It seems to me that what speech is to writing, acoustic guitar is to electric. The invention of the second thing, in both cases, might have been pragmatic: records need to be kept in order to free up minds and memories, and you need amplification in large and/or noisy places. But once each invention was available, some people figured out that things beyond their original purposes could be done with them. And I see a parallel between Derrida and Dylan here. There are those who insist on the superiority of that which came first chronologically, something pure and unsullied about it owing to its originary character. (I'm looking at you, Peter Yarrow, if you're still around.) But this is a dull notion, which the likes of D&D had and have the wit to understand.
That cult of purity—really it's a misunderstanding of the Eden myth. Or, perhaps, both cult and misunderstanding have grown from the same root. What Milton understood and most Christians do not is that the Fall had to happen: the primal couple had to eat the fruit because it is knowledge that enabled humanity—or, in fact, a breed or breeds of primates—to become human. In these connections it is unsurprising that anti-intellectualism, at least in these disunited States, almost always dresses itself up as Christianity.
Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey inspired me to play a classical guitar for the last 60 years trying to play both at once. A folk singer all my life,though increasingly composing in the baroque style, and I now play only a few of their songs. I was fortunate at 15 to see a beginner classical guitarist just doing a thumb plus three fingers exercises which I copied and developed. That was my only "lesson". I taught others.
I have very little interaction with electric guitars but have many times jammed with lead players.The sad part of most electric players is they play a tune with a pick and so do not generally include harmonies. Pretty well all other guitar players just play chord music which in no way can be said to be an advancement on classical playing.
Speech lead to writing and in time wrote to far better usage of language. As writing fades away the quality of spoken language and now internet social sites language clearly deteriorates
@AlanCliffe Well, I will maintain that most classical guitarists could easily do what anyone does with a pick. I will grant you that Doc Watson and Norman Blake come very high amongst flat pickers but a guitarist capable of playing Bach would have little difficulty in playing the note. Sorry but even David Gilmour does little a classical guitarist could not do. I've seen a teenage girl play his solos. Allman was good and Knofler but sorry, nothing special to a classical guitarist.
What electric achieved was making a tremendous noise. I play nylon strings and use a variety of pickups for stage but feedback is a constant problem.
I remember Kottke from 55 years ago.
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Well, I'm not putting acoustic guitar or guitarists down. I'd rather hear Robert Johnson, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, or Mississippi John Hurt than Eddie Van Halen. (The latter player's technical mastery is exceptional, but his music leaves me wondering where the emotion is.) I wouldn't agree that the use of picks marks the line between interesting players and uninteresting ones--see, again, Doc Watson--but I'd point out that there are some extraordinary electric players who don't usually use picks, such as Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler. Along with many who do, such as Mick Taylor and B.B. King. And given the subtlety of the electric players I've mentioned, along with such luminaries as J.J. Cale, Earl Hooker, Duane Allman, and Jerry Garcia, I think the conclusion is inescapable that electricity has expanded rather than decreased the possibilities of the instrument. Just chords? Maybe with the guys you've met, but that's quite a stretch if we're talking about electric guitarists as a whole, especially, perhaps, in rock and blues. Although Keith Richards does interesting things with chords; there are songs, including "Tumbling Dice," where you could say he leads with the rhythm.
I have no quarrel with what you say about language. I stand by the parallels I've mentioned re language and guitars, and my thoughts on purity. Or the idea of it. I mentioned Peter Yarrow because I think he typifies the folk purists who got themselves in an uproar over Dylan going electric. There's a film called Festival where you can see him getting pissy with the guys from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Speaking of which, I forgot to mention Mike Bloomfield. Now THERE was an extraordinary player who was hip to amplification and its possibilities.