The Guitar and Rock Music
Many new players pick up the guitar with a desire to imitate their favorite rock star, although the actual type of rock music may vary greatly from player to player. Most of them do not realize, however, that the guitar may indeed be the keystone to having different genres of rock music from which to choose. While the use of the guitar may have been an evolutionary process in country music, it was a fundamental element of rock and roll music.
Rock and roll music has its original roots in blues and country music, both of which often include the use of a guitar. Rather than using the guitar only as a rhythm instrument, rock and roll borrowed from the styles that used the guitar to set the melody and the tone.
Eventually, rock and roll began to evolve into different styles of rock music. When blended with folk music, for example, rock and roll became folk rock. Without a time signature, rock and roll was known as psychedelic rock. Through the evolution of the 1960s, the guitar became not only essential to the music, but also expected by fans in the form of an instrumental solo.
During the 1970s, rock music began to split into different subgenres, such as soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal, alternative rock, indie rock, and punk. Often, the type of guitar played and the style in which it is played is a key factor in determining the subgenre of a rock song. For example, punk rock tends to strip the electric guitar down to its barest form, while hard rock and heavy metal often rely heavily on distortion and rapid, driving riffs.
The guitar was also the driving instrument for many folk rock musicians of the 1960s and 1970s. Audiences tend to readily identify folk music by seeing or hearing a lone musician with a guitar, which is the root of folk rock. Folk rock typically contains the same type of lyrical message as folk music, but the message is relayed through the use of clean, distortion-free electrical instruments. As with folk music, the guitar is a key element of the folk rock subgenre.
Although there are subgenres of rock music that rely heavily on keyboards, synthesizers, and studio mixing, most rock music relies on the guitar. Those who want to be rock stars rarely have a mental image of themselves sitting at a piano, but they often dream about playing their guitars to a sold-out crowd. It is a natural conclusion that being a rock star would involve a guitar, since guitars and rock music go hand-in-hand.