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(Ultimate Guitar)   Veteran guitarist warns would-be shredders that the vocal is the most important part of the song--and if the guitarist in question is Brian May, you'd do well to heed his advice   ( ultimate-guitar.com) divider line
    More: Cool, guitar, Queen guitar champion, important thing, fantastic jigsaw puzzle, baritone mid range, English-language films, Electric guitar, Singing  
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1491 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 18 Apr 2017 at 10:34 PM (30 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2017-04-18 10:06:05 PM  
Check your ID - is the name on there Satriani, Vai, Beck or Hendrix?  No? Then don't play over the farking vocals.

/Much easier if you play instrumentals.
 
2017-04-18 10:40:16 PM  
That's Dr. Brian May, subby.
 
2017-04-18 10:47:23 PM  
Queen - The Prophets Song (Official Lyric Video)
Youtube HzdjMLKKdgk
 
2017-04-18 10:49:08 PM  
He was spoiled by having Freddie Mercury as his lead singer. It totally skewed his viewpoint.

There are so many shiatty lead singers out there. You'll find them leading screamo bands doing Cookie Monster impressions.
 
2017-04-18 10:51:16 PM  

TommyDeuce: Check your ID - is the name on there Satriani, Vai, Beck or Hendrix?  No? Then don't play over the farking vocals.

/Much easier if you play instrumentals.


My favorite Hendrix tune, where he plays over his own vocals, is Castles Made of Sand. That backwards solo still blows my mind after all these years!
 
2017-04-18 10:55:24 PM  
What if your band has no singer?

Personally as a big prog metal fan, I find having a vocalist versus no vocalist tamps down on bad shredding wankery generally speaking.  And I like that, but I'm not always picky on singers and don't even pay attention to lyrics a lot of the time.  Too much cool stuff going on to pay attention to them.
 
2017-04-18 10:58:27 PM  
I tend to prefer either instrumentals or tunes where the singer doesn't hang around for too long. I'd much rather sit back and listen to the band play.
 
2017-04-18 11:04:32 PM  

AverageAmericanGuy: He was spoiled by having Freddie Mercury as his lead singer. It totally skewed his viewpoint.

There are so many shiatty lead singers out there. You'll find them leading screamo bands doing Cookie Monster impressions.


hahahaha... i call that and death metal *angry Cookie Monster Music*
thanks for the giggle in agreement :)
 
2017-04-18 11:10:07 PM  
Dr. May has a good point and it's well to listen.  The Song is the biggest thing.  I think him downplaying the guitar part is a bit overdone.  Good songs are always a mix.  David Byrne said that lyrics are what keep a person listening beyond 2 minutes and while also an oversimplification, it's a good point too.

I've been listening to "Hot for Teacher" recently.  Great song.  The guitar part runs constantly all the way through it and is Spot Freaking ON.  BUT it does so entirely in service to the song.  Eddie certainly can go off into wankery land (Jump) but on HfT, he puts the song around those guitar licks and it's Diamond Dave that carries the show with the laugh he puts into what should be completely filthy lyrics.
 
2017-04-18 11:56:59 PM  
The Most Important Part of the Song Are Vocal

I disagree

bass, drums, and production values

while vocals can be amazing, usually

not

I like euro and K pop cause it's nice not understanding

how dumb lyrics usually are
 
2017-04-19 12:45:34 AM  

TommyDeuce: Check your ID - is the name on there Satriani, Vai, Beck or Hendrix?  No? Then don't play over the farking vocals.

/Much easier if you play instrumentals.


You left out Moore.  I feel this applies to him as well because of his big booming voice.
 
2017-04-19 12:46:20 AM  
While I agree with Dr. May on this, there are always exceptions (Vai, Satriani, etc. from this era), Sometimes the guitar is the singer. It's all about the song,


Mason Williams - Classical Gas (1988)
Youtube 8Z9nl3T31wI


/ see also Al Di Meola, the recently departed Alan Holdsworth, etc
 
2017-04-19 12:46:20 AM  
Duh. Rap music sells.
 
2017-04-19 01:31:59 AM  
Van Halen with DLR was great, the same band with a different singer was meh at best. Still had the great guitar player, didn't matter. I think that proves his point.

Although he does seem to leave out that it has to be a great singer for this to be true, not just a singer. By great I don't mean technically, or in vocal range, or anything like that. I mean someone who can sing good enough but more importantly has charisma and can hold the audience's attention. Good luck finding one of those.
 
2017-04-19 01:39:25 AM  
Sammy more than held his own with VH. According to the album sales, I'm not the only one who thinks so....
 
2017-04-19 02:03:39 AM  
Oh, Brian May is speaking. Is Queen finally done capitalizing on past glories, touring on the same old material for the past 12 years and finally releasing an album of new material No? Then stfu, Brian.
I've got no problem with Lambert being vocalist for Queen, i have a problem with the band having a lack of interest in creating a new body of work with said vocalist, preferring instead to scrape the bottom of the barrel and using him as a means to that end. Sasha Baron Cohen saw through that and bailed, smart man.
 
2017-04-19 02:04:17 AM  

AverageAmericanGuy: He was spoiled by having Freddie Mercury as his lead singer. It totally skewed his viewpoint.

There are so many shiatty lead singers out there. You'll find them leading screamo bands doing Cookie Monster impressions.


you have a valid point. something broke in the 1960's and slowly but surely piss poor singers became found increasingly on vinyl. then look at what we've had in studios in the past 20 years, it's so sad how deep into the gutter it goes. if Murican schools still taught music appreciation a crapload of 'professional' musicians would be working in warehouses and slinging bags on the streets.

gunsmack: While I agree with Dr. May on this, there are always exceptions (Vai, Satriani, etc. from this era), Sometimes the guitar is the singer. It's all about the song,


[iFrame https://www.youtube.com/embed/8Z9nl3T31wI - 480x360]

/ see also Al Di Meola, the recently departed Alan Holdsworth, etc


you're right, there are exceptions. Frank Zappa fits in that mold. I wish there were plenty more.
 
2017-04-19 02:30:39 AM  
The Brian May Band - Since You've Been Gone (Live At The Brixton Academy)
Youtube T3qqRZhWzDI


Brian May on vocals with:
At the moment when we're putting this up on this new channel, this video brings back powerful memories. Touring as a front man, following Freddie's passing, I was in complete denial of Queen, and regarded my new band as my future. I was blessed with the massive support of the late great Cozy Powell on drums. Here we see Cozy in fabulous form. Of course, when Ritchie Blackmore's band, Rainbow, recorded the monumental version of this song that charted in 1979, Cozy had been the drummer, and for me, covering this track live was a kind of homage to Cozy. The vocal is almost impossibly rangey, and I made it a personal crusade to work on my voice, extending my range so I could sing it. The band was a dream outfit for me ... with already legendary heavy rock stalwart Neil Murray on bass, who had worked with Cozy (and my friend Tony Iommi) in one of the incarnations of Black Sabbath, long-time Queen collaborator Spike Edney on keys, newly recruited Jamie Moses on guitar, who remains a great friend to this day, and two stunning backing vocalists, Catherine Porter and Shelley Preston. It actually gives me a chill up the spine to see this outfit in full flight, as clear and bright as if 'twere yesterday. Bri
 
2017-04-19 02:34:17 AM  
Brian May-Hammer To Fall-Close Live At The Brixton Academy 1993
Youtube ushMc3oof-c
 
2017-04-19 02:52:20 AM  

zepillin: The Most Important Part of the Song Are Vocal

I disagree

bass, drums, and production values

while vocals can be amazing, usually

not

I like euro and K pop cause it's nice not understanding

how dumb lyrics usually are


David Bowie
Van Morrison

/ vocals are more than words
 
2017-04-19 03:24:59 AM  
Yes, anyone feeling the need to play during every second of a song needs to be kept as far away from other musicians as possible. Good music is about dynamics and I've met far too many musicians who have learned hundreds of songs yet not one thing about how they're arranged.

plewis: David Byrne said that lyrics are what keep a person listening beyond 2 minutes and while also an oversimplification, it's a good point too.


Let's be honest, 90% of lyrics are shiat. The guitarist in question was featured on a hit song about wanting to ride a bicycle. I've memorized the lyrics to dozens of rock songs and they're almost all complete gibberish.
 
2017-04-19 03:36:28 AM  

moothemagiccow: The guitarist in question was featured on a hit song about wanting to ride a bicycle.


Are you sure you listened to all of the lyrics?
 
2017-04-19 04:52:14 AM  
One of the reasons I have so much respect for Ringo.  He may not be a Peart or a Buddy Guy, but he was a professional drummer and played what the song needed.  Same applies to each band member whether it be vocals, guitar, bass, or drums.  If it doesn't support the song, you're doing it wrong.
 
2017-04-19 04:54:29 AM  

plewis: Dr. May has a good point and it's well to listen.  The Song is the biggest thing.  I think him downplaying the guitar part is a bit overdone.  Good songs are always a mix.  David Byrne said that lyrics are what keep a person listening beyond 2 minutes and while also an oversimplification, it's a good point too.

I've been listening to "Hot for Teacher" recently.  Great song.  The guitar part runs constantly all the way through it and is Spot Freaking ON.  BUT it does so entirely in service to the song.  Eddie certainly can go off into wankery land (Jump) but on HfT, he puts the song around those guitar licks and it's Diamond Dave that carries the show with the laugh he puts into what should be completely filthy lyrics.


"Hot for Teacher" is a pretty good example of every band member participating in wankery throughout the song but still being in service to the song.
 
2017-04-19 05:36:23 AM  
Queen are overrated. Sorry. They aren't Stones overrated, but they do have slightly more cache than their body of work should allow.
 
2017-04-19 05:40:40 AM  

Imaginativescreenname: Oh, Brian May is speaking. Is Queen finally done capitalizing on past glories, touring on the same old material for the past 12 years and finally releasing an album of new material No? Then stfu, Brian.
I've got no problem with Lambert being vocalist for Queen, i have a problem with the band having a lack of interest in creating a new body of work with said vocalist, preferring instead to scrape the bottom of the barrel and using him as a means to that end. Sasha Baron Cohen saw through that and bailed, smart man.


And probably the first one to head to the loo when Dr May says "this is our latest release"
 
2017-04-19 07:22:35 AM  
How else one can know what the song is about?
 
2017-04-19 07:52:55 AM  

Geoff Peterson: Queen are overrated. Sorry. They aren't Stones overrated, but they do have slightly more cache than their body of work should allow.


I think they're rated so highly because they're one of the few bands that have put out multiple albums that are loaded front to back. I could listen to "Jazz" or "News Of The World" without skipping a song, much like some Zeppelin or Floyd Albums. IMO few bands have done this.
 
2017-04-19 07:53:40 AM  
Story songs!! More story songs please!!

/*throws half of my records in the trash*
 
2017-04-19 08:01:25 AM  
When your vocalist is Freddy Mercury, that's pretty much a given.
 
2017-04-19 08:58:41 AM  
I play bass, keyboard-synths and guitar. Been playing in bands since the 80s.

Here is my favorite piece of advice that I give specifically to guitarists:


If you want to hear the absolute greatest example of a truly professional guitarist, listen to "Another One Bites The Dust" by QUEEN. Yes. That song. Seriously. Brian May's playing on that particular song is way subdued. Very subtle. Some funky simple chord part and occasional guitar-delay effects only on that track. Brian May knew that the song was driven by the repeating bass line and Mercury's vocals. Being a total pro he decided to keep the guitar laid back in the recorded mix. That song has a lot of cool empty space in it. An amateur guitarist would have violated that space with pointless and unnecessary "shredding"
 
2017-04-19 09:05:42 AM  
I've just started learning to play guitar so I'm getting a kick out of this thread.

/Will never be great
//Just want to have fun
///I'm not a girl though
 
2017-04-19 09:44:14 AM  

harleyquinnical: TommyDeuce: Check your ID - is the name on there Satriani, Vai, Beck or Hendrix?  No? Then don't play over the farking vocals.

/Much easier if you play instrumentals.

You left out Moore.  I feel this applies to him as well because of his big booming voice.


I was real close to adding him, but I'd initially planned to just mention 3 and was already up to 4.  If I added everyone who was worthy, I'd probably still be typing.

/Knopfler
//Owens
///etc .. .
 
2017-04-19 09:49:36 AM  

craigdamage: I play bass, keyboard-synths and guitar. Been playing in bands since the 80s.

Here is my favorite piece of advice that I give specifically to guitarists:


If you want to hear the absolute greatest example of a truly professional guitarist, listen to "Another One Bites The Dust" by QUEEN. Yes. That song. Seriously. Brian May's playing on that particular song is way subdued. Very subtle. Some funky simple chord part and occasional guitar-delay effects only on that track. Brian May knew that the song was driven by the repeating bass line and Mercury's vocals. Being a total pro he decided to keep the guitar laid back in the recorded mix. That song has a lot of cool empty space in it. An amateur guitarist would have violated that space with pointless and unnecessary "shredding"


Lots of this.  I play pretty much the same spread of instruments - and sometimes have to explain this to people.  I've taught a couple people the nuances of synth and organ(B-3 type stuff) and the first thing I tell them is that although they have (ideally ) 10 fingers, they should only use as many as the song needs.  There's a lot of songs (especially in the church worship bands I've played keys with) where just an open 5th is  needed on a pad or organ patch.  When it's your turn to solo, let it rip, otherwise, play like the rest of your band is on your team, not your competition.
 
2017-04-19 10:09:58 AM  

craigdamage: I play bass, keyboard-synths and guitar. Been playing in bands since the 80s.

Here is my favorite piece of advice that I give specifically to guitarists:


If you want to hear the absolute greatest example of a truly professional guitarist, listen to "Another One Bites The Dust" by QUEEN. Yes. That song. Seriously. Brian May's playing on that particular song is way subdued. Very subtle. Some funky simple chord part and occasional guitar-delay effects only on that track. Brian May knew that the song was driven by the repeating bass line and Mercury's vocals. Being a total pro he decided to keep the guitar laid back in the recorded mix. That song has a lot of cool empty space in it. An amateur guitarist would have violated that space with pointless and unnecessary "shredding"


I've done some studio recording/production work with bands where the guitar player wants to do the superfluous shredding through the whole song. My advice to them... "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."
 
2017-04-19 10:11:50 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: When your vocalist is Freddy Mercury, that's pretty much a given.


Yep.
 
2017-04-19 10:25:55 AM  
Vocals...pffpp

Yngwie J Malmsteen - Far Beyond The Sun Live 1985 (HQ)
Youtube wvGQ9jzTbB0
 
2017-04-19 10:47:06 AM  

ununcle: Geoff Peterson: Queen are overrated. Sorry. They aren't Stones overrated, but they do have slightly more cache than their body of work should allow.

I think they're rated so highly because they're one of the few bands that have put out multiple albums that are loaded front to back. I could listen to "Jazz" or "News Of The World" without skipping a song, much like some Zeppelin or Floyd Albums. IMO few bands have done this.


And Freddie was probably the greatest live rock frontman of all time, who could hold 75,000 in the palm of his hand.
 
2017-04-19 11:07:30 AM  
Questiion out of left field: As he has been knighted in addition to earning a Phd, would it be Sir Brian May or Dr Brian May?
 
2017-04-19 11:08:05 AM  
Butch Walker - My Way + Rock Vocal Power
Youtube RSwTjKs_hAo


Rock Vocal Power - this guy has become one of today's best producers.  Pink, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Panic at the Disco, Fallout Boy, Weezer - you name it.
 
2017-04-19 11:18:12 AM  

AverageAmericanGuy: He was spoiled by having Freddie Mercury as his lead singer. It totally skewed his viewpoint.

There are so many shiatty lead singers out there. You'll find them leading screamo bands doing Cookie Monster impressions.

LEAVE AXL ALONE

 
2017-04-19 11:26:19 AM  

Lee451: Questiion out of left field: As he has been knighted in addition to earning a Phd, would it be Sir Brian May or Dr Brian May?


Sir Dr. Brian May
 
2017-04-19 11:45:01 AM  
Just sounds like he's distancing himself from whatever's coming out because he knows it's sh*t and he doesn't want to take any blame for it.
 
2017-04-19 11:58:52 AM  
Vocalist here.  Another note to guitar players:  Stop noodling when we are trying to work out a part.  You may just learn something about the song we are all trying to play.

Also, your guitar should blend with rest of the band when you are not soloing.  This goes for you too keyboardists.

Lastly, and this goes for everyone in the band, you're playing in a band not a solo gig.  You will shine much brighter if you hold back until your moment comes.
 
2017-04-19 12:06:42 PM  

marksman: Sammy more than held his own with VH. According to the album sales, I'm not the only one who thinks so....


Album sales with Dave are much bigger.  (Even accounting for 6 vs. 4 albums.)  Sammy takes credit for a lot of the sales of Dave-era albums that occurred after he took over.  Album sales peaked with 1984 and dropped each subsequent album.  That's not to say that Van Hagar wasn't clearly successful on their own; they absolutely were.  But they didn't have anything that touched the 10 million+ sales of either VH1 or 1984.
 
2017-04-19 12:14:10 PM  

moothemagiccow: The guitarist in question was featured on a hit song about wanting to ride a bicycle. I've memorized the lyrics to dozens of rock songs and they're almost all complete gibberish.


He's also the guitarist featured on a hit song called "Bohemian Rhapsody," one of the most lyrically inventive songs of all time, which despite being full of absurdity, is at no time gibberish.
 
2017-04-19 12:30:09 PM  

AverageAmericanGuy: He was spoiled by having Freddie Mercury as his lead singer. It totally skewed his viewpoint.

There are so many shiatty lead singers out there. You'll find them leading screamo bands doing Cookie Monster impressions.


My band actually does a punk version of "C is for Cookie."  We tend to play it late when everyone left in the bar is shiatfaced drunk.
 
2017-04-19 12:34:49 PM  

wiredroach: one of the most lyrically inventive songs of all time


Why?
 
2017-04-19 12:43:20 PM  

LewDux: wiredroach: one of the most lyrically inventive songs of all time

Why?


The different layers of complexity to the lyrics themselves and the way they complement the musical changes, the layering of the chorus-like operatic middle section, complete with name-dropping of comic and oppressed pop-culture figures, and the sheer surprise of how all the lines work together to paint a picture of the singer's character and personality. There's just nothing else like it. Sure, the song would still be amazing if the lyrics were read out of the phone book, but that combination of those words is like nothing heard out of a rock song before it.
 
2017-04-19 01:19:06 PM  

wiredroach: LewDux: wiredroach: one of the most lyrically inventive songs of all time

Why?

The different layers of complexity to the lyrics themselves and the way they complement the musical changes, the layering of the chorus-like operatic middle section, complete with name-dropping of comic and oppressed pop-culture figures, and the sheer surprise of how all the lines work together to paint a picture of the singer's character and personality. There's just nothing else like it. Sure, the song would still be amazing if the lyrics were read out of the phone book, but that combination of those words is like nothing heard out of a rock song before it.


I find it hard to believe that no one in progressive rock (based on this one article I read about them) did something like it before
 
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