Fretless Zithers…

…obviously have nothing to do with harp guitars…yet that is what I’ve found myself catching up on in the last couple days.  In conjunction with another little project I am involved in, I realized that it was time I updated and continued the work I started with my old FZ partner, Kelly Williams, on my site here.

I was reminded of the importance (I think) and challenge (I know) of continuing the difficult work of research, collation and presentation of these obscure, yet popular subjects (like harp guitars and fretless zithers, to name just two).  I was revisiting today (my day off) an outline for a book (THE book, actually) on Fretless Zithers that Kelly had started – a huge amount of work, and just the first step.  We were working on the next step when he got married and decided to retire from his lifelong hobby.  Alas, the book remains to be written, and I suspect that there is no one remaining (or up-and-coming) to further pursue it.

Meanwhile, I’ve given myself a little more “closure” by re-doing my own article.

And now, back to harp guitars!  (finalizing album cover for new CD…)

  1. Darrell Says:

    You know, I think a lot of people first “met” you through the Dolceola Pages (your site being one of the main hits when one searches for Washington Phillips). I’m still fascinated by all that stuff, and it’s amazing to reread it today.

  2. Gregg Says:

    Thanks, Darrell. Frankly, I don’t know how I did all that…again, like the FZ work, harp guitars, etc…it’s like if I don’t, who will? Of course, Corcoran is the real “hero” of that story. Ironic that he was clueless about the instruments. But then, so was/is most everyone except Kelly Williams Garry Harrison. Garry is the guy who figured it out. I never did go back and do a “wrap up” which I suppose I must (I was waiting for Garry to finish his amazing re-creations of the WP zithers). Interesting…I see that he cracked the code with my “octave-pair” melody string theory…I had completely forgotten!
    Is there anyone out there (beyond Garry, now retired) performing “authentic” Phillips arrangements?

  3. Darrell Says:

    Lots of Phillips-style dolceola playing on youtube.. None of which (IMO) sounds like Phillips, though it’s hard to compare 1920’s recordings with crappy digicam audio.. Interesting how all the youtube descriptions feature the term “Fretless Zither”.

    I dunno, it’s hard for me to imagine you spending hours with headphones on listening to Washington Phillips. Though I suppose it’d be hard for you to imagine me doing it too.

    “You can go to college, you can go to school, but if you don’t have Jesus you’re an educated fool!”

  4. Gregg Says:

    Dolceola playing CAN’T sound like Phillips – they’re apples and oranges…

    Are you kidding? Before Garry, I spent hours with headphones playing half speed on the old Roland…
    Each tune !

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