A nation riff hounds??

This may seem a trifle obtuse; however the more exposure I have to ‘experienced’ guitarists, the more I believe they simply are not capable of actually playing at all.

To give you a flavour of exactly what I mean;

Back a couple of years ago, the wife of a colleague of mine approached me and asked me what acoustic guitar to buy her husband as it was a special anniversary? I had no idea he was even interested in playing but she assured me he was ‘good’ and had been playing for many years. She knew I played and had been to a few of our work based gigs, so I quoted her a few desirable models within her budget and I heard no more about it until last November. A number of us were going on a team building exercise to north Wales and I usually took a guitar along, but on this occasion I was told that my colleague was taking his and so not to bother. A fortnight later, seven of us rocked up at the remote farmhouse for the fun and games.

The next day saw one of our number fall foul of a nasty injury and so the first evening was actually spent in a lengthy trip to the nearest hospital so no communal get-together actually took place that night. The second day was different, it passed without incident and the early evening found us all sat around a blazing fire in the tiny sitting room at the back of the house. I noticed the guitar case and shortly after the alcohol appeared, so too did the contents of the case, a fairly up market Takamine. I had no idea what to expect, but I remembered his wife’s words, he was ‘good’. He hit a few chords and then launched into the instantly recognisable intro of ‘A Horse With No Name’ and we all sang along. Okay, nothing taxing there, possibly the easiest song to learn there is.

With that, he then picked his way through the first couple of bars of ‘Stairway’ and I thought ‘Wow – this is going to be interesting’, I was impressed. Everyone sucked in a lung full of air and opened their mouths to sing the first line and he stopped playing! He then played the first few bars of ‘Hotel California’, everyone went to sing – he stopped and this went on and on and on. He played the opening bars of many many songs. He played recognisable riff after recognisable riff and that is where it finished. Someone eventually asked him to play something that we could sing along to, but in the best traditions of Father Ted and the DJ who forgot to bring any records except Ghost Town – his repertoire of ‘complete’ start to finish songs had already long been exhausted. People got bored with the ‘snippets’ and a card school started. The guitar was put away.

Now what this highlights to me, particularly in this heady climate of guitar magazines that seem to specialise in publishing page after page of riffs, is that we are fast breeding a nation/a world of guitarists with a very limited selection of material and ability. Yes, it is all very nice to know 515 song intros and 1374 riffs, but is that really what being a guitar player is about? You learn to play the intro to ‘Lola’ and then move on to another, what good is that? Where is the exposure to timing, to cadence, to chord changes, to solos, to structure, to being a guitar PLAYER.

When I first started playing, there were no riffs available in any format, only complete start to finish works and I/we learned to play entire songs and I am infinitely better for the experience. Is my colleague a guitarist? Well he owns a few instruments and knows a few chords, a pile of riffs and intros and seemingly only one song from start to finish – how many other ‘guitarists’ fit the same bill?

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As you know Bass, im in an Originals band and a Covers band, I like the process of making a song, i like all the creativity but ive never realy enjoyed the public performance of it, you always get the BS'ers who say oh that was great, you should record a CD blah blah, but i think you get to a certain age and you kind of know you wont be going anywhere with it, but in the Covers band, you can see the effect of all your rehearsing in the numbers that are looking at you and clapping at the end of each song, and the amont of people dancing through your set, and the short term finnacial rewards arent bad either.

How interesting!
The hottest discussion I'm involved in on my 'other' discussion board here is all about whether we should re-start or reform a union to protect those of us earning a few bucks by playing gigs in bars. Whatever the PRS is, it sounds a lot like the RIAA- but they are not bothering with clubs or music stores, probably because they've figured out that is nothing next to the music going on over the 'Net.
However, the idiotic mind-set is the same- Sue Them!!!! As if ANYON E believes anymore that Bruce Springsteen can't feed his kids because of pirating on the internet :lol:
I've been performing my own stuff for wel over twenty years, and never gotten a crumb of help from the industry people, because the stuff I do is not commercial. So- why should THEY be the ones who get to set the rules? the Golden Rule- those with the gold make the rules? I can't dig that.
Of course, there is another difference I'm not proud of, that could be a factor in why music shop owners in the States would never tolerate having to pay to play- most of them are also gun owners! :shock:

Sammi, the PRS is the ludicrously-named "Performing Right Society".

It sounds like a therapy group for male porn actors, but it isn't. It's the UK's scavenging device for making sure that money is recovered from venues (live pubs, discos, guitar shops, apparently) and handed out to artists. Pretty complicated; there's something like Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) that collects revenues from radio stations etc and generally muddies the waters (I doubtless have to pay a fee for saying "Muddy" and "Waters" in the same sentence).

They're all quite thick, AFAIK, and just take money off businesses on a fairly flat-rate %, then distribute it on the basis of gawd-knows-what formula. I do know that Simon Cowall (the shrewd "Idol" svengali) long ago made a point of playing the triangle on any recording that passed his way. So he can claim his performer's rights. I do find it highly irritating that I subsidize these people every time I buy a blank cassette or perform in a pub. They are completely incapable of working out what really happens; can't cope with the 'net, so the knee-jerk reaction is to come down even heavier on the soft targets.

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