Throughout history, the paradigm of popular music has been suddenly, and repeatedly altered by small, simple, and minimalist ideas. Author, Seth Godin, refers to this phenomenon as a unicorn in a balloon factory — where a simple input disrupts a system that has grown too complex.
Think: Son House, The Beatles, and Nirvana. All of which (along with others) disrupted the stasis of popular music with an idea that was far less complex. This new found simplicity typically yields an immensely disproportionate result in terms of fans, followers, copycats, and media attention.
In a period of time, the music will grow too complex, and the cycle begins again.
Case in point: Even Eddie Van Halen entered the music scene in a very complex period. Popular bands had two, sometimes three guitarists, complete with epic tandem solos that lasted for 10 minutes (Hotel California).
Having completely changed the trajectory of guitar playing overnight, Eddie Van Halen set off a new generation of guitar heroes — eventually evolving into nothing more than pointy guitars, sweep arpeggios, and teased hair. The end result was nothing like Eddie Van Halen’s original ethos: one guy, dirty tone, and aggression. Enter Kurt Cobain.
This is precisely why you should never feel bad about your status or skill level as a guitar player. The annals of music history are filled with guitarists who didn’t have amazing chops — but simply challenged the status quo. Who knows, you could too?
Another obvious example is that Gustavo Santaolalla seemingly invokes more passion with a simple guitar riff, than could an entire orchestra! Who needs a 20 piece string section when you have one guy and a ronroco?
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How To Play The Choice by Gustavo Santaolalla