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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I was feeling brave so I looked at the "improving our technique" http://jemsiteforum.com/board/topic....02&start=0 thread and started to question some things outloud.

I noticed the term "virtuoso" come up. *I also noticed the idea of working to be of "virtuoso" status.

I know the dictionary states that a "virtuoso" is basically someone who is a master of their art... but there has to be more to it. *That is such a vague depiction of a term that gets passed around this forum like a joint in a frat house.

My idea of 'virtuoso' has always been someone that is a natural talent. *Much like a 'genius' of fields of logic (like a math wiz). *I see a virtuoso as someone who can put out twice the product with half the work. *It seems to degrade the idea of being a 'virtuoso' if you can simply practice really hard for 10 hours a day to become one. *Sure that is an incredible amount of work that commands at least some respect... but do you deserve to be considered a master of your artistic field just because you happen to have a little more free time and dedication than the next guy? *I always had the most respect for people who could pick up an instrument and create something with it with ease... I mean, with the right amount of practice time ANYONE can play JP stuff... ANYONE can play Vai stuff. *ANYONE can write similar stuff. *I think a real virtuoso is someone who can take an instrument and create something with the IMPORTANCE and the IMPACT of a Steve Vai or an Eric Johnson or a Kurt Cobaine, and have it be their own. *That is where the true talent lies for me. *To me, practicing 10 hours a day just to play like Vai mearly makes you a master of mimicry... not a visionary in your music.

Thanks for letting me ramble... I'm interested to read the replies.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 02:21 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

Interesting topic here... Well i agree on the last line there. To practice 10hours a day just to play like Vai would be a complete waste of time(well maybe not a complete waste of time). But to spend 10 hours a day improving your own playing style and your own unique thing, and be able to play it with flawless technique, and superb phrasing, is what i call a true virtuoso. *It is ok to be inspired by a famos artist, but it is another thing to just copy right off. It is the uniqueness of the player (in combination with his mastery at the instrument) that makes a true Virtuoso. Remember, my english is'nt perfect, im from sweden... hehe
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 03:10 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I dunno, the term virtuoso always struck me as a term for a master of the art who's capable of touching on styles other than just his/her own. You know.. a jack of all trades. Yngwie is good for sure, but he's definitely not a virtuoso! When was the last time you saw him play funk music? Steve Vai has touched on many types of music and then gone beyond and done weird things none of us has heard before. I'd still hesitate to call him a virtuoso, but I can't think of anyone closer to the title.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

Kremlin - your idea of virtuoso is more along the lines of what I'd call a musical renaissance man. *

Not to label Malmsteen a virtuoso just yet... but to contrast your point, when is the last time you've heard someone else play like Malmsteen? *Probably 5 seconds ago... but when have you heard someone do the Malmsteen thing before him? *Can you think of one guitarist out there that he stole from or would you say it's safe to say that he created his own thing? *Just food for thought...

As for Vai playing many styles... I don't know. *He has several influences, but it always sounds like the same old Vai to me. *I've never heard him do a respectable job of the blues... jazz... funk... reggae... folk... country... bluegrass... polka... or most other traditional American music styles. *He uses influences from many styles into his own music... but I rarely think of him as using his own style to play other genres of music. *There's nothing wrong with that at all... but I wouldn't label him a master of musical variety.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 04:48 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

To me, virtuoso meant someone who was beyond capable. *A virtuoso meant something to the effect of a truly gifted performer. *The idea that such a person wouldn't have to practice seems a little silly to me, since we all know that people like a Steve Vai or Eric Johnson practiced intensively (if only for a brief period). *The point is, I think the definition of Virtuoso is two part. *It is a person who is a master of his/her craft and also imparts a personal touch to all that he creates. *To truly master something, you make it yours. *And by doing so you change it and add your flavor. *That's what a virtuoso does. *IMHO.
Chris
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 05:20 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I think it's just the opposite of what you said, Kremlin. *I think a virtuoso is someone who is incategorizable (that's not a word...); there are the masters of the certain genres, then there's people like Vai, Mike Keneally, Frank Zappa...etc...I honestly don't think that there are many virtuosos that we know of (according to definition, of course). *Like Jay said, it just gets thrown around so much that it loses its meaning.

It has absolutely nothing to do with technical ability or "flash" (you know...zing, zork, snaz...); it does come into play on the side a bit but it's not all that important.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 05:31 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

Well, dont hate me now, but, i think i've never heard anyone play with such perfection as satch does. (in some songs) For example, Always With Me..... The legatos are close to but not perfect, but the tone shaping is not of this world.. I think he is a real miracle... And when it comes to blues, he totally rules too... But hey... Why did i get this nickname.. hehe *I would call Satch a virtuoso up till now, when u really think about what the word means.... *I dont know anymore....
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 05:50 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I agree that "virtuoso" is a term that seems to be thrown around a little too much for my particular tastes. It is technically supposed to mean "a musician with masterly ability, technique or personal style; a brilliant performer," but it also can mean "a person with masterly skill or technique in any field." In the relatively young and arrogant arena of guitar playing the term gets overused quickly but I guess in any field it can be more subjective than one would expect. It's easier to illustrate this particular point if you look at classical music. For example, in the world of classical music there are people who spend their entire lives honing their craft at their particular instrument and end up as third chair cello in the symphony from some minor metropolitan area. Many musicians in these situations are fantastic and play with apparent "masterly ability, technique," however, they are not considered "virtuosos" by classical music audiences. The true "virtuosos" are the guys who have their names on the program. Even though many times the third chair cellist can technically play the same parts as Yo Yo Ma and maybe even has spent more time/years practicing, there is evidently some difference in the two players. For some reasons, the presentation, interpretation, cooler name , etc. of Yo Yo Ma keeps him in the spotlight and keeps butts in the concert hall seats. But I believe this is where the definition of "art" sometimes comes into play. Or I guess I should say, a person's/audience's appreciation and acceptance of art comes into play. The fact that one man's art is another man's trash makes it almost impossible to define a "virtuoso" at that point. I'm pretty sure my Mom thinks I'm just as good a guitar player as Steve Vai. (BTW - I'm pretty sure I'm not.) Therefore, unfortunately, in every artistic discipline including guitar playing the "virtuoso" label will sometimes exist just because someone decides to use it.

Finally, I have to disagree that ANYONE can play to the levels of (insert guitar guy name here) if given the time and other external resources. There are many people with little or no musical abilities, sensibilities or inclinations. Many of these same people have very strong feelings and opinions of music and it is to these same people that any fairly competent musician sounds good or may indeed be a "virtuoso." I'm pretty sure this fact is what keeps the recording industry in business.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

"Finally, I have to disagree that ANYONE can play to the levels of (insert guitar guy name here) if given the time and other external resources. There are many people with little or no musical abilities, sensibilities or inclinations. Many of these same people have very strong feelings and opinions of music and it is to these same people that any fairly competent musician sounds good or may indeed be a "virtuoso." I'm pretty sure this fact is what keeps the recording industry in business. "

I was waiting for someone to bust me on this... hehehe... I was being too general, but the fact of the matter is it can be done, as you pointed out in the first section of your post.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 07:38 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I feel virtuosity can't be measured on a scale. It's merely someone's interpretation of a persons ability. Personally (since you asked what's my definition of "virtuoso") I feel it's anyone who excels above majority (even for personal enjoyment) in their art (including specific styles of music)

by the way if you want to get technical this is the first definition of virtuoso in the dictionary...notice the last two words.

virtuoso (vrch-s, -z)
A musician with masterly ability, technique, or personal style.


(Edited by Andrew Amicarelli at 4:17 pm on Sep. 4, 2001)
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-03-2001, 08:29 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

That's an interesting point of view... Here's my ramble:

I agree that the term itself - 'virtuoso' - is thrown around here a lot, attached to players like Satch, Vai, Gilbert, etc. From context it looks like a lot of people (or at least a fair amount) base virtuosity on how fast someone can play. Musicianship and taste get thrown out the window; at this rate the next virtuoso could very well be that Japanese dentist in Kevan's/Ross's thread. :sarcasm:

IMO the value of the term is being degraded by every new person it's attached to. If it continues like this then what is the value, the point, of being a virtuoso, if a six-year-old can be one? I think "virtuoso" was meant to be really honorable title, but it doesn't seem like it anymore. I agree somewhat with Jay's point about how practicing to be a virtuoso is a little self-defeating.

I value virtuosity mostly on innovation, personal style, influentiality, and technique (but technique is not the most important aspect). For example, Bach was among the first (if not the first, ... but I'm not exactly sure) classical composers to base his music around modern music theory. The music wasn't extremely technical per se, but it was innovative, springing forth "clones" like Haydn and Vivaldi. Sure they had their own personal style but their music was in the same vein as Bach's (as if they were influenced by him); therefore they were not as innovative and not as virtuosic (still good though! ).

Fast-forward a couple centuries. Early 1900's - Robert Johnson. Personally I can't stand the blues but it's pretty safe to say RJ was among the first to establish that kind of musical style, and he was very influential, from what I have read. Plus if you base your definition around 'natural talent' (like Jay said), Johnson meets that criteria too - he was born with unusually long fingers, plus it's rooted in legend that he sold his soul to the devil for his 'overnight technique.' Now the story is probably a farce but the overnight technique has to be a natrual gift of some sort.

Moving on... Jimi Hendrix. I don't like his music, and he certainly wasn't a very technical/theoretical musician, but his music was pretty innovative at the time, for the most part. Also, he is probably one of the single most influential guitar players ever (Satch and Vai along with many others cite him as their biggest influence). In addition to that, his name is extremely well-known. You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard of Jimi Hendrix.

Please note these examples were the best ones that I thought of on the spur of the moment; IMO there are quite a few more.

Ramble over.

-Justin
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-04-2001, 06:30 AM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

I think the fact that word "innovation" crops up a lot here is testament to the fact that if youy practice 10hrs a day that you still won't be a virtuoso unless you have a lot of innovation as well. Virtuosity is not just about speed or being able to do amazingley technical things. In essence these things will not hold the attention span of any human for long (especially when they don't play your instrument). They are more likely to go : "so what?, yeah you can play fast, but I don't like listening to it, it's not music to my ears" and then go of and listen to something they like.

The term is increasingly being used to describe people who can play fast, or do something complex, which is wrong! The whole point of virtuosity is that you have to be a master of your instrument, and like being a master craftsman in the middle ages, you become one because your work is original innovative and inspires other people. People who built cupoards in the same way as a master craftsmen where apprentices.

Virtuosity is all about a mix of technique ,innovation, style, taste, and an ability to capture a non musician audience and spellbind them, something which people like Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix et all had. It's a gift to entertain as well as having technical ability, and to pen music which still lives on (much like Rembrandt's paintings)

That's what makes someone a virtuso

anyway, my rant over. hopefully it was constructed in a way that makes some sense...

Mr Trees.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-04-2001, 12:35 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

Practically speaking I think it is someone that can play what they want to play, and are not limited to playing what they can only play...

Does that make sense? *Ok short and sweet

heh

-Mike
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-04-2001, 12:54 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

IMO *A virtuoso is a person who can do things on an instrument that most people can not dream of doing. *This would include creating both physically and musically difficult pieces. *However, more importantly the music must be inovative and original, allong with tehcnical perfection. *Although we may call someone a virtuoso now, the true test is time. *If a hundred years from now people are still amazed and inspired by a particular musician, then he or she is a virtuoso.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-04-2001, 01:10 PM
 
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What is YOUR definition of "virtuoso" ???

In reading the preceeding posts, I noticed most encompass a broader definition than is ascribed to the term "virtuoso". *Virtuoso refers solely to technical ability, not compositional aptitude as well. *

Someone brought up classical music at some point and this is something I've always wondered: can one consider a person who plays brilliant music written over two hundred years ago a musician?

This question helps reinforce the distinction between composer and virtuoso; my own answer is yes. *Classical music's most profitable wing revolves around reinterpreting and rerecording music, say Beethoven and Mozart; virtuosos forge careers from said productions and may or may not compose their own music. *Basically, they're trumped-up cover players.

My previous opinion used to be that a musician should embody composition and performance, but I've since decided musician is a broad, diffuse term akin to "art", one that can include someone plunking out "Hot Cross Buns" on a piano and the classical pillars.

However, it should be obvious that composition holds far more import than great chops, which, as Jay said, might develop with hard work; not saying that anyone can achieve virtuosity - such dedication requires a certain mind set.

Timeliness and innovation seem inherently linked, which is why one might liken Vai and Cobain, though I believe one had more timeliness than innovation contribute to his success. *Doing something new will invariably inspire admiration, which is why both are recorded in their own historic niches.

-Devin
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