Touch-Style Territory Presents
wenty years ago, Alvin Tofflerâ€™s book â€œFuture Shockâ€, described a â€œdemographic waveâ€, which means a fundamental shift within a culture which changes the way we live.
For example, â€œpersonalâ€ computers have changed the way we work and live and play, forever. Toffler also predicted that more of us would work at home. Some laughed, but now lots of us work from home.
I believe the musical community is witnessing a major demographic wave in the spontaneous evolution of â€œTouch-Styleâ€ music, meaning to play an amplified stringed instrument by tapping the strings with both hands, making two-handed play possible.
A demographic wave evolves due to underlying shifts in the culture. In our case, improvements in amplification and instrument construction, and also changes in popular music. Emergence of guitar and bass as primary instruments since the Big-Band era, with consequent diversity in guitar and bass music have caused a phenomenon:
The spontaneous discovery, by many different musicians, of the tapping approach â€” the spontaneous eruption and evolution of Touch-Style music within different genres and upon different instruments.
There have been pioneers, and this is the history of those pioneers and developments which led to the Touch-Style technique.
In 1952, Jimmy Webster described his new way to play guitar in a book called â€œTouch Systemâ€. There was Merle Travis and Mark Laughlin, and then Dave Bunker, all playing with two-handed tapping.
Some years later, Emmett Chapman published â€œFree Handsâ€, and popularized his particular version of two-handed tapping, and Chapman also developed a specialized instrument for this new technique, the Chapman StickÂ®, probably the best known specialty tapping instrument.
Simultaneously, guitarists and bass-players have discovered other systems of Touch-Style play. Touch-Style systems exist in speed-metal, rock and roll, funk bass, and even upon acoustic instruments. Notable guitarists include Stanley Jordan, Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Van Halen, Victor Wooten, Michael Manring, Michael Hedges, and others.
Numerous specialty instruments have also been developed: Webster’s split-pickup guitar, the Biaxe, the TrebleBass, the Hammatar, the Warr guitar, and others.
The word â€œTouchStyleâ€ was coined by Frank Jolliffe, using variations as trademarks to describe his company, â€œTouchStyle Publicationsâ€, and his products, such as the â€œTouchStyle Quarterlyâ€ newsletter. The word Touch-Style was adapted from the guitar term “fingerstyle” (which describes a method of finger picking). Jolliffe routinely grants permission for others to use variants, such as â€œTouch-Styleâ€ or â€œtouchstyleâ€, so that we may all have a generic label for the method of playing stringed instruments by two-handed tapping.
The ‘Touch-Style’ label then is an appellation for any and all methods of two-handed tapping, including those popularized by Webster, Bunker, Chapman, Van Halen, Jordan, Culbertson, Wooten and others, and including any two-handed tapping method yet to be discovered.
And when you play by tapping on your guitar (or Stick, or Warr guitar), youâ€™re part of an emerging community of players world-wide, part of a new method, a new approach, a new future. You have been picked up by a demographic wave.
I think itâ€™s the Wave of the Future.
And youâ€™re riding it.
Ride â€˜em, Cowboy!