MUSIC A whole lot of influences, confluences and a good sense of humour characterised World Guitar Nights

Fresh, groovy, pure entertainment. With an assortment of styles and genres, four of the world's most ingenious acoustic guitarists pushed musical boundaries to new limits at a concert recently.

Featuring Don Ross from Canada, Sándor Szabó from Hungary, Masa Sumidé from Japan and India's very own Konarak Reddy, World Guitar Nights intimately explored the guitar's many unknown facets.Presented by Fisheye Creative Solutions, an added bonus to the event was a full-day guitar workshop conducted at Konarak Reddy's Artists' Retreat. The workshop was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many guitarists to learn finger-style techniques, unique harmonies and improvisations from the four maestros.

Blurring fingers

Bangalore's very own Konarak Reddy is a pioneer, renowned for his finger style playing, as well as for integrating Hindustani and Carnatic improvisations into his technique.

Konarak Reddy began the evening with “Aalap”, a compilation of Indian music which he described as his journey through the years. Plucking strings with blurring fingers, the song peaked in intensity and climaxed with a calm flourish. He added a scoop of meditative tones with cyclic patterns of eight along with jazz and classical improvisations in “Deviene goddess” filling music in the parched soul, and mesmerised the audience with his poetic rendition of “Taara” with Don Ross.Hailing from Canada, the master of the finger style technique is the only person to win the United States National Finger Style Guitar Championship twice in 1988 and 1996. Inspired by guitar legends such as Bruce Cockburn, John Renbourn, Pierre Bensusan and Pat Metheny among others, Ross borrows from blues, jazz, folk and classical music creating a rich mix style that he best describes as “heavy wood”.

Playing his custom-made Marc Beneteau guitar, Ross, who is largely influenced by Indian Carnatic music, dominated the acoustic arena with his colourful soundscapes and comic touch. With a story behind every composition and inspired by mundane things that enable him to create spectacular songs, he is a true innovator of composition and technique.

The artiste played and sang the hilarious “If I could” from his first album “Any Colour” and an untitled track he finished composing the previous night. Moving around the stage with a sense of humour, the gentle giant finished with an incredible slap guitaring “Afraid to dance” number that left a voltage in the air. At the end of it all, the sheer range of his style marked him a true entertainer.

Hungarian Sándor Szabó's music can be described in one word – magical. Brewing a concoction of traditional Hungarian folk music with Eastern traditional styles, he is fondly called the true magician of the acoustic guitar.

Besides applying alternate tuning and plucking a 16-string guitar, he often adopts Indian melodic formulas into his innovative contemporary music.

Cradling his guitar like a magic wand, the guitar wizard cast “Raindrops”, a waltz piece and “Hey Joe”, Jimi Hendrix's first single. His rhythmic style and technique left the audience craving for more.

Coming from the Land of the Rising Sun, Masa Sumidé is a one-man band who delivers a dazzling, percussive show every time he picks up his guitar. He stretches the limit of the acoustic guitar and touches the soul with his sophisticated compositions and jazzy ballads. Sumide's “Mass suicide” was like a hard-to-put-down novel grabbing listeners from the first note till the very end.

Freezing heartbeats with the Beatles love ballad “Michelle” he left the audience screaming for more of his groovy finger work.

The night itself did not want to end and long after the lights had gone off and the speakers switched off, the hum of guitar strings lingered in the air.