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Air plectrums ready! Air plectrums ready!
by Asa Butcher
2007-09-05 08:59:32
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"The Purpose of the Air Guitar World Championships is to promote world peace. According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end and all the bad things would disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar. This is why the whole universe is invited to play the Air Guitar at the end of the competition." - www.airguitarworldchampionships.com

Air guitar and world peace are two concepts that I never thought would be united, but it just goes to show what an adaptable world we are living in. Only time will tell whether we will witness the United Nations sponsoring this event and Kofi Annan, centre-stage, preparing to dazzle us with his air guitar rendition of The Who's "My Generation"…"People try to put us d-down…"

The Air Guitar World Championships are held annually in Oulu, Northern Finland, as a part of the Oulu Music Video Festival and this year is the 12th anniversary. There are very few annual events that I want to see, but this is one of them. However, distance, time and finances have always ended my hopes each year, so it seems once again I will follow the contest through their psychedelic website.

The website is packed full of videos, archive photos and full explanations about the principles, techniques and dangers of air guitar. My eye went straight to this warning: Just beware of not over-doing it: too much mind-extending improvisation might distance you from the audience. "Mind-extending improvisation" is a mere understatement if you look at some of the costumes on show.

Yes, that guy has a rubber glove on his head and, yes, he is wrapped in tinfoil and Clingfilm, but what of it? He is an air guitarist, 'mind-extending improvisation' is an integral part of the performance and I am sure his mum is proud. Actually, the beauty of air guitar is that any race, gender, age or social status can play, since no equipment or actual playing skills are required - a few of the World Champion air guitarists have admitted that they can't even play a single chord.

The majority of air guitarists are male and I am sure an anthropologist somewhere is working on a research project right now to explain why, but my belief is that women are skilled in many other forms of air instruments. For example, my wife plays an excellent air organ, although she stubbornly refuses to play for audiences, and a friend's fiancée is amazing on the air bagpipes.

The festival has a number of additional air guitar events, such as the High Altitude Training Camp, which will offer lectures concentrating on the history of the sport, choreography learning, instrument maintenance, not forgetting the basics of endurance training, proper dedication to the art of air guitaring and lessons by some learned experts of the field.

One of the experts is a journalist and the US runner-up air guitarist, Dan "Björn Turoque" Crane, who will be basing his lecture upon his new book entitled, "To Air Is Human: One Man's Quest to Become the World's Greatest Air Guitarist." Another expert is dancer-choreographer Teemu Tuohimaa, who will "open air guitarists' minds to new kinds of stage choreography and instructs how to bring some spectacular flair into time-worn moves."

As for the actual contest that begins on September 5th, the rules are simple. The first round sees each contestant performing a one-minute version of a "hard riffin' guitar classic" chosen by the jury. In the second, contestants get to choose their own song and attempt to set themselves apart from the others. The winner is awarded a Baby Brian May Guitar, signed by the Queen guitarist himself. Naturally, at the end of the night the whole universe is invited to play the Air Guitar for nothing less than world peace.

Depending on my saving ability, I might see you at the festival next year - I'll be the one carrying the red air guitar.

Oulu Music Video Festival & Air Guitar World Championships

5-7 September 2007

Air Guitar Championship Website: www.omvf.net

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