Iím a German musicologist and I am working on an article about the influence of distortion on playing technique of the electric guitar. As you will assume it is quite easy to mention aspects of distortion that make playing easier like less required strength with legato or a more fluid perception of fast picking. All of those aspects can be proved with spectrograms or other physical measurements.
One of my intentions in favor of a dialectical analysis is to raise awareness of the challenges of playing with distortion, preferably within rock and metal, to 1. explore aspects for instrumental pedagogy and 2. to demonstrate the necessity of advanced skills for playing with distortion. This also has institutional relevance since universities and music academies as well as most music competitions (at least in Germany) quite seem to disrespect guitar playing with heavy distortion compared to e.g. jazz.
So, Iím looking for further inspiration concerning 2 questions:
1. What challenges does distortion pose to guitar playing (especially besides muting that seems to be the central issue in guitar workshops and forums)?
2. What technical and musical learning opportunities come along with practicing and playing with distortion?
Thank you for your input. Maybe this thread will also be a useful resource on the issue on playing with distortion.
1 - muting, not just the notes you're playing, but muting the strings you're not playing is a challenge. In sweep picking you need to play and then quickly mute each note in the arpeggio. More complex chords, like 11th chords, ring much differently with distortion, so it's more difficult to introduce them into your compositions. Playing live with distortion, you have to learn how to control feedback.