What is the Hardest Genre of Music to Play on Guitar?

One of those questions which is bound to invoke divided opinion!

What is the hardest genre of music to play on guitar?

Some would immediately consider the speediest, most impressive genre and argue for its superiority.

However, I couldn’t decide on the hardest genre, so decided to pick what I consider to be the 4 genres which require the most advanced musicianship to master.

I wonder if you will agree?

1) Classical

I think it goes without saying, really, that this is the hardest genre to master on the guitar. Compared to the other styles – where you rarely need to read music, get commended on your originality and confidence, and can often do your own thing – in this genre you have to be PROPER.

Like, PROPERLY proper!

In classical guitar, you need to follow the score strictly, adhere to the dynamics on the page, fingerpick all the time, and… did I mention following the score strictly?

Not for the faint hearted.

2) Jazz

Also not for the faint hearted, jazz is a genre many guitarists struggle to master. Unlike classical training – which involves less improvisation and more strict studying – jazz, done properly, is all about the improv!

Many ‘real jazzers’ consider a gig which is not made up on the spot, to not be a real gig! Jazz is about full-blown creativity, in a band and on the spot. It takes a lot of training to get to a level where you are both confident and competent enough to do that.

As well as this improvisation-heavy challenge, jazz musicians like to play chords which cannot be described in less than 4 syllables. Think “E Major 7 Flat 5″… to play jazz, you really need to know your theory!

3) Prog

Prog also relies heavily on theoretical musical knowledge.

A prog piece would not be considered a prog piece if it didn’t contain a few time signature changes, key signature changes and several weird chords.

Similar to jazz, but more rational. Also, you can learn and remember prog and still be considered ‘pure’, making it slightly easier than jazz to master!

4) Funk

Funk guitar involves very precise rhythm, unusual chords (such as 9ths, 13th) and lots of stops!

This genre is difficult for a guitarist to master, because it involves ‘unlearning’ what is already known.

Funk focuses predominantly on the high strings (where other genres use the low), the guitar is used mainly as a rhythm instrument, and silences are considered more skilful than flurries.

When compared to the rock guitar style, funk guitar is like a completely different instrument, and certainly takes a developed musical mindset to master.

So, do you agree with what we have considered to be the 4 hardest genres to play on guitar?

If you think that another genre belongs in here, or, indeed, that one of the mentioned genres doesn’t belong, please let us know in the comments below!

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