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The Role of Virtuosity in Progressive Music

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ExittheLemming View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 30 2013 at 22:48
It can't be beyond the realms of possibility that the greatest public speaker in the world has precisely zero opinions of their own? Eloquence is not tantamount to 'smart'' e.g there are those who can express their ignorance brilliantly and very entertainingly...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Xonty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 30 2013 at 15:37
It's a great advantage to bands (such as Steve Howe's excellent guitar playing in Yes Cool) but not really essential and as some bands have proven you can have lots of musicians with different knowledges on genres and sometimes they can click together and make great music Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 11 2013 at 01:48
Originally posted by progbethyname

Does DUKE have virtuosity in it? I kind of think it does. It's a very accessable prog album...pop like at times.   


I don't know about Duke but Toto did have plenty of virtuosity and were a top pop group in the 80s.   I think at least until the advent of boybands and girlgroups Dead- i.e. Spice Girls, NOT Bangles - pop could be pretty smart and sharp.   There are plenty of subtle examples of instrumental virtuosity but skill used to be pretty important in pop vocals.  Here's Patti LaBelle and Mike Bolton (filling in at the last minute for Levi Stubbs, hard to tell unless you are already informed of this) ripping it onstage:




Edited by rogerthat - May 11 2013 at 01:49
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Post Options Post Options   Quote TGM: Orb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 11 2013 at 01:03


I suppose my main question for the thread is whether you'd want anyone else singing and playing that...

And similarly,




Edited by TGM: Orb - May 11 2013 at 01:04
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 11 2013 at 00:21
Just found two counterexamples to a suggestion made earlier that virtuosity is more relevant in entertainment than art.   Um, One More Red Nightmare for Ian McDonald's saxophone work and Dancing with the moonlit knight for Collins's work on drums!   Esp the former....he's not really trying to play blinding fast but it is certainly well beyond the reach of a mediocre musician.   And at the same time it's very expressive.  Parts, if not of all the expression actually come from his improvisational approach where he contrasts sections with lots of notes played quickly with ones where he just 'lazily' lays down a few spaced out notes.  It's not as such a particularly different approach from jazz, much of which would be considered art rather than just entertainment music. 


Edited by rogerthat - May 11 2013 at 00:22
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Post Options Post Options   Quote progbethyname Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 09 2013 at 22:14
Does DUKE have virtuosity in it? I kind of think it does. It's a very accessable prog album...pop like at times.   
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Post Options Post Options   Quote chopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2013 at 09:04
Originally posted by moshkito

Hi,
 
Kinda scary thought to think that even pop music does not have any virtuosity in it ... which would beg the question ... why we buying it, then?
 
There has to be more to it, somewhere!
What are you saying - no pop music has any virtuosity in it? We should only buy music that does?
Nonsense.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2013 at 08:31
^ Why is it a scary thought?
"People tell you life is short. ... No, it's not. Life is long. Especially if you make the wrong decisions." - Chris Rock
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Post Options Post Options   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2013 at 08:30
Hi,
 
Kinda scary thought to think that even pop music does not have any virtuosity in it ... which would beg the question ... why we buying it, then?
 
There has to be more to it, somewhere!
... none of the hits, none of the time ... you might actually find your own art, or self, and forego lousy heroes or Guru's!

www.pedrosena.com
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2013 at 11:29
^ Well, he grew up on RnR, so I guess that's wear he got the idea for the trebly tone and didn't go for something heavier.
"People tell you life is short. ... No, it's not. Life is long. Especially if you make the wrong decisions." - Chris Rock
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2013 at 11:26
Originally posted by twosteves

Originally posted by dr wu23

Originally posted by rogerthat

Originally posted by pitfall




Could you please give me some examples of these frequent occasions when Howe's electric playing sounds jarring? I've never come across it myself.
I find it difficult to accept that you have ever really listened to his playing!


Eh, any number of his faster leads with Yes but CTTE if you want one example.  Please read what I said with context - though I didn't specify it, I was comparing his approach with Hackett. Yes, compared to Hackett, I do find Howe's electric playing pretty jarring, the more so as he gets faster while Hackett is very smooth and makes me oblivious to how fast he might be playing. 
 
I was thinking about Howe's leads and his playing just yesterday and I agree with you that Hackett and others are much 'smoother' and more melodic at times. There are leads by Howe here and there on all the best known lp's by Yes that sound 'jarring ' to me also...but it fits somehow with their overall approach.
--

for me jarring is the wrong word --but I do know what you mean--his playing is more chunky (and funky) and guitarly if you will, where Hackett is coming up with his own smooth guitar sound---what I love about real artists like these two--is you give them a paint brush (the guitar) and they both paint in the same genre (prog) and they come up with completely different masterpiece's. 
 
I'm a Yes and Genesis fan......and both guitarists are unique but at times I want to change the way Howe's guitar sounds. For me it's probably the' trebly' tone he uses.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2013 at 10:38
Originally posted by dr wu23

Originally posted by rogerthat

Originally posted by pitfall




Could you please give me some examples of these frequent occasions when Howe's electric playing sounds jarring? I've never come across it myself.
I find it difficult to accept that you have ever really listened to his playing!


Eh, any number of his faster leads with Yes but CTTE if you want one example.  Please read what I said with context - though I didn't specify it, I was comparing his approach with Hackett. Yes, compared to Hackett, I do find Howe's electric playing pretty jarring, the more so as he gets faster while Hackett is very smooth and makes me oblivious to how fast he might be playing. 
 
I was thinking about Howe's leads and his playing just yesterday and I agree with you that Hackett and others are much 'smoother' and more melodic at times. There are leads by Howe here and there on all the best known lp's by Yes that sound 'jarring ' to me also...but it fits somehow with their overall approach.


Maybe because it provides a good contrast with the otherwise 'happy' sound of Yes.  And it's not as if he is not melodic but something in the execution gives an effect that I find jarring.  Fripp probably sounds smoother while playing harsh stuff.  And it's not as if I find it terribly flawed, pitfall just quoted me out of context.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote twosteves Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2013 at 08:40
Originally posted by dr wu23

Originally posted by rogerthat

Originally posted by pitfall




Could you please give me some examples of these frequent occasions when Howe's electric playing sounds jarring? I've never come across it myself.
I find it difficult to accept that you have ever really listened to his playing!


Eh, any number of his faster leads with Yes but CTTE if you want one example.  Please read what I said with context - though I didn't specify it, I was comparing his approach with Hackett. Yes, compared to Hackett, I do find Howe's electric playing pretty jarring, the more so as he gets faster while Hackett is very smooth and makes me oblivious to how fast he might be playing. 
 
I was thinking about Howe's leads and his playing just yesterday and I agree with you that Hackett and others are much 'smoother' and more melodic at times. There are leads by Howe here and there on all the best known lp's by Yes that sound 'jarring ' to me also...but it fits somehow with their overall approach.
--

for me jarring is the wrong word --but I do know what you mean--his playing is more chunky (and funky) and guitarly if you will, where Hackett is coming up with his own smooth guitar sound---what I love about real artists like these two--is you give them a paint brush (the guitar) and they both paint in the same genre (prog) and they come up with completely different masterpiece's. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Morsenator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2013 at 02:16
Originally posted by Gerinski

I would say that we can divide the musical talents in 2 big groups: what can be learnt and mastered by hard practice and what can not be learnt, you either have it or you don't, and some have it more than others.

Virtuosity in its wide definition is to me the set of everything which can be learnt and mastered by practice, and this includes not only speed but all the technical aspects of playing, expression, dynamics, precision, range (in instruments where the range depends on the player's ability such as several wind instruments), mastering of all the different scales and keys and transitions between them (which allow the musician to be strong at improvisations) etc.
A musician mastering all these techniques is to me a virtuoso, and he will be able to impress any audience with his performance.

Having played classical music and studied its theory for some ten years (on amateur/semi-pro level), I think one of its greatest benefits to rock/prog side of things (besides the obvious stuff like knowing scales, time signatures, tempo changes etc.) is a real understanding of dynamics. It is easy (after practicing really hard for some years) for almost anyone to compose and play for example a fast, loud guitar solo based on scales and whatever. But to play the same solo with expression, producing every note exactly like you mean it should be, using a wide amount of different dynamics from pianissimo to fortissimo if necessary and not just one or two, that is in my opinion a big part of what makes a virtuoso player. I think this is an important aspect in almost any style of music. Many rockers don't even understand the difference between mezzopiano and mezzoforte (soundwise), let alone the more subtle aspects of dynamical playing.

Btw sorry if this was said elsewhere, I kind of got lost in this thread somewhere between pages three and four.. Big smile


Edited by Morsenator - May 07 2013 at 02:19
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2013 at 23:41
Originally posted by rogerthat

Originally posted by pitfall




Could you please give me some examples of these frequent occasions when Howe's electric playing sounds jarring? I've never come across it myself.
I find it difficult to accept that you have ever really listened to his playing!


Eh, any number of his faster leads with Yes but CTTE if you want one example.  Please read what I said with context - though I didn't specify it, I was comparing his approach with Hackett. Yes, compared to Hackett, I do find Howe's electric playing pretty jarring, the more so as he gets faster while Hackett is very smooth and makes me oblivious to how fast he might be playing. 
 
I was thinking about Howe's leads and his playing just yesterday and I agree with you that Hackett and others are much 'smoother' and more melodic at times. There are leads by Howe here and there on all the best known lp's by Yes that sound 'jarring ' to me also...but it fits somehow with their overall approach.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote King Crimson776 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2013 at 23:33
Virtuosity is a means to an end. If it is not present, the possibilities diminish greatly. Perhaps a computer can eventually play everything adequately, but that time has not yet come.
"It's music, and I like it" - Miles Davis on Sketches of Spain
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2013 at 06:02
Originally posted by JediJoker7169

Originally posted by Gerinski

Virtuosity in its wide definition is to me the set of everything which can be learnt and mastered by practice, and this includes not only speed but all the technical aspects of playing, expression, dynamics, precision, range (in instruments where the range depends on the player's ability such as several wind instruments), mastering of all the different scales and keys and transitions between them (which allow the musician to be strong at improvisations) etc.

That, to me, is actually a pretty narrow definition.  In the Classical world, virtuosi are so called not just for their technical prowess, but for their emotionality and, in some cases--such as Baroque ornamentation or an unwritten cadenza--improvisation (which is arguably/demonstrably a learned skill, but not all great musicians are even good, let alone great, improvisers).  Why should these qualities be considered unimportant to the complete Rock virtuoso/a?  It could even be argued that improvisatory skill is of more use and therefore more important to a Rock musician than a Classical musician (but clearly not as important as to a Jazz musician).
Well, then your definition is wider than mine. In your definition only those who have it all (technical skills and by that not meaning only speed) AND genius inspiration are virtuosi, and that's fine for me.

'Emotionality' is a tricky word, to a great extent it can be learnt and mastered by practice, and it is one of the aspects most pursued by classical musicians, a lot can be achieved just by hard practice but it's true that once reached some point, you can not get any further by pure technical practice and those who have that bit more of genuine emotionality stand out in the end.

But inspiration in the musical phrases, harmonies, etc is something which does not depend on training, nearly at all. Some people have the ability to come up with beautiful music without having much musical education. Others are technically very proficient but lack that innate ability. Sure technique always helps, but down bottom you can just not learn that, no matter how hard you study and practice.
I was just trying to make a difference between the 2 aspects and defining 'virtuosi' as those who master all the learnable aspects, compared to those who have the inspiration but possibly little technique. 

Many would call all the 'Mike Varney school' guitarists such as Tony MacAlpine or Vinnie Moore guitar virtuosi, but several of them fall into the category of technically outstanding guitarists but with little inspiration. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JediJoker7169 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2013 at 04:35
Originally posted by Gerinski

Virtuosity in its wide definition is to me the set of everything which can be learnt and mastered by practice, and this includes not only speed but all the technical aspects of playing, expression, dynamics, precision, range (in instruments where the range depends on the player's ability such as several wind instruments), mastering of all the different scales and keys and transitions between them (which allow the musician to be strong at improvisations) etc.

That, to me, is actually a pretty narrow definition.  In the Classical world, virtuosi are so called not just for their technical prowess, but for their emotionality and, in some cases--such as Baroque ornamentation or an unwritten cadenza--improvisation (which is arguably/demonstrably a learned skill, but not all great musicians are even good, let alone great, improvisers).  Why should these qualities be considered unimportant to the complete Rock virtuoso/a?  It could even be argued that improvisatory skill is of more use and therefore more important to a Rock musician than a Classical musician (but clearly not as important as to a Jazz musician).


Edited by JediJoker7169 - May 04 2013 at 04:44
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2013 at 02:27
I would say that we can divide the musical talents in 2 big groups: what can be learnt and mastered by hard practice and what can not be learnt, you either have it or you don't, and some have it more than others.

Virtuosity in its wide definition is to me the set of everything which can be learnt and mastered by practice, and this includes not only speed but all the technical aspects of playing, expression, dynamics, precision, range (in instruments where the range depends on the player's ability such as several wind instruments), mastering of all the different scales and keys and transitions between them (which allow the musician to be strong at improvisations) etc.
A musician mastering all these techniques is to me a virtuoso, and he will be able to impress any audience with his performance.

But besides all the techniques which can be learnt, there are things which can not be learnt, some musicians have the talent and others not. Some will have the ability to come up with melodies, riffs, arpeggios, progressions or harmonies which will be particularly beautiful, surprising, original or impressive, even if not particularly technically challenging in any respect. Also the vision of when to use which technique is very important. No matter how hard I study and practice, I may be able to play wonderfully well but I may never have the inspiration to play something truly interesting. 

Two different musicians may improvise on the same theme, one of them may be technically superior but he may lack that inspiration or originality, while the other, while being less technically competent may come up with a more exciting and rewarding improvisation.
Of course the more technique you have, the more it helps to minimize your lacks in inspiration.

As an analogy, in the painting world a hyper-realist master is an impressive virtuoso, but honestly taking an image from the real world and painting a perfect copy-paste of it does not take any inspiration from the artist, only technique.

So bottom line, both are important, but it is also true that music which is just beautiful or inspired but does not have any technical aspect (e.g. just some beautiful melody and harmony) will in most cases not be considered Prog.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Neelus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2013 at 13:52
Look at the humility on this guy's face during his chat with the audience (a guy considered by many to be a virtuoso in the blues world) regarding the company he is in.  That speaks volumes regarding what virtuosity is.  And listen to the band adapting from Eric's solo to Wynton's...fantastic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvNIivHdy0Q


Edited by Neelus - May 03 2013 at 14:08
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