Musicians usually listen to many genres of music. Some listen to more genres than others. Now take that thought and apply it to learning a new genre in your instrument/s. Some will be like, “Nah. Why do should I learn this? I’m in a XYZ cover band.” To that I say ignorance. Pure ignorance. But if you are not playing much and/or considered starting to play another style, or looking to spice up your musical resume, then learning a new style of music can really benefit you.
Learning different music styles is like learning a new language or trying to make a new ethnic dish. At first things are uncomfortable and unfamiliar “fresh” textures or smells can be overwhelming. Once you practice more, (you do practice on your own right?) it gets easier, better, and faster. This allows for you as the performer to make a great influence on your sound based on what you already play AND what you are willing to creatively put into a song. This allows your music to transcend into other genres without completely being in that particular genre. That is how many of today’s Pop Stars are writing songs. everything seems to be melting into each other. Even Counrty music is much harder on the Rock side of things than it ever was.
A great example of this is a band called Skindred. Skindred’s musical style mixes heavy metal, alternative rock and reggae to create their unique sound. If you listen to any of the genres alone, you will know the difference immediately. This group was able to create a sound totally original that there is yet to be a band similar in playing style.
Still think that it may be a waste of time and effort? Don’t take my word for it. Check out this great article from Modern Drummer. Now keep in mind even though they are world class percussionists, the thirst for knowledge is vitally important to one’s progress and skill level and is still true today even after decades of playing.
Jeff Salem of Modern Drummer has some good insight. He stated:
I remembered I was about four months into playing and studying the drums that my teacher said, “I’m going to start teaching you Latin rhythms.” I was a total rocker, but I had an open mind and wanted to see where this path would take me. I noticed all my friends who were drummers could play cool busy rock/funk patterns, and here I was working on bossa nova and cha-cha grooves. Being a little frustrated about that, I asked my teacher why we were going this route. He had many great answers:
Your reading will greatly improve.
Your level of independence and coordination will increase.
You will develop much greater control of dynamics.
Your school music teacher will able to use you in any band situation.
Your song repertoire will grow.
If you pursue a career in music, you will be much more hirable.
Thirty years later, I can still see great advantages of studying different styles. First of all, my sense reading became sharper, whether it be reading a chart with broken figures, or comping to advanced patterns that required great independence. My level of independence and concentration grew incredibly fast as well. When I was in tenth grade, I was asked to play with all the different bands at school because of my versatility. This gave me confidence, and it felt cool to be the youngest guy in the band. My music teacher was very happy that I could play anything from a samba to a calypso.
Thanks to all of that practice developing a huge vocabulary of styles, I feel comfortable walking into any gigging situation. As a teacher, I try to inspire that same excitement in a student who’s strictly into one style of music or just wants to learn blazing licks. Sometimes during a lesson, in the beginning, I would start by playing a cool calypso, bembe, or merengue groove to see if I get a reaction. Those types of grooves are very musical and will usually get a smile from the student.
For double bass students who like to blaze grooves at 200 bpm, I will have them orchestrate a hand pattern of a Latin groove, like a mozambique or guaguanco, around the kit and single strokes underneath on the bass drums. If the groove is written in 8th or 16th notes I will apply the same note application with the feet.
Another great way to get students turned on to Latin rhythms is to check out songs they like that have a Latin influence. On the song “Feeling This” by Blink 182, drummer Travis Barker plays the main groove with one hand between the hi-hat and snare while the other hand plays a syncopated bossa nova–type rimclick part on a cowbell. That song has been a great segue to get my students studying Brazilian music.
Again this is only one artists’ ideology on the subject. Here is another article from a guitar players perspective:
What Made (that genre) What?
Well that’s a big question to ask. what genre made what genre. To give a starting point in history the Spanish invented what we consider the modern guitar and so came classical and flamenco. But if you’re asking about what made a lot of the genres we have today, I would have to say I would the blues is the foundation of a lot of the genres we know. Blues made many forms of music (not all but a lot). So if you ever had to learn a single genre I would go with blues as a good starting point. Blues contains a major amount of the tricks used by today’s guitarists as well as a good deal of theory. But my suggestion is to learn anything and everything you can.
Most genres have branches in which many “sub-genres” are formed by combining different theories. In blues there are forms of “sub-genres”, in this case country blues or folk blues, acoustic blues, Chicago blues, Delta blues, Texas blues, etc. These are all blues but they have different flavors. Taj Mahal is more of a country/folk blues person while guys like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker (even though they experimented with different forms of blues) played a form of Delta blues. Jimi Hendrix too was a blues guy but he managed to combine blues with so many different other styles. In making his music, he influenced many others as well.
Tips And Tricks (and other genres to check out)
Look at all the old stuff, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and so forth. And whenever you’re jamming with other guitarists ask them what they listen to and check it out. Also check out who are their role models. To wrap up, the major thing is that in order to be a versatile guitarist you must be stretch you knowledge. Learn as many genres as you can. Then learn to incorporate them into your own style of playing.
These two professionals really make the point of learning new styles easier once you think about it. If musicians never tried anything new, we would have no industry at all. So the next time some ignoramus preaches that he or she has learned everything, be sure to school them to see if they actually know what they are talking about. You might be surprised that somebody actually knows what they are talking about!
Continue to fill that big melon of a brain with great info on how to be a better player whether you are a beginner or a pro, learning (as well as practice) should never stop. If you do the things mentioned and continue to do them, you will be able to play any song like a boss. Now go play well and play on!