Friday, February 20, 2009

Slack Key music

My last post on the Balalaika drew a very interesting comment from 'Wood Finery' about 'Slack Key music'. I love to go off in different musical directions so had to find out more. He sent me a link explaining it, so here's the starting point if you want to find out too.

So from there I just had to hear some and found this on Youtube

and this sweet little lady playing her own composition

So how does this possibly tie in with CBGs? There are several connections. Slack Key seems to be of Hawaiian origin and is basically played with a detuned guitar to an open chord - typically open G or D - same popular tunings that blues guitarists use for bottleneck or slide work. Same tunings as we tend to use for CBGs. The two styles, blues and hawaiian music, may seem miles apart in musical content but if you read up on the history of blues you'll find the connection. At the time that blues was gaining popularity in the early 1900's in the USA, so was Hawaiian music. Many blues players borrowed the styles of Hawaiian players, detuning guitars to open chords but playing them in their own bluesy styles. One of the main differences though, seems to be the use of a slide in blues (often attributed to the story of Charlie Paton hearing a guy playing slide with a knife on a railway station) whereas the Slack Key music I've seen on Youtube so far seems to be fingerstyle. I have also seen Hawaiian slide playing but not referred to as 'Slack Key'.

The small samples I've heard of Slack Key so far are beautiful and I shall be spending some time exploring it more. Many thanks to 'Wood Finery' for bringing this to my attention.


Wood Finery said...

You are welcome. Check out Martin Pahinui at I was fortunate to see the 3 guys in the picture plus a well know Hawaiian steel guitar player while over there.
If you click on Ho'olohe link it will take you to some sound tracks.
I believe Gabby Pahinui (one of the original greats) is either Martin's dad or granddad.

Wood Finery said...

Here are a couple of utube spots on Martin and Gabby you may find interesting.

Wood Finery said...

I was checking out some more slack key and wondering how it would all fit into CBG's and came across this great little clip. It's of a homemade biscuit can lap steel guitar. Check out the action height!!