Thursday, March 11, 2021

Sonic Sorcery: A Peak at Prosody

"Prosody" has many meanings, depending on what context one is examining (linguistics, music, poetry & versification, etc), but in music, its primary meaning is in fusing the music and lyrics.

This can mean several things (like simply making sure the rhythmic meter of the music matches the rhythmic meter of the music, or matching happy lyrics with up-beat, major key music and sad lyrics with slower, minor key music), but our focus today is on tracking music and lyrics together. Put another way, the music matches the lyrical content (or the lyrical content matching the music). This is also sometimes referred to as "word painting".

For example, when a Sly Stone sings "Gonna take you HIGH-ER" and the pitch rolls up on the last word....or when Garth Brooks sings "I've got friends in LOW places" and drops the pitch on the word "low".....or when Bruno Mars sings "Stop - wait a minute" and the entire band stops playing.....or, for a more subtle example of "stop", when Diana Ross songs "Stop - in the name of love" and the melody stops dead after the word.....or when a vocalist sings "Going down - down, down, down, down, down" in the old Don Nix blues standard "Going Down" (covered by Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Beth Hart, Joe Satriani, Gary Clark Jr, and others,) each "down" drops further in pitch, taking the ear lower and lower.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Most Influential Guitarists of All Time

I typically dislike such lists. Strongly. They're always informative of the writer's personal tastes, which is fine, but too often presented as some sort of factual list based on objective standards. That is simply not the case.

So I've opted for a mildly different approach and tried to find peak moments across both historical & stylistic lines by which to choose guitarists as not so much an announcement of my personal aesthetic, but as an educational tool. Many an incredible and influential player didn't make it onto this particular list (names like Cobain & Satriani, Django & Wes, Gambale & Clapton, Emmanuel & Vai, and more are sure to figure largely in the critiques), but I had to narrow this down to a manageable list and so choices had to be made. Some of these players also taught - no small point in being influential during one's time as well as across time. somewhat chronological order, a Baker's Dozen of best: