What is your typical response when someone asks you whether you like a particular style of music that you don’t normally listen to? Most of us will say that we don’t like it and/or never listen to that style of music. I’d like to propose a different response. Instead of saying you don’t like it, ask the other person why they like it. Their response may provide some insight into the music that you hadn’t thought of before.
This is but an example of a larger issue that I’d like to address. Many musicians, even those who claim to be open minded about music, are actually fairly close minded. They only play rock music (or jazz music, or blues music, etc.), so they don’t listen to other types of music. I think there is something to be learned from all great musicians, regardless of the style of music they play. For example, I don’t listen to much country music, but I’m fortunate to live in a city with many great musicians who just happen to play country music. If I didn’t listen to any country music, I’d be missing out on some of the best musicians in the business.
The same is true of almost any style of music. Each musician phrases things differently based on the format in which they are playing. Consider an artist like John 5, who has managed to meld metal with country and somehow make it work for him. You may or may not like the resulting music, but you must admit that he is putting forth some interesting ideas and licks. He has taken many ideas traditionally used by country musicians and placed them in a metal context.
While I don’t listen to a lot of rap music, I can enjoy listening to guitarists who back up rap artists. It’s interesting to see how they hold back and complement the music rather than drive the music. This is very different from most of the music I listen to, which is primarily guitar driven.
You can pick out almost any style of music and find great musicians to learn from. I’m not suggesting that you go out of your way to listen to music you don’t like (although that’s not necessarily a bad idea), I’m just suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss a style of music you’re not familiar with or you don’t like. Perhaps you’ll learn a lick that you hadn’t thought of or heard before. There’s a lot to learn when playing the guitar and I don’t think we should limit ourselves to one particular style of music.
Do you keep an open mind about music?