Ani Difranco

Con­tin­u­ing his se­ries on acous­tic gui­tar le­gends Stu­art Ryan in­ves­ti­gates the sweeter side of Ani Di Franco’s in­stantly recog­nis­able style.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON - NEXT MONTH Stu­art looks at the dis­tinc­tive acous­tic style of The Smiths’ Johnny Marr

Born in Buf­falo, New York on Septem­ber 23rd 1970 Ani Di Franco is the very def­i­ni­tion of an in­de­pen­dent mu­si­cian es­chew­ing the ma­jor la­bel scene to re­lease all her work on her own Right­eous Babe record la­bel, which she started at the stag­ger­ingly young age of 18. As with many mu­si­cians who pur­sue cre­ative free­dom in­stead of ma­jor la­bel riches (or such that were!) she can be hard to clas­sify as she has moved within the punk, hip-hop, funk and jazz id­ioms. How­ever, delve into her gui­tar work and you will find beau­ti­ful, fin­ger­picked parts, many of which could stand on their own as acous­tic in­stru­men­tals.

Di Franco started pen­ning her own ma­te­rial at 14 and, as with many artists of her gen­er­a­tion, her early in­flu­ences were The Bea­tles and Bob Dy­lan. Al­though there are many el­e­ments to her mu­sic she cat­e­gorises her­self as a folk mu­si­cian. She re­leased her first al­bum, Ani Di Franco, in 1990 and has de­liv­ered more than 20 stu­dio al­bums and a whole range of live record­ings and of­fi­cial bootlegs. In many ways the 1990s were the per­fect time for an artist like Di Franco to emerge, as the hugely suc­cess­ful MTV Un­plugged for­mat brought acous­tic mu­si­cians from all gen­res well and truly into the main­stream (al­though Di Franco her­self did not fea­ture on the show).

Com­bin­ing her arpeg­giated, fin­ger­picked parts with bass and drums on tracks like 32 Fla­vors brought her much suc­cess and at­ten­tion from the ma­jor la­bels she con­tin­ued to ig­nore in favour of Right­eous Babe.

Al­tered tun­ings fea­tures large in her style and you will find some un­usual choices from EEBABD to AADGAD. In ad­di­tion, a capo is an es­sen­tial part of her play­ing and can ap­pear any­where be­tween 2nd and 5th frets and some­times higher. For the sake of sim­plic­ity in this study I’ve elected for

difranco started pen­ning her own ma­te­rial aged 14, with in­flu­ences in­clud­ing dy­lan and the bea­tles

stan­dard tuning (which she does use) with the capo at the 4th fret, which bright­ens up the part con­sid­er­ably and gives an ex­tra level of rich­ness. Di Franco’s acous­tic style is highly var­ied and can be very chal­leng­ing – lis­ten to a track like Light Of Some Kind from the Not A Pretty Girl al­bum and check out the com­plex, driv­ing per­cus­sive gui­tar. Con­trast this with melodic, pretty parts like those found in You Had Time or the deep strum­ming of Grey and you’ll find a widely var­ied artist who is com­pletely in con­trol of what she wants the in­stru­ment to do.

Ani DiFranco: an artist in full con­trol of her life and mu­sic

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.