It’s hard to picture rock music without the electric guitar. It’s undoubtedly one of the most legendary instruments in the history of rock and roll. However, what exactly is the guitar’s role in a band, and what responsibilities do guitar players have?
Before the rise of rock music, guitar players were typically part of the rhythm section. Their main purpose was to play the chords of a song in the background to support the singers. However, as time went on, the guitar became a more prominent instrument in music genres like blues and R&B. It expanded its role in rhythm and even became a lead instrument. This bluesy style of guitar playing laid the foundation for what rock guitar would eventually become. It gave us iconic elements like the bluesy guitar solo, distortion, and the use of riffs. We can attribute the popularization of this electric blues style to players like T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters.
When we talk about rock guitar, we often associate it with heavy chords and a lot of distortion. However, there are various roles that a guitarist can take on. Typically, most bands have two guitarists who alternate between “lead” and “rhythm” duties. Lead guitar involves playing more melodic parts, such as high single notes and solos, that complement the vocal melody and provide a recognizable secondary part. On the other hand, rhythm guitar focuses on playing chords that help to fill out the band’s sound and create the overall “sound” of the song. It can also involve repeating a riff.
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