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Tommy Emmanuel: Guitar Player from Australia
Tommy Emmanuel Biography
Tommy Emmanuel is a professional guitarist who was born in 1955 and grew up in Australia. He began playing guitar at a very early age, and was performing regularly by the time he was 6 years old! One amazing thing about Tommy's success is that he never had any formal lessons as a child. He learned to play guitar completely by ear. All of his family members were musically talented and they eventually started a family band. They traveled Australia performing in different venues in order to make a living. As Tommy would attest, Chet Atkins was one of the earliest influences on his guitar playing development.He picked up Atkins' signature fingerstyle method and never looked back. Emmanuel continued to tour Australia playing guitar in various groups including Air Supply Men, Men At Work, and the Australian rock band, Dragon. Emmanuel grew to fame in his native Australia during the 70' and 80's because of his guitar playing prowess. Emmanuel traveled to the United States in 1980 where he met his childhood idol, Chet Atkins. Over the next few years, Chet would personally mentor Emmanuel in his career as a musician. Since that time, Tommy has started touring and recording as a solo artist and has become known globally for his unique and amazing sound. Emmanuel played with his brother Phil at the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in their native Australia and he has also been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental. Tommy's fame continues to grow across the world, and when you listen to his music it's no surprise why!
Fingerstyle is a method of playing guitar where the player uses all 10 of his fingers to play. Traditionally, the player would fret the notes with the 5 fingers of his left hand while using a pick to pluck the strings with his right hand. When playing with the fingerstyle method, however, the player does not use a pick but instead uses his fingers to pluck the strings. This allows for more notes to be played at one time and opens up countless ways to arrange songs. Tommy Emmanuel is especially known for his ability to play songs with a melody, harmony parts, and a base line all in the same song. He excels at blending the different lines together into one voice so that at times his songs sound as if several different people are playing at once.
Tommy is unconventional in that he almost always plays his shows using a Maton guitar. Maton is a guitar manufacturing company based in Melbourne, Australia. The very first guitar that Tommy ever played was a Maton and he has chosen to stick by his favorite, hometown guitar even after becoming a sensation.
One of the things that has personally attracted me to the playing of Mr. Emmanuel is the fact that I too am able to learn and play the songs, exactly the same way that he plays them. In association with MelBay, a well known sheet music publisher, the tablature and music for several of Tommy's album's have been printed and are available for sale. Sheet music transcriptions for Only, Endless Road, and The Mystery are all available for purchase. He also has several instructional DVD's which allow the aspiring guitarist to see Tommy perform the pieces at any speed and angle, so the highest amount of learning is gleaned.