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

jrockbridge

Member
Messages
4,498
Guitar has fallen out of favor with mainstream pop music. Pop music has devolved substantially over the decades.

There was a scientific study done measuring music between 1955 to 2010. They used algorithms to check 500,000 songs, measuring for harmonic complexity, timbral diversity and loudness. The results showed that music has become less and less complex over time.

Personally, I find the lack of real drums and the loss of the human drum feel just as disturbing as the lack of guitar in today’s pop music. For lack of a better term, there is a loss of swagger to the feel. The loss of the human feel in the drums sucks most of the life out of the music for me. The vocals seem to be the only human touchstone left. Every song sounds like a boring pattern that I’ve already heard before, thousands of times.

Fortunately, music with real drums, satisfying grooves and interesting guitar parts is not dead, it’s just not in the top of the charts. There is plenty of guitar music around, able to sell tickets to live shows and make artists good, livable wages.

In the grand scheme of things, the earth has been through five mass extinction events. Humans are not likely to be around forever, so perhaps, expecting guitar to be around forever is wishful thinking. Maybe, after the next extinction event, when life restarts once again on this planet, real beetles will evolve to play the next Beatles-type music. Perhaps, those creatures will resurrect the guitar.
 

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,662
The guitar is just a tool to make music.
A lot of music today doesn’t have much guitar in it.
But a lot of pop tunes from the 80s still has a lot of guitar in it... especially Nile Rogers stuff. I miss the 90s, there was so much new and cool guitar stuff still going on
 

Spider Mark

Member
Messages
1,871
As with movies, games, comics, novels etc, Entertainment Inc doesn't like most of it's audience very much and says so very loudly, and makes product many people do not care much for and do not buy.

Yet we are told we are in a Golden Era of artistic endeavor. It's the fans who are toxic!
 

DS007

Member
Messages
701
There's a few very popular new bands who are using a ton of guitar. I think right now a lot of the people creating bands are probably looking to something new, which at this point includes using some extra guitar, lol
 

Jerrod

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,879
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
Got any more hot takes for us?
 

Whittlez

Member
Messages
2,866
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
your false premise is that "distorted guitar solos, power chords in the chorus, blues-rock fills throughout. All things anathema to today's "play for the song" crew."

that's not what "play for the song" means. Look at Elliot Easton or Neil Giraldo.

They played TONS of this stuff and definitely PLAYED for the song (for the unitiated - Easton was the guitarist for The CARS. Giraldo played with Benatar (and married her) and also did studio work - eg. Jesse's Girl).

Solos, power chords, crunchy guitar etc. are not inconsistent with playing for the song.
 

MGT

Member
Messages
1,920
Anyway! I guess the original post was caused by reading the N-th internet article calling for restrain and good taste in the part of the guitar player, when the songs currently at the top of the charts, well...
Guess it depends on which charts you're referring to.
 

nac

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
347
Guitar has fallen out of favor with mainstream pop music. Pop music has devolved substantially over the decades.
Yep but it will come back around. The next generation wont want music generated by drum machines and synthesizers and once they hear a real band they think it's new and cool and the cycle will repeat.

I get tired of these "the guitar is dead" threads.
 

jrockbridge

Member
Messages
4,498
Yep but it will come back around. The next generation wont want music generated by drum machines and synthesizers and once they hear a real band they think it's new and cool and the cycle will repeat.

I get tired of these "the guitar is dead" threads.
True. Guitar is not dead, it’s just out of fashion within mainstream pop music.

Then again, perhaps, people said the same thing about the clarinet when big band jazz was going out of fashion, “It will come back around.“ The clarinet does not look to be coming back as the dominant lead instrument within popular music anytime soon. Of course, clarinet is alive within school music programs. It’s one of the most affordable and popular instruments in those programs. And, it still occupies a sliver within professional music.
 

joebloggs13

Member
Messages
1,949
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
So, based on your logic, the electric guitar should have died in the 20s....the 1920s, which is when guitarists were 'playing for the song' as you put it. It should have just died....but it didn't. Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt brought it to the forefront of their respective genres....and what about Classical guitar as a soloist's instrument....? Is that dead as well?

The Edge from U2 has always said that he prefers to 'play for the song' as opposed to doing some flashy guitar solo, and has been doing just that in a career that spans some 40 odd years. I don't know how much thought you put into this before posting, but I think it wasn't enough.
 

Fredescu

Member
Messages
96
Guitar has fallen out of favor with mainstream pop music. Pop music has devolved substantially over the decades.

There was a scientific study done measuring music between 1955 to 2010. They used algorithms to check 500,000 songs, measuring for harmonic complexity, timbral diversity and loudness. The results showed that music has become less and less complex over time.
That was such a narrow study that got plastered all over the media because it appeals to everyone's (including mine) prejudice that the music from, or related to, your formative years is the best. A study that reduces music to loudness, timbre, and pitch, can be safely ignored.
 

rizla

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,013
Looking back I kinda feel like I robbed myself a bit, I shouldve just stepped up, turned up, planted my feet and played bebop solo's over what ever crud we were playing to entertain the drunken bums that were bumbling around the dance floor.
 
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SimAlex

Member
Messages
391
my bandcamp account has no idea what the OP is going on about. honestly, these posts keep coming up and i really should know better than to reply to them, but it's just...

there are so many greatgreat – guitar and riff-driven bands out there... might have small followings, but the quality is incredible.

also, what's wrong w/ sparkly arpeggiated guitar parts?
 

plaintopper

Member
Messages
1,432
Sit in the mix. Come forward for your lead when it’s your time to shine. Nothing worse than guitar overpowering everything.

Vocals have to be number one.
Only if you have a REALLY good singer. Which 90 percent of every day bands do not have. Strained, pitchy, and every other vocal malady under the sun ... nope, bad lead vocals way up on top is exactly what makes many bands sound so unprofessional.
 

JPF

Member
Messages
8,733
Tell it to Mike Campbell, Martin Barre, Mark Knopfler, etc. They know how to hold back, drive, create tensio, release. Sometimes less wanking is more guitar.
 

eddie knuckles

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,683
I played in a pop country cover band for 6 years. The "song" is the self interpretation of the performer's role - whatever instrument is played (even double bass drums). I would have my "necessary riffs" for those points and such, but when it comes time for improv, maybe 4 bars, or even half - (an 8-count) and back to the song. Better say something cool when you have NO time to do anything but tear off the roof quickly- it is a neat challenge, as it forces you to focus on saying something, and NOT wanking. I find some great statement riffs that way...
 

phil_m

How did this get here? I'm not good at computer.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,849
Fender sold more guitars this year than any other year in its history...
 

Atmospheric

Member
Messages
3,586
Distorted shred guitar has become a very cliched thing to drop into a song. Case in point, Alicia Keys at the most recent Grammys. She went out of her way to do 8 bars or so of two-hand tap shred guitar that was completely gratuitous. It didn't support the song in any discernible way. It most certainly did enhance her "hey look at me I'm a musical genius" cred. I mean she did actually play the part.

A lot of the most popular music in our culture is long on spectacle and short on meaning. Distorted shred guitar fits right in even if the artist is otherwise someone you might not associate with it.

Michael Jackson is another such example. I thought Orianthi's scenes in This Is It were painful to watch. MJ kept trying to tell her what he wanted but she was incapable of delivering ("go high"). If she weren't an attractive female, MJ would no doubt have hired someone who could deliver what he wanted.

So distorted shred guitar is great for spectacle based music. It's a cliche.
 




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