December 6, 2023

14 Musicians Who Created Their Own Sound

While I clean up my strat (and mess about restringing) let’s have a look at the soul – technique – equipment thing.

Consider the John Butler Trio for example; how many fellas do you know who use an acoustic twelve string with a wah wah and a gravel box? It certainly makes for a unique sound. Throw in a stand up bass and a drummer with a really frantic percussive style and you have a sound chock full of grit and character: earthy, organic, rootsy and soulful with plenty of bite too. What a combination.

You may use use an old suitcase for a kick drum, the grill for an oven as percussion or modify your instrument yourself.

Roland Kirk, who named himself after a series of dream-visions, and plays several reed or home made breath instruments simultaneously fuses ragtime, free jazz, hard bop, and musique concrete with early electronics.

Consider David Bowie’s career in oddity or Tom Waits scarecrow-drifter, hobo junkstore, down and out, rag and bone man blues, achingly sentimental ballads, and grotesque, vaudevillean strangeitude.  Jimi Hendrix reinvented feedback on Machine Gun, fused Baudelaire with Dylan on Bold as Love and was last seen on Nine to the Universe anticipating Miles Davis.


Carlo Gesualdo the Italian music composer, lutenist and nobleman of the late Renaissance was famous for his intensely expressive madrigals and bizarre chromaticism.  Lutenist John Dowland might be the melancholy blues master you need to augment your Robert Johnson, Freddie, B.B. and Albert King collection.


Captain Beefheart’s shifting time signatures, surreal linguistic complexities combined with Dr. Zeuss like syllogistics in a gritty, avante-garde, psychedelic blues hyperspace inhabited by the drunken ghost of Howling Wolf drinking absinthe from Miles Davis` open skull.

Beefheart was constantly prototyping in a Godinesque way. (That’s Seth Godin)

If you want to keep it real, consider yourself in beta.

Almost everyone you can think of who has made an impact had something different, something unique. Look for it in your own music. Look for it in your self. Make it your own – commercial viability is never a useful litmus test for success or achievement – always do what you want and if somebody likes it, great.


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