Daemon Blak Music / Blog

The challenge of originality

If you frequent Youtube and listen to metal guitarists, you will find a large majority of copy cat Neo Classical guitarists who, while skilled in one way or another, lack originality and are really just copying what one successful guitarist has done. I appreciate the work of and am influenced by others, this man in particular (Malmsteen). My guitar teacher is influenced by him too and while he is a very technical Neo Classical player, he doesn't sound exactly like Malmsteen. Yngwie Malmsteen influenced a large number of guitarists by creating a style of guitar playing that is quite incredible. There is much to learn from listening to his music, but as an example, Paul Gilbert grew up playing Malmsteen's songs note for note (there are Youtube videos of this) but actually became famous for his own original style and more importantly, his original music.

A lot of guitarists are influenced by this one guy, but others picked some other "one guy" to be influenced by. Sadly, they end up sounding like that one guy and lack originality in their approach to guitar playing and song writing. Kirk Hammett and Steve Vai were both taught by a famous guitar teacher/recording artist (Joe Satriani), but neither of them ever made any attempts to sound like him. My teacher (www.thewizardofshred.com) is a great teacher and guitarist, but I make no attempts to sound like him. Most of the legion of copy cat guitarists out there don't write any original songs and if they do, they don't sound original enough to leave their mark as someone with their own identity. Of course, not every guitarist out there is capable of writing good original songs that rock, but I believe (as does my teacher) that it's absolutely essential to learn to write original songs while you are in the early stages of learning to play guitar. This helps the rookie guitarist to shape their style and tone to be something original, allowing them to explore their own identity and self expression.

Everyone has heroes. So do I. I grew up listening to every metal guitarist who was successful in the 80's and 90's. I learned something from all of them. What I chose to do was to develop my style, my tone, and my identity, so that, while songs I write may be reminiscent of the bands I like and listen to, I don't sound exactly like any of them. A listener will hear all of my influences in different songs I've written, if they pay attention to the details. If I had to call my style something, I'd just call it head banger metal for the simple reason that, my songs are designed to get your head nodding and some hair moving (for those who have long hair). That's my thing. That's my chosen method of self expression. I particularly choose to avoid sounding exactly like Malmsteen, while also exhibiting his influence in some of my guitar solos. This insures that I am always recognized as me and never mistaken for someone else. I'd strongly advise any up and coming guitarist to seek their own identity on their instrument because in the end, you want to be remembered for who YOU are, not for how much you sound like someone else who's already successful at being THEMSELVES....