Most guitarists the world over play their instruments in essentially the same way: the left hand holds the neck and applies pressure to each string to change notes, while the right hand plays the melody. Not so with Preston Reed.
In the 1980s, Reed began playing his instrument in new ways, sometimes twisting his left hand to pick out a melody while the right hand strummed accompaniment or tapping the guitar’s body like a drum. A new playing style was born, with deep chords, complex percussion, and weightless melodies. And he's inspired new generations of guitarists to further innovate on the genre he pioneered.
TEDGlobal Fellow Usman Riaz is a young Pakistani musician making a worldwide mark with his astonishing and fun-to-listen-to technique. Influenced by percussive guitarists--who move beyond strumming to striking, treating their fretboard like the soundboard of a piano--Riaz makes a sound that feels larger than the instrument itself, with a compelling pattern of repetition and variation that harkens to mystical music traditions.
In 2011, a viral video for his song "Fire Fly" helped bring his sound from the small-but-thriving Pakistani music community to a global audience. He's now collaborating with other musicians in Pakistan and working on a new album of original music.