Guitar Revolution

What contributions have 20th and 21st Century guitarists made to music, thought, and society?

Why Take This Course?

Guitar Revolution

Discover how guitars, and those that played them, have changed the course of history in Guitar Revolution.

Throughout the last 120 years, guitarists have disseminated ideas and emotions in classical concert halls, in coffee-shops, in backyard barbeques, and in sports arenas. They have led protests and revolutions. Their art has spread with dizzying speed because of the diverse capabilities and appeal of their instrument. Guitar’s appeal to the modern man’s soul is unparalleled. Guitarists have much to teach about leadership: how to build a following, how to innovate, how to create, and how to teach. If you’re interested in the guitar, or just interested in seeing how one instrument can influence society, this Fine Arts course is for you. No musical talent necessary!

Message from the course designer, Stan Szczesny

As an avid guitar player and connoisseur, I am really excited about this class. Students will be exposed to a wide and unique variety of genres and musical ideas. They will hear many things they’ve probably never thought of before. For example, the curriculum includes an opera aria performed on electric guitar with orchestra, a jazzed-up raga from India, and songs that had influence on American politics. Students will become more discerning listeners and improve their taste in and understanding of twentieth-century guitar music.

Some students and parents may have prejudices against certain genres of music. Please know that I have selected these pieces very carefully to be sure that the lyric content, when applicable, is not offensive. I can’t vouch for the comment boxes underneath the videos. Students and parents who scroll through comments do so at their own risk. I ask parents and students to keep open minds and to be careful about assuming that they know what a given genre contains and what the people in that genre are trying to express. There are some surprises in every list I’ve made. Students or parents who absolutely object to distorted rock guitars will probably need to choose a different class.

Course Framework

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
What are the historical roots of guitar music?What happened to guitar-driven music during the 1950s and 1960s and why?How did guitar music develop during the 1970s-1980s?What changes have occurred in guitar music between the 1990s and today?
What is the overarching timeline for the past 100 years of guitar history?As an important early innovator, how did Les Paul contribute to the development of the guitar and guitar music?As guitarist in Led Zeppelin, what did Jimmy Page do in the 1970s to make a difference in the world of guitar music?How did Carlos Santana use his own style and individuality to contribute to music over several decades?
Who was Segovia and what is his role as the father of the guitar?How did Elmore James contribute to the development of guitar- driven music in the 1950s?As an innovative guitar soloist, what ideas did Jeff Beck add to the concept of what is possible on the guitar?As the guitarist and lead of the grunge band Nirvana, how did Kurt Cobain push music forward in the 1990s?
How does the acoustic guitar work and what was Robert Johnson's influence on blues music in the 1930s?What roles did Buddy Holly and Hubert Sumlin play in the development of early rock-and-roll music in the 1950s?What role did Duane Allman have in combining blues with rock and how did Christopher Parkening further the genre of classical guitar in the 1970s and beyond?How have Eric Johnson and Bonnie Raitt influenced guitar music?
How did T-Bone Walker's introduction of the electric guitar change the blues scene in the 1930s & 40s?How was the innovative and showy guitarist Chuck Berry influential in early rock history?What did John Williams do for classical guitar?What has Steve Vai done to move guitar playing forward as a musical innovator?
What was John Lee Hooker's contribution to guitar music during his long lifetime?How did the music industry, especially country music, change because of Chet Atkins's music and production innovation?What is Ritchie Blackmore's legacy as guitarist of Deep Purple?What contributions to guitar music have Derek Trucks and Jack White made?
How did Muddy Waters and Django Reinhardt contribute to the music of the 1930s?What contributions to music have been made by Wes Montgomery and B.B. King?How did Tony Iommi create a new approach to sound with the electric guitar as the guitarist of Black Sabbath?What can we learn from Brad Paisley and Dan Auerbach and their musical contributions?
What contributions to music were made by the country guitarist Merle Travis?How did the folk/country guitarist Doc Watson influence the development of guitar music?What influence did Roy Clark and Joe Pass have on guitar music in the 1970s?How has the legendary Buddy Guy contributed to guitar music over his extended career?
What was Julian Bream's contribution to classical music and how does a guitarist comp chords?How did Eric Clapton influence guitar music in the 1960s and beyond?How did John McLaughlin influence fusion--blues plus rock-- music in the 1970s and beyond?What contributions have been made by Tosin Abasi and Orianthi?
How does a guitarist approach Jazz music and what contributions did Charlie Christian make to jazz guitar?What influence did George Harrison and the Beatles have on popular music in the 1960s and how did Albert King contribute to the development of music in the 60s?How did the guitar hero Eddie Van Halen contribute to the innovation and musicality in the world of guitar music?What contributions to music and guitar have been made by St. Vincent and Ana Vidovic?
As lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, how did Keith Richards influence rock during the 1960s musical movement?How did Stevie Ray Vaughan revive the blues in the 1970s and 80s?
In the band The Who, what contributions did Pete Townshend make to rock as lead guitarist?How has the musical innovator Pat Metheny influenced the development of guitar music and what contributions to guitar music has Yngwie Malmsteen as a neo-classical rock guitarist?
What did Jimi Hendrix do to revolutionize guitar music forever?Although he died young, what contributions to guitar music did Randy Rhoads make as part of Ozzy Osbourne's band?
What musical insights do I bring forward as I analyze a piece of guitar-driven music based on musical ideas and vocabulary from the course?How did Joe Satriani and The Edge (guitarist for U2) contribute to the music of the 1980s?

Texts and Materials Students Must Purchase

  • None


  • Recommended Grade: 9th (Freshman), 10th (Sophomore), 11th (Junior), 12th (Senior)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Versions & Estimated Weekly Hours: 4
  • Format: Self-paced
  • Credits: 0.5
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