Play for the song = proof that the guitar is on its way out

Howzaboppin

Member
Messages
477
Nowadays lots of guitar opinionators say that the guitar player should "play for the song". Which it usually means playing some twinkly arpeggios, or some unobtrusive skritches in the background, and leaving the power chords and blues-rock riffage for your bedroom self-enjoyment.


Which is fine, I guess. But last week I was doing some Very Scientific[TM] research of 80s music (listening to a couple "best of the 80s" compilations while exercising at home), and was surprised at how many of these tunes had some unexpected hard rocking guitar in them.


And these weren't metal tunes, mind you. They were hit songs by Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, and others. All dance/pop tunes engineered to reach the top of the charts. These tracks were the quintessential definition of "the song" back in the 80s. Synthetic studio products, where all the backing musicians were expected to help "sell" the main star.


And yet, a sizable fraction of them had distorted guitar solos, power chords in the chorus, blues-rock fills throughout. All things anathema to today's "play for the song" crew. But back then, I have to assume that the record producer/ label suits thought that the hard rock riffage would help sell "the song"? They certainly were OK with letting Basil Fung lay down his hard rock licks on those Paula Abdul hits.


Tastes change, of course, and I'm not saying that it's good or bad that the hard rock riffage went out of fashion. I wasn't fascinated by it back in the day myself. And these days it looks like there is (to paraphrase Thomas Watson of IBM) a market for 5 guitarists in the whole world, so today's budding guitarist is better served by learning how to make unobtrusive skritches and generally not calling attention to himself.


Which is, I think, evidence that the guitar is on its way out. For good or bad, back in the 80s, a rocking guitar was just what the doctor ordered when it came to move studio-manufactured product. And your average guitar player would listen to the blues-rock guitar stylings on your average Pat Benatar song and recognize himself. Today? When listening to today's hits, he may as well be a clarinetist.


Again, not saying this is good or bad; it is what it is. All the best to all guitarists out there playing, for the song or otherwise. :dude

(Edit: bit of bolding/underlining to aid reading comprehension.)
 
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OM Flyer

Supporting Member
Messages
5,484
Nowadays lots of guitar opinionators say that the guitar player should "play for the song". Which it usually means playing some twinkly arpeggios, or some unobtrusive skritches in the background, and leaving the power chords and blues-rock riffage for your bedroom self-enjoyment.
The premise needs clarification.

Who are these "opinionators"?​
What genre of music are they talking about?​
Why does "playing for the song mean" "arpeggios" and "skritches"?​
What are "skritches"?​
 

pepedede

Member
Messages
1,727
There is far more to guitar playing than power chords, riffage, distortion and a blazing solo.

Guitar has it's place, it might not always be in fashion or in the pop music of the time, but that doesn't matter at all. There still is new music being made every single day by many popular guitarists, in bands or solo.

It's been that way since people started making guitars.
 

Doomrider78

Member
Messages
3,326
Nowadays lots of guitar opinionators say that the guitar player should "play for the song". Which it usually means playing some twinkly arpeggios, or some unobtrusive skritches in the background, and leaving the power chords and blues-rock riffage for your bedroom self-enjoyment.
Sometimes those thoughts in your head need a little more thinking before being unleashed upon the world.
 

Pyritez

Member
Messages
215
Pop music today is apparently largely driven by the same vapid algorithms that drive the moronic output of today's movie studios.
That is to say, mostly garbage. Lol.

Its only indicative of the idiots pulling the strings currently behind the corporate curtains, whose only interest is more $$$$$.
 

pepedede

Member
Messages
1,727
Pop music today is apparently largely driven by the same vapid algorithms that drive the moronic output of today's movie studios.
That is to say, mostly garbage. Lol.

Its only indicative of the idiots pulling the strings currently behind the corporate curtains, whose only interest is more $$$$$.

At least it's never been easier or cheaper to do it yourself and make your own quality recordings.
 
Messages
2,677
Sounds like a slightly narrow interpretation of music in general. The music of today might not include as much guitar, but the prominence of guitar will be back soon enough once it is rediscovered; that is the way of things.

Around TGP your post count might cause dissention, so don't take the backlash personally. Up your post count and your observations will be more readily accepted by some. :)
 

Jayyj

Supporting Member
Messages
7,185
For me those pop songs with a howling guitar break in the middle always turned me off guitar - they seemed so indulgent and superfluous to the song, just a fashion thing that producers of the day dropped in to sound contemporary. What I loved about the guitarists I was into is how critical the guitar was to the whole composition - the guitarist didn't just get nudged awake halfway through the chorus before their solo, they were working throughout the song making sure there was always something interesting going on. As a budding guitarist my thing was always working on songs on my guitar so that by the time I brought them to the band they were complex instrumental pieces in their own right, and the art was to do it in a way that a vocal melody could sit comfortably on top. I never particularly cared about taking solos, I just wanted to play interesting material within the context of a song.

Nowadays I don't even really care if there's no guitar at all, I just want to hear material that's fresh and interesting. Right now it feels as though the guitar is on the back foot a bit but I'm sure it will come round again.
 

Hofnarr

Member
Messages
2,184
Nowadays lots of guitar opinionators say that the guitar player should "play for the song". Which it usually means playing some twinkly arpeggios, or some unobtrusive skritches in the background, and leaving the power chords and blues-rock riffage for your bedroom self-enjoyment.


Which is fine, I guess. But last week I was doing some Very Scientific[TM] research of 80s music (listening to a couple "best of the 80s" compilations while exercising at home), and was surprised at how many of these tunes had some unexpected hard rocking guitar in them.


And these weren't metal tunes, mind you. They were hit songs by Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, and others. All dance/pop tunes engineered to reach the top of the charts. These tracks were the quintessential definition of "the song" back in the 80s. Synthetic studio products, where all the backing musicians were expected to help "sell" the main star.


And yet, a sizable fraction of them had distorted guitar solos, power chords in the chorus, blues-rock fills throughout. All things anathema to today's "play for the song" crew. But back then, I have to assume that the record producer/ label suits thought that the hard rock riffage would help sell "the song"? They certainly were OK with letting Basil Fung lay down his hard rock licks on those Paula Abdul hits.


Tastes change, of course, and I'm not saying that it's good or bad that the hard rock riffage went out of fashion. I wasn't fascinated by it back in the day myself. And these days it looks like there is (to paraphrase Thomas Watson of IBM) a market for 5 guitarists in the whole world, so today's budding guitarist is better served by learning how to make unobtrusive skritches and generally not calling attention to himself.


Which is, I think, evidence that the guitar is on its way out. For good or bad, back in the 80s, a rocking guitar was just what the doctor ordered when it came to move studio-manufactured product. And your average guitar player would listen to the blues-rock guitar stylings on your average Pat Benatar song and recognize himself. Today? When listening to today's hits, he may as well be a clarinetist.


Again, not saying this is good or bad; it is what it is. All the best to all guitarists out there playing, for the song or otherwise. :dude
"Proof" might not be the right word here.

What sort of exercises were you doing when you came up with this thesis?
 

AprioriMark

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,243
Bad guitar is on the outs, yes. Personally, I'm excited about the more varied arrangements and broader use of instruments (including clarinet, haha) in modern music. That awful 70s/80s wank guitar saturation needs to be a thing of the past, except in parody/quotation as a representation of excess.

Just like life in general, this can either be the end of your world or a chance to grow and be better. The world changes, regardless. It wasn't always blooze rawk, sweep picking, and stadiums. People have enjoyed music differently over the ages, and the medium changes. Getting bent about that is like being mad that the winds change.

-Mark
 

SoPhx

Member
Messages
291
Umm, most recorded guitar playing in popular music up until 1966/67 was clean arpeggios, chords, and pretty short solos. Somehow, great players managed to make concise and memorable solos in the middle of those tunes that will be remembered long after Tony McAlpine et al. is a-moulding in his crypt. 'Power chords' are an adaptation to overdriven amps that don't sound very good with anything other than root/fifth. As far as blazing tweedledee 80s solos through modded JCM 800s, those have gone the way of shag haircuts and eyeliner for males. Thank God.
 
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Hungry_Hippo

Member
Messages
9
Fender literally sold more guitars this year than any year prior. Most stores are having trouble stocking shelves due to demand.

Guitar might not be super popular right now but the idea it's on its way out just doesn't seem to carry water. Chances are guitar will have a revival in a few years when a lot of the people who just picked up the instrument actually break through into the music business.
 




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