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The Song “Drifting” by Andy McKee


The unique aspect of the song “Drifting” by Andy McKee is that even though he is merely using a simple string guitar he is able to derive a gamut of different tones from a single instrument (Drifting, 1). There is no singing, no overly elaborate background music, no wailing, shouting, or cursing rather the entire song is the embodiment of simplicity with just one person plucking away at a single instrument. Yet, despite the utter lack of accompaniment the very texture of the song is vibrant, at times overwhelming yet calming.

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It distinguishes itself from other songs in that the melody is a combination of short plucking combined with idle strumming. It could be considered slightly repetitive due to the rhythmic quality of the plucking involved however this is accompanied by several incorporations of slight strumming which helps to break the repetitive quality of the plucking. It is this very repetitiveness that makes the song easy to remember and identifiable with a conjunctive motion that helps to develop its melodic quality and likeability.

The range of the song is actually surprisingly large considering the fact that it is being played off of a single normal guitar that is not an electric one.

McKee does this through a style known as guitar drifting wherein instead of continuous strumming he holds the guitar in such a way that he plucks at the strings at the handle of the guitar instead of near its base resulting in a sudden burst of sound that is slightly higher pitched and faster as compared to normal guitar strumming. There is a great deal of improvisation with the McKee often tapping is guitar at the base during certain parts of the song.


This tapping actually enhances the rhythmic plucking that was mentioned earlier lending it a uniqueness not normally seen in other guitar pieces. In terms of analyzing what meter the song is in it seems to take on aspects of a duple meter in the beginning but changes to a quadruple meter in the middle and to a triple meter in the end (Schmidt, 1).

While it is hard to believe that a song has such variance the fact is the use of drifting in playing the guitar actually causes this rather erratic pattern but all in all the song is quite enjoyable because of it. The overall tempo is slightly medium paced; it’s not too fast not too slow with just the appropriate amount of speed.

One unique as aspect of the song is that it does apply several aspects of syncopation with the hands of McKee hitting the base of the guitar now and then along with a slight ticking noise in between some parts of the song that cannot be determined. Overall, since the music is played off of one instrument all its parts move in the same rhythm but with the skill of McKee it seems as if multiple people are playing with two or three guitars in the background.

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From a certain perspective the piece appears to be improvised due to the rhythmic tapping McKee incorporates into his play style along with the fact that the drifting play style is in fact a form of improvisation on the original method of playing a guitar. The reason why I picked this particular song is due to its calming nature. After a day full of course loads, personal problems, heartaches and worries just listening to this song helps to calm me down and make life seem better.

General Impression

The song speaks of a life full of ease, joy and happiness; a life that has no worries is calm and peaceful with little to trouble a person’s mind with. In other words the song speaks volumes of what life should be like, of what peace a person can attain by just slowing down and listening to the world. For me this song signifies everything that I wish to have in the future. No worries, no problems just constant peace and happiness.

Works Cited

“Drifting.” Andy McKee Drifting. Web.

Schmidt, Catherine. “Meter in Music.” CNX. Connexions, 2011. Web.

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