For centuries, music and nice and clean. While different instruments gave notes different timbres, the frequencies of these notes were expected to be projected with clarity and purity. Yes, you could add a little oomph but playing fortissimo, but the dogma was “Let’s not overdo it.
But sometimes the situation called for overdoing things. Banging a piano in a certain way turns a melody and a beat into boogie-woogie. A raspy, hard-blown saxophone brings energy to a performance.
But creating lots of volume and pleasant distortion with either of these instruments–and we can name a few others–is limited to the abilities of the human body. Volume and distortion and all that energy that comes from playing this way are restricted by how hard you can hit or blow into something.
The electric guitar has no such limitations. It can be played so all the notes are pristine. Or you can summon all the demons of hell with plenty of power and glory. And that is cool.
The electric guitar is one of humankind’s greatest musical inventions. Starting in the 1950s, it revolutionized many types of popular music. Country, the blues, jazz, and, most of all, rock. After it appeared, nothing was ever the same and the sound of music changed forever. It’s impossible to imagine what today’s music would sound like had the electric guitar not been invented.
But how did we get here? This is the story of the electric guitar part 2.
Songs heard on this show:
- Big Wreck, The Oaf
- Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK
- Radiohead, Bodysnatchers
- Oasis, Supersonic
- Lenny Kravitz, Are You Gonna Go My Way
- U2, Beautiful Day
- Vampire Weekend, A-Punk
- Duane Eddy, Rebel Rouser
- Smiths, What Different Does It Make
- Alice in Chains, I Stay Away
This is Eric Wilhite’s playlist.
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.
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