This Friday, we’re pooling some awesome collective wisdom for mutual benefit.  Turns out that 2/3rds of our Composition majors have moderate-to-advanced proficiency on electric guitar, so we’re getting them all to bring their instruments and show us their stuff.

The electric guitar is a fascinating instrument to get to know these days, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s hard to name an instrument that is more emblematic of the music of the last half-century.  Sure, there are others that are in the mix, but the electric guitar is so much a part of our collective awareness, it’s impossible to discount.
  • Many wonderful rock guitarists are Classically trained, but many more are not.  Consequently, there are a lot of conflicting traditions for this instrument, even in such a short history.
  •  Because so many of the musicians who play this instrument are self-taught, approaches to playing it can be deeply personal, which complicates the process of notation.
  • Even the acoustic guitar raises daunting issues for composers who aren’t used to it.  Throw in the ramifications raised by the color range of the electric version, and the possibilities can be overwhelming.

So we’re going to share stories, techniques, notations, frustrations – get it all out there.  The whole process will be overseen by guitarist-composers Kenneth Florence and Nicholas Rich, who have prepared information and examples for those of us who lack a tactile relationship with this beast.  Then everyone will have a month to come up with a mini-composition for the guitar electric, and K and N will perform the results.  I’m expecting a lot of useful insights to arise, and I’m including myself on the list of those who stand to gain from the experience.

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