To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable. In little over ten years as a professional musician Tony McManus has come to be recognized throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.
Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.
In a relatively short time Tony’s music has come to define a new role for the guitar in Celtic music. He has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is now invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun, France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany and has taught at five of Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps in Maryville, Tennessee. He recently appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.
His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.
Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through various duos with friends.
Tony McManus is known across the world as a leading exponent of the guitar and an innovator in its use in Celtic music. But he is also known for constantly exploring music beyond the boundaries of the Celtic world. Though his background in traditional Irish and Scottish music has shaped an original approach to the acoustic guitar, from the beginning of his career he has applied that approach to a diverse body of work from an African anthem to a Charles Mingus elegy and more recently the work of composers such as J.S. Bach.
In this lesson Tony takes us through his various approaches to the “other” music in his repertoire; for example how the ornamentation techniques he derived from listening to Irish fiddlers can be applied to an ancient Jewish hymn. Some of these arrangements involve non-standard tunings such as Dropped D and DADGAD. An introduction to the ideas behind these tunings is included.
Tony's musical journey has always been an interesting ride. Here's an insight into the ideas that make the voyage so interesting.
Titles include: Gnossienne #1, Shalom Aleichem, Wonderful World, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Goldberg Variations Aria, and N'Kosi Sikelele Africa
120 minutes • Level 3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD