Hey guys. This is an article I've been wanting to do for a while, but could never get around to it. This is my first ever article on this site so I hope you can get some good information from it. In this article I will discuss the argument of Emotion and Melody Vs. Speed. This is something I hear of very often. Some people say that "speed is just for people who have no sense of actual melody" or "it's boring." The reverse has also been said by many people as well. We will break each side down and discuss the pros and cons of each. If your already on either side of this argument try to keep an open mind. You might just find something here. Let's start with melody.
Melody is defined in the Mirriam-Webster's Dictionary as this: "a rhythmic succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole." It's a good definition, but not exactly great. Let's look at this part: "...Aesthetic whole." Aesthetic essentially means beautiful, so applying it to music means something that sounds pleasing to the ear. There's where we hit a problem. What sounds good to you might not sound good to others. This is why the whole argument of Melody Vs. Speed exists. If we use the Websters' Dictionary definition above we can say that a sixteenth note run at 150bpm is a melody. However, when guitarists are speaking of melody they might not necessarily go by the official definition of melody. In my study on this topic most guitarist mean "nice sounding" rather than single tones as the definition states. Many guitarists against pure speed make the argument that "it just sounds like a jumble of notes" or it sounds like pure "nothing." In fact, that flurry of notes is a melody. We've settled that, but what about the emotional side of playing? That's what guitarists for melody are really saying. So, let's look at the main portion of one side of this argument: Emotion.
What do guitarists mean by emotion? They mean feel. How do us guitarists express feel? We use techniques such as bending and vibrato. Melodic guitarists use these techniques. So do speed guitarists. However, it's not really about the techniques we use to get feel. Shred guitar has evolved throughout a long period of time into several different sub-genres. In each sub-genre what defines it is obviously different from the next sub-genre. Let's look at neo-classical shred. What defines this is fast, modal runs, diminished sounding arpeggios, and harmonic minor. That is just a general overview. It's not to be specific with every neo-classical artist, but those are very common shared attributes in the neo-classical genre. I firmly believe that emotion is achieved only when you put your heart into something and you create something with passion. Every good musician does this in one form or another. Just look at many neo-classical guitarists such as Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and Jason Becker. They clearly put a ton of emotion into their playing. They obviously love creating music. Even though Jason can no longer play guitar he is still creating music and it is heartfelt and inspiring. Both guitarists have created long runs played with incredible speed and both put emotion into their work and music. Emotion can be in any genre of music though. The blues is a very emotional genre of music. Emotion can be applied in any type of song. Next, let's look at the speed side of the argument. Then, we will look at the overall picture.
Speed is pretty self explanatory. Guitarists for speed obviously have incredible precision and skill. There's no denying that. We've all met those speed guys though who think they're better than everyone else just because they can play sixteenth notes at a thousand beats per minute (bpm). Not every fast guitarist is like this, but we've all seen them. Speed guys are more for difficult techniques rather than a measure of tasteful bends. Difficult techniques can be very fun to listen to, and to watch. In the following paragraph I will discuss the validity of both sides of the argument.
Having a nice sounding melody can make your songs sound catchy and easy to listen to. Some people find it hard to listen to extremely fast playing for 4 minutes straight. Having melody and a good sense of rhythm can make your songs really great, but nothing beats a really great, sometimes fast solo when it's put around a beautiful melody. Speed, on the other hand, is a great tool for showing off and adding "cool", if you will. Look at that last sentence. Notice I used the word tool. Both melody/emotion and speed are great. We've covered that, but both should be more of a tool than an entire song. Sometimes it's great to have a really fast run and sometimes it's great to have a nice catchy chorus-like section. I personally believe that using both in moderation really makes a shred song stand out, but that just creates another side of the argument. The point of this article is to help you understand both sides of the argument and maybe open your eyes to new ideas. Maybe you'll now want to add a melodic sounding section or a fast run to add interest. I also wanted to put the argument to rest by saying that each side has it's benefits and downfalls. Each side requires skill, but used together can make your songs really pop. Listen to any shred songs and you'll hear both melody and fast sections. Not all have them, but most do. You should also listen to different types of shred. For example. I love Animals As Leaders. Tosin obviously has a lot of skill. I also listen to Michael Angelo Batio, who is a speed demon. Both are great players and have great skill, so the bottom line is to be more open minded when it comes to music. Not just necessarily shred. Hopefully I got that across in this article and opened your eyes a bit to why the whole speed and melody argument is stupid.
I hope you enjoyed this article and got something from it. Don't forget to rate and comment. Also, check out my page for the demo of "Red Skies" which will be on my demo CD getting done here soon. Also check out my artist page on Facebook for news, music, and videos. I just created it so there's nothing up... Yet. Don't forget to "like." Until the next lesson or article, see ya. \m/