Guinness World Records - Officially Amazing

Dr Hot Licks sees in the New Year in Hong Kong with new fastest guitar-playing record

 
 
 
 
 
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From Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records Editor In Chief in Hong Kong

To celebrate the dawning of 2012, the Olympian City shopping mall in Kowloon, Hong Kong, chose to host a 'rock'-themed record attempt as part of their New Year event.

The Rock the World party, held in the Olympian City atrium, saw famous pop and rock acts from Hong Kong perform in front of a thronging crowd crammed into every floor of the store. However, the highlight of the night ­ just minutes after the clock struck midnight ­ was record-breaking musician and teacher John Taylor performing on his custom-made guitar.

John, known to fans as Dr Hot Licks, travelled all the way from Westminster, Colorado, USA, with girlfriend and photographer Bailey for the record attempt.

In the run-up to the big event, the speedy strummer devoted hours of practice to the required piece ­ 'Flight of the Bumblebee' by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

To strengthen his hands, John strapped rubber resistance bands to his fingers, giving his digits a gruelling workout just before whipping off the bands and attempting the piece.

As the current record holder, John had already set the bar high with a seemingly impossible speed of 600 beats per minute (bpm). Because the famous piece of music is written in semi-quavers (16th notes) to simulate the sound of a buzzing bee, this equates to playing around 40 notes per second! Could he beat his own record?

To build up to a new record-breaking speed, the aptly named Dr Hot Licks played through the piece a couple of times, first at 250 bpm then 400 bpm.

On the third and official attempt, he flew off at a dizzying speed of 620 bpm. A metronome click-track ensured that John maintained an even tempo, but at such a rapid rate, it¹s almost impossible to assess accuracy. To adjudicate the record, audio and video ­of the attempt must be recorded ­ and then slowed down to hear each note and see each strum.

That's where I came in as the official adjudicator. With the help of a local music expert, we listened again and again to the slowed-down recording (at 15 frames per second) and watched at just one frame per second at the fingering. Satisfied with the result, the only remaining task was to reveal the result to John and the awaiting crowd.

As the news was announced, indoor fireworks were released and a huge cheer went up. The first Guinness World Records certificate of 2012 was handed over ­ a fantastic start to what we all hope will be a record-breaking year.

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