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Origins of rest strokes

BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
edited June 2005 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 1,379
Hi again Michael!
I´ve been enjoying this book a lot and I think the chapter on the history of rest strokes is very interesting. I was talking to a friend of mine who plays a very old mexican musical genre called "Son Jarocho", which is heavily influenced by spanish and baroque music and is played mostly on nylon stringed acoustic instruments. This style is at least two hundred years old and it features the "Requinto Jarocho", (a small guitar-type instrument with four strings tuned in fourths) as the lead instrument.
The thing is, as I was watching him play it, I became aware that he was using all rest strokes :shock: with a kind of pick made from horn that looks like a "J" (because of the curve in the playing end this "pick" does not allow upstrokes, so they only pick down) also, while playing his hand looked very similar to the Sinti´s.
He said this technique (rest strokes) is the way the Requinto jarocho is played traditionally, has been since the beggining of this style (XIX century) and was learned from the spanish conquistators.
So from this I concluded that rest stroke picking originally must have been invented in the old continent and that it is probably the oldest plectrum technique there is (no wonder it´s one of the most efficient) it may also predate classical guitar technique for at least a century!
I think this is amazing and I plan to do a more research on it, I would like to hear what you think about it
-BopHarry

Comments

  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Harry,

    I can't speak for Michael, but the rest stroke technique comes out of a long, long tradition of acoustic string instrument playing. To my ears, it's certainly the plectrum technique for the best tone and projection, and I'd guess that over time it became the standard, basically by process of elimination-no other technique sounded better. (Of course, if I'm wrong, I hope Michael or someone will correct me.) So what happened to the tradition, you ask? Electricity! The bums.

    Best,
    Jack.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,896
    Hi Harry,

    Yes, the rest stroke technique is very old. It goes back to the arabic oud which was the first plectrum instrument in Europe. It's funny because the rest stroke technique has largely been forgotten over the last 50 years. But once you do a little research, it's hard to find an instrument that doesn't use it. The Balaika, bozouki, the Cuban Tres, the Italian Mandolin, plectrum banjo, and so many more.

    'm
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Michael H. Wrote:
    Yes, the rest stroke technique is very old. It goes back to the arabic oud which was the first plectrum instrument in Europe.
    Could you tell me aprox. How old is this instrument?
    It's funny because the rest stroke technique has largely been forgotten over the last 50 years. But once you do a little research, it's hard to find an instrument that doesn't use it.
    Any books or other sources you could recomend on the history of rest stroke plectrum technique?
    Jack wrote:
    So what happened to the tradition, you ask? Electricity! The bums.
    Well this may be true but only in part, since Charlie Christian, Joe Pass , Django, and many more fine jazz guitarrists, all played electric at some point and all of them used a variation of the rest stroke technique.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,896
    Could you tell me aprox. How old is this instrument?

    I'm not sure how old the oud is. You'd have to do some research...I'm sure some history has been written. My guess is that it entered Europe during the arab conquest of Spain (700-1492). And also from the East via the Ottoman Empire (circa 1350).

    Any books or other sources you could recomend on the history of rest stroke plectrum technique?

    There's no history written specifically about this technique. You'd have to do research by looking at instruction manuals for all sorts of plectrum instruments. If you look at the eBooks on this site you'll find some info there. The Eddie Lang and Van Eps book advocate the rest stroke. So do most of the tenor banjo and mandolin books.


    Good luck!

    'm
  • zavzav Geneve, SwissNew
    Posts: 94
    Hi, Harry!

    Some adition words....

    As Michael told, the before-guitar arabic instruments, as well as all first guitars (the first documental mention of one of them - guitarra sarracenica - was in cerca 1300) used metall strings, and were played by plectrum. After gut strings got available, finger technique became the only one for classic guitar, but it's iteresting, that rest stroke is still basic for ALL spanish guitar approach (E.Pujol recomended to use it everywhere, if possible, even for 4-finger arpegio picking). Another interesting thing - even till the 50xx of the 20x centure old flamenco guitarists (for example, Diego Del Gastor) used up and down thumb motion (for one string passages, and certainly rest stroke for all "down" plucks), which was just a copy of the plectrum motion!!!

    Good luck!
    Anton
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