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Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan (July 31, 1959) is an American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist, best known for his development of the touch technique for playing guitar. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He received an A.B. in music from Princeton University in 1981.

Normally, a guitarist must use two hands to play each note. One hand presses down a guitar string behind a chosen fret to prepare the note, and the other hand either plucks or strums the string to play that note. Jordan's touch technique is an advanced form of two-handed tapping. The guitarist produces a note using only one finger by quickly tapping (or "hammering") his finger down behind the appropriate fret. The force of impact causes the string to vibrate enough to immediately sound the note, and Jordan executes tapping with both hands, and with more legato than is normally associated with guitar tapping. The note's volume can be controlled by varying the force of impact: tapping with greater force produces a louder note.

A helpful analogy to visualize this technique is the distinction between a harpsichord and a piano. A harpsichord produces sound by plucking its strings, and a piano produces sound by striking its strings with tiny hammers. However, while notes produced on a harpsichord or piano sustain after the hammer has struck or the pick has plucked, fingers must remain on a tapped note in order for the sound to continue. This similarity is what led Jordan to attempt such a technique in the first place; he was a classically trained pianist before playing guitar and wanted greater freedom in voicing chords on his guitar.

While the above analogy may have been Jordan's inspiration to employ a tapping technique, it is not a sound analogy. A piano's hammer leaves the string after hitting it, like a guitarist's pick would normally do. A more helpful analogy would be that of a clavichord; when a clavichord tangent (hammer) hits the string, it remains in contact with the string as long as the key is held, acting as both like a guitar pick (the initiator of the sound) and a finger on a fret (becoming the clavichord's nut). The guitar tapping technique thus is almost identical to the method that clavichords have used for hundreds of years, with the guitarist's finger taking on the role of the tangent.

Jordan's two-handed tapping allows the guitarist to play melody and chords simultaneously. It is also possible, as Jordan has demonstrated, to play simultaneously on two different guitars. The technique generally requires a guitar with lower action and lighter-gauge strings. It is very difficult to use on a classical guitar, but possible on a steel string acoustic. The technique is the same as that employed by players of the Chapman Stick which was developed by Emmett Chapman in 1969, and later discovered by Jordan, independently.


* Touch Sensitive (1982) (As this album is not listed at Jordan's website, he may not consider it an "official" part of his work.)
* Magic Touch (1985)
* Standards, Vol. 1 (1986)
* Flying Home (1988)
* Cornucopia (1990)
* Stolen Moments (1991)
* Bolero (1994)
* The Best of Stanley Jordan (1995)
* Stanley Jordan Live in New York (1998)
* Relaxing Music for Difficult Situations, I (2003)
* Ragas (2004)
* Dreams Of Peace (2004)

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Stanley Jordan website

VDO Stanley Jordan playing guitar

Stanley Jordan play Stairway to heaven

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