ROBBIE BASHO - ARCHIVES
About Robbie Basho´s style and musical philosophy:
Trying to describe the music of Robbie Basho with tabulature and tunings is only half of the truth. The main thing is the vision to find the essence of cultures and places: the hue of nature's colors to paint with guitar and voice. Robbie's early compositions were often rough-hewn, long-winding gems full of expression and romantic visions and rooted in the new folk scene of the late 50s/ early 60s (Washington, Berkeley...).(He talked about creating “Zen-Buddhist-Cowboysongs”....) Along with his studies of flamenco techniques, blues, classical music, bluegrass, Oriental, American Indian and Hindu textures (the entire universe is potential), and his experiments to find alternative tunings to express a wide range of emotions and colors, he became one of the pioneers, besides John Fahey, of the contemporary steel-string guitar and the most important forerunner of the later New Age movement. However, Robbie's music expresses more than contemplative beauty -it is dramatic art. With his simple philosophy "soul first -technique later", Robbie developed his own musical universe to marry the spirit and rhythms of Eastern philosophies with Western folk and classical approaches. His style was a study of various different playing techniques with very complex right-hand picking patterns (using the fingernails) and a great left-hand freedom, often working very linear up the neck.In his later years he claimed to use about 30 seperate tunings and various picking-styles.But his overriding interest was not to play a technical contest or sound exotic, but to broaden the dimensions of what we know as our own.
basic chord chart
modal tunings chart
(Robbie played many variations of the open C tuning. Note, that he tuned his 12string guitar between 3 and 6 half steps lower (on his earlier records mostly 4-6, later-Windham Hill- 3-4) because of the use of medium strings and how the guitars and strings "worked" best for the tunings. Every guitar works different for a tuning; little bit lower or higher...He always tried to find the best pitch for a good sound of a tuning.)
Some handwritten tablatures, from Maurizio Angeletti's beautiful book "American Guitar" and from "The Awakener Magazine" are here...
Today Robbie Basho ist often seen just as a 12 string guitar player, but most of his recorded work is played on a 6 string, an old Weymann, made in the late '20s in Philadelphia.