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What Are Your Favorite Songs to Play Air Guitar to?

From soaring solos to raucous riffage, the guitar has often been the imaginary instrument of choice for real and wannabe rockstars alike. There’s even an Air Guitar World Championship contest every year!

And, let’s be real: who among us can truly say they’ve never shredded some air to an electrifying solo or iconic intro while jumping up and down on your bed?

In the latest episode of the Soundfly podcast, our panel digs deep into three songs that epitomize the term “air guitar.” We have the perfect guest in Dre DiMura, an extremely talented actual guitarist, producer, content creator, and longtime Flypaper author, who knows a thing or two about showmanship and musicianship.

So grab your pretend axe and get ready to rip through some of our favorite air guitar songs — and make sure to check out our collaborative Spotify playlist to add your favorite shreddable tunes to the mix.

Listen to the full Episode 46 of Themes and Variation right here.

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Episode 46 Highlights

1. Carter shares the judging criteria used at the US Air Guitar Championships.

Carter: “How is this competition judged? And the actual World Championships don’t have the criteria, but the US National Air Guitar Championships, which you need to win if you want to get to the Worlds, they have these three criteria that you are judged on based on your air guitar performance. The first one is technical merit. ‘You don’t need to know what notes you’re playing, but the more your invisible fretwork corresponds to the music that’s playing, the better the performance.’ I think we can all agree with that. That’s fantastic. Criteria number two: stage presence. ‘Anyone can do it in the privacy of their bedroom. Few have what it takes to rock a crowd of hundreds or even thousands — all without an instrument.’ And now, number three, my favorite is simply AIRNESS. ‘The last criteria is the most difficult to define yet often the most decisive of all. Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the limitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself.'”

2. Dre describes a generational phenomenon.

Dre: “I picked this song because it’s one of the first Zeppelin songs that I heard. And I had gotten into, you know, more into guitar music through Guitar Hero. There’s this whole generation coming of age now that was like born and bred on the Guitar Hero games. You know, maybe where our parents or even grandparents, where air guitaring and practicing their moves in front of the mirror… I feel like our generational version of air guitar was playing the songs on Guitar Hero and then learning to play them in real life.”

3. Mahea on the man who was likely the first to play air guitar in a public forum.

Mahea: “A lot of it came down to the fact that he had frustrations at not being a pianist or guitarist. Like how do you respond physically in the way that those guys get to? So he would emulate those things just kind of without thinking about it. It’s not so much that this is a guitar part that I want to play air guitar to, it’s that that sentiment from Joe Cocker is, I think, the thing we all feel when we play air guitar.”

Episode Playlist

With every new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in this episode and more. Here’s this episode’s Spotify playlist!

We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!

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Carter Lee

Carter Lee is a bassist/educator/producer. He is originally from Edmonton, Canada and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to leading the hip-hop group, Tiger Speak, Lee is the music director for the bands of both Shea Rose and Moruf. He is also a sideman for countless other artists. Carter brings his wealth of experience in many different musical situations to the Soundfly team and is eager to help any musician who is hoping to better their band. Check out his course Building a Better Band on Soundfly today!