Travis Picking Influence in the Beatles’ Acoustic Work

 

 Travis finger-picking pic

Travis finger-picking
Image: uberchord.com

Anthony Freddura is a Wakefield, Massachusetts technology professional who engages as product owner and lead business systems analyst with Epsilon. A music aficionado, Anthony Freddura enjoys playing the rhythm guitar in his free time. Known best for George Harrison on lead guitar, the Beatles featured a trio of talented guitarists, including John Lennon on rhythm and Paul McCartney, who sometimes took on lead and rhythm duties.

One of the inflection points in the Beatles career occurred in 1968. During an extended trip to India, Donovan introduced the Beatles to a variant on the Travis finger-picking approach. Taking its name from renowned studio musician Merle Travis, the distinctive claw-hammer style adds a country flavor to songs. On the White album, it can be heard in Paul McCartney’s Blackbird and Mother Nature’s Son, and in John Lennon’s Dear Prudence and Julia.

According to Guitar Player magazine, the contrast between the two players’ take on the one-bar style is noteworthy, with McCartney taking a looser approach that incorporated brush strokes amid the fingerpicking. By contrast, Lennon followed a disciplined approach that stayed with the core single-note arpeggios that define the sound. To the casual listener, the result is that a song like Blackbird sounds jazz-inflected, while Julia has a more hypnotic, repetitive effect.

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