American Primitivism

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American Primitivism, is often confused with American Primitive Guitar, including even here throughout Wikipedia. American Primitivism is associated with visual art forms, while American Primitive Guitar is the name given to the music genre which was started by John Fahey in the late 1950s.

These terms are quite different and this article, while unfortunately titled "American Primitivism", is actually a rough start to an article on "American Primitive Guitar". Take the rest of the this article in that context and look elsewhere for "American Primitivism". I wish that I knew how to correct this incorrect structure in Wikipedia.

Fahey composed and recorded avant-garde/neo-classical compositions using traditional country blues fingerpicking techniques, which had previously been used primarily to accompany vocals. Other famous early proponents were Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho and Peter Lang who all played at one time or another on Fahey's Takoma Records label. In recent years musicians of American Primitive guitar have often found themselves incorrectly categorized into the broader New Acoustic genre. John Fahey rebelled against this categorization while Leo Kottke disliked it but was appreciative of the greater sales volume which resulted from the error.


". . . The New Age people call it Folk; the Folk people call it New Age, but it is really neither. It's transitional. The style is derived from the country blues and string band music of the '20s and '30s, however much of the music is contemporary. Fahey referred to it as 'American Primitive' after the 'French Primitive' painters, meaning untutored."[1]

"...Fahey suggested the idea of joining similar themes, and exploring both time and space. He also wanted me to try using dissonance and minor tunings. Maybe the biggest thing he put into me was the idea that a major part of music exists in the space between notes and chords."[2]

Notable proponents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Peter Lang on American Primitive Guitar". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  2. ^ "Peter Lang on Fahey's influence on his playing". Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 

External links[edit]