The electric guitar in contemporary arts music

Zane Banks

Since 1950 the electric guitar has occupied an ever-increasing presence in contemporary art music both as a solo and chamber instrument. Although the electric guitar is still on the fringe of mainstream classical music, the instrument is more popular now amongst contemporary art music composers and contemporary art music ensembles than in previous times. This dissertation is divided into three sections.

The first, Section A, is an introduction to the electric guitar, with a focus on its history and role in both western popular music and western art music. Chapters 2 and 3 address the development of the electric guitar, the electric guitar in American popular music and the development of art music repertoire featuring the electric guitar.

Section B (Chapter 4) includes the analysis of forty-eight interviews given by musicians involved in composition, performance and musicology for the electric guitar. The focus of this section is on the interviewees’ experiences with and common views, perceptions and attitudes towards the electric guitar’s role in art music. It also contains common recommendations made by the interviewees regarding writing successfully for the instrument, and addresses the nature of previous collaborative partnerships between composers and electric guitarists. The final section,

Section C (Chapter 5 and 6), is partly an auto-ethnography. It includes the proposition of useful collaborative models. This section also features an in-depth discussion regarding how technological mediation can affect the collaborative process as well as proposing performance and recording logistics that composers should keep in mind when composing for the electric guitar. This dissertation culminates in a detailed, first-hand account of a successful composer-electric guitarist collaboration so that future composers1, considering writing for the instrument, have a model to assist them in their artistic endeavours. Included in the ‘Creative Work’ portfolio of this dissertation is an mp4 recording (on a USB) of my performance of Georges Lentz’s unaccompanied electric guitar composition Ingwe at the 2012 Amsterdam Guitar Heaven Festival and my Naxos CD recording of Ingwe2. 1 The term ‘composer’ in this context refers to composers who have never written for the electric guitar but are interested in writing a work for the instrument. 2 Georges Lentz, “Ingwe from ‘Mysterium’ (“Caeli Enarrant…” Vii) for Solo Electric Guitar (2003–2009) Performed by Zane Banks,” ([Hong Kong] Naxos, 2011)


This entry was posted in THE ELECTRIC GUITAR. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>