About Kurt Cobain And The Image Of Guitar Playing

author: Silverpack date: 06/01/2010 category: junkyard

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I've been playing the guitar for about 4 years, but more seriously and regularly the last three years. I've listened to a lot of bands, had my first heroes, buried some, and thought a lot about rock music and guitar playing. This year I turned 18, and I decided this was time to get a straight and lighted view on music, and on all the others "important" topics like politics, economy, love, religion, etc... I admit I have so much more to learn, but I'm not the kind of guy who listens to music and then spits rough sentences about it like "it kicks ass" or "it sucks". Before speaking about a band or an artist, I longly think, and always try to doubt of my first ideas(those who studied Descartes in phylosophy will get what I mean). So, I did the same with Kurt Cobain. Useless to entertain him. My actual statement is that the more I try listening Nirvana's stuff, and reading lyrics from Cobain, the less I get what is the big deal about him. Of course, as a young boy who didn't know anything about guitar, I enjoyed the stuff from guitar players like him or Billie Joe Armstrong. Later, I got how overrated they were by learning guitar playing. But how can experienced musicians keep on being drowned in this illusion? In the illusion of Cobain as a guitar god? What you are going to read is not an opinion. An opinon is a judgement you make without relexion, everyone can do it. I did those statements with logic and doubt. As I said I thought a lot, and tried to oppose to my ideas the arguments often presented by people to defend Cobain's "skills", and also found a few. Here is all the speech, come and post here to complete, your thoughts about it will always be interesting. ********** What? You don't like Kurt Cobain? Why?! He is a so good guitar player! But how can tou swear it? You're not a guitar player or even a musician. You know nothing about scales, chords, theory, arpeggios, technique... How arrogant can you be to judge a musician without knowing anything about music? And you? Who are you to judge a musician's level? Well, please give up this stupid "all-musics-are-good-it-just-depends-on-people's-tastes" speech. Just like I said, you can rate(not precisely, I admit) the skills of a musician, and so the quality of his playing. I'm not gonna explain you, you just couldn't get a word(you ain't a musician). Do you realise how extreme is your speech? "Music only for musicians"!! No, rather "Music rating only for musicians". People have the right to have an opinion on a guitar player, even if they are not musicians! Of course they can. Just like I said, everyone can have an opinion. But the point is that people too often present their opinions as truths. Honestly, when you talk about Nirvana with someone, does this person say: "To my mind, Cobain is a quite good guitar player, his music seems to be good stuff."? No, 90 per cent of the time people rather say: "Kurt Cobain is a damn guitar heroooo!!". Just like you did in your first question. But a music doesn't need to be simple to be good! A simple music isn't a bad music! I just never said the contrary. I am a great fan of rock music, and also of a few punk bands. But their stuff is easy and simple, that's the fact. And please let words like "bad" out of this. We're talking about music, not about the character of a western or a blockbuster. A simple music is not "bad. There is just less quality and interest in it. But it still can be nice to hear. So, if a grunge guitar player creates songs as nice as can be jazz or classical songs(more complicated), how can you compare the music genres? Didn't you get what I say? People's ear is just useless in rating music, cause they hear the music they like, and in their minds, that's enough for being quality music. They just don't know about the theory and the technique, so they can't really say what does worth a musician. Of course, jazz artists and classical masters are also popular, but the average person can't compare them. The musician can. You forgot something very important. Kurt Cobain was unic, because he played with his soul! He suffered from drugs and disease, and his pain shone in his guitar playing. It's only psychological, dude. You don't need to be a toxicomaniac or an orphan to create songs and melodies like Cobain. A power chord played by an alcoholic depressed guy will just sound the same if played by another guy, normal and healthy. Nothing but psychology. And what about his songwriting? He used his songwriting to express his tortured feelings, this is why he is so talented! Come on, what is the big deal about his songwriting? It's exactly the same thing than music. He does simple and almost all the time first degree writing, and clich rhymes. Any songwriter, with practice, can imitate this kind of songwriting. And his voice? Don't tell me his voice doesn't make him someone talented! I must admit he has a pretty cool voice to hear. It's part of his charisma, and I remember this is why I found him so fascinating in my first times of guitar playing. But this has got nothing to do with talent. People ARE BORN with their voice, it's not something you get because of talent. And his scream? Would you be able to scream like him? Of course not, but I never entertained myself as a singer. This is why I should go ask a real singer about the singing skills of Cobain. But damn, this guy is such an icon! He created kickass riffs everyone likes and remembers! And so, you call that talent? How could talent be defined, if not as something that makes you unic(here, as a musician)? We all created those little hard-rock and punk riffs with our bands. It's really, really nice to play, this is the kind of things I prefer to do with the musicians I play with. But if it really needed talent to be done, just a few guitar players could do it(and we are sooooo far from this situation). But people remember it! They remember his songs, among tons of other songs across the world and history! Nothing surprising. The human ear will more easily remember note per note something repetitive and simple, rather than a song with a complicated harmonic structure. This is why the most popular music genres are the more simple, repetitive, and easy to get: rock, punk, pop, electro, folk, etc... Cobain has been damn influential! He is the most influential guitar player since 1990! He was influential, OK. He brought emotions to people, OK. But what the hell did he bring? He just encouraged people to do simpler stuff than the music already was, he just brought back the basical punk riffmaking. He didn't create anything. He learnt to play guitar by himself! And so what? He learnt alone to compose and write simple stuff. Some guitar players(for example, Django Reinhardt) develop by themselves their own technique or riffmaking, and they really deserve to be praised. But Kurt just didn't do anything like this. ********** I have lucidity. I know that almost all of those who will read this article and answer to it will say I'm a stupid arrogant dude, and that Cobain is a genius that noone can beat. There is a quite nice French expression(I don't know if there's a similar one in English), which is really fair: "There is noone deafer than the one who does not want to hear.".
More Silverpack columns:
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+ The Mike Dirnt Paradox General Music 09/18/2014
+ The Importance Of Staying Alive Junkyard 07/07/2010
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