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Air guitar is a form of dance and movement in which the performer pretends to play an imaginary rock or heavy metal-style electric guitar, including riffs, solos, etc. Playing an air guitar usually consists of exaggerated strumming and picking motions and is often coupled with loud singing or lip-synching. Air guitar is generally used in the imaginary simulation of loud electric or acoustic guitar music.
Musical pantomime, the mimicking of the playing of an instrument, has roots as far back as the 1860s, when it was considered a mental illness. The popularity of the phonograph in the 1930s led to the phenomenon of "shadow conducting", in which listeners would pretend to conduct an orchestra.
Air guitar itself had a seminal moment at the Woodstock music festival in 1969 when singer Joe Cocker mimicked the playing of the keyboard and guitar during his performance of "With a Little Help From My Friends". Cocker's signature elaborate moves helped display air guitar to the broader public.
The term "air guitar" gained popularity in the 1980s, with one of the first contests held at Florida State University in 1978. Contests multiplied in Sweden and the United States during the 1980s, and since 1996, the annual Air Guitar World Championships have been a part of the Oulu Music Video Festival in Oulu, Finland, and the festival currently administers the Air Guitar World Championships Network of official national championship competitions. The idea of the contest was originally coined as a joke, meant only to be a side attraction for the music video festival, but has since become a major draw in its own right.
In 2009 the Network consisted of twenty countries: Finland, United States, New Zealand, Canada, The Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, Norway, United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Japan, Australia, Germany, Taiwan, Thailand, Russia, Romania, and Brazil.
|Wikinews has related news: Japanese man retains title at Air Guitar World Championship in Finland|
- Each participant has to play air guitar on stage in two rounds, each lasting for 1 minute.
- Round 1: participant plays a selection of their own choosing. Typically the song has been edited (or a medley has been created) to fit the 60-second format.
- Round 2: participant plays a section of the song chosen by an organizer or competitor; usually the song is not announced beforehand and kept secret until the round begins, so a participant has to improvise.
- Participant plays alone; backing bands, either with real or air instruments are not allowed; roadies and groupies are allowed to make up some image, but they have to leave the stage before performance.
- Participant has to play air guitar (i.e. air drums, piano and other instruments are not allowed). Air guitar can be acoustic, electric or both.
- Generally, there is no dress code and participant is encouraged to use any clothing and props that would add character and make the performance more interesting. However, any real musical equipment or crew (instruments, amplifiers, effect pedals, backing band members, etc.) are strictly forbidden. Some events make an exception for a real guitar pick, some don't.
- Jury consists of independent judges, usually B-list musicians, music critics, comedians, or other members of the media.
- Judges use the same 6.0 score system as in the traditional figure skating system: there are several varying criteria, and each judge must give the contestant a score from 4.0 to 6.0 on each of the following:
- Technical merit—how much the performance looks like the real playing, including accurate reproduction of all fretwork, chords, solos and technical moves.
- Mimesmanship—how convincingly the performer can mime their performance, and create the illusion of an invisible guitar, apart from the technical accuracy of the fretwork
- Stage presence—a charisma of rock star, the ability to rock, lack of stage fright and power to drive thousands of listeners; involves guitar showmanship and other emotional demonstrations.
- Airness—the most subjective criterion, as "presentation" in figure skating—how much the performance was an object of art by itself, not only a simulation of playing guitar.
Annual world championships, officially named "The Annual Air Guitar World Championship Contest", were first held in 1996 as part of the Oulu Music Video Festival in Oulu, Finland and now held there annually in August. The ideology behind the event was that "wars would end and all the bad things would go away if everyone just played air guitar."
Participants from all over the world competed in skills of playing air guitar. The judging panel included Finnish guitarist Juha Torvinen, and prizes included a custom made 'Flying Finn' guitar and VOX BM Special amplifier donated by Queen guitarist Brian May.
List of World Championships
|2019||Rob “The Marquis” Messel, Portland, OR (USA)||Alexander "The Jinja Assassin" Roberts (AUS)||Frederic "French Kiss" Reau (FRA)|
|2018||Nanami “Seven Seas” Nagura (JPN)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Dana ”Dana-Saurus Rex” Schiemann (CAN)|
|2017||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Patrick "Ehrwolf" Culek (GER) / Alexander "The Jinja Assassin" Roberts (AUS)||SHOW-SHOW (JPN)|
|2016||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Kereel "Your Daddy" Blumenkrants (RUS)||Nicole ”Mom Jeans Jeanie” Sevcik (USA)|
|2015||Kereel "Your Daddy" Blumenkrants (RUS)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Michael "Operation Rock a Pussy" Lovely (USA)|
|2014||Nanami “Seven Seas” Nagura (JPN)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Eric "Mean Melin" Melin (USA)|
|2013||Eric "Mean Melin" Melin (USA)||Doug "The Thunder" Stroock (USA)||Thom "W!ld Th!ng 37" Wilding (GBR)|
|2012||Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard (USA)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns (USA)||Theun “Tremelo Theun” de Jong (NED)|
|2011||Aline “The Devil's Niece” Westphal (GER)||Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard (USA)||Veronika “Like Ever Gin” Müllerová (CZE)|
|2010||Sylvain “Gunther Love” Quimene [fr] (FRA)||Soraya “Eva Gina Runner” Garlenq (FRA)||Cole “Johnny Utah” Manson (CAN)|
|2009||Sylvain “Gunther Love” Quimene [fr] (FRA)||Craig “Hot Lixx Hulahan” Billmeier / Andrew “William Ocean” Litz (USA)||Christian "Girth Dog" Culligan (USA)|
|2008||Craig “Hot Lixx Hulahan” Billmeier (USA)||Andel “John Sniffler” Soree (NED)||Cole “Johnny Utah” Manson (CAN)|
|2007||Ochi “Dainoji” Yosuke (JPN)||Guillaume “Moche Pitt” de Tonquédec [fr] (FRA)||Max “Herr Jaquelin” Heller (AUT)|
|2006||Ochi “Dainoji” Yosuke (JPN)||Clay “Bangers” Connolly (AUS)||Christian “Heart Buckboard” Sweep (GER)|
|2005||Michael “Destroyer” Heffels (NED)||Natalie "Nat Attack" Willacy (AUS)||Gyuri “Pelvis Fenderbender” Vergouw (NED)|
|2004||Tarquin “The Tarkness” Keys (NZL)||Miri “Sonyk-Rok” Park (USA)||David “C-Diddy” Jung (USA)|
|2003||David “C-Diddy” Jung (USA)||Jordi “Funky Jordi” Nieuwenburg (NED)||Mark “Roxy McStagger” Hadfield (AUS)|
|2002||Zac “Mr. Magnet” Monro (GBR)||Toby Peneha (NZL)||Andrew Buckles (CAN)|
|2001||Zac “Mr. Magnet” Monro (GBR)||Markus Vainionpää (FIN)||Rupert Abrahams (GBR)|
|2000||Markus Vainionpää (FIN)||Sari Rivinen (FIN)||Anthony Lee (AUS)|
|1999||Johanna Ala-Siurua (FIN)||Petteri Tikkanen (FIN)||Arnaud Stephan (FRA)|
|1998||Juha Hippi (FIN)||Teja Kotilainen (FIN)||Danny Turano (AUS)|
|1997||Ville Paakkari (FIN)||Jenni Pääskysaari (FIN)||Mika Mäntykenttä (FIN)|
|1996||Oikku Ylinen (FIN)||Rehtori-Heko (FIN)||Petri Heikkinen (FIN)|
Competitive air guitar in Australia was started in 2001 by Brett "Ronnie Riffless" Provost, and ran initially for ten years until 2010. The first Australian champion was ‘Super Dave'. There have been a number of unofficial competitions held in Australia.
Australians have claimed 2nd place three times and 3rd place three times at the Air Guitar World Championships.
Between 2011 and 2017, Australia has been represented at the Air Guitar World Championships a number of times through the Dark Horse Qualifiers, though has not had an official national champion.
In 2014 ABC Kids aired an episode of Whacky World Beaters, filmed on location at the Air Guitar World Championships in 2013.
Air Guitar Australia was reformed in 2017 by Tom "Sgt. Wrecker" Hill, who has represented Australia four times at the Air Guitar World Championships. Air Guitar Australia launched at the Embassy of Finland at the Suomi 100 celebrations in September 2017. The competition was won by Jimmy Dangles who was presented with the Ronnie Riffless Memorial Trophy by Ambassador Lars Backström. The 2018 Championship season saw competitors from NT, NSW, QLD, ACT, Victoria and WA qualifying at State and Territory Qualifiers in Canberra, Perth and Melbourne. The Finals will be held in Melbourne and the winner will represent Australia at the Air Guitar World Championships in August 2018.
In 2003, Cedric Devitt and Kriston Rucker founded US Air Guitar, the official governing body of air guitar in the US. The 2003 US Air Guitar Championships included just two regional competitions, in New York and Los Angeles, with the national championship taking place in Los Angeles. David "C-Diddy" Jung won the competition, becoming the first ever US Air Guitar Champion and earning a spot in the World Air Guitar Championships. He was accompanied by fellow American Dan "Bjorn Turoque" Crane, who raised money to pay for his trip to Finland, where he qualified for the World Championships through a Dark Horse competition. At the World Championships, C-Diddy emerged victorious, becoming the first American to win the title of World Air Guitar Champion. Jung and Crane were featured in the 2006 documentary Air Guitar Nation, a film that documented their 2003 journey, from the United States to Finland.
The 2004 US Air Guitar Championships featured regional competitions in five cities. MiRi "Sonyk-Rok" Park, winner of the New York City regional, took the national crown by defeating Fatima "The Rockness Monster" Hoang from Los Angeles. She went on to Finland, where she tied for first place, becoming the 2004 World Air Guitar Co-Champion.
By 2008, US Air Guitar had expanded to include regional competitions in 24 cities throughout the country. The 2006 US Air Guitar Champion, Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier, went on to defeat 2005 Champion Fatima "The Rockness Monster" Hoang and 2007 Champion Andrew "William Ocean" Litz en route to his second national title. In Finland, Hulahan emerged victorious, securing the United States' third world title and becoming the 2008 World Air Guitar Champion.
William Ocean captured his second national title in 2009, earning him a spot in Finland at the 2009 World Air Guitar Championships. William Ocean and defending World Air Guitar Champion Hot Lixx Hulahan tied for second place, behind Sylvain "Gunther Love" Quimene of France.
Matt "Romeo Dance Cheetah" Cornelison was the 2010 US Air Guitar Champion, finishing in eleventh place at the 2010 World Air Guitar Championships.
Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard won the 2011 US Air Guitar Championships at Chicago's Metro on July 23, 2011, ultimately finishing second in the world that year. In 2012, he was overtaken in the US by Matt “Airistotle” Burns, but ultimately won the 2012 World Air Guitar Championships after qualifying as a dark horse competitor.
In 2013, Jason "Lt. Facemelter" Farnan captured the U.S. Air Guitar Championship after posting a perfect score in the compulsory round, which was the first in U.S. Air Guitar history to feature a live guitarist.
While the United States missed gold at the 2014 World Air Guitar Championships, "Airistotle" and "Mean Melin" took second and third place, respectively, for the US. This marked the third consecutive year in which one country produced two of the top three finishers—the first time this feat has been accomplished since 2000, when Finland took the top two spots.
In 2017, US Air Guitar crowned its first female champion since 2004, Nicole "Mom Jeans Jeanie" Sevcik. In 2018, Brittany “Georgia Lunch” Diaz took the National Finals, giving US Air Guitar back to back female champions for the first time.
List of United States Championships
|2019||Rob “The Marquis” Messel, Portland, OR (USA)||Kate "KitKat" Rose, Sacramento, CA (USA)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)|
|2018||Brittany “Georgia Lunch” Diaz, New York City (USA)||Rob "Windhammer" Weychert, New York City (USA)||Colin "Old Glory" Bach, Chicago (USA)|
|2017||Nicole "Mom Jeans Jeanie" Sevcik, Atlanta (USA)||Beth "CindAIRella" Melin, Kansas City, KS (USA) / Alexander “The Jinja Assassin” Roberts, Chicago (USA)|
|2016||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)||Nicole "Mom Jeans Jeanie" Sevcik, Atlanta (USA)||Rob "The Marquis" Messel, Portland (USA)|
|2015||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)||Lance "The Shred" Kasten, Washington, DC (USA)||Andrew "Flying Finn" Finn, Des Moines / Jeff "The Airtiste" Stiles, Boston / Whit "Witness" Hubner, Nashville (USA)|
|2014||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)||Doug "The Thunder" Stroock, Washington, DC (USA)||Jason “Lt. Facemelter” Farnan, San Diego (USA)|
|2013||Jason “Lt. Facemelter” Farnan, San Diego (USA)||Eric "Mean" Melin, Lawrence (USA)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)|
|2012||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)||Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard, 2011 defending champion (USA)||Jason “Lt. Facemelter” Farnan, San Diego (USA)|
|2011||Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard, Chicago (USA)||Matt “Airistotle” Burns, New York City (USA)||Matt “Romeo Dance Cheetah” Cornelison, 2010 defending champion (USA)|
|2010||Matt “Romeo Dance Cheetah” Cornelison, Milwaukee (USA)||Ryan “Dreamcatcher” Layman, Denver (USA)||Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, 2009 defending champion (USA)|
|2009||Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, New York City (USA)||Chris “Sanjar the Destroyer” Paxton, Washington DC (USA)||Cami “Airosol” Phillippi, Minneapolis (USA)|
|2008||Craig “Hot Lixx Hulahan” Billmeier, Washington DC (USA)||Cami “Airosol” Phillippi, Minneapolis (USA)||Alex “Awesome” Koll, San Francisco (USA)|
|2007||Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, New York City (USA)||Fatima “Rockness Monster” Hoang, Los Angeles (USA)||Craig “Hot Lixx Hulahan” Billmeier, 2006 defending champion / Randall “Big Rig” Layman, Houston (USA)|
|2006||Craig “Hot Lixx Hulahan” Billmeier (USA)|
|2005||Fatima “Rockness Monster” Hoang, Los Angeles (USA)||Dan “Bjorn Turoque” Crane, New York City (USA)||Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, Chicago (USA)|
|2004||MiRi “Sonyk-Rok” Park (USA)||Fatima “Rockness Monster” Hoang, Los Angeles (USA)|
|2003||David “C-Diddy” Jung, New York City (USA)||Gordon “Krye Tuff” Hintz, Los Angeles (USA)|
There are currently two national air guitar championships running in the UK, both claiming status as the 'official' competition.
The UK Air Guitar Championships (UKAG) is the longest running air guitar championships in the world, established between 1994 and 1995 by Jeffrey Louis-Reed, and is still to this day the only Air Guitar Championships where the audience are the judges. It is also the only UK competition that tours the whole UK to find a true champion.
The similarly named, Air Guitar UK Championships (AGUK) was created in 2006 by two-time world Air Guitar champion Zac Monro. It originated over the issues of how to decide the competition (through the audience, or by a figure-skating style judging system), and over membership of the World Air Guitar Network (UKAG were unwilling to pay to participate in the World Championships, as their competition wished to remain free, which was the main cause of the creation of AGUK). However this is the only championship officially recognised as part of Air Guitar World Championships (AGWC)
The Air Guitar UK Championship was created in 2006 by twice air guitar world champion Zac 'the Magnet' Monroe (the first non-Finn to win the competition) and is affiliated with the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland, forming part of the World Air Guitar Network.
In September 2011, Air Guitar UK launched Air Guitar Wales and Air Guitar Northern Ireland to join Air Guitar Scotland (first launched by AGUK in 2009) as part of the Air Guitar UK Network.
The first official Championship was held in August 2006 at the Academy Islington, London, and was won by Gabi “The Hoxton Creeper” Matzeu, who was sent to Finland as the UK's 1st Official Champion.
In 2007, in the run-up to release of the cult Film Air Guitar Nation, the second Championship played once again to a full house at the Academy. It was held at the Academy until 2010, and in 2011 moved to The Garage, Islington.
Air Guitar UK events are held in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Air Guitar is considered a force for good, and in the absence of world peace this is at least something.
All profits from all of the Air Guitar UK events are donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust (www.teenagecancertrust.org).
AGUK's official site can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/20070216235714/http://www.airguitaruk.com/
The UK Air Guitar Championships were founded in the upstairs of a pub called 'The Pig in Paradise' which is in central Brighton, England. The UK Air Guitar championships annually hosts regional championships in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the north and south of England to find the best competitors from the UK and bring them to the national final stage to battle for crown of UK Air Guitar Champion
Farmer John AKA Doozer McDooze won the 2004 UK air guitar championship.
Christopher 'Crispy' Vearncombe won the competition in 2005, but was killed in a road traffic accident in South Africa weeks before the 2006 competition. His many friends hold an annual charity music festival in his memory. Crispystock is held in his home town of Andover, Hampshire. Next came Colin 'Cozza' Fulker who won 2006, 2007 and 2008 to become one of the UKAG's most successful champions.
2009 saw Declan Gillick aka 'Deku Chan' win the competition. It was also the first year that drinks manufacturer WKD sponsored the competition.
2010 - UKAG returned to London for the national final; the winner of the southern England heat, 'Eddie Six Strings' aka Sophie Aymonier, wriggled her way into the final and beat 'Juan Nightstand' to become the first ever female UK Air Guitar Champion.
Many air bands were founded in Brighton in the late 90s with acts such as 'Dum BN3', 'PISS', Satans underpants and 'Triple Slash'. There were many more who all took part in the UK Air Guitar Championships and a few of them won.
UKAG work's regularly with various charities including RAFA, The 1800 Club and Action Medical Research
There are multiple technological innovations that try to allow air guitar to be played as a real instrument, producing sounds that depend on air guitarist's actions.
In 2005, students from the Helsinki University of Technology developed a system that translates hand movements into electric guitar sounds, resulting in a functional air guitar. The system, consisting of a pair of brightly coloured gloves and an infrared camera, is one of the most popular exhibits at the Helsinki Science Center. The camera recognizes the distance between the two gloves as well as strumming movements made by the wearer to synthesize an electric guitar tune, working using only six notes.
In November 2006, researchers at the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation announced they had developed a T-shirt that senses human movement to "showcase its expertise in designing and manufacturing electronic and intelligent textiles with which people effortlessly control computers", publicising it as an air guitar shirt.
In 2007, toy company Silverlit introduced V-Beat Air Guitar, an air guitar gadget. The three-part device consists of a motion-sensing guitar pick, a neck part with four buttons and a guitar body. By changing the distance between body and neck and pressing a combination of the four buttons on the neck part, up to 48 tones and chords can be played. The V-Beat Air Guitar was won 'Best Music Gadget' on the television program The Gadget Show. The V-Beat Air Guitar was created by Dutch startup 1upToys.
In 2007, a Japanese company Takara Tomy introduced Air Guitar Pro (Guitar Rockstar), a functional guitar simulator. Fitting in one hand, the device uses heat and motion sensors to detect the other hand motions and produce the guitar sounds. This guitar simulator was made popular in the UK motoring show Top Gear by presenter Jeremy Clarkson. He was seen playing the Tomy Guitar Rockstar in one of Top Gear's famous challenges.
In March 2008, Jada Toys of California introduced the Air Guitar Rocker toy which featured patented technology in a belt buckle. When the user strums a magnetic pick in front of the belt buckle, guitar music plays through a portable amp attached to the users pant or belt. The Air Guitar Rocker is marketed with the popular Guitar Hero license and was created by toy inventor David Führer and his team.
In June 2011, San Francisco, CA startup Yobble announced the Air Guitar Move, an appcessory for iPhone and iPod Touch. Users holds the iPhone in one hand and a motion sensing guitar pick in the other. Based on the motions of both hands, the Air Guitar Move software is able to recognize air guitar movements. The bundled game is a mix of Guitar Hero and Dance Central. Red Bull donated $20,000 to the project and is organizing events around Air Guitar Move.
- Air Guitar Nation, a documentary film about the 2003 US and World Air Guitar competitions
- Air Guitar in Oulu, a documentary film following a young air guitarist's mission to attend the World Championship in Oulu
- Typsinging, a similar activity where you type the song instead of airplaying it
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Official Air Guitar World Championships Network Countries
- World — The Air Guitar World Championships
- Australia — Australian Air Guitar Championships
- Belgium — Air Guitar Belgium Championships
- Brazil — Air Guitar Brazil
- Canada — Air Guitar Canada
- France — Air Guitar France
- Germany — The German Air Guitar Federation
- Greece — Air Guitar Greece
- Japan — Air Guitar Japan Association
- The Netherlands — The Dutch Air Guitar Championships
- New Zealand — New Zealand Air Guitar Championships
- Norway — Air Guitar Norway
- Romania — Air Guitar Romania
- Russia — Air Guitar Russia
- Switzerland — Air Guitar Switzerland
- Taiwan — Air Guitar Taiwan
- Thailand — Air Guitar Thailand
- UK — Air guitar UK – UK Championship
- US — The US Air Guitar Championships
- Mexico — Air Guitar Mexico
Other Air Guitar Contests
- UK—The Official UK & oldest Air Guitar Championships in the world
- Italy—The Italian Air Guitar Championship
- Behind the Scenes at the US Air Guitar Championships – Photos and interviews with the 2007 Washington DC finalists
- No more silent shredding—A November 2006 Associated Press piece about Air Guitar sound technology.
- "Dude, where's my guitar?"—August 2001 Guardian (UK) feature about the UK championship.
- Student studying for a degree in Air Guitar
- Air Guitar Nation Rocks On – Video clips and interview with the world air guitar champion
- Music for the imaginary ax man – Msnbc article following the life of an air guitarist.
- William Ocean performs and is interviewed on Radio Happy Hour
- http://www.brandweek.com/bw/magazine/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003711866[permanent dead link]