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To describe the effect of string bends in electric guitar playing in rock music on the listener.

Electric guitar techniques are often what give rock guitar solos their distinctive sound and image. Grimes (2009) states, “An accomplished guitarist’s tone and vibrato can be so intrinsic to that player that their idiosyncratic sound is as distinctive as a vocalist’s to a trained ear.” This essentially means that techniques play a role in not just musical expression but also in reception of musical expression which means that techniques affect the listener in an idiosyncratic way. The reason behind the undertaking of this research topic was primarily because no substantial research has been done on this topic before. This research is aimed at understanding string bends in guitar playing, and more specifically in a rock guitar solo. Also, besides understanding the emotional and cognitive effect on the listener, a possible outcome could be to know when is a string bend the most effective in a piece of music and when does it lack any relevance. Although this is not the main criteria for the research, it could help to create a framework for electric guitar players to apply in their own playing and musical expression.
Research Objectives & Literature Review
Research Statement:
To describe the effect of string bends in electric guitar playing in rock music on the listener.
Research Objective:
• To develop a framework to describe string bends in guitar.
• To develop a framework to study the effect of string bends on the listener.
• To describe the link between string bends and a psychological effect on the listener.
• To understand the reasons as to why guitar bends have a possible effect on the listener.
Research Questions:
• How can a string bend on a guitar be described?
• How does a string bend affect the listener?
• Why does a string bend affect the listener?

Scope Statement:
In scope:
• The research will focus on only one technique i.e. string bends.
• Literature review.
• Content analysis.
• Survey.
Out of scope:
• Other guitar techniques.
• Other genres.
Limitations of Study:
• Resources – Survey participants.
• Time constraints.

Key terms and Literature Review/Content Analysis:
In order to satisfy the research objectives, there is a need to develop/incorporate frameworks for analysis of the literature and musical content. Some key literature that would be incorporated in this research is:
1. String Theory – The Physics of String-Bending and Other Electric Guitar Techniques – Grimes (2014)
2. Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms – Juslin & Vastfjall (2008)
3. Sparse spectral and phase codes for guitar playing technique classification – Li Su, Li-Fan Yu and Yi-Hsuan Yang (2007)
4. Gestures in vocal performance and the experience of the listener: a case study of extra-semantic meaning-making in the singing of Olavi Virta – Marko Aho (2009)
5. Musicology and the semiotics of popular music – Phillip Tagg (1987)
6. Music’s meanings – Phillip Tagg (2013)
The preceding literatures will be used as frameworks to help answer the research questions and satisfy the research objectives.
Research Methodologies
Research Family
The main research objective is to describe the relation between string bends and the psychology of the listener. For this purpose, the research will contain multiple phases. The first being literature review and content analysis. The above mentioned literature will be used for this purpose.
The first objective is to create a framework to describe string bends on a guitar and use the results for quantitative analysis.
The second objective is to create a framework for analysing the listener’s psychological response to a string bend. For this purpose, the emotional response will be evaluated and the results will be quantified to understand how much and in what direction has listening to the string bend affected the listener. Statistical analysis will be done in accordance with the developed psychological framework.
The final objective will be to create a link between the two frameworks and use the results to answer the final research question i.e. ‘why and how string bends affect the listener?’
Due to the above requirements, the research will require a mixed approach which will contain both qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis.
Research Approach
The survey participants will be made to listen to the tracks and will then be asked to fill up the questionnaire. The questionnaire will be separate for each track. A total of 4 question sets per participant. The participants will be given freedom to answer each question set after each track or all the questions after they have listened to all the tracks.
Tracks: Since only one technique will be implemented, there will be 4 tracks. Two of the tracks will be a melody on an electric guitar with all the noted picked with a plectrum and no use of bends/vibrato. The other two tracks will be with the string bend technique and no vibrato. Vibrato will not be used so the it doesn’t confuse the listener and doesn’t add any kind of additional musical expression.
Questionnaire: A survey will be imperative for this research paper as it concerns itself with the listener’s psychology and emotional response.
The survey will be a Lickert Scale. The questionnaire will consist of a list of emotional responses and a scale of 1-5. The scale will basically evaluate the degree to which the listener feels a certain emotion about what he/she as listened to.
The emotional responses will then be quantified based on the score and the mean will be calculated. Parameters like the Standard deviation (defined in the appendix) and Variance(defined in the appendix) will be calculated to understand the distribution of opinions. This will help to know how spread out the responses is to evaluate how much each listener has been affected by what they have listened to.
The emotions listed on the questionnaire will be based on the literature and the psychological framework that will be developed. The survey results will be used to evaluate which emotional response has been triggered and to what extent. This will help to answer the final research question which is ‘why and how string bends affect the listener?’
Data Collection
The main data collection method will be as mentioned above, a survey, content analysis, literature/document review and analysis.
The piloting phase will be a crucial part in developing an effective survey.
Since this survey will be a statistically inclined survey and will have a quantitative approach, the focus will be to develop a survey with results that have a minimum level of dispersion (low standard deviation and variance). For this purpose, the survey will be given to 4-5 people. After each person has completed the survey, the results will be evaluated to understand how the distribution of the results. The survey will be modified/refined till the distribution is within an acceptable and quantifiable standard deviation of the mean. This will be performed to create a more accurate and objective survey.
Ethical and legal issues:
Each participant’s identity will be kept anonymous and they will be asked to fill out an ethical consent form before participating in the survey. The disclaimer will be created that guarantees the participants’ anonymity and confidentiality.
Research Breakdown:
The total project will be divided into fieldwork and desk work (50%-50%).
The deskwork will consist of literature review and content analysis as well as developing frameworks for the analysis of the research survey.
On the other hand, fieldwork will consist of the survey that will be conducted for quantitative research which will be used for analysis within the psychological frameworks.
The main deliverables besides the research paper will include:
 The 4 tracks used for the survey
 Graphical representation of survey results that were used for statistical analysis
 Survey questionnaire
 Critical Logbook of events and observations of participants during the survey stage.


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