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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:04 am
by howard male
I just had another thought prompted by the idea that Konono No 1 initially had little control over their distorted sound. Perhaps it's the case that if you have inadequate equipment which naturally distorts, then human nature dictates that you are constantly trying to get a clear sound.
Whereas if you've got a perfectly good amp with a crystal clear sound you spend half your time trying to get a dirty sound out of it. Perhaps this is another element in what created the difference between African and Rock guitarists. I know when I got my first practice amp I was extremely frustrated that I couldn't get enough distortion and sustain out of it.

Inadequate, naturally distorting amps may also have led to the single string or two string style of playing in order to minimalise distortion, because the more strings you hit at one time, the more distorted the sound gets. I think those guys wanted a lovely clear sound partly because they found it so difficult to get.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:38 pm
by Ian M
But Howard I am disagreeing with you...I think.

If you are trying to base your theory on the tonal differences of African and rock guitarists then I am saying that is not enough to distinguish them or to hang a psychological theory off either.

My point about the rhythmic element of African guitar styles is how the rhythm affects the shape of the lines. Of course they are highly melodic, arpeggiated, rippling lines which is a lot to do with sheer pleasure they invoke, but what makes the difference from a Western version of that is the rhythmic drive and interlocking with other lines (harmonic and rhythmic). Rather than soloing over a background, the instinct seems to be to interpolate contrasting rhythmic melodic lines into the existing tapestry. If you listen to how the notes are attacked, where the stresses are, how long and flowing the lines are, this is often what is so different to Western guitar players. And so exuberant.

As far as western rock players go, I think you picked on a subset of the genre - the angst filled types, who are neither the whole story, or solely explained away by their use of distortion. There are lots of types of guitar styles and sounds within even the rock genre, as you mentioned Johnny Marr - a great example. Nowhere did I say that rock guitar became mature with punk. Far from it. I was pointing out that traditionally rhythm guitar, from big band to the sixties groups preceded the tedious grandstanding of the 70s generation, and was restored to its place by punk, but more specifically flowered during post-punk with the rise of the indie bands.

And no, I didn't say African music was an expression of cultural pride, nor do I think it is an escape. Arguably, the rock music you describe is a greater form of escapism, from the real world into the adolescent fantasy land.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:06 pm
by howard male
Ian M wrote -

But Howard I am disagreeing with you...I think.



OK, let me put it another way then - I am not disagreeing with you.

Anything as intangible and undefinable as music is always going to have lots of reasons for why it sounds like it does, and I take on board all your points while still sticking with my initial observations.

At one point you said 'Not an escape, but an expression of their culture and their society' which I took to mean pride in their culture. I think if you are expressing your culture then the subtext of that is you have pride in your culture, but we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

And I still think most Western rock is, to varying degrees adolecent, despite all the myriad forms you point out that it comes in. I just don't hear that at all in African guitar music.

Re: Rumba across the River

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 6:49 pm
by Charlie
Charlie wrote: If anybody still has the November issue of the Observer Music Monthly...please could you get in touch by private message.

Thanks, Ian M, for the pm offering to send it. Yes, please.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:40 pm
by Ian M
howard male wrote:And I still think most Western rock is, to varying degrees adolecent, despite all the myriad forms you point out that it comes in. I just don't hear that at all in African guitar music.


There's certainly an element of that, Howard, but maybe there's more to it than that. Perhaps there is a reflection of the cult of the individual in western music, the (psuedo) importance of individual expression, angst and all that, being different, apart, alienation (being cool). Whereas African traditional culture is much more about sharing, community and networks, where the individual is less important than the group. And maybe all that is reflected in the music?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:23 am
by Adam Blake
There's masses of egotripping in African music. I think it's a question of what the egotripping is put into the service of: ie, (using these terrifyingly broad strokes) Western rock being essentially about me-me-me, African music being essentially about us-us-us - with me-me-me telling you about us-us-us!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:45 pm
by Ted
Adam Blake wrote:There's masses of egotripping in African music. I think it's a question of what the egotripping is put into the service of: ie, (using these terrifyingly broad strokes) Western rock being essentially about me-me-me, African music being essentially about us-us-us - with me-me-me telling you about us-us-us!


Sometimes music can have both of those things though - think about the way that 60s soul music has that tension between between the gospel "we" and the blues "I". (This is not an original observation and I would attibute it if I could remember where I read it).

Cheers
TW

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 7:34 pm
by Adam Blake
Ab-solutely!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:07 pm
by Ted
normand wrote:There's a whole argument (I forget by whom) that the idea of blues music as the lone singer moaning low about his tsures, bending his guitar strings into flattened sevenths, is a modern concept that never accurately represented what the majority of blues music was in its pre-war years. Norman


To go slightly off topic with this:
One of the Robert Johnson "King Of The Delta Blues" albums has an illustration on the cover of Johnson recording in a hotel room, with two white guys operating the recording gear. If the situation was anything like this, its quite likely that all concerned were trying to keep the noise down and not draw any attention to themselves (this being the south in 1936). It has been suggested (not sure by whom - posh prose hem hem) that this resulted in Johnsons only recordings being completely unrepresentative of the sound he would have made when performing for his normal audience. At house partys and the like he would have made music for dancing. Played in a much more percussive style, played polkas, whatever would keep people dancing. And it would have been loud. Has anyone read "RL's Dream" by Walter Mosley? That suggests the idea of Johnsons music as dance music.


Its probably Paul Oliver's observation actually. I'm sure one of you hard core blues buffs will know.

Cheers
TW

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 2:55 am
by Adam Blake
That's a novel idea - Robert Johnson Un-plugged! If "Preachin' Blues" is Robert keeping it down a bit then I boggle to think of him on full throttle...

R.L. - PLUGGED

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:14 am
by NormanD
Adam Blake wrote:That's a novel idea - Robert Johnson Un-plugged! If "Preachin' Blues" is Robert keeping it down a bit then I boggle to think of him on full throttle...
I've just come across this info, which is quite intriguing:
Urban life presented no great challenge to Robert--he'd feigned urbanity for many years by that time (1938)--and he took St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and New York in easy stride. His musical approach was altered a bit--he began playing with a small combo. He used a pianist and a drummer in a Belzoni jook joint--the drummer had "Robert Johnson" painted in black letters across his bass drum--before a large crowd of people, a good many of them musicians. And he was able to play anything people wanted, he began to concentrate less and less on the blues. He may have gotten away from it almost entirely had it not been for some divine intervention.

Source: http://www.deltahaze.com/johnson/bio.html

I don't know how much of this is embroidered speculation as no sources are cited. Nice idea, nevertheless.

Norman

Afterthought:
As an electric musician, which version of "Sweet Home Chicago" would R.L. have played - The Blues Bros. or Eric Clapton?
(Ted - you'd better explain, it's your story!)

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:58 pm
by Adam Blake
I think the live Hound Dog Taylor album "Beware Of The Dog" is a pretty good indication of what Johnson's style might have been like had he survived and gone electric. Johnson was a more varied player than Taylor - or Elmore James, come to that - but you can't ask for a better snapshot of Delta Blues goes electric in the big city than that album. (It also has my all-time favourite guitar solo on it, "Freddie's Blues", but that's just me.)

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:07 pm
by Dayna
Ever since I was a kid, my Uncle has been a fan of Hard Rock. He loves Ted Nugent & said once that he's the best guitarist in the world. Of course he's never heard any of these guitar players from Africa. What he does as far as playing guitar seems to sound good. I don't really care for some of the songs I've heard. Is Ted Nugent close to being best like my Uncle said? What do you think of him?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:51 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Ted Nugent is one of the most politically repugnant characters in Rock - I have no time for him or his music whatsoever.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:58 am
by Ted
Tom McPhillips wrote:Ted Nugent is one of the most politically repugnant characters in Rock .


Indeed. I would not piss down his throat if his heart was on fire.

TW