Thursday, November 5, 2009

Girls in bands? Sometimes there are.

Is it just me or are bands always made up of men? Rock bands, I mean (although marching bands have similar stats, it seems). Woman singing, men back her up. Man sings, men back HIM up. Seriously, when is the last time you saw a professional group with a girl drummer? What is up with that? At least girls have gotten over the guitar glass ceiling, and they often play piano as well. But usually, they do that if they're the ones singing. They're not so likely to do it as backup. What do we need to do to change this? Enroll your daughter in music lessons today... drums, guitar, bass, piano, doesn't matter. We need musically literate women to do something other than sing. That being said, after posting this on my regular blog, I was informed of at least three female drummers in bands that have "made it".


BSH said...

Beyonce, arguably the most influential and successful female pop star currently performing, has an all female band (Sugar Mama) that she carefully selected and who has played with her for over three years (check out Beyonce's wikipedia page). Beyonce's reach is far; she is respected, and famous, enough to have been chosen to perform for President and Michelle Obama's first song together as the presidential couple, and I can't help but feel that her support of an all female band has a ripple effect to girls and women all over.

Anne Kildare said...

If you want to see a kickass female guitar player/percussionist, check out Rodrigo y Gabriela. Gabriela got her start playing bass in an otherwise all-male metal band. Later, Gabriela and Rodrigo split off and started their own duo. I don't think there are many men in the music industry with Gabriela's talent. Here's a link to one of their shows:

samina hitch said...

Oh I have long wanted to comment on music and feminism, so here is my chance. I would say that women in bands largely influenced my introduction to feminism and gender. The riot grrrl movement of lore is long gone, but my goodness it was a good one. When I was a young guitarist, I was suffering from the misogyny of male-dominated bands – so I ventured over to the riot grrrls, and there I found many, many talented women who were not only making music, but they were making statements – and it was okay to be a good player (and even okay to be a not-so-good player). The sweetness of a collective was an empowering feeling.

I have to say that I don’t see much of the same thing happening in music now. Riot grrrl died a long time ago, and it still makes me a little sad (even Sleater-Kinney is on “indefinite hiatus” which hurts my heart in a way that is entirely irrational). Besides keeping my old PJ Harvey records on repeat, I haven’t heard many female revolutionaries in music for awhile (but I am also embarrassingly out of touch). I try to keep up with music, and play with bands now and then – but all female bands are still very hard to find. Even harder to find are all female bands that are self-respecting. Meanwhile my daughter has her own brand of riot grrrl happening, with a little more princess than punk rock, but it’s the spirit that matters, right?

As a whole, though, I think women have come a long way in mainstream and indie music – though it is still annoying that women are constantly characterized as sexy before talented (and it seems to be the reverse for many male musicians). This comment could very quickly turn into a rant, so I will stop while I’m ahead and end with a link to the Gretsch Princess, a vintage guitar that included (as pictured) a “pillow” on the back for comfort, so Gretsch could capitalize on the female market back in the early sixties. I can’t decide if it’s adorable or demeaning, but I want one regardless.

student said...

Funny, I was just thinking of how many unbelievable female musicians (singers, players, artists, etc.) there are on my iPod. I find myself wondering how we can be left wanting for musically literate women? Niko Case is a successful solo artist, and 'backs up' the lead man for The New Pornographers. Leslie Feist, Imogen Heap, M.I.A, Cat Power, The White Stripes, Heart, Melissa Etheridge, Ani DeFranco…the list goes on and on.

What I see is a lack of the female counterpart to sexually charged male rockers (think Kiss, Van Halen, hair bands in general, with or without talent). Maybe finding musical literacy means looking past corporate hype--prepackaged goods created for popular consumption.

Making the iTunes Top 100 proves you can sell songs, not that you can rock. We should focus on creativity and skill instead of record sales. My personal experience may be insulated, but when I look at the good popular music, there seems to be a good representation of male and female artists.