12:04 p.m., Oct. 1, 2009----The acoustic guitar is a part of the mainstream of American culture, going from a parlor instrument in the latter part of the 19th century to becoming an integral part in all forms of music in more recent times, according to University of Delaware doctoral student and Hagley Fellow Andrew Bozanic.
Bozanic is sharing his interest and research surrounding the acoustic guitar with the public through an Inventive Voices podcast, available to the public and sponsored by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where he had a fellowship.
“The series are usually interviews with inventors,” Bozanic said, “so I was quite humbled and honored to be included.”
Two summers ago, Bozanic, who is working on a doctorate in history, participated in UD's Public Engagement in Material Culture Institute (PEMCI), funded by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, whose goal was to give scholars of the future instruction hands-on experience in reaching out to the public about their research. “The training was invaluable for the podcast," Bozanic said. “I learned to have my talking points prepared and practiced my interview skills, which helped me immensely during the interview.”
Music has always been a passion with him, and his other strong interest is business history and technology, Bozanic said, so he combined the two for his dissertation. “I minored in music at Georgia Tech and played the saxophone, bassoon, piano and sang, but I did not have time to continue my musical studies and asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas and learned to play it.”
During the podcast, Bozanic pointed out that the acoustic guitar is flexible, portable and relatively cheap, and adaptable to all genres of American music. He is researching all things about the instrument from manufacturing to playing styles from the late 19th century to 1970.
In the podcast, Bozanic discussed the “social construction” of the acoustic guitar, and the relationship between makers and users.
It was not a “top down” business -- guitar players adapted the instrument in different ways and the manufacturers made modifications and used new materials, and both groups paid attention to each other.
With the advent of electric guitars, acoustic guitar players also have adapted ways of amplifying sound from their instruments, using microphones or public address systems.
The acoustic guitar lends itself to all kinds of music from folk music to rock and roll. It lends itself to ethnic music as well, Bozanic said, noting the annexation of Hawaii had a big impact on acoustic guitar music.
At Georgia Tech, Bozanic's adviser recommended UD and the Hagley Program to him for graduate school. Entering the program was a “great decision,” Bozanic said. “It's a wonderful program, a good environment, and I have access to its many resources, such as the Hagley Library.”
Bozanic is currently teaching history at UD and hopes to teach at the college level in the future. He will return to the National Museum of American History next semester and plans to graduate in 2011. His UD adviser is Arwen Mohun, associate professor of history.
Article by Sue Moncure
Photo by Ambre Alexander