Raider of the Lost Arts
  • Danger

    It’s 1976, and you are at one of rock ‘n’ roll’s premier pilgrimage sites: Detroit’s Cobo Hall. The rest of the headlining band has left the stage to the bass player for a short solo segment between bludgeoning heavy metal epics. This guy is absolutely terrifying, like something out of a bad-acid kabuki nightmare, wearing […]


    The quartet would take the stage to the anticipatory swell of applause from an all-ages audience that had paid less than 10 dollars to get in, and about as much for any of their records. One of the two frontmen, usually the stage-right guy with buzzed male-pattern-baldness hair wearing a maroon t-shirt and charcoal thrift-store […]

  • Authenticity

    It’s Thanksgiving, 1976, and you’re lucky enough to be at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom for The Band’s farewell concert extravaganza. They’re in more than fine form, bowing out at the very top of their game as they burn through some of their classic self-penned repertoire accompanied by a small orchestra and several well-known guests. The […]

  • Complexity

    In the beginning, there was monophony. Basically just a bunch of monks moaning in monasteries. Oh, there were many other sacred and secular musical forms developing in other cultures before and during, but there’s next to no documentation of it. Not like the European church music of centuries ago. Ascetic monks make fastidious clerics. Then […]

  • The Bass Solo

    The band hands the stage over to the upright half of the rhythm section. This guy looks weird, like he just walked straight off a beach in his white drawstring pants, a tucked-in surfer tee, and long black hair dangling out of a rainbow knit cap. And that face…large eyes and mouth on a wide […]

  • Specialization

    Jack of all trades, master of none. ––Elizabethan-era colloquialism Frank Sinatra saunters onstage. He’s got a cigarette in one hand, a glass of bourbon in the other. The bandleader cues him from somewhere off-camera and he begins to sing. He didn’t write the lyrics, vocal melody, or music; he didn’t produce or engineer the recording […]

  • The Drum Solo

    The drummer propels the band into a hooky neo-blues riff. They go through the related chord changes until reaching the end of the head, when the band stops with a crash. The spotlight zeros in on the drummer and the other three leave the stage while he strikes out on his own. He starts subtly […]

  • Albums and Album-Track Sequencing

    Commercially recorded and released music hasn’t been around for too long––roughly 130 years, give or take a decade––and in the nascent days classical music still reigned. Those early discs took their cues from the prevalent concert, opera, and recital programs of the time, the compositions of which were carefully sequenced to take an audience on […]

  • Raider of the Lost Arts: The Guitar Solo

    Of course, there were opera arias and concertos before then, but the 70-year period from roughly 1920 to 1990 was the golden age of the solo. From blues and jazz to pop and rock, spotlighting instrumental melodies both written and improvised was de rigueur. It took a while for the tradition to develop on the […]