SOUL VERSUS TECHNIQUE: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
The question of soul versus technique is one of the oldest kabaals surrounding the electric guitar. Fans have been arguing about it for decades, and they are often not afraid to maim and dismember those who disagree with them.
If you want to see evidence of this unmannerly conduct for yourself, look no further than Youtube’s comment section.
Guitar fans can be vicious, even in response to the polite and tasteful. Comments such as, “I can see why he is well respected. He obviously has incredible chops. His playing is just a little bit too flashy for my taste,” are answered with the likes of, “how dare you criticize! What have you done with your life?” or “why don’t you get out of here, this comment section is for fans, not haters!”
I am honestly amazed by the grey matter that goes into some of the comments. I saw one the other day underneath an Yngwie Malmsteen video by user sixstringhero29, who wrote, “Malmsteen has no soul. His playing reminds me of Robocop jerking off.” This comment is not only hurtful towards Malmsteen, but it insinuates that Robocop is incapable of masterbating with any real emotion.
Another harsh crack was made by user lordofmetal123 in reference to Eric Clapton: “He only plays one scale. I think he needs more practice. He’s not even fit to be an entertainer at my 8 year old’s birthday party.” This leaves me wondering who lordofmetal thinks should play his kid’s birthday. Maybe Malmsteen is available.
This type of spleen-rupturing belligerence has been around since long before the internet. In the early nineties, when I was a strapping lad of 16, I would bicker constantly with my friend Dave about guitar players. We would toss around epithets that would make you think that we were arguing about Middle Eastern politics.
So why are guitar fans prone to be so hysterical? Perhaps the answer lies in their user handles. What’s in a name? Well, when you’re a 40 something dad, who may or may not own a weed wacker and drive a Dodge Caravan, and you’re still calling yourself lordofmetal, you are definitely very invested in your musical identity.
But as the great Jerry Garcia once said, “everybody be nice to everybody else.”
Let’s remember that we all share a love for the same instrument and that good playing is always soulful and overly technical playing can be incredibly self-indulgent. All the haters who don’t agree can kiss my ass!