The Role Guitars Play in Enhancing a Performance

Guitars have a critical role to play in any music. These functions include the rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, and textural contribution.

As an artist, you should understand how to mix all these features to bring out an excellent performance. This article focuses on each of these contributions.

Rhythmic Role

If you are not playing your guitar as the main melody in the performance, then it will assume the role of a rhythm guitar. Most artists started to include guitars as part of the rhythm of the jazz band.  Guitars add a vital rhythmic contribution to the groove department.

The role of rhythmic play in any music is to add energy to the slot. You can achieve this objective by playing a quarter, half or whole notes or the downbeat of each measure.

You can still make a mega contribution to the rhythm by only playing straight quarter notes. All you need to ensure is that your section should have attacks on every note.

The attacks of your notes are very critical when you are in the rhythmic mode. If you use a subdued or marshy attack, the rhythmic energy of your play cannot come out, and you may end up with a textual or harmonic role that does not provide the necessary contribution to the rhythm.

The amount of rhythm in a song depends on other people who are also contributing towards the same. The best way a guitarist can control his contribution is by varying the attacks.

It also depends on the amount of activity you have in the part you play. You should use your soft finger and not fingernails to stub ferociously to generate a pronounced attack. Stronger attacks that overpower or cover the groove element create more texture.

The Melodic Role

roles-of-guitarIt is important to pay close attention to the top notes of the codes you play. Most people don’t look at this while playing the guitar. Both the harmonic and rhythmic roles are not mutually exclusive.

You can use your guitar to contribute to the melodic rhythm by playing the single-note melodies. Your guitar can be the main melody in a song or you play it as a counter melody.

You can create melodic contributions by stripping together a few triple or double voice codes while paying close attention to the high note of each code. Some guitar parts have both the melodic and harmonic content, and most bands require a simplistic melodic contribution.

The guitar can complement the other person playing the melodic tone without overpowering it. The primary role of the guitar should be to support the main melody of the band. The guitar’s melodic content cannot stand independently, but it makes the music worth listening.

Harmonic role

Creating harmony is the easiest part for any artist playing the guitar. Chords and notes create a harmonic contribution to the performance.

Guitarists use the combination of voicing and notes to frame the impression and sound of music. In case we have enough harmonic content in the music part, you can withdraw the guitar’s contribution and concentrate on the rhythmic and melodic contribution.

In case other instruments like the piano and rhythm guitar are playing chords, you should use the guitar to play more chords. You can use both the higher and lower tones to spice up the performance.

Therefore, the primary role of the guitar is to harmonize the performance. You change your contribution depending on the input of other instruments on each part of the music.

Textural/Timbre Role

The primary focus of this contribution is the tones of the guitar. As an electric guitarist, you can improve the texture by using various effects like tremolo, vibe, chorus, reverbs and delays among others.

Paying more attention to the textural role may hinder you from achieving the rhythmic contribution. You need to be extremely careful as you balance between these aspects.


Different instruments are good at different roles in the music. Guitars are exquisite because of their harmonic contribution, but they can also add to other parts. It’s good to understand the role of each instrument and combine them effectively for you to concur.