Panel 07 - The Culture and Aesthetics of the Electric Guitar in Rock Music

Event Title

The electric guitar as a sound generator in rock music (1954-2014)

Presenter Information

Philippe Gonin

Start Date

28-3-2015 4:00 PM

Description

If jazz introduced the electric guitar in jazz combos, rock music has been using the instrument both as a rhythmic or a melodic/soloist instrument and as a sound generator. From Johnny Guitar Watson and his first use of the reverb of his Fender amp to make noises to Thurston Moore with Sonic Youth, we can find several musicians – such as Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett, Keith Rowe, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Brian May and many others – having used the instrument to generate noise effects rather than a harmony or a melody.

The aim of this contribution is to try to elaborate some kind of classification of these different types of sounds. Were they made by using effects pedal? The power of the amplifier plus distortion? The use of feedback? Unusual things to play with (bow, lighter, mic stand...)? Did the musicians use these effects live, in studio or both?

We will analyse a few situations and/or songs using the electric guitar that way: Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Syd Barrett’s “Insterstellar Overdrive”, David Gilmour”s “Echoes” and “Is the anybody out there?, Jimmy Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Thurnston Moore. We will not forget Johnny Guitar Watson with “Space Guitar”. A short overview of the different effects used by the musicians will begin our paper.

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Mar 28th, 4:00 PM

The electric guitar as a sound generator in rock music (1954-2014)

If jazz introduced the electric guitar in jazz combos, rock music has been using the instrument both as a rhythmic or a melodic/soloist instrument and as a sound generator. From Johnny Guitar Watson and his first use of the reverb of his Fender amp to make noises to Thurston Moore with Sonic Youth, we can find several musicians – such as Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett, Keith Rowe, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Brian May and many others – having used the instrument to generate noise effects rather than a harmony or a melody.

The aim of this contribution is to try to elaborate some kind of classification of these different types of sounds. Were they made by using effects pedal? The power of the amplifier plus distortion? The use of feedback? Unusual things to play with (bow, lighter, mic stand...)? Did the musicians use these effects live, in studio or both?

We will analyse a few situations and/or songs using the electric guitar that way: Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Syd Barrett’s “Insterstellar Overdrive”, David Gilmour”s “Echoes” and “Is the anybody out there?, Jimmy Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Thurnston Moore. We will not forget Johnny Guitar Watson with “Space Guitar”. A short overview of the different effects used by the musicians will begin our paper.