Grandma Blues

By Jon Bywater In Music

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19th February, 2005
In the grey drifts of annotation that accumulate on the backs of old folk music LPs there's the term "Cotten-style" guitar. It refers to the technique of Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten, a self-taught guitar genius who played a conventionally-strung instrument left-handed, and so upside down; low strings at the bottom and high strings at the top. Unlike much of such technical analysis, "Cotten style" explains something easily audible. That she used her thumb to dab out the melodies and fingers to pick the bass notes partly accounts for the striking gentleness and clarity of her music. With ...

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