Guitar World has dubbed Annie Clark (St Vincent) a ‘postmodern guitar hero’ while Rolling Stone labelled her a ‘bona fide guitar god’ (Rogerson-Berry, 2020).
In discussing Clark this paper will suggest she should be considered a pioneering rock artist and will agree with Sasha Geffen that: “No other contemporary musician imbues the guitar with quite so much fantasy. Clark frees her instrument from its historical stratus [sic] as a masculinity amplifier, an assertion of gendered power. She doesn't use it to embellish her songs; she uses it to build worlds.”
Clark’s highly expressive and distinctive playing style merges complex, discordant and angular sounds with strong traditional melodies. Her understanding of music theory combines with her love for a wide array of musicians including Nirvana, David Bowie, Slayer and Kate Bush.
The influence of Robert Fripp can be heard in her playing style, breaking from the expected melody lines, and Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil compares Clark’s use syncopation and distortion effects to that of his late father.
When one adds her use of alternative tunings, off kilter chord progressions, the choreography of her live performances, her destabilization of the traditional relationship between voice and accompaniment and her drawing on aspects of contemporary classical music (she has written chamber music for the American ensemble yMusic) she can be considered as having re-gendered the guitar for the 21st century.
About the speaker
Peter Grant devised the world’s first full masters-level programme in grantmaking and philanthropy at City University, London where he also teaches on the history of charity and women in popular music.
He has published widely on philanthropy, history (notably the period of the First World War) and popular culture.
Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, trustee of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, former Chair of the Voluntary Action History Society and President of Kennington Cricket Club.