Guitar Music Styles are Different Languages

Image by Peeter Piik

Ok, everybody knows that guitar is by far the most popular music instrument in the Western world. Let’s face the numbers: 37 M searches per month in Google beats the next most popular instrument piano by 50%. The difference used to be even bigger but something has changed in the way how Google counts the search volume. However, there are millions of people who love and play the guitar but never search for it in Google. At least not in English.

Guitarists talk different language and I don’t mean only the spoken word. Styles of music where the guitar is involved are so different that we can compare them to completely different languages. What makes the difference? Well, different vocabulary, different articulation, different phrases and sentences, different tones and tempos. Not to mention that the guitars themselves are very different. So often it happens that a classical guitarist meets a metal player but they cannot play together because they have almost nothing in common in their musical language. Well, recently I’ve heard bands that try to use classical guitar in death metal and it sounds great althought there is nothing classical in the way those players use the classical guitar.

Here comes my point: if there is a particular musical language that you wish to learn, then you should begin with it as early as possible. Spend time in the environment where this language can be heard – concerts, rehearsals, radio, TV, records etc. For example, I teach the guitar at an university and I can see how hard is it for the students to talk those different languages of music at the same time (classical guitarists have music from medieval times to 21st century in their program). Concentrating on a specific style can bring you more success than being a guitar scientist, knowing a bit of everything. Don’t you think?

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