Tag Archives: Guitar

Air guitar and gender

Like real rock guitar playing, air guitar—miming electric guitar playing without an instrument—is heavily informed by gendered practices in rock, where the electric guitar functions as a signifier of masculine power and implied sexual prowess, and performing on it involves symbolic aggression and dominance.

Women air guitarists appropriate and disrupt rock culture’s consensus, undermining and subverting its gendered performance. This gender bending emphasizes women’s critique of rock culture’s masculinist attitude while asserting female power through the nonthreatening manipulation of an imaginary phallic symbol.

This according to “The girl is a boy is a girl: Gender representations in the Gizzy Guitar 2005 Air Guitar Competition” by Hélène Laurin (Journal of popular music studies XXI/3 (September 2009) pp. 284–303. Below, the multi-award-winning Aline Westphal.

Related article: Sexual attraction by genre

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Filed under Instruments, Popular music

George Breed’s electrified guitar

 

On 2 September 1890 U.S. Navy officer George Breed (1864–1939) was granted a patent for a design for an electrified guitar (Method of and apparatus for producing musical sounds by electricity, patent no. 435,679); it appears to be the first application of electricity to a fretted string instrument.

Like the modern electric guitar and other similar instruments, Breed’s patent was based on a vibrating string in an electromagnetic field; but his design worked on very different musical and electrical principles (in particular the Lorentz force), resulting in a small but extremely heavy guitar with an unconventional playing technique that produced an exceptionally unusual and unguitarlike, continuously sustained sound.

Breed is now almost completely unknown as a musical instrument maker and designer; the significance of this instrument has largely remained underappreciated, and the circuitry unexamined.

This according to “George Breed and his electrified guitar of 1890” by Matthew Hill (The Galpin Society journal LXI [April 2008] pp. 193–203). Hill’s reconstruction of the instrument is documented here.

Related article: Ken Butler’s anxious objects

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments, Science