Herbst, Jan-Peter (2017) Virtuoses Gitarrenspiel im Rock und Metal: Zum Einfluss von Verzerrung auf das ‚Shredding’ [Virtuoso solo guitar in rock and metal music: About the influence of distortion on ’shredding']. In: Schneller, höher, lauter. Virtuosität in populären Musiken. Beiträge zur Popularmusikforschung (43). Transcript, Bielefeld, pp. 131-152. ISBN 978-3837635928

"Shredding", the fast and virtuous guitar playing, is a central stylistic element of many rock and metal music genres. Previous research has claimed distortion to increase the guitar’s potential as a virtuoso solo instrument but acoustic evidence is still missing. Apart from this academic desideratum, distortion is lively debated in online musicians’ boards for its supposed »cheating« effect. This study aims at investigating distortion’s effect on the electric guitar tone and its consequences for virtuoso playing. After a qualitative content analysis of discussions in online boards, an analytic case study of two guitar solos examines distortion’s effect on musical performance. The findings confirm distortion’s simplifying effect whilst also highlighting challenges less commonly considered in research, journalism, and performance practice.

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