I must admit that I nearly choked on my tea when I saw the headline on the BBC website that Muse say the guitar is no longer a lead instrument. This builds on an article published last year in the Washington Post claiming the Death of the Guitar.
Now I was rather surprised by the comments made by Muse that the Guitar is no longer a lead instrument. As a band where the guitar is largely front and centre it seemed to be a comment that seemed at odds with the reality. But if you dig deeper into the comments made by Muse’s Matt Bellamy there is more behind the catchy headlines.
According to Bellamy “The days of rock gods posing heroically with a Fender Stratocaster are over”. In his opinion “The guitar has become a textural instrument rather than a lead instrument,” he is quoted in the BBC article. “And I think that’s probably a good thing”.
“What’s exciting about this period of music is you can mix classical with hip-hop and rock in the same song”.
“As a rock band you’re slightly one foot in the past, playing instruments like guitar, bass and drums.”
The article goes onto state that in recent years, pop and hip-hop have replaced rock as the dominant genre in the UK and US.
This change is perhaps most pronounced in the singles chart where, it is suggested that not one rock song appeared amongst the top 40 best-selling singles of 2017.
The albums market, which typically skews towards older people, seven of the top 40 biggest sellers could be classified as rock music – including Liam Gallagher’s As You Were and The Beatles’ 50 year old Sgt Pepper’s album.
Interestingly the article then goes onto to claim that the biggest bands to emerge in the alternative and rock scene over the last few years, including Imagine Dragons and Twenty-One Pilots, have largely abandoned the electric guitar, harnessing instead the sonic textures and propulsive beats of hip-hop. I am not sure that you can claim that Imagine Dragons have abandoned the guitar as it features as a key component in the mix!
So do we need to be worried that the guitar is on its last legs?
I don’t think so. The idea that the guitar is no longer a lead instrument maybe true. But the reliance on the guitar to provide the foundation of a great song is not going to disappear. The sad thing is that Muse have always fused great guitar with myriad instruments to create brilliant songs. To turn your back on that would be a shame. But is Bellamy really turning his back on the guitar or is he merely stating that rock as a genre is not as dominant as it once was.
Over to you…
What do you think? Do you agree with Matt Bellamy? Are musicians moving away from the guitar? Do you agree with Matt Bellamy, cast your vote below.