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Cotten Picking

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FREIGHT TRAIN
OH, BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE
SHAKE SUGAREE


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gwonya 21 Aug 02 - 09:40 PM
ddw 21 Aug 02 - 09:47 PM
Ebbie 21 Aug 02 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,Les B. 21 Aug 02 - 10:35 PM
Sorcha 21 Aug 02 - 11:00 PM
Bev and Jerry 21 Aug 02 - 11:05 PM
gwonya 22 Aug 02 - 08:40 AM
Armen Tanzerian 22 Aug 02 - 10:33 AM
Murray MacLeod 22 Aug 02 - 10:54 AM
dwditty 22 Aug 02 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Russ 22 Aug 02 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,Crazy Little Woman 22 Aug 02 - 12:02 PM
Murray MacLeod 22 Aug 02 - 12:49 PM
BanjoRay 22 Aug 02 - 01:13 PM
gwonya 22 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM
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Subject: Cotton Picking
From: gwonya
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 09:40 PM

Hello from Toronto, Can. I was wondering if there might be any pickers out there who play left handed on right handed instruments without reversing the strings. I've been doing this for many years now and would really appreciate hearing points of view regarding this unorthodox approach. It really can work...honest. I've been fortunate to see some really great guitarists go at it this way including Dick Dale, Albert King and Elizabeth Cotton but sure never did get to meet them. Someone once told me that watching me play made them nauseated - not exactly the response I was going for. Most people just kind of relax their faces, tilt their heads and go 'whatthe?'. Any anecdotes would be much appreciated. Reverse the strings? - it ain't gonna happen. Thanks folks.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: ddw
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 09:47 PM

Sounds to me like the best response to the people nauseated by your unorthodox way of playing is to tell them to close their eyes and listen, or -- if it comes to that -- not to barf on your shoes.

Other than that, about all I can say is: If it works for you, do it. I've only seen a couple of people in my life (Elizabeth Cotton being one) play the way you do, but you're right -- it can be done and done well.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 10:19 PM

A local left-handed man learned to play that way as he was growing up (one instrument, 4 kids)and can still do it, even though he now has a number of strung-right-for-him instruments. The only difficulty in watching him play right-handed instruments left-handed is trying to figure out what chord he's playing! A little surreal.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 10:35 PM

Bill Staines ("Roseville Fair," "All God's Critters," "Yellowstone Winds") is another folkie who pickes uside down and backwards and makes it sound mighty fine.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Sorcha
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 11:00 PM

Yea, following the chords is a nightmare......you haven't lived until you have seen a fiddler do this. Total wierd out.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 11:05 PM

Listening to anyone playing a normally strung guitar left handed is quite a trip. The thumb is playing the melody on the high strings which leaves up to four fingers to play the bass strings. This permits some amazing bass figures. Just listen to any of Libba's recordings.

But, watching it is really weird because the fingers are plucking on the primary beats rather than the thumb. It's strange to see but it sounds great.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: gwonya
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 08:40 AM

I was fortunate to see Elizabeth Cotton in 1985 when she was 93 years old at a place called the Hotel Isabella. Two fellows walked her up to the stage, sat her down and carefully handed her guitar to her. The first thing she did was explain (in quite a frail voice) her upside down style. She was very, very cute. Interesting how many of the words to her songs escaped her but the fingers could still pick with precision. Here's to a long life making music all the way.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Armen Tanzerian
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 10:33 AM

OK, I wasn't sure myself, so I just checked. It's Elizabeth (Libba) Cotten. Mr. Persnickety strikes again.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 10:54 AM

You beat me to it Armen (except I wouldn't have needed to check). "Cotton" indeed. But it is an interesting thread...

Murray


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: dwditty
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 10:56 AM

Don't forget....Jimi Hendrix played this way too. I learned to play guitar with a friend who played upsidedown. Really strange, since he is right handed. It is just the way he learned. As strange as the chords looked, in almost all cases his chords were formed by placing the same fingers on the same strings that I was...even though it didn't look that way. And yes, the sound of the fingers picking out the melody on the lower strings is unique and wonderful.

dw


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 11:07 AM

Once saw a left handed guitar picker in Boot's Bar in Lexington Kentucky. His stage name was "Little Enis." Since Elvis was the pelvis, he wanted to be Enis the...


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: GUEST,Crazy Little Woman
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 12:02 PM

Well, gwonya, in the first post you said any anecdotes would be appreciated, so here goes.

A few years ago, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra decided to loosen up, and they had a banjo player (I believe it was Tony Triska) perform with them.

The young woman in front of me decided to impress her date with her joie de vivre and commenced to bob and swing her head around in time to the banjo. It wasn't long before I began to feel motion sick as a result. I tried closing my eyes, but that can't be done long with contact lenses. Also, at the Symphony, the risk of falling asleep is great.

So the person who said they felt nauseated may have been perfectly straightforward. He/she may also have loved the sound of your playing, as well. As ddw said, there's nothing to be done except not to watch.


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 12:49 PM

dwditty, I would have to take issue with your assertion that Jimi Hendrix "played this way". He didn't.

Sure, he played a right-handed Strat and he played it left-handed, but he restrung the guitar so that the treble E string was nearest the ground, just like a right handed guitar.

This is different from the left handed playing of Elizabeth Cotten, and indeed of your own left handed friend.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: BanjoRay
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 01:13 PM

A friend of mine taught himself to play guitar upside down when he was young - no one told him about reversing the strings. He now also plays mirror image fiddle and mandolin beautifully - he's one of the best Old Time fiddlers in the UK. He has to screw a different head on when he's playing with one of his Cajun bands or his Bluegrass band. He could write a book about the techniques involved, but I don't suppose he'd sell many copies.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Cotton Picking
From: gwonya
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM

E. Cotten. Thanks for the correction.


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