This thesis presents an in-depth analysis of selected electric guitar performance techniques and technologies, including the power chord, the wah-wah pedal and finger tapping. Employing discourse analysis, the purpose of the thesis is to identify and understand themes within a wide range of written source material pertaining to the electric guitar. I analyse primarily Anglo-American originating, English-language sources that discuss these techniques and technologies, including archival and online materials, popular and trade publications, academic writing and my own participant interviews. From my analysis, I identify a number of themes that are present within written discourse pertaining to electric guitar performance techniques and technologies, and which also cut across them. The first three main chapters consider three particular aspects of electric guitar discourse. In Chapter 2, I explore the existence of clear invention and discovery narratives for each of the three performance techniques considered in the thesis, concluding with a general list of features that appear to promote the narratives’ continuity and prominence. In Chapter 3, I look at the contemporary meaning of virtuosity and the electric guitar, suggesting that ascriptions of virtuosity are closely linked with the assumptions that underpin aesthetic preference. In Chapter 4, I examine the meanings and attitudes that are apparent in discourse relating to new electric guitar technology, demonstrating that there is a clear yet inconsistent binary between acceptance and rejection of technological change. In Chapters 5 and 6, I theorise more generally about the electric guitar, situating a range of relevant written discourse within theories of late 20th and 21st Century Neoliberalism. I suggest that many of the values and attitudes I identify within electric guitar discourse reflect those of neoliberalism, particularly with respect to the shared value attached to authenticity, individuality, innovation and a willingness to engage with the marketplace.
Turner, George (2015) Electric Guitar Performance Techniques: Meaning and Identity in Written Discourse. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.