An open letter to guitar tricks

Guitar Tricks Forum > Open Discussion > An open letter to guitar tricks

willshep

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Joined: 12/28/15

Posts: 3

All I know is I listen to music and try hard to play because in part you can lose yourself in the moment and escape what seems like permanent conflict in every other aspect of life, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the open letter I'd really prefer to keep it that way. Open letters on whatever subject seem intended to goad people into either jumping on "the cause" or reacting to it negatively, too often the ensuing conflict seems to be the primary purpose, the cause itself is almost secondary. All I know is I want to listen to good music and like most people I just couldn't care less about the colour of whoever wrote it or played it, better still I want to sound like them as well, and isn't imitation the highest form of praise. Also keep in mind that the vast majority of the music on GT wouldn't exist were it not for the black jazz and bluesmen initially in the southern states of the US from the 1920's onwards. Rock and Roll (and it's many genres) from the 1950s to the present day owes everything to those early artists and all of the great guitar players of the past forty years have paid homage to that fact in their playing. So with respect working through the GT song book and counting colours looks kind of trivial really, its almost certainly a black man or women who inspired the artist at some stage during the creative process.

#61

All I know is I listen to music and try hard to play because in part you can lose yourself in the moment and escape what seems like permanent conflict in every other aspect of life, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the open letter I'd really prefer to keep it that way. Open letters on whatever subject seem intended to goad people into either jumping on "the cause" or reacting to it negatively, too often the ensuing conflict seems to be the primary purpose, the cause itself is almost secondary. All I know is I want to listen to good music and like most people I just couldn't care less about the colour of whoever wrote it or played it, better still I want to sound like them as well, and isn't imitation the highest form of praise. Also keep in mind that the vast majority of the music on GT wouldn't exist were it not for the black jazz and bluesmen initially in the southern states of the US from the 1920's onwards. Rock and Roll (and it's many genres) from the 1950s to the present day owes everything to those early artists and all of the great guitar players of the past forty years have paid homage to that fact in their playing. So with respect working through the GT song book and counting colours looks kind of trivial really, its almost certainly a black man or women who inspired the artist at some stage during the creative process.

jreyn1

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Joined: 05/28/17

Posts: 16

Amen to that brother

#62

Amen to that brother

jreyn1

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Joined: 05/28/17

Posts: 16

I can't imagine for one second that guitar tricks went out of their way to pick songs played, sung and written by old white men. They pick the songs because they're good, I enjoy Billy Joel as much as I enjoy Whitney Houston but I don't see a white man on one side and a black woman on the other I just hear good music and enjoy it, if you have a particular artist and song in mind you would like to learn kindly submit it and I'm sure they will do their best to get it posted for you but let's stop it with the constant injection of politics into every aspect of our lives the last thing we need is for guitar tricks to go woke and go broke.

#63

I can't imagine for one second that guitar tricks went out of their way to pick songs played, sung and written by old white men. They pick the songs because they're good, I enjoy Billy Joel as much as I enjoy Whitney Houston but I don't see a white man on one side and a black woman on the other I just hear good music and enjoy it, if you have a particular artist and song in mind you would like to learn kindly submit it and I'm sure they will do their best to get it posted for you but let's stop it with the constant injection of politics into every aspect of our lives the last thing we need is for guitar tricks to go woke and go broke.

W3

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Joined: 03/09/17

Posts: 38

To quote a wise man, Amen to that, brother

#64

To quote a wise man, Amen to that, brother

dlwalke

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Joined: 02/02/19

Posts: 236

This is not my battle exactly, but since the thread has been resurected, I wanted to respond to a couple of comments that appeared in recent posts. First, nobody has suggested that GT has gone “out of their way to pick songs played, sung and written by old white men.” Furthermore, the suggestion that wanting to have more diversity in the artists whose songs are selected for lessons is an example of wokism’s “constant attack on white man” is ridiculous. I mean, come one. What was suggested is that GT includes more songs from women and black guitarists.


The main argument against this, as expressed in a few recent posts, is something to the effect that GT shouldn’t consider anything other than whether a song is “good,” coupled with a statement that the poster is color blind when it comes to music and likes songs by both black and white and male and female artists. If the only criterion was being good, would it also be OK if >95% of the lessons were good songs from guitarists such as Traci Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, Jewell, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Lauryn Hill, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, etc…maybe with a song by Led Zeppelin thrown in? The 95% is not a random number I came up with to make a point. I looked at the first 100 songs in the song lesson list (sorted by recency) and approximately 95% are by men and 98% are by white artists. Does that reflect the actual proportion of “good” guitar songs out there in the universe? Does it reflect the actual proportion of charted songs with good guitar parts? Maybe...I don't know the answer but I don't think the question is in-and-of-itself unreasonable, and I wouldn't bet money that the answer is yes.


With respect to the thing about music being color-blind, I’m sure we’re all gender/color-blind in the sense that we like the music we like based on the music and not the gender or ethnicity of the artist, but it seems to me that that’s somewhat beside the point. Unfortunately, people are too quick to assume the worst intentions of someone who has a different view and then react against that rather than the respond to the actual point of contention. It's relevant that men and women do not have overlapping musical tastes. A lot of data has shown that men are more likely than woman to prefer songs by male artists, and versa. In one study of about 200,000 streaming service customers, it was found that the top 5 artists as ranked by males were all men, whereas the 4 of the top 5 artists as ranked by woman were woman (Bruno Mars appeared on both lists). Is it surprising, for example, that men are more likely than women to prefer songs by acts such as Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, and N.W.A., whereas women are more likely to enjoy the guitar and lyrical stylings of Pink, Sia and Adelle? There’s nothing wrong with that but since we all would prefer to play the songs we most like, it seems to me a nearly inescapable conclusion that men are somewhat better served than women by the GT song lesson list. I suspect one could make a similar argument with respect to ethnicity.


Now, maybe the GT membership is dominated by older white guys like me and the songs are selected based on our preferences (i.e., it’s a business decision to best serve the current audience). I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s possible and not, to me, necessarily objectionable. It does beg the question though of what’s the chicken and what’s the egg. Do the song lessons reflect the membership or is the membership at least partly a function of the song lessons offered? It’s also possible that the song lessons offered are at least partly a reflection of the experience and interest of the instructors and their demographic.

While the current song list selection works for me, I certainly don’t object if someone who would like to see an expanded selection of songs expresses that opinion or if GT acted on it. Whether they act on it or not, I would think GT would be happy for any input as to how to better serve their membership or perhaps expand it.

#65

This is not my battle exactly, but since the thread has been resurected, I wanted to respond to a couple of comments that appeared in recent posts. First, nobody has suggested that GT has gone “out of their way to pick songs played, sung and written by old white men.” Furthermore, the suggestion that wanting to have more diversity in the artists whose songs are selected for lessons is an example of wokism’s “constant attack on white man” is ridiculous. I mean, come one. What was suggested is that GT includes more songs from women and black guitarists.


The main argument against this, as expressed in a few recent posts, is something to the effect that GT shouldn’t consider anything other than whether a song is “good,” coupled with a statement that the poster is color blind when it comes to music and likes songs by both black and white and male and female artists. If the only criterion was being good, would it also be OK if >95% of the lessons were good songs from guitarists such as Traci Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, Jewell, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Lauryn Hill, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, etc…maybe with a song by Led Zeppelin thrown in? The 95% is not a random number I came up with to make a point. I looked at the first 100 songs in the song lesson list (sorted by recency) and approximately 95% are by men and 98% are by white artists. Does that reflect the actual proportion of “good” guitar songs out there in the universe? Does it reflect the actual proportion of charted songs with good guitar parts? Maybe...I don't know the answer but I don't think the question is in-and-of-itself unreasonable, and I wouldn't bet money that the answer is yes.


With respect to the thing about music being color-blind, I’m sure we’re all gender/color-blind in the sense that we like the music we like based on the music and not the gender or ethnicity of the artist, but it seems to me that that’s somewhat beside the point. Unfortunately, people are too quick to assume the worst intentions of someone who has a different view and then react against that rather than the respond to the actual point of contention. It's relevant that men and women do not have overlapping musical tastes. A lot of data has shown that men are more likely than woman to prefer songs by male artists, and versa. In one study of about 200,000 streaming service customers, it was found that the top 5 artists as ranked by males were all men, whereas the 4 of the top 5 artists as ranked by woman were woman (Bruno Mars appeared on both lists). Is it surprising, for example, that men are more likely than women to prefer songs by acts such as Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, and N.W.A., whereas women are more likely to enjoy the guitar and lyrical stylings of Pink, Sia and Adelle? There’s nothing wrong with that but since we all would prefer to play the songs we most like, it seems to me a nearly inescapable conclusion that men are somewhat better served than women by the GT song lesson list. I suspect one could make a similar argument with respect to ethnicity.


Now, maybe the GT membership is dominated by older white guys like me and the songs are selected based on our preferences (i.e., it’s a business decision to best serve the current audience). I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s possible and not, to me, necessarily objectionable. It does beg the question though of what’s the chicken and what’s the egg. Do the song lessons reflect the membership or is the membership at least partly a function of the song lessons offered? It’s also possible that the song lessons offered are at least partly a reflection of the experience and interest of the instructors and their demographic.

While the current song list selection works for me, I certainly don’t object if someone who would like to see an expanded selection of songs expresses that opinion or if GT acted on it. Whether they act on it or not, I would think GT would be happy for any input as to how to better serve their membership or perhaps expand it.

DraconusJLM

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Joined: 06/21/21

Posts: 88

Personally, I'd prefer people to keep their political opinions away from forums such as this.

My work-life entails political policies, inclusion, exclusion, bias, etc.

I come here to learn guitar or find ways to improve playing; or sometimes share knowledge.

This site offers what it offers. If that isn't what you're looking for, then try elsewhere (just like when watching TV or shopping for groceries).

I suppose I could be accused of bias, being older, male and white (and a Brit) but I have to deal with the fact that I can lawfully be discriminated against in the name of 'Positive discrimination'. On the plus side, my guitar doesn't give a damn.

#66

Personally, I'd prefer people to keep their political opinions away from forums such as this.

My work-life entails political policies, inclusion, exclusion, bias, etc.

I come here to learn guitar or find ways to improve playing; or sometimes share knowledge.

This site offers what it offers. If that isn't what you're looking for, then try elsewhere (just like when watching TV or shopping for groceries).

I suppose I could be accused of bias, being older, male and white (and a Brit) but I have to deal with the fact that I can lawfully be discriminated against in the name of 'Positive discrimination'. On the plus side, my guitar doesn't give a damn.

Tinpan

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Joined: 03/31/20

Posts: 268

Hey dlwalke. Can you make your points with only great guitar players in mind. This is a guitar website. Great songwriters all , but I'm inspired by guitar players so not sure Bruno mars or pink etc etc hold much sway if you're trying to make a point.

#67

Hey dlwalke. Can you make your points with only great guitar players in mind. This is a guitar website. Great songwriters all , but I'm inspired by guitar players so not sure Bruno mars or pink etc etc hold much sway if you're trying to make a point.

atcdave

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Joined: 02/21/14

Posts: 3

To the OP and to GT admin, I fully support the request for adding more songs by women and people of color.

I saw the request and my only thought was that it's a perfectly reasonable request and I hope they do that. Guitar Tricks has been around for over 20 years and diversifying their catalogue would probably help expand their customer base.

It never crossed my mind to get upset about it and think of it in terms of "cancel culture," "wokeism," etc. I just support a fellow student of guitar who is requesting to broaden the catalogue in a way that she feels is productive.

#68

To the OP and to GT admin, I fully support the request for adding more songs by women and people of color.

I saw the request and my only thought was that it's a perfectly reasonable request and I hope they do that. Guitar Tricks has been around for over 20 years and diversifying their catalogue would probably help expand their customer base.

It never crossed my mind to get upset about it and think of it in terms of "cancel culture," "wokeism," etc. I just support a fellow student of guitar who is requesting to broaden the catalogue in a way that she feels is productive.

dlwalke

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Joined: 02/02/19

Posts: 236

Originally Posted by: Tinpan

Hey dlwalke. Can you make your points with only great guitar players in mind. This is a guitar website. Great songwriters all , but I'm inspired by guitar players so not sure Bruno mars or pink etc etc hold much sway if you're trying to make a point.

Hey Tinpan,

With respect to the first point I was making, I'd say Traci Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, Jewell, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, for example, are all extremely solid players.

With respect to the second point - i.e., that for popular music male musicians audiences skew male and female musicians audiences skew female (with lots of overlap to be sure), the data I was looking at didn't specifically break the artists down into guitar players. I took a look back to see if I could do that myself but because it was mostly looking at contemporary artists and I'm more of a late 60's and classic rock guy, I don't even know who most of them were. So no, I can't do that but I'd be pretty surprised if music with prominent guitar was an exception. The article did mention that Hendrix is one of the most heavily skewed artists in terms of his audience. That is certainly consistent with my own experience. I know that if I was told I had to choose between having all Hendrix or all Joni MItchell on my music player, I wouldn't have to think twice.....and neither would my wife.

Your question raises an interesting point though. Should GT's song lessons be restricted to great guitarists (or songs with great guitar parts)? Defining great is an issue itself I suppose, but I would say absolutely not. I think GT should offer lessons for songs that people want to learn how to play. I have a pretty expensive list of songs I'd like to learn and few of them would qualify as having great guitar parts. Some are actually pretty simple (e.g., 3-4 chord strumming songs like Bob Dylans "Knockin on Heaven's Door" [done] or "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield [done]) and while others are a little more involved, they're still not songs that to my mind have "great" guitar parts but are just songs I like and would like to play a recognizable version of (e.g., "Heroes" by David Bowie, "King of the Road" by Jerry Reed, "I've Been in Love Before" by Cutting Crew, etc.). If this was a site for aspiring professionals as opposed to hobbyists I'd feel differently but those folks are better off going to a school like Musicians Institute or Berklee College of Music, for example.

-Dave

#69

Originally Posted by: Tinpan

Hey dlwalke. Can you make your points with only great guitar players in mind. This is a guitar website. Great songwriters all , but I'm inspired by guitar players so not sure Bruno mars or pink etc etc hold much sway if you're trying to make a point.

Hey Tinpan,

With respect to the first point I was making, I'd say Traci Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, Jewell, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, for example, are all extremely solid players.

With respect to the second point - i.e., that for popular music male musicians audiences skew male and female musicians audiences skew female (with lots of overlap to be sure), the data I was looking at didn't specifically break the artists down into guitar players. I took a look back to see if I could do that myself but because it was mostly looking at contemporary artists and I'm more of a late 60's and classic rock guy, I don't even know who most of them were. So no, I can't do that but I'd be pretty surprised if music with prominent guitar was an exception. The article did mention that Hendrix is one of the most heavily skewed artists in terms of his audience. That is certainly consistent with my own experience. I know that if I was told I had to choose between having all Hendrix or all Joni MItchell on my music player, I wouldn't have to think twice.....and neither would my wife.

Your question raises an interesting point though. Should GT's song lessons be restricted to great guitarists (or songs with great guitar parts)? Defining great is an issue itself I suppose, but I would say absolutely not. I think GT should offer lessons for songs that people want to learn how to play. I have a pretty expensive list of songs I'd like to learn and few of them would qualify as having great guitar parts. Some are actually pretty simple (e.g., 3-4 chord strumming songs like Bob Dylans "Knockin on Heaven's Door" [done] or "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield [done]) and while others are a little more involved, they're still not songs that to my mind have "great" guitar parts but are just songs I like and would like to play a recognizable version of (e.g., "Heroes" by David Bowie, "King of the Road" by Jerry Reed, "I've Been in Love Before" by Cutting Crew, etc.). If this was a site for aspiring professionals as opposed to hobbyists I'd feel differently but those folks are better off going to a school like Musicians Institute or Berklee College of Music, for example.

-Dave

DraconusJLM

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Joined: 06/21/21

Posts: 88

FAO Admins.

Can this political diatribe be closed and/or deleted.

Instead of posting this so-called 'open letter', the original poster should just have done something constructive and request songs by non-white or female artists in the appropriate section

#70

FAO Admins.

Can this political diatribe be closed and/or deleted.

Instead of posting this so-called 'open letter', the original poster should just have done something constructive and request songs by non-white or female artists in the appropriate section