The electric guitar was invented in 1931. It was a relatively esoteric and unrecognized instrument at the time, used only by jazz guitarists who wanted to amplify their sound. However, it quickly surged in popularity in the 50s and 60s, and eventually became a staple in pop and rock music.
In the 50s, we had electric guitar pioneers like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Wes Montgomery leading the way.
In the 60s, we had The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Who.
In the 70s, there was Led Zeppelin and KISS.
In the 80s, we had a hair metal invasion, and bands like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses and Van Halen were elevated to stardom.
The torch was then passed to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Collective Soul in the 90s.
In the 2000s, we’ve seen bands like Three Days Grace, Nickelback and Billy Talent take the stage.
Certainly, the electric guitar has proved its longevity through many decades of music. However, trends always come to an end. Before the electric guitar, the saxophone was a far more prominent lead instrument. Is the electric guitar being dethroned from its number one spot in popular music? Is it becoming less relevant to pop music?
The Propagation of EDM
In recent years, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and pop music have been melding together to create a sound that’s heard in malls, stores, parties, cars and homes across the world. It’s hard to go anywhere without hearing EDM in the background, and you can rest assured this trend will be milked for all that it is worth.
Even though EDM seems like the obvious replacement for the electric guitar, it’s interesting to note that it’s not an instrument unto itself; it’s a style of music. Is it possible that a musical genre will actually overtake the electric guitar?
The Survival of the Electric Guitar
The emergence of EDM does not necessarily signal the end for the electric guitar. Quite simply, it’s important to recognize that we are in different times. Today, EDM is the soundtrack of our lives.
The ability to play an instrument is still a valuable skill to have. Trends may dictate the type of music that receives the heaviest investment, but isn’t necessarily reflective of future trends or the passion of instrumentalists and musicians everywhere.
There will always be purists; those who want to create music with real instruments played by real musicians. This isn’t to downplay the talent and creativity that EDM requires. However, personal expression is – and will continue to be – highly valued in music.
Music will continue to evolve as time passes. EDM may be growing in popularity right now, but at this time it’s hard to tell how long that will last. Moreover, a new trend could come along sooner than we think.
The major trend is never representative of the long tail, which is usually represented by a bigger (though less purchased) selection of music. Choice continues to dominate in this post-internet age.