We look at the love-hate relationship between guitars and electronic music.
With the rise of electronic music, and with dance music in general having an iron grip over the charts and the underground, many have asked whether guitar-based music is “dead.”
The logic goes that since electronic, synth-based forms of production have become more popular, the traditional guitar-heavy instrumentation of the 1960 and 70s has gone so far out of fashion that its pulse can barely be felt.
The usual method of arguing against this belief is to point to some of the great guitar-based music that is still being made, and still very popular. This year’s Glastonbury headliners, for example, are Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and Ed Sheeran – a man who famously uses nothing but a single guitar and a loop pedal for his live performances.
While there is clearly mileage in this argument, it is flawed because it takes the “guitars vs electronic” argument at face value. True heads will know that electronic tracks can absolutely feature guitar playing just as much as the latest Ed Sheeran chart-topper can feature synth hooks and drum machines.
To set the record straight, here are some of the best electronic music tracks with guitars.
1. ‘This Girl’ – Kungs vs Cookin’ On 3 Burners feat. Kylie Auldist
Unquestionably the song of the summer last year, and so far facing no serious competition in 2017, ‘This Girl’ would not be the same without its signature guitar riff. The track seamlessly blends French DJ Kungs’ electronic production techniques with the live instruments of Australian funk trio Cookin’ On 3 Burners, and of course the vocals of the incomparable Kylie Auldist.
‘This Girl’ is a stunning counterargument to the notion that guitars and electronic music can’t get along, and it’s been right in front of our faces for almost a year now.
2. ‘Get Lucky’ – Daft Punk feat. Nile Rodgers and Pharrell
Another huge dance hit that prominently features guitar playing. Disco legend Nile Rodgers brings his trademark chord stabs to the track and they blend perfectly with Daft Punk’s electronic production.
3. ‘Destiny’ – Zero 7
Trip Hop was a combination of so many sounds and textures that there was plenty of room for electronic production and guitars to coexist. Zero 7’s work was a particularly good example of how guitars and other electronic sounds can work together to create dreamy soundscapes.
4. ‘Jasmine’ – Jai Paul
The enigmatic Jai Paul mixed guitars into his genre-defying concoctions like nobody else before him. Sliding in and out of focus, sounding somehow purely acoustic and effect-laden, the guitar sounds on Jai Paul’s sadly miniscule output are one of his most influential contributions to modern electronic music and R&B, with many Future Beats producers taking his techniques on board.
5. ‘Love Will Never Let You Down’ – Eddie Thoneick & Abel Ramos feat. James Walsh
You don’t have to be making pop hits like Daft Punk and Kungs, or pushing genre boundaries like Jai Paul and Zero 7 to make electronic music with guitars. This track from Eddie Thoneick & Abel Ramos would slot fairly comfortably under the broad “EDM” label, and yet many of its central sounds come from Thoneick’s Fender electric guitar. You can watch him making the track here to see how he made it work.
6. ‘Happiness’ – Ron Trent & Quentin Harris feat. Cordell McClary
With Quentin Harris’ eclectic influences it would be shocking if he didn’t use guitars in his music eventually. Rather than blend them into a mix of synths, Harris and Ron Trent layer a Latin-sounding solo acoustic guitar over a minimal house beat. With uplifting soulful vocals to top it off, this is proof once again that guitars can not only survive, but thrive in the dance music sphere.
Image by Feliciano Guimarães from Guimarães, Portugal – Electric guitarUploaded by tm, CC BY 2.0, Link