Whirr2005-07-21
Play Freebird, Man!
So I've been doing some research into Rock & Roll, which is kind of an odd thing for a 28-year-old to do. I started listening to music at a very late age. I bought my first album, on a whim, when I was a sophomore in High School, and until then I just listened to whatever was on. There's a pretty big cultural rift between me and most Americans in this way. Ordinarily I am only too glad to have a cultural rift between me and America, but on the subject of Rock & Roll I do wish I was better informed.

I'm in a similar place regarding Opera--I don't know much about it, I haven't had much exposure to it, but I know that it is Vital (as in "full of life") and Glorious, and I know that I need to learn about it so that I can use it to make Art. Imagine a painter who has only just been exposed to oil paints while visiting an art school. You don't need to grow up around the Old Masters to appreciate the properties of oils, just by looking at a second-rate student piece you can see the possibilities inherent in the paint. Similarly, I knew I wanted to use opera to create Art after seeing a mere five second background clip in The Talented Mr. Ripley and whatever tiny bits they showed in Immortal Beloved. I've seen some opera now (although still not very much) and I've read a lot more. I now know that I strongly disagree with a lot of the uses to which it has been put (I'm talking to you, Giacomo.) but it's clearly a powerful medium.

And then now I've been researching Guitar Solos. Very interesting stuff. I just listened to "Freebird" and "Stairway to Heaven" for the very first time today. Here's what I've learned:
  • Often not-very-interesting songs will become awesome songs during the one minute segment in which there is a guitar solo (Stairway to Heaven)
  • Often really-really-good songs will become even better during this time (Bohemian Rhapsody).
  • Freebird isn't really a very good song at all.
  • The guitar solo in Freebird, however, is really, really good.
  • The lyrics in Freebird represent the antithesis of my theory of Love, and thus Life, &c.
  • It turns out that Jimi Hendrix is quite talented.
  • I don't understand how the guitar solo works.
I understand that it involves improvising within a particular key and, in fact, I've been able to play around in E Blues. It sounds pretty good, and certainly bluesy, but nothing at all like Rock & Roll. It seems that rock involves a certain mix of staccato notes and sustained one. It seems that the sustain is often achieved through digital effect pedals or through feedback, but that's no problem. I play the violin, I've got all the sustain you can possibly want. I'm not sure how easily I can approximate the other, however.

I also have no clue what effects I need to investigate. My electric violin sounds, more or less, just like a louder version of my acoustic violin. Is it the case that the first electric guitars weren't as faithful to the guitar sound, and that's why there is a fuzzy sort of sound to them?

Sooner or later I need to take my violin to this guitar store I know, where they have a huge amp hooked up to a board with nine or ten effects pedals, and you can just try them all out. But first, I'd better learn "Stairway".
Comments