View Full Version : Speed and music??? Your opinion sought
03-15-2001, 03:37 PM
What do you folks think about this statement?
Melody and speed do not mix very well. There's no point in playing melodies fast because it just goes over the head of most people. In short, if you want music then go slow, find the good note, concentrate on phrasing, and make people happy. Give them something they can get into.
I personally believe this. As fast as I can play I see no "musical" reason to do it (which might suggest that not everything you do with a musical instrument has to be subordinated to music. Odd? I see the whole thing with speed boiling down to this:
A. it's fun to play fast even if it's not very musical -- and fun is good, as Dr. Seuss said ;-)
B. it is a strategy for getting attention...useful in live/gigging situations where audience attention wanders. I know from personal experience that shredding like an idiot pays off in live performance in small doeses. As sad as that may be, the vast majority of people who go to live music events can and will be wowed by the fast lick
C. it may have aesthetic application in reflecting the world around us...in, say, avant garde or experimental music...for example, I could see shredding like an idiot in Naked City with Zorn perhaps...I mean they were making music that represents the dismemberment of a human body while still alive (very disturbing music to say the least)...and you'd need some kind of disturbing capacity on the guitar that went beyond "melody" and music...because, as a few of you may know, most avant garde and experimental "music" doesn't sound very much like music in the ordinary sense.
03-15-2001, 05:28 PM
I know what you mean. You can play something insanely fast and most people will just nod their head and say 'whatever . . . ', but you can play some simple little melody or some popular song that they know and they'll think you're the greatest guitarist in the world.
When I first heard Satriani, I was like 'what the hell?' because I was used hearing all the popular crap. Satriani's stuff was completely foreign to my ear. So from this experience, I can say that it definitely takes time to develop an ear for more complex and fast music. Now when I listen to the radio, I find myself bored because all the crap music that they play on there seems so simplistic compared to the complex music of guys like Satch, Vai, and Gamble. These guys definitely play fast melodies, which, as you say, probably go over the heads of most people.
The select few, that would be us, can appreciate it because we're used to it.
03-15-2001, 08:48 PM
Speed and melody usually don't go hand in hand, but I suppose it all depends on the type of song you're going for. Obviously if you want something that will please a large majority of people then you want something easier to handle: speed on the guitar is an aquired taste that typically only other guitar players can really appreciate. You're right about live situations. People want to be entertained, and even if your music doesn't speak to them, if you can impress 'em they'll still be entertained. But I don't think speed doesn't have a role in music. The whole notion of "One note says more then 100" doesn't really make sense to me (as Al Di Meola commented to that: "That's B.S. Tell that to any classical or flamenco player and see what they say"). If speed is used intelligently and interestingly then it can add great tension/power/emotion, whatever. But if it's just wanking Malmsteen style, then few people other then guitarists will appreciate it.
You're really right about using speed for things other then musical merit. Your music bof is a prime example. I listened to your Jupiter one (sorry, can't recall the exact name), and the insanely fast, nearly nonsensicle speed provided one with the exact sense the song was going for. Someone once said that your music would be great to accompany a movie, say as a soundtrack or something, and that's true. Speed such as yours goes beyond music, its like going through electroshock therapy or something :)
btw any of you guys who haven't yet heard bof, give some of his stuff a try. it will refine what you previously thought possible on the guitar.
03-15-2001, 09:59 PM
You need both abilities, I think its safe to say that for any serious musician, we go to far lengths to feel complete. Sure there are alot of musicians to feel they can build their confidence on getting that "re-action" from others, but whats most important is how we provoke ourselves, because that feeling lasts much longer. Its important to know how to improvise, and for most musicians, they don't wan't to be held back, or stick to one particular style, they wan't to be given the opportunity to play their hearts out bringing their personality to its highest level of completeness at all costs. But with criticism all around the world, we tend to forget about whats really important, (allowing the fickle fascinations of others guide us in our on going musical quest.)
When we're first starting out as musicians, the question we often ask ourselves is "what is it that don't necessarily need to cover"? , because we wan't to feel satisfied very quickly. But I don't think that any serious musician is ever quite satisfied, because in some ways that means they're done being creative. In finding new ways to satisfy ourselves to move to a much higher level, and that means covering everything, we should learn to have just enough patience.. The first time we hear something (a particular style) thats unfamiliar, we tend to denounce it from the beginning instead of realizing how the musician felt during its creation, its important to try and underatand how some of the top musicians felt when creating their compositions. As we create our own interpretations to describe their work, it kind of helps us get a better hold of what we're all about. Ever sit back, (with someone special),and just absorb the music of Satriani, or Yngwie..It doesnt doesn't matter whewther or not your significant other understands it completely, but either way you're both getting something out of it...
[Edited by Joseph on 03-15-2001 at 11:02 PM]
03-16-2001, 12:11 AM
James, I'm blushing, thank you for the compliment. And to everyone these are insightful responses
Something I was thinking about later was that "speed" is all relative to the person. For a lot of people, if you're going faster than BB King than it's too fast while for some other people they might look at Yngwie and think the guy was a slow poke ;-)
Also, while "speed" would seem like the most objective thing in music, literally measurable unlike "feel" etc., people almost always ignore the objective facts and confuse "famous" or "favorite" with "fastest" -- which I find intersting.
03-16-2001, 02:35 AM
Well, here's my thing:
I think it is nice to have both blazing speed and the ability to play something melodic and catchy. But most of all I like to capture what I'm feeling, and I find that something slowish usually does the trick. It's easier to be more expressive by bending a note just so than by slinging notes as fast as my fingers will allow. The biggest influence on my playing is probably Les Claypool, but as much as I love Primus and all of his other projects, their's something about the way that Mark Sandman played on a two string bass with a slide that will latch onto my mood and drag it all over the emotional gambit. It's not what's complex or simple to me, it's what fits. And you know, both can fit anyway depending on the circumstances.
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