Friday, July 31, 2009

The Guitarist's Lament

I am a guitar player.

This should be read as if I were saying "I am an alcoholic", admitting to a problem that impairs one's ability to view the living world. Guitarists (and drummers too, but despite my best efforts, I am not also one of those) very often lose sight of music and what makes it music. Let me explain.

Most guitarists start playing guitar after being inspired by a band or artist whose music was guitar based. Very often these bands featured guitar players whose guitar playing was rudimentary, or, just as often, plain ham-handed buffoonery. The Ramones, the Clash, Nirvana, even the Rolling Stones - the guitar playing is as simple as dry toast and just as effective for the butter of rhythm and the jelly of energetic vocals.
After eating this delicious aural breakfast in the morning of their musical day, guitarist then tend to take the early morning bus of guitar lessons until reaching the grammar school of rudimentary competence, after whi(THUD).

OK, it's several hours later, and after acquiring a painful and somewhat unwelcome haze of consciousness, I found a note explaining that any more continuation of the metaphor above would result in unanesthetized and unsanitary bowel surgery. I will take it under advisement.

Anyway, the little bastards get pretty good at guitar and start to realize that the guitar parts in the music that inspired them are way too simple for them now, and they need to find a new challenge. Enter: hard rock and metal.

To be fair, many guitarists are inspired from the beginning by more complicated heavy metal masturbation, but the trap still has the same result for most people (boys especially): they begin to confuse the guitar part for the whole of the music.

I mean, that IS how metal works too: the rhythm, mood, and melody are all in the riff, not in the voice or even in the overall harmonic structure of the parts. Whereas rock always had riff songs, some damn good ones too ("Louie Louie" of course, with "Sweet Jane" in second, and "Satisfaction" pulling up third) those songs all used the rhythm of the riff vs the vocals vs the drums. In metal the guitar part dictates and defines, rather than plays against those aspects and points our young impressionable guitar players in a dangerous direction musically: single minded guitar player numbnutsification.

Play for a guitarist something awesome that has guitar chords, any song you can think of outside of guitar-y metal sludge. They'll hate it. "This is just three fucking chords, anyone could play this!" Yeah, dickweed, except you before you started taking lessons and ruined your ability to enjoy music!

Guitar players never would have been inspired to pick up their instrument in the first place if it wasn't for Good, Simple Rock Music; and, being so inspired, they accidentally set out to kill their God-given ability to appreciate beauty; eliminating the purity and innocence to love Good Simple Rock Music! Everything they wanted out of guitar was made to seem childish and simple by the poisoning of musical education!

I think someone ought to pass a law stating that you can't learn to play guitar until you're 18. Then someone might actually retain the ability to enjoy and appreciate music for what it is, even as a filthy guitar player.

- If the music is dead, give it an autopsy and sell the video on ebay.

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