In his article The Demise of the Electric Guitar in Music, Bobby Owsinski states that the guitar is having less influence on music in general. While this is certainly true in recent popular music, I thought about this in a rock context, and how the whole electronic music craze has influenced my musical preferences.
When I first heard Clocks by Coldplay, my whole concept of what I had assumed “rock” was, was changed. Although there’s guitar in the song, the lead piano melody and backing synthesizers added a whole new dimension to the guitar-bass-drums archetype to create something that sounded much bigger. While the instrumentation itself is nothing that hadn’t been done prior to the song’s 2002 release, it introduced me to a whole new aspect of music that I’ve been listening to ever since. Similarly, I find electronic music production very interesting, partly due to how different the creative process is from acoustic based songwriting.
With the recent rise in electronically driven songs, I’ve been having an easier time finding artists who have introduced electronic elements into their music. All of my favorite bands use some combination of acoustic and electronic instrumentation production, and embrace new technologies as they arise. In doing so, it may become necessary for the guitar to either take a step back as the lead instrument, or change it’s tonal characteristics. While the guitar has traditionally been the driving force behind a song’s overall melodic makeup, there are endless ways to incorporate electronic instruments and production techniques into modern music.
I’m a firm believer in evolution, especially when it comes to combining multiple traits into something new. That being said, I think it’s important to realize that while the guitar may not be as prevalent in today’s music, it hasn’t been killed off completely- it’s just in a state of movement. This movement could be considered a punctuated equilibrium, a key concept of evolution referring to the short, rapid period of substantial growth that follows after a lengthy state of unchanging existence. Much like the sudden rise of the electric guitar after decades of acoustic guitar exclusivity, the recent EDM movement could be the next logical step towards a hybridization of music.
Today, I find it fitting and amusing that my musical taste and philosophy has come full circle since the purchase of my first favorite record, by Linkin Park. The album title perfectly sums up my views on music: Hybrid Theory.