May 22, 2023

Curation Chronicles: Honored by Their Peers

Perhaps it started with childhood friends expressing their amazement at a musician's ability to play a musical instrument. When making music with others, nods of approval from bandmates in a rehearsal studio while taking a solo did the trick. Later as an opening act, a thumbs up from the headliner off-stage let the musician know that hard work and practice was paying off. This pattern continues all the way to acceptance speeches at awards shows that are televised around the world.

From beginners to superstars, above and beyond the applause and admiration of audiences, there is nothing like the recognition of a musician's artistry by their peers. The "Honored by Their Peers" Song List highlights artists who have won or been nominated for a variety of awards that originate from their community of fellow musicians and music industry professionals. There is much to be learned from these artists and the music they have made.

Jeff Beck is an example of how effective a guitarist can be in multiple artistic settings. Throughout Beck's remarkable career, he has been honored as a as a solo artist, a member of a group, and posthumously was up for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Performance category in 2023 for his guitar work on Ozzy Osborne's "Patient Number Nine" recording. His "Beck's Bolero" provides an opportunity to learn a variety of techniques found in Rocksmith+ lessons that include strumming along with the rhythm that serves as a foundation for the song, playing an expressive lead line, and exploring a variety of tones. Making use of the Riff Repeater tool is helpful for learning the song efficiently, while offering a chance to hear Beck's mastery of the guitar over and over to soak in why he is regarded as a guitar legend.

Snarky Puppy, who won the 2023 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, have approached the awards podium multiple times for their artistry. Challenging players with the intricacy and precision necessary to effectively contribute to a large ensemble, "Shofukon" offers a taste of the Snarky Puppy songs included in the Rocksmith+ library. Playing along with this track helps develop the ability to hear the details of a player's own part while sorting through a variety of other instrumental sounds being interwoven through complicated arrangements.

Often the simplicity of songwriting is what an artist receives the most recognition for from their community. Winner of the Grammy Award for the Best Americana Album category, Brandi Carlile is such an artist.  Whether playing Carlile's song "The Story" as a bare bones arrangement using a solo acoustic guitar or with the full studio version, the foundation of her artistry is the ability to craft melody and lyrics into a beautiful song. Along with dynamic strumming techniques and solid bass lines, learning to play the repeated melody of this song in the guitar solo can be helpful in developing a player's songwriting skills.

Whether an artist is a veteran like Willie Nelson or Bonnie Raitt or a contemporary artist like Bad Bunny, those learning a musical instrument can absorb much from them. Musicianship, history, and the willingness to stick with the challenges that arise in the making of music are all qualities that can end up getting the attention of (and sometimes even the applause from) one's peers at every level.

Michael A. is a member of the Rocksmith+ Music Team. He's a veteran music industry professional who has been a contributing writer for Guitar Player Magazine and Electronic Musician Magazine.

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