Picking (or finger-picking) is a playing technique used on the guitar (especially in acoustic). It is widely used in blues and country music. It was invented at the beginning of the 20th century in the United States, in the old southern states, particularly in the Appalachians (Carolinas, Virginia).
The guitarist generally expresses himself alone without any orchestral support and at the same time ensures:
the rhythm by the bass line played by the thumb, with or without tab, slightly muffled by the palm of the hand,
percussion simulated by thumb tabs on one or more strings, which produces a snare drum effect,
the accompaniment by scratching the chords from time to time, then
the melody with the index finger, middle and ring finger, the little finger remaining most of the time on the guitar table.
The picking game is part of fingerstyle techniques. In all these techniques, each of the fingers of both right and left hands is in fact a musician. The movements that are imposed on each finger are obviously not natural movements and require intensive and regular exercises.
A little different from the traditional picking technique, below is an example of a Jazz piece, played in fingerstyle, performed by Mr. Martin Taylor: Down At Cocomo's
This piece illustrates the agility and precision required by all fingers to master this technique as well as the use of a device to modify the sound of the guitar, here a piece of cardboard slipped between the strings near the bridge to evoke a "steel drum".
Among the French guitarists who use (or have used) this playing technique, and in very different styles, we can mention, among others and in alphabetical order: Jack Ada, Pierre Bensusan, Marcel Dadi, Michel Dalle Ave, Alain Giroux, Olivier Giry, Eric Gombart, Michel Haumont, Cisco Herzhaft, Patrice Jania, Christian Laborde, Jean-Félix Lalanne, Jérôme Malaval, Gilles Marchal, Ruddy Meicher, Bruno Mursic, François Sciortino,Shai Sebbag, Jean-Luc Thievent, Laurent Honel and among the foreign guitarists, Chet Atkins, Doyle Dykes, Tommy Emmanuel, Todd Hallawell, Jerry Reed, Elizabeth Cotten, Mark Knopfler, Leo Kottke, Brian Setzer, John Standefer, Jacques Stotzem, Merle Travis, Jack Treese, Doc Watson, Tommy Emmanuel... Some guitarists have made it their specialty and play only with this practice, such as Norwegian bluesman Bjorn Berge (with tabs), and Canadian Steve Hill (only with fingertips).
Obviously, finger-picking is modelled on the playing style of ragtime pianists who used to play in cabarets. Finger-picking is sometimes referred to as ragtime-guitar. This technique is also similar to the Earl Scruggs style multi-finger banjo game.