I love when I see someone take a different approach to song writing and performing. When I was younger I took classical piano lessons. There’s a rigidity to classical music that some find comforting. What notes to play, how to play them, where to be loud, where to be soft, where to be fast, and where to be slow, it’s all written down on the page. As I was exposed to more and more music I found that I truly enjoyed those musicians that could take that classical training and make it something more. Keith Emerson was a big one for me, blending rock and roll showmanship and crazy synthesizers with classical technique and composition. There are many other examples, but today I want to talk about just one, Erik Mongrain.
I encountered Erik Mongrain on the YouTubes several years back. He’s a guitar player out of Canada and has a very unique style. The first video I watched was for Airtap (see the video below). He uses a technique known as lap tapping and turns the guitar into a percussive string instrument. I was blown away. I had seen performances similar, but Mongrain’s performance was more than just interesting, it was inspiring and mesmerizing! I had never seen someone approach the guitar in that way.
I really like when guitar players add a percussive element to their performance. When done well it adds a whole new layer to a performance and creates a bigger, broader sound than one expects from an acoustic guitar. Mongrain does a great job creating a wider song-space without losing the simple, intimate feeling that can come with an acoustic performance. He turns the guitar performance into an experience that sticks the with viewer or listener.