Saturday, July 26, 2008
If you play guitar and read guitar magazines like I do, you are aware of shredding, shredders, those who shred. It's a weird sub-genre of guitar world lust. Shredders are guitar players who play guitar scales very, very fast. Almost super-human fast. It isn't the most musical thing in the world to witness. In fact, I think much of shredding is un-listen-able, but maybe that's just me.
Shredding is an example of taking technique to an extreme where music (and melody, and passion, and soul) becomes almost beside the point. Still there is something fascinating about the whole thing. And if you watch shredders you will be amazed at how fast and accurate these guys (yes, it's mainly a guy thing) fingers fly across a fret-board.
It's kind of like the fascination you might have for someone who can juggle, or spin plates, or do a back flip, or lift a car, or eat more than 50 hot-dogs in one sitting. There is the physical-ness of the whole thing, the concentration, the hours of practice, the discipline, and then the result almost looks otherworldly. Plus many of the most famous shredders are just over the top weird dudes.
Some people attribute the whole shredding thing to Eddie Van Halen, he being one of the first players to just take technique over the top, playing like no one else before him. Two of my favorite examples are Yngwie Malmsteen and Buckethead.
Here is Yngwie (this is his real name) doing "Arpeggios From Hell!"
And here's Buckethead (hat tip to my L.A. Angels Kris and Noel for turning me onto this guy!) who wears a mask and a KFC bucket on his head. I own one of his discs called "Colma" which is actually quite stately and beautiful. Here he starts out pretty mellow and ends a little shred-like - it's actually not a very good example of shredding but it gives you an idea of how good Buckethead plays.
Buckethead is the kind of character you meet in the world of shred. And really this guy has the whole celebrity thing knocked. No one knows who lives beneath the mask (Brian Carroll). He speaks only thru a sock puppet. And he plays guitar like a super-hero. I'm thinking there's a lesson in there for us all, but I'm not sure what it is.
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