Pete Townshend Thinks We May Have “Exhausted the Possibilities of the Guitar”

The Who guitarist speaks out on the state of rock today.
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As The Who gear up to release their self-titled new album, Pete Townshend has spoken out on what guitar means to rock music today.

In an interview with Dallas News, Townshend said: “The guitar may be losing ground, but in part, that's because if you spend an hour on Instagram or YouTube, you will quickly discover unknown people playing the guitar the way a great orchestral violinist like Yehudi Menuhin once might have played his instrument.

“These are virtuosos of the highest order. They can shred like Eddie Van Halen or play jazz like John McLaughlin. They've literally exhausted the possibilities of the guitar.

“This kind of virtuosity is already happening with beat box-based rap, and with laptop-supported pop. Everything will change again, maybe faster than it did for guitar music - who knows?

“It is ‘guitar-based rock ’n’ roll’ that is losing ground, not rock itself. Hip-hop is rock to my ears: music for the neighborhood, the street, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the young, the ignored. That used to be what I focused on. Now, I try to write real operas, and want my stage work to be like art installations - and why not? Kanye West has been doing the same thing.”

The Who’s new album, Who, is out on November 22.

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