How do you call guitar technique for playing one instrument, but making it sound like there are at least two guitars?

Example of that might be, probably well known, Tommy Emmanuel's Classical Gas interpretation.


Since I found out that questions for identifying technique aren't welcome here, here's my attemp to rephrase it, with whatever I could find over the internet.

What are the exercises that might improve generating simultanuos multiple voices on the guitar, classical/acoustic for that matter? Travis picking exercises are the most similiar to what is the goal here, but what else might be of use?

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    For exercises - some "simple" contrapuntal or fugal classical guitar music might help. (Not Bach, it's always far too hard unless you're already a specialist!) Even if you don't want to learn the stuff, it might give you an idea of how to work in separate tunes for the thumb and fingers. – Andy Apr 22 '15 at 11:05

Let me answer the original question: "How do you call guitar technique for playing one instrument, but making it sound like there are at least two guitars?"

You call it "good". It is not as much a technique but rather sufficient mastery and control of the instrument in order to execute multiple simultaneous parts or voices with a separate identity.

"polyphonic" might be a reasonably fitting term. One can add attributes like "transparently polyphonic". It's sort of an essential skill for organ playing (and a frequent source of shortcomings), for keyboard music of some styles and periods (notably from the Baroque period but also for some composers like Chopin), but even for bellows instruments like bandonion and accordion.

Some Tabla players are pretty good in that regard as well.

If you take a look at the Bach sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin, you'll find a lot of polyphony in there as well but it is rather hard to do it justice, and modern instruments and bows are somewhat worse for catering to this style.

But guitar is an instrument with a more polyphonic tradition and execution and so the skills for polyphonic execution are more in line with expectations from a good player.


It is definitely a Travis Picking style as well as Tommy has got a Hemi installed his hands! The guy is just fast as all get out. Here is a link to the tab of his live version of the song: http://www.tabpigs.org/artists/te/classical_gas.pdf . You might be able to study it and work on sections. As for what exercises would be good to practice, I'm not quite sure which would be best for developing speed with Travis picking. But you should be able to find plenty of lessons on youtube perhaps of Travis picking lessons. But, here is a link of Tommy Emmanuel himself teaching you how to play Classical Gas:

. You can learn from the man himself. Hope this much helps you at least.

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