Guitar as Instrument and Icon

Modern guitars as tools to make music reflect a long and continuing evolution shaped by the interaction of music, society, craft, materials and technology.  The woods from which guitars are made, for example, might be appreciated for their beauty, measured for their physical and acoustic properties, but also examined as a focal point of international conflict over the survival of rare species and the exploitation of the resources of developing nations.   Understanding contemporary design of guitar amplification requires looking back to the antiquated technology of vacuum tubes but also to advanced computer-driven sampling and emulation. 

Considered as an icon, or symbol, the guitar offers a similarly rich field for study.  What did Woody Guthrie mean when he wrote on his guitar “this machine kills fascists”?  Why did the organizers of Woodstock choose for their poster an abstract image of a dove perched on the headstock of a guitar?  Why did SLU alum Grace Potter lend her name to a signature model Flying V guitar? 

Although guitar players –and other musicians and artists—are encouraged to apply, all are welcome to this exploration, which will combine reading and listening with hands-on investigations of the science and craft of the guitar.