Edward Powell – Profile
Edward Powell is a pioneering musician who
specializes in the Sitar, Oud, and Fretless Guitar.
Edward Powell, with his fretless guitar.
In 1997 Edward Powell succeeded in his experimental attempts to create a Fretless Guitar. The result is essentially a marriage between the steel-string acoustic guitar and the Indian Sarod in that it is basically a guitar with a flat metal fingerboard.
The sarod is a well-known instrument of North Indian classical music popularized by great exponents such as Ustad Allaudin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, among others.
The sarod’s origins stretch back to the ancient Afghani “rabab”, which has a goat-skin face, a wooden body and fingerboard, and uses catgut or nylon playing strings. The rabab has also a set of sympathetic “tarif” strings similar to those of the sitar. The sarod’s characteristic features are it’s goat-skin face, steel playing strings, “tarif” strings, and metal fingerboard.
Edward’s version of the Fretless Guitar is well suited for combining Indian with Western music in that it is tonally and harmonically suited to both musical idioms.
The guitar (unfretted of course!) is now experiencing a transformation in India thanks to the unprecidented work of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who has developed a virtuoso classical technique on the “Indian Guitar”. The Indian Guitar is played laying “face-up” on the performers lap, and with a round metal bar in the left hand (similar to the “blues bottle-neck”, “pedal-steel”, or “Hawaiian guitar”).
Powell’s Fretless Guitar achieves a similar sound but instead incorporates the sarod’s playing technique of contacting the strings to the metal fingerboard with the fingernails of the left hand.
Edward tunes his Fretless Guitar in open tunings such as DADGAD, DGDGBD, EADEAD or a variation of one of these in order to match particular “Indian ragas”, or to accent particular “modes”.
Some pics of Ed
One of our keen contributers, here’s Ed, playing live and proving fretless guitarists can get gigs.
Born of the forbidden coupling of Guitar and Indian Sarod, behold “SARTAR”.
This is a very large instrument, we can count fourteen string winders on its enormous head, it looks quite a beast, and we are told it growls large.
And here the creator play’s the SARTAR.
Ed, with his creation; the 14 string Baritone Oud
Ed, with another magnificent creation; the Three Necked Guitar