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“Music exists in nature to make you smarter."
April 26, 2013 3:47 AM   Subscribe

Bob Brozman, the undisputed master of the National Resonator Guitar, has passed away at age 59. Ethnomusicologist, virtuoso fingerpicker, musical historian, and anarchist philosopher Bob Brozman fell in love with National’s metal body resonator guitars as a teenager and made them his life’s passion.

He began as a teenager mastering Delta blues, jazz and Hawaian slide styles, and then performing with cartoonist Robert Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders. Brozman went on to record with legends like Hawaiian Tau Moe, Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya, and Mauritian maloya accordionist René Lacaille. He was fascinated by the music of colonial regions – how colonizers brought music that had a rhythmic emphasis on the first beat (like a march) while the people being colonized preferred emphasizing the off beats and playing in open tunings. His most recent efforts had been to explore the world of Papuan string band music - and he always liked to bring a bag of Bolivian charangos as gifts to see how different cultures adapted them to their music. “Music exists in nature to make you smarter. Commercial music is designed to make people stupid.”
posted by zaelic (34 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Second link was faulty: Bob Brozman on why he loved National guitars.
posted by zaelic at 4:11 AM on April 26, 2013


When I saw the first five words, I was really, really hoping this wouldn't be an obit post. He still had a lot to give to music. Dammit.
posted by ardgedee at 4:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very sad news. Only 59. A real shame. RIP Bob Brozman.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:28 AM on April 26, 2013


Very much enjoyed his thoughts in the last link, thank you.
posted by Erasmouse at 5:12 AM on April 26, 2013


This is deeply saddening. The man is one of my musical role models. I only saw him play once, but that performance forever changed how I play where I want to go with my music.
posted by The White Hat at 5:16 AM on April 26, 2013


RIP Bob, and thanks for the music
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posted by Fibognocchi at 5:39 AM on April 26, 2013


My resonator ukulele is not a National, but the replacement cone is. Thanks, Bob.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my all-time favorite albums is Brozman's collaboration with Takashi Hirayasu, Jin Jin. (sample track)
posted by moonmilk at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is the first time I've heard his music. This man was a guitar wizard. Sorry to hear that he passed, but thanks for sharing his music.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013


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posted by The World Famous at 7:05 AM on April 26, 2013


Wow, such great music. One of the many times that I regret first hearing about someone because they passed away. Thanks for the post.
posted by switcheroo at 7:19 AM on April 26, 2013


Dammit. I started playing slide because of this guy.
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posted by CincyBlues at 7:22 AM on April 26, 2013


This is upsetting. I never even got a chance to see Brozman play live, but it was obvious even just from his recordings and his writing what an amazingly talented and generous musician he was.
posted by No-sword at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2013


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Very sad news. I met him a few times, he was always warm and genuine. A real musician's musician, who loved being on the road and playing to new crowds in new places. He will be sorely missed.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:34 AM on April 26, 2013


Great player. But that Adornian disdain for commercial music is a sour note. Most of the musics he loved were commercial in some sense of the word.

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posted by spitbull at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


how colonizers brought music that had a rhythmic emphasis on the first beat (like a march) while the people being colonized preferred emphasizing the off beats and playing in open tunings.

What an interesting observation. It feels true, albeit by way of having a sort of just-so story echo to it. I wonder where one would look for counterexamples.

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posted by Sokka shot first at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2013


Very much enjoyed his thoughts in the last link, thank you.

Sure, I've got at least five quotations from this interview that I'm going to use, write and think about for some time. Cool guy. That's too bad. Thanks for your links !
posted by nicolin at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2013


Many subversive musical movements took that straight ahead beat and ran with it. Punk, industrial, rave culture.

I really like some of what he said in that video ("I don't want to get bigger, I want to get better"), but some of it strikes me as kind of bullshit.

Still.

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posted by Foosnark at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2013


His segment on BBC's The Story Of The Guitar is one of the best things ever. Here's a little bit of it.
posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bought a charango on Brozman's recommendation (and it's an awesome little instrument). He also opened my eyes to a lot of awesome music, though his renditions were never the versions I wound up fancying. He's responsible for my love of early Calypso.

I value him as a champion and popularizer of the obscure, old, and awesome a little more than I actually enjoy his recorded music.

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posted by LucretiusJones at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2013


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posted by salishsea at 10:16 AM on April 26, 2013


Dammit. I saw him live a number of times and he was both eccentric and awesome. His use of the guitar as a percussion instrument made me raise my glass many a time.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2013


Very sad news. We heard him every time he came to New Zealand, and every performance was a gift. He really knew how to engage with a crowd, getting them to clap and sing and throwing in some ethnomusicological tales in light-handed way.

My other half is actually crying now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:15 PM on April 26, 2013


Other half still crying. I'm not a musician, so I can't talk about whether Bob was any good or not. What I do know is that he was outstandingly dynamic and engaging, an incredible performer and he got sounds out of that metal guitar like you wouldn't believe.
posted by blaphod at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2013


I need to thank you again. I've been listening to more on youtube now that I'm free for the afternoon, and each one becomes my new favorite!! AH!
posted by switcheroo at 1:37 PM on April 26, 2013


He was a very active music / culture educator - using the IGS (International Guitar Seminars which he ran with Woody Mann) to get people to increase their horizons and not to fear the difficulties of trying new things on guitar. He used to be very available to folks on their forum - and is now going to be sorely missed. But we learned a lot from him - especially about why we play real live music. Man don't dead. He noisy forever!
posted by zaelic at 3:21 PM on April 26, 2013


The title of this post, wow. What a beautiful idea that is.
posted by thelonius at 5:20 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember a rather special version of "Radio Ping Pong" when Bob was on Charlie Gillett's radio show. Now they're both gone; so sad.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:05 PM on April 26, 2013


Pretty much what flapjax said. He was too young to go.
posted by y2karl at 10:27 AM on April 27, 2013


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posted by the sobsister at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2013


Lovely obituary here.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:56 PM on May 2, 2013


And whoah some seriously distressing allegations in the comments. I feel ill.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:16 PM on May 2, 2013


seriously distressing allegations

Wow, if those are true... damn. I hope they're not true.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2013


Me too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:06 AM on May 3, 2013


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