Guitar Music Is Dying, Or Is It? Speak Up!

The decline of guitar music is making headlines   26-Jun-12

Guitar Music Is Dying, Or Is It? Speak Up!
The Black Keys rocking the hell out // CC // Music54

The decline of guitar music is now getting mainstream media attention, and that's in the UK, the country praised by Dave Grohl for being so rock n' roll.

Guardian music writer, Adam Boult, has posed the question 'Is guitar music on the way out?', and has invited readers to give their thoughts on the matter.

He has cited acts such as Nicki Minaj, Tinchy Stryder, and Plan B as dominating the charts, whilst guitar bands are nowhere to be seen. He also quite rightly points out that guitar bands are beginning to appear less often at festivals such as Glastonbury, where pop acts have started to dominate the headline spots.

As a writer for a guitar site, I can safely say that as an iconic symbol the guitar is certainly alive and well, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this right now. But is it harder for people like you to get your music heard? Perhaps it's not a lack of opportunity, but a difficulty to innovate with an instrument that has existed in its electric form for 80 years.

It's not surprise that the mainstream audience do not like extended guitar solos and virtuosity, but there is a healthy group of people who are fans of extreme shredders or gifted fingerpickers. This isn't the problem, virtuoso guitarists have always been more popular (in terms of sales) for their pop tunes than they have for songs showcasing their ability (take EVH for example).

The problem is the lack of accessible and universally commercial guitar music. Mark Tremonti has recently done well in the American rock charts, but didn't make a sizeable widespread impact in Europe.

But then bands like The Killers and Jack White have dominated the UK charts at certain points over the past ten years. It appears that only the right amount of guitar sits well with the mainstream audience.

If we look at some of the guitar bands who have done well recently (and I do say 'some' so I miss out your favourite band, don't shoot me), you have the likes of Kings of Leon, The Killers, Jack White, Nickelback (love it or hate it), Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys, and Kasabian.

These bands have some cool riffs in their songs, but it doesn't dominate the mix as much as it would have done for guitar bands in the 70s. Rock music mixes are now centered around big drum sounds more than they are around a prominent guitar sound.

Guitar music is certainly not dying, there is an obvious hangover still from the cock rock tendencies of the 70s, but as soon as it becomes cool to pull out a 3-minute-long solo again and treat the guitar as a sex symbol, then it will dominate the charts once more.

In short, synths, pro tools, and drum samples are all a bit sexier than the guitar right now (not in my eyes). But please, let it be known the The Guardian readers panel that guitar music is not dead!

The Guardian might actually publish your thoughts on the matter for their new article on the subject, so if you want to make your case for the greatest instrument in the world, head here.

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Amped Editor



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