1. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Dueling Guitars

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Bakkerbaard, Feb 26, 2021.

    I'm working on a bit to see if there's a story in there. Not a lot of research has gone into it yet and I thought I'd just throw a flag up in here first.
    There's gonna be a duel of guitars, but all the resources I have as of yet are video. Would anybody be able to point me in the direction of something in writing? I'm gonna need to steal some ideas to get the machine going.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    What are you looking for? Actual historical guitar duels? Legendary ones, such as depicted in the movie Crossroads, where the Devil's guitar part was performed by Steve Vai? Or bands with dual lead guitars? On a closely related note there's the Charlie Daniels song The Devil Went Down to Georgia, but that's actually duelling violins, based like Crossroads on the old legend The Devil and Daniel Webster.

    Of you might look into the concept in Blues music of Call and Response. It's done in vocals, guitar, or any 2 instruments that end up 'duelling', or perhaps working harmonically with each other at times and duelling at others.
     
  3. Ed from Bama

    Ed from Bama New Member

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    Good morning to all-
    Brother- You got more cojones than I ever will if you plan on seriously writing about music of any kind. Very, very difficult thing to do well- transfer everything involved with music into words. I would not know how to begin on such a task.
    Good luck and I'd be interested in reading what you get done.

    good day to all- Ed
     
  4. Ed from Bama

    Ed from Bama New Member

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    Good morning again-

    And please forgive me and let me correct my mis-type in the previous message. It is "cajones" I meant to write. I feel better now. Ed
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Not sure what you mean here. Are you trying to write a scene where two guitarists and dueling to see who's better, but you're not sure how to write that in words? If so, well, I've been playing my whole life and I'm not sure how to go about that either without vomiting a bunch of technical music/guitar jargon on a page. Which is doable, I suppose, though it might not resonate with the reader the way you want it too.

    For examples, there's a scene in Cold Mountain where there's some dude playing a guitar or banjo or something by the fire. The way the author described it was down right magical. I could hear the modes and code changes, the dissonance and consonance, and all the other musical idiosyncrasies that I was already familiar with as a musician myself. I don't remember anything about how it was written... only that it worked.
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    If that's the case, I wrote a little about some people playing music that might be helpful. Let me try to dig out the relevant parts.

    Here's a bit:
    I notice two fellows standing beside the toadstool. One looks like some kind of vagabond minstrel and the other is in a traditional Scottish highland kilt and a GnR concert shirt. The Scottie is playing a bagpipe while the vagabond is blowing continuously into some kind of thick piece of bamboo thick as your arm and slightly longer than his body, which he holds upright in front of him. I believe it's a digeridoo. Strange mix of instruments, but together they're making a very hypnotic droning music filled with crazy little spinning subcurrents and rolling waves.
    Next segment:
    Attached to SaffronAxe's sash by a short black leather thong is a small hexagonal device of ornately carved and painted wood - looking something like a stack of hexagonal drinking coasters with some small black buttons and knobs on one end. She now removes this from her sash and flips some secret lever that opens it - it turns out to be a sort of small accordion or concertina. She begins to play as she dances.

    The sound is strange - surreal and discordant. Horrible really, but in an oddly compelling and hypnotic way. Notes that resemble rusty nails being wrenched from sheet metal swirl amid a tidal sea of deep off-kilter sounds pulling the listener toward an irresistible deep watery death that seems sweeter and more attractive than anything you can imagine while that music is playing. As it overwhelms me the room seems to grow darker, murky, almost as if it's underwater and I just couldn't see that before somehow. Everyone seems to feel it - they're all moving strangely, slowly as if underwater or hypnotized.
    Then:
    ...But nobody seems to notice, they're all captivated under the Spider Queen's Discordion spell. Now that he's broken the spell for us I can see that they're all swaying gently in unison, as if they're rooted to the bottom of the sea and subject to the pull of the deep tide. The tide of her discordant music. And she leads them all, her gentle swaying movements becoming their own.
    Next:
    He strolls over to another table on which lie various musical instruments of the small, handheld variety - a harmonica, a flute, a pair of castanets and the like. He picks up the flute and gives it a quick test-play. Worse by far than Saffron's Discordion music - for while the notes of that deadly instrument are horrid and off-key, it produces a deeply pleasing hypnotic tone at the same time. Diddy's music does nothing of the sort - just sounds like he's never played before.
    I believe those are my only descriptions of music. But it might hint at ways you can describe music without getting technical.

     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  7. B.E. Nugent

    B.E. Nugent Senior Member

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    James Baldwin wrote the best account of live music in, I think, Sonny's Blues. Could be wrong on the title but it was really beautiful writing.

    Just read it again as it's a lot of years since first reading it. It's sublime, about so much more than the music but captures that superbly. A little bit of duelling in there that could give you a framework.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  8. Malisky

    Malisky Fortune cookie Contributor

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    I've never read something centered around music as a theme, but some snippets here and there. Anne Rice must have been pretty stoked with Beethoven's Appassionata, because she actually made me search and hear the damn piano concerto and... I loved it. Did she manage to make me listen to it with her words? Of course not. She expressed the feeling it created to her MC, though. How he listened to it. How he perceived the person that was playing the piano in this magical moment. She hammered it actually. It kinda irritated me actually. I had no idea how the piece sounded like before I heard it myself. In other writings they tend to become overly poetic when expressing how music sounds, which I believe needs a bit of monitoring. Anyhow, I've never read anything about guitar playing in specific. I've read about flutes, pianos, even saxophones, but no... oh wait. Steppenwolf had a mysterious gypsy guy playing the guitar I think... I can't remember well. Anyhow!

    I suggest you didn't get overly technical about it, except if your MC's, (like many pro guitarists) are crossing through a phase where they are trying to nail a very hard technique. (Yes, we've all been there I believe, but most of us quit after losing sanity... Play faster! :p). Get some technique in, the most common to make it... real, you know, but don't overdo it. Better speak about style than transcribe a whole circle of fifths theory that no one will understand anyway. Not even the guitarists. They'll quit trying to figure it out, I promise you. I believe that it would help if you watched interviews from guitarists speaking about their guitar playing and their life in general. It'll give you a hint of their style, music journey and where they focus individually.



    Or some basic rules everyone breaks and subtle tricks:



    Or how an epic guitar duel looks in reality (apart from who's best good guitarists love to play together and it shows):



    Some every day drama (every single bit of this is true except I haven't met one person so far owning this many guitars and gear in general, don't know how common this is):



    Ok, got carried away. I know you got vids to see, but I think that by watching vids you'll get most of it and be able to come up with more ideas, furthermore that's the only way I can help so, I hope this helps a little.

    Oh, and don't forget to research about the other band members!Without them guitar feels lonely. And the stupid guitarist's grimace when he's feeling it (inescapable curse).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  9. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Absolutely Crossroads. I know it's Vai vs. Vai, but that's my go to when the theme of Cutting Heads comes up. Duelling Banjos from Deliverance is also a great one, but they're all visual. I'm trying to find out if there's a way to put it in writing.

    Any instrument will do. If this story will ever take off, it's not gonna be about describing techniques and oh look how awesome he went from a D-minor into a double hand triplet tapping solo. I should like to capture the feeling or the idea of music. I expect that if I can begin to pull it off, the reader will make up their own music.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I know my way around music, but I never thought of this. I'm guessing this could yield some useful bits.

    The cajones haven't dropped yet, I should make clear. This whole idea is currently in the experimental phase and if it does turn out undoable, I will take it behind the shed.

    Yeah, I (used to) play as well and going the technical way is no good. For this experiment there will be two musicians duelling, but that's probably not more than the kick-off. I think if I can write that, the rest of it won't be much of a problem. Theoretically.
    I did think I was going to use jargon, but just enough to give it an authentic vibe. And only jargon that can be understood in context. I remember a story by JD Ray, I think, on here about working an airfield. Can't find it right now, but it was rather immersive.

    Thanks. I'll put it on the list.

    I'll give it a good re-read in a minute, but so far it looks useful. Especially the sound of SaffronAxe's discordion. It may be a smidge too poetic for what I'm planning to do, but it helps build a foundation.

    Thanks, judging by title alone, which is always a smart move, it sounds interesting.

    Nah. Keeping it readable and preferably enjoyable is my main concern.

    Actually, the MC is a bassist and he goes up against a guitarist. And wins.
    Based on true events too! I'm a guitarist myself (read: man who owns guitars) and I should have felt sorry for the guy, the way he got his ass handed to him, but damn. Some whoopings are just art, you know?
     
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  10. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    Well, the duel is also in the original novel.
     
  11. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    Actually I'm pretty sure Ry Cooder played Macchio's parts in that scene in addition to writing the soundtrack.
     
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  12. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Well damn, that's right. It's a novel. Thanks!
    *add to cart*

    You got me doubting myself and according to IMDb and Steve Vai we're both right. Vai played all of the guitars on the duel, except for the slide, which was Ry Cooder.
    Keith Richards, Frank Zappa, Stevie Ray Vaughan were also considered for the part of Jack Butler, but in the end they wanted to "capitalize on the 80s guitar shred boom" so they went with Vai. I always thought he seemed just a tad out of place in there.
     
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  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Agreed. It downgraded the movie by using a fad style of guitar and what I consider a 2nd rate guitarist. He can shred, but to me there's nothing really profound or memorable about his playing. The thing I remember him for is that laughing guitar on a David Lee Roth song—was it Gypsy Rose? The other guitarists you mentioned play music. I think it's necessary for a player to be able to play music as well as shred or just do lead riffs.

    Sorry, not about writing or the specific subject. Well, no, I take that back. It is applicable to a story featuring dueling instrumentals.
     
  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Steve Vai? I agree. Great guitar player, but not much of a composer. I put Yngwie in the same category. Their songs just aren't terribly memorable.

    Now Joe Satriani? Excellent composer--Mozart level--who just happens to play guitar. Could have been the piano or the trombone and his music still would have been outstanding.
     
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  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I almost mentioned Satriani. I guess everybody wants to when discussing
    Steve Vai.
     
  16. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I don't really like Vai that much (as a solo artist) but I disagree on the basis of this song:
    For the Love of God - YouTube
    But his work with DLR will always be close to my heart. The intro to "Yankee Rose" is really cool.
     
  17. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    Isn't nearly everything Macchio plays slide though?
     
  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    To each his own of course, but I remain unconvinced. Right at first it sounded really good, but it was essentially just the same riff repeated with slight variations for far too long.
     
  19. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    That's the only Vai song I know so I guess my proselytizing stops there.
     
  20. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Yeah, my understanding was that Ry Cooder played all of Macchio's parts. It
    s hard to see the director saying "Ok, Ry, now we just need a run of 4 slide notes... then 2, then one long one... :D

    The writing equivalent to Steve Vai would be someone who has an incredible facility with words and sentences but can't seem to put them together into a compelling story structure. In fact maybe that made him perfect to play the part of the Devil's guitar—he fierce riffs and shredding were spectacular and intimidating as hell (as is his height, don't remember if he actually was in the movie or not), but ultimately the music didn't connect up into something compelling like Cooder's.

    Now I want to hear the battle again. Sometimes I think Cooder does the same thing Vai does.
     
  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok yeah, Steve Vai is just intimidating as hell overall! And nice call and response duet there in the middle. From the beginning though it's clear Ry Cooder's parts are more musical and compelling, and Vai is just shredding. I haven't watched the whole thing yet.

    Edit—Now I've watched the whole scene, and when Macchio puts down the slide it's probably Steve Vai playing both parts from there on.

    Oh, @Bakkerbaard , you might also want to look into an epic musical battle against the devil (played by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters/formerly of Nirvana) in the Jack Black movie Pick of Destiny. Black is amazing as a performer and comedy rocker. Funny as hell while also rocking the house down:

     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
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  22. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Sorry... couldn't resist:

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Yankee Rose, yeah. Vai does the same kind of thing on The Audience Is Listening from his Passion & Warfare album.

    You should listen to Baroque. A short Satriani composition that does exactly what it says on the tin.
    I do like Vai's earlier work, I must admit, though I kinda stopped listening when he went from Space Age guitar to Alien Sexfreak guitar. His earlier stuff is much closer to that of Satriani, obviously, since Vai showed up for guitar lessons at Satriani's house (as Joe tells it on The Satch Tapes) with his guitar in one hand and the strings in the other.

    I had a look again, because any excuse is a good excuse, and yeah. Only the killer blow in that duel is without slide, which basically makes it a suicide. Fun fact: that shredding is based on Paganini's work, who was also suspected of having made a deal with the Devil.

    Ah, for all the shit Tenacious D gets for being a comedy rockband, they're far more able to capture the essence of epic rock than many a popular band who claims to bring us epic rock. A lot of would-be rockstars think you need distortion and shredding to be Metal, but if you can't bring the attitude without distortion, you can't bring it with either. Which is why I stand by the idea that Johnny Cash is very feckin Metal indeed.
    Err... Anyway, yeah, I can sing along to every Pick Of Destiny song by heart. Except for the Sasquatch one. I refuse to sing that one.

    Excuse me, I have to go yell at twenty-somethings that they don't know what good music is.
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Paganini's Caprices are totally metal!! They were him showing off his amazing violin skills, and serve as tests for violinists who think they've got what it takes:



    Definition of caprice:
    • 1a: a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action—policy changes that seem to be motivated by nothing more than caprice
    • b: a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes—the caprices of the weather
    • 2: a disposition to do things impulsively—a preference for democratic endeavor over authoritarian caprice

    And yeah, Jack Black and Kyle Gass rock it pretty hard with just acoustic guitars or even acapella, don't they?

    EDIT—For a few seconds, right where I have it set to start playing, it reminds me a lot of Steve Vai's laughing guitar from Yankee Rose (thanks for the correction on that by the way :D):

     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  25. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

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    No idea who Steve Bai is. My favorite dueling instrument video is Roy Clark vs Buck Trent on banjos. Those boys can play!

    There’s also a duel between bagpipes from the edinborough bagpipe school that is quite amusing



     
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