Fact Man Says: Learn an Instrument, Because It's Fun.
October 3, 2013 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Journey of the Guitar Solo, The Instrumentals bring guitar history in six minutes. [slyt | via]
posted by quin (35 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I started learning to play the guitar a year and a half ago using Rocksmith, which turned out to be a fantastic training tool for anyone who has never in their pushing-40 years of life picked up a guitar (or is open to the non-traditional visual style of teaching the "game" uses).

I may have picked up the guitar late, but I gotta say, it really is fun.

I'm getting pretty good with the open chords and I enjoy doing Cure riffs (I have always wanted to be able to play those, especially the down-the-neck-and-up-again riff for Just Like Heaven, which now is so simple I can't understand why I never tried to learn when I was younger).
posted by linux at 8:11 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction is literally the first song the game teaches you. Sweet.
posted by linux at 8:11 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a nice tour through rock 'n' roll and its descendants, but the journey of the electric guitar solo goes back a good 20 years before Chuck Berry.

Eddie Durham was there at the start.

Charlie Christian set the pace.

Even Django Reinhardt went electric.

And, of course, Les Paul claimed to have come up with the whole idea in the first place.
posted by Longtime Listener at 8:20 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I appreciated that, but the idea behind the development of the guitar as a featured instrument has so much been putting to the front the expression of an original voice and democratizing the ability to do so (none of the players the vid hints at were Charlie Parker or approached even remotely the heights of jazzmen twenty or thirty years their seniors) that playing solos note for note seem to completely miss the point. I can't tell about Rocksmith, but if it allows someone to play someone else's music without getting a clue about how it's designed, then...
posted by nicolin at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2013


It's cute and has a nice message...but no David Gilmour, Jerry Garcia, Trey Anastasio (and more) renders it irrelevant.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


trumpetdavid 7 hours ago
It's like everyone forgets that dream theater has´╗┐ been around since the mid 80s throwing down epic solos.


It's like he's saying what everyone (where "everyone" is 5 guys in Dream Theater T-shirts and one guy in a Rush T-shirt) was thinking!
posted by uncleozzy at 8:40 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was fun, even if their view of music history seems pretty narrow. I only listen tangentially to popular music but I hadn't gotten the impression that the guitar solo had become cool again within recent memory. Seems like a lot of what's popular lately is built on vocal hooks and dense auto-tuned harmonies. I also have a hard time deciding whether people think John Mayer is actually cool or not. I'm divided on the issue myself.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:41 AM on October 3, 2013


This is great. I reminded me of the pre-Internet days when you might hear a radio program on CBC or some campus station somewhere where a guy way cooler than you spent an hour playing seminal guitar clips and you felt 1000 times smarter and more in the know for having heard Django Reinhardt, Robert Johnson and Lenny Breau.

Plus don't you love how much fun these guys are having making this video?
posted by salishsea at 8:43 AM on October 3, 2013


Considering they discontinued progress with John Mayer am I correct in my deduction that rock and roll has been all but moribund in the last decade? I was hoping it was just my aging taste. Maybe Mr. Gorgenchuck was right...
posted by any major dude at 8:45 AM on October 3, 2013


Skipping straight to Hendrix without acknowledging the British Blues scene that inspired him is weird - no Yardbirds, no Cream, no John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers? And using Nirvana as a poster-child for solos being "pushed out"? Cobain played loads of solos in Nirvana, they're just of a pretty different style to everything the video showcases - discordant noise solos are still solos.
posted by Dysk at 8:46 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a nice tour through rock 'n' roll and its descendants, but the journey of the electric guitar solo goes back a good 20 years before Chuck Berry.

Well, yes. That's why they used some weasely terms to talk about it. "Chuck Berry helped put it on the map."

He didn't do it all, he didn't invent it or develop it, his was just the first really big hit that really featured the guitar (according to the video, at least).
posted by VTX at 8:49 AM on October 3, 2013


Everyone has their own hit list for what to play for this video, but they made theirs and they had fun making it. That they duplicate famous solos doesn't miss the point: the point was a nice little video with famous guitar solos; improvising and coming up with your own stuff is a different sort of video.

I have fun playing the guitar, even when I'm at kindergarten level learning someone else's solo. It's fun. And as with anything learned, over time, when you get deeper into the subject matter, you begin to have your own insight.

In the meantime, FUN.
posted by linux at 8:59 AM on October 3, 2013


It may not be a complete history of the guitar solo, but it was entertaining, interesting and well played.

No Jerry riffs?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:01 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cobain played loads of solos in Nirvana, they're just of a pretty different style to everything the video showcases - discordant noise solos are still solos.

Yeah, you could do a whole parallel history of the fuck-you Wall Of Crap punk/industrial/grunge guitar solo. Maybe start with guys like Link Wray and Blue Cheer. (Chuck in some Albert Ayler and I dunno maybe La Monte Young or something for extra depth.) The Velvet Underground of course, and the Stooges and MC5. Metal Machine Music. Get some Robert Quine in there. Arto Lindsay. The parallel tradition of the ha-ha-this-is-dumb punk-pop anti-solo. And then via MBV and the Pixies and Jesus and Mary Chain and Sonic Youth etc into grunge and onto the radio from there.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:33 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's meant to be a complete history, but it does do a good job of tracking the rise and fall of the solo as a prominent feature through the decades. It may not have your favorite artist in it, but nobody said it would; each artist selected is just an illustration of a larger trend.

am I correct in my deduction that rock and roll has been all but moribund in the last decade?

I don't think so, and I'm a little surprised they don't have a nod to, say, the Black Keys, but it does kind of feel like the outer boundaries of what counts as rock and roll have been mapped out, and new artists are exploring new spaces and combinations within that rather than looking for entirely new frontiers. This is not a bad thing at all, there's still plenty of great new rock being made. But it's not really the cutting edge any more. In 20 years we'll be listening to something that sounds nothing like anything we have now, and it probably won't be descended from rock and roll. Not to say that rock is dead: in 20 years there will also be some young genius of blues guitar or metal or surf or something who will be intensely popular and/or respected.
posted by echo target at 9:42 AM on October 3, 2013


The guitarist has good chops (as do the rest of the band) but some of those riffs and solos were crying out for something a little more meaty than his tele.
posted by rocket88 at 9:49 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guitarist has good chops (as do the rest of the band) but some of those riffs and solos were crying out for something a little more meaty than his tele.

Agreed, though I thought it was a great demonstration of why I hate the tele and other people love it. It's the perfect middle of the road chameleon guitar. You can make it sound vaguely like anything.

I ended up being impressed with how fluidly he was able to switch sounds and playing styles, but then I recently broke down and bought my first effects pedal in 20 years, so I'm probably way out of the loop on how easy it is to do that.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:55 AM on October 3, 2013


no edge?

no tony iommi?

no duane allman on slide?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been on a "rediscovering my guitar" kick for the last 18 months or so*, so maybe I have an overly critical eye at the moment. I appreciated that they pulled this off in one take, that the guitarist did a very fluid job of switching styles and songs, and the band did a nice job of coming when it was their turn. I also acknowledge that any version of this sort of thing is going to be skewed towards your own personal tastes. That said, this wasn't an accurate portrayal of the evolution of the guitar solo, but rather a tour of some iconic solos, with some editorializing thrown in.

I appreciate the technical side of what he did, but it left me cold.

*You're welcome, guitar gear economy.
posted by mosk at 10:22 AM on October 3, 2013


This is a nice tour through rock 'n' roll and its descendants, but the journey of the electric guitar solo goes back a good 20 years before Chuck Berry.

Everyone knows it was Marty McFly.
posted by howling fantods at 10:30 AM on October 3, 2013


Hey, since we have some guitar solo aficionados up in here, does anyone know of any bands that have used counterpoint in their guitar solos? What I mean by that is, two or more guitars playing at the same time where each one has a unique melodic line. (I tried asking r/metal once, but they were assholes.)

Here are some examples I'm aware of that come close:

* Brian May experimented with canon a bit in some Queen songs
* Phish sometimes puts fugues into their songs, eg. "Guelah Papyrus"
* "Through the Fire and Flames" has a section where both guitarists play at once, though it seems to me that when one is playing something cool, the other is usually playing a simple accompaniment
* "Layla" and "Free Bird" both have multi-guitar solos at the end, though to my ear they sound a bit messy

You'd think that, at the very least, the neoclassical guitarists would love to try something like this, but I haven't heard of it happening much. Thoughts?
posted by archagon at 10:32 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the related videos: 100 Riffs (A Brief History of Rock N' Roll)
posted by smackfu at 10:36 AM on October 3, 2013


Weezer's "Say it ain't so" has a (very short) bit of imitative counterpoint in the solo. They liked to do the same thing with vocals, but that's the only place I can remember where they do it with guitars.

Shit like that is a big part of why all us music nerds thought they were the best thing for about five minutes in the 90s.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:45 AM on October 3, 2013


Archagon: Thin Lizzy are the kings of 2-guitar counterpoint soloing, but you can also find it with Allman Brothers (especially Jessica's main riff) and Steely Dan.
posted by rocket88 at 10:48 AM on October 3, 2013


linux: "Everyone has their own hit list for what to play for this video, but they made theirs and they had fun making it. That they duplicate famous solos doesn't miss the point: the point was a nice little video with famous guitar solos; improvising and coming up with your own stuff is a different sort of video.

I have fun playing the guitar, even when I'm at kindergarten level learning someone else's solo. It's fun. And as with anything learned, over time, when you get deeper into the subject matter, you begin to have your own insight.

In the meantime, FUN
"


I was just thinking aloud about what guitar / solo meant to me. But I agree with you.
posted by nicolin at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2013


(OBNOXIOUS PEDANTRY The Thin Lizzy/Allman Brothers thing is homophony, not polyphony, because the guitar parts are moving in parallel instead of forming fully independent melodies /OBNOXIOUS PEDANTRY)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2013


i got your counterpoint right here, with bass

also, the grateful dead, when they're really on
posted by pyramid termite at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


God, on posts like this I dread the "No (blank)? THIS IS TOTALLY INVALID!"

It's an internet list. You would have made a different list. Okay.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:06 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as far as counterpoint goes, there's a tremendous amount of it built into the lines of songs by Rick Froberg and to a lesser extent John Reis.

It's very evident in the band they were in together Hot Snakes.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:11 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as far as counterpoint goes, there's a tremendous amount of it built into the lines of songs by Rick Froberg and to a lesser extent John Reis.

It's very evident in the band they were in together Hot Snakes.


And the band they were in together before that, Drive Like Jehu. Less so in the band they were in together before that, Pitchfork.
posted by Dysk at 12:55 AM on October 4, 2013


no David Gilmour, Jerry Garcia, Trey Anastasio (and more) renders it irrelevant

Yeah, let's fix that.

David Gilmour
Jerry Garcia
Trey Anastasio
Frank Zappa
Bari Watts
David Roback

Learning instruments for fun is of course not limited to guitars.

While trawling for bands to add to that lot, I found this clip from a recent incarnation of an outfit at whose gigs I regularly danced my heart out as a younger, lighter and fitter man. You've heard drummers recover elegantly from lost sticks before, I'm sure, but how many drummers do you know who can (a) sing like fucking angels and (b) recover elegantly from a lost snare drum? Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Carl Pannuzzo.
posted by flabdablet at 7:53 AM on October 4, 2013


Er, echo target? Black Keys WERE in there. They, like everyone else, was listed under the guitarist's name. For the Black Keys, that means Dan Auerbach.
posted by uberchet at 9:12 AM on October 4, 2013


Ha! Whoops.
posted by echo target at 10:02 AM on October 4, 2013


two or more guitars playing at the same time where each one has a unique melodic line

Eric Clapton had a go on 'Politician' with Cream:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJqgk2XAg4k

It's a bit of a mess, but you know the acid was stronger in those days.
posted by colie at 10:07 AM on October 4, 2013


The Miskatonic Variations is quite counterpointy.
posted by flabdablet at 3:25 AM on October 5, 2013


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