nice to see that even the gods on Mount Olympus have trouble with folksong, definition.
Grossman, Stefan (1945- ) while checking out the Greenwich Village folk scene during the 60s, Stefan became a guitar student of Davis, Rev. Gary, Hurt, John and other guitar greats. He formed the Even Dozen Jug Band and has performed widely, including a stint on electric guitar for the band Chicago Loop. He is perhaps best known as an instructor, having published a record and book on blues guitar playing, and has written many tutorials for Sing Out! and Oak Publications. In 1973, he co-founded Kicking Mule records, a label for the folk guitar repertoire.
gruel thin oatmeal porridge.
gruppetto (It.) see turn.
GSO Guitar Shaped Object, although the abbreviation can be adapted to any instrument. A deprecating remark about a notionally poor instrument: "That's not a guitar - it's a guitar-shaped-object."
Guabi, Guabi a South African folk song tremendously popular with folkies in the 60s and 70s, thanks to the recordings of Elliott, Jack and Kweskin, Jim. It's a Zulu children's song with a wonderful melody and addictive guitar fingerpicking, and was taken from the singing and playing of guitarist Sibanda.
The song is about someone who teases his girlfriend by holding something behind his back and saying, "Guess what I've got." It's an interesting mix of Zulu and French expressions, and this English transliteration and translation is from Andrew Tracy of the African Music Society thanks to the guitar tutorials of Traum, Happy:
"Guabi, Guabi, guzwangle notamb yami,
(Hear, Guabi, Guabi, I have a girlfriend)
Ihlale nkamben', shu'ngyamtanda
(She lives at Nkamben, sure I love her)
Ngizamtenge la mabanzi, iziwichi le banana."
(I will buy her buns, sweets, and bananas.)
If you've never heard the song sung before, the above is miles away from the actual sound of the African language. Such is the transliteration and its shortcomings.
See also Click Song, Wimoweh.
guest set many folk clubs open the night with a two, three or four song set by visiting performers, of ability ranging from beginner to virtuoso. In other cases, the night will be opened by the residents. An open stage or "open mike" is made up of guest sets.
guid (Scot.) good. See also good-.
Guido d'Arezzo (~995-~1050) a Benedictine monk who taught at the cathedral at Arezzo about 1025. Although he was not considered a musical theorist, he did an amazing job of codifying existing systems of scales, notation, etc. It's said that he named the six notes of the hexachord scale after the first syllable in the first six lines of a hymn to Saint John the Baptist:
The ut-re-mis became our do-re-mis; the missing seventh note was added to the hexachord in late medieval times (called "si" [from "Sancte Iohannes"], and later "ti"), and the "ut" changed to "do" (from "dominus") shortly after 1600. "Ut" turns up in the word gamut.
He also developed a system for indicating the notes to singers by pointing to the joints of his left hand (the "Guidonian Hand" system). Signal systems like these are called chironomy. For more on the do-re-mis, see scale.
In the 17th century, someone wrote that Guido was the "father of temperament", probably because he wrote on methods of deriving notes via string lengths of the monochord, but there's no evidence of his being involved in any sort of scale tempering.
Guild a famous guitar brand, one of three US leaders along with Martin and Gibson. The company was founded in 1952 and has seen a number of different owners, with the latest (1996) being the Fender Musical Instrument Company. They have lines of both acoustic and electric models, and for a while, they produced amplifiers.
Guinchard, Rufus (1899-1990) Newfoundland fiddler and accordionist who began playing for dances at 14. He was relatively unknown until 1972, but soon began touring the world to play his fiddle music. He recorded three albums and has made a video of his life and music. He had an eccentric way of holding the fiddle, placing it across his chest and bracing it against his right shoulder.
guitar the guitar is a relative newcomer to folk music. Though it has a centuries-old history, being a relative of the lute, it was seen as a sort of front-parlor diversion in North America until the turn of the century, with the then-dominant instruments being the fiddle and the banjo. The appearance of low-cost guitars then made them the ideal rhythm instrument for the newly-emerging old-timey bands, and the country blues artists welcomed the versatility, economy, and portability. Pickers soon began to explore the instrument's versatility.
Today it's the instrument of choice for general-purpose accompaniment (although the squeezebox is taking over). The folk version is almost always the six-string acoustic with steel strings, and usually the neck joins the body at the 14th fret for easier access to higher frets. A few play the classical guitar, which has nylon strings, but it requires a special skill in playing to avoid a dull plunky sound. For other guitar types, see acoustic, bass guitar, bottleneck style, Dobro, f-hole, Hawaiian guitar, high string guitar, National, pedal steel, slide guitar, tenor guitar.
For related terms, see action, APG, cheat sheet, fingerboard, intonation, rasgueado, sound hole, sweep, truss rod.
For some styles of playing, see fingerpicking, dead thumb, Travis picking, flatpicking.
The usual tuning for all types is E A D G B E, with the B (second string) a semitone below middle C (this isn't what sounds when you play from music - see notation, guitar). For some other tunings, see open tuning, modal tuning, slack tuning. Note that the usual tuning results in an instrument tuned in fourths, with a third between the third and second strings.
The 12-string guitar is really just a regular guitar (usually larger) with six pairs of strings. It was relatively unknown outside of country blues until the folk revival, being played mainly by performers such as Leadbelly, Blind Willie McTell, and Fuller, Jesse. In the 60s, it was popularized by the playing of Seeger, Pete and the hit song "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers. The Byrds used an electric twelve in their arrangements.
The loudness and rich tones of the 12-string guitar make it a favorite. Unfortunately, some never learn that it can produce what Pete Seeger called "too much fat in the gravy". The loudness can become tiresome when it's in the grip of the ham-handed. The 12-string is usually tuned E A D G B E like the 6-string, but the lowest four courses are octave pairs and the highest two are unison pairs. Occasionally the third pair is unison instead of an octave, and sometimes the bass courses use double octaves, though this is rare. Some guitarists tune the 12-string down one or two whole tones (or even more) to accent the 12's powerful bass and relieve some of the considerable string tension for easier playing.
There have been guitars made with other numbers of strings, such as seven or nine, no doubt based on lute tuning, but they are seen only occasionally (see Koerner, John).
guitarron see bass guitar.
Gullah a creole language spoken in the Georgia Sea Islands, consisting of English mixed with words and phrases from African languages. The familiar word juke is from Gullah.
Gunning, Sarah (1910- ) a Kentucky singer from the coal-mining regions. She learned traditional ballads from her family and put the style to good use in her labor songs and songs about the area ("Girl of Constant Sorrow" is probably her best-known work). She was recorded by Lomax, Alan in 1937, and again by Folk-Legacy in the 60s. She performed at Newport in 1964 and has since played many major festivals. Her half-sister was Jackson, Aunt Molly.
gut at one time, strings were actually made from animal intestines. The word remains in occasional use, but now refers to nylon strings, except perhaps with period players. See also catgut.
gutbucket 1. See washtub bass. 2. A rough and ready jazz or blues style, like jug band or barrelhouse. Rarely used.
Guthrie, Arlo (1947- ) son of Woody, Arlo came to folk music through the legions of musicians who visited his father, such as Pete Seeger and Jack Elliott. He began performing (vocal and guitar) at various clubs in the mid-60s, but didn't reach his peak of fame until a tape of the famous "Alice's Restaurant" was played over and over in early 1967 by a NYC radio station. He performed it at Newport that year, and recorded it on an album for Reprise in the fall. A second album of his songs followed shortly, and then the film (see movies).
He continued to perform, recording more albums for Reprise and Warner. In 1992, he moved his record label ("Rising Son") and newsletter ("Rolling Blunder Review") into the church used by Alice for the restaurant (it's in Great Barrington, Mass., not Stockbridge). The building is also used as a center for AIDS sufferers and abused children.
Arlo continues to record and perform, and recently (1994) had a part in Steve Bochco's "Byrds of Paradise" on ABC TV, playing (of course) a singer-guitarist.
Guthrie, Woody (1912-1967) (Woodrow Wilson Guthrie) certainly one of the most famous folksingers in the world. Much has been written about him, so only a capsule bio appears here. The interested are referred to Joe Klein's superb biography, "Woody Guthrie - A Life", Ballantine 1980. There is also a Woody Guthrie Web page with much related information; see Internet folk.
Woody travelled the US extensively with people like Leadbelly, Seeger, Pete, Houston, Cisco, Elliott, Jack, and many others until his hospitalization in 1954; his degenerative Huntington's Chorea ended his performing. He wrote about 1,000 songs up until then, with some of the best-known being "This Land is Your Land", "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You" (originally called "Dusty Old Dust"), "Pastures of Plenty", "This Train is Bound for Glory", and "Dough-Re-Mi".
His songs were always left-leaning and his sympathy toward the US Communist Party did him no good during the blacklist. See also People's Songs, Almanac Singers, Headline Singers, movies.
It's difficult to overestimate the influence he had during the folk revival - he became an idol for many idealistic young folk musicians (including Dylan, Bob). Truly one of the great legends.
On the other side of the coin, Fred Woods wrote in a record review in an August, 1977, Folk Review: "...some sort of revised judgement is overdue. ...the name of Woody Guthrie is equated roughly with God. For a start, Guthrie overwrote grossly with little or no self-criticism. ... Many of the songs are repetitive. His melodic structures were limited and often unimaginative. ... I believe that Guthrie has his present overblown reputation largely because he was a leading left-wing writer and the early stages (of the folk revival) were dominated and guided by the left wing."
There's some truth to Woods' comments - if you were to play one or two Guthrie recordings out of context for young people today, perhaps they'd see him as limited and unimaginative. But the fact remains that Woody left a legacy of concern for other people and for injustices, plus not a few imaginative songs. Perhaps a dozen of his songs will remain in the folk tradition for all time, a remarkable record for any composer anywhere. Up-and-coming activists in folk music could do much worse for an idol than folk music's most famous protest icon.
guttle (UK) to eat.
Guy, Buddy (1936- ) (George Guy) a Louisiana singer/guitarist who started playing Chicago blues in the 50s. He formed a band, often using a horn section, and travelled widely in the US and Europe. He recorded for Atco, Vanguard, Chess, and Artistic. He was joined by Wells, Junior in 1966. He continues to perform.
Gypsies itinerant people said to have come from northern India; they spread throughout Europe in medieval times. Researchers indicate that it's difficult to say what really constitutes Gypsy culture, since they often adopted and adapted local customs and traditions, as in the flamenco music of Spain. The other music most associated with them is Hungarian.
Gypsy scale see scale.
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The Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary Copyright © 1993-2009 Bill Markwick, All Rights Reserved.