Jack White and The Edge
Most of all musicians have one thing in common: their love for music, but each of them has their own particular style and perspective about music. This becomes very clear when we look at famous guitarists Jack White and The Edge. When we hear them play, and when we see them perform we know that they share a profound understanding of music at a genius level. However, their background, the way they perform, their approach towards technology, and their creative processes set them apart as individuals and musicians, giving their audience a wonderful range of delightful interpretations of music.
Where an artist comes from plays an important part in shaping the road for an upcoming musician. It influences them, and their music. On one hand, Jack White grew up in a Mexican neighborhood in Detroit, in a family of ten. Many of his siblings played drums, keyboards, and guitar. He initially chose the drums and embraced his calling for music. He became so involved with it that he brought two drum sets, a guitar amplifier, and a wheel recorder into his seven by seven bedroom. Although his neighbors were very much into hip hop and electronica, he found his soul while listening to blues and rock of the 1960s. On the other hand, The Edge grew up in Dublin and went to Mount Temple School where he joined a school band and started playing in small gigs. In the documentary It Might Get Loud he says that they weren’t good as performers, but they really enjoyed being able to just play. He struggled when he was living in Dublin, which was economically challenged during the mid-seventies, but music gave him the opportunity to consider that it had to be more than that.
As both artists grew up as persons and musicians, they developed their own personal style towards music and performance. On one side, Jack White looks at it from a child perspective. This is very well painted in the documentary It Might Get Loud where he presents himself with a nine year old version of himself. He says he likes to improvise in every performance because he likes to be truthful to the public. “They will know if you are telling the same joke”, he emphasizes in It Might Get Loud. As we see in a few scenes of this documentary, he let himself go with the moment when he is playing in front an audience. He likes to play with the instruments and play the song that he feels goes with the moment. On the opposite side, The Edge is always very well prepared, to the point where he has a different guitar tuned up for each song he is going to play, so he can have a different sound every time. This comes with a lot of practice and preparation in advance to his concerts, with the help and support of a big technical staff.
This brings us to the issue on the use of technology. For Jack White “Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth” (It Might Get Loud). He is more concerned about getting the most natural sound you can get out of an instrument than playing with technology, even though he uses it when he plays the electric guitar. It makes his point when at the beginning of the documentary “It Might Get Loud”, he builds a rustic guitar out of some glass bottles and rope. As the documentary goes on, he shows that he also enjoys the style of singing a capella in the only company of your foot tapping the floor as it was used in the 1960s by black Blues singers. This gives as a clear idea of how he likes to make music out of the simplest instruments. On the opposite side, The Edge tries to take the most advantage of technology, playing with different sound effects and music consoles. In his very own words he says in It Might Get Loud: “I’m very interested in what hardware can do to an electric guitar sound. I love effects units. They’ve always pushed music forward.”
However, as Jack White says: “technology doesn’t make you more creative”. If creativity is not a part of you, technology won’t do the trick by itself, so where does their creativity come from? For the Edge it starts with a feeling. “It’s the music that tells us the direction the song should go”, he says in the documentary It Might Get Loud. In a bad day, he just keeps going until there is something. For Jack White is more of a fight. It is about finding something that makes him upset and that will bring out extreme feelings. Even the little things can become a struggle that will inspire him to write.
These are two different views, and two different ways of experiencing music. Nevertheless, these great musicians have been able to take the electric guitar to a level of sound that hasn’t been heard before. Their very particular experiences and approaches toward music have made them icons in this century.