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The Role of Virtuosity in Progressive Music

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RBlak054 View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 21 2013 at 12:38
When discussing or defining progressive music, one topic that seems to inevitably arise is virtuosity. Without a doubt music in progressive rock and many of its subgenres frequently demonstrates instrumental prowess and features what could arguably be considered some of the world's best musicians.

My questions to you, with this is mind, are:

How important do you consider technical skill to be for the quality of progressive music? As a listener, does technical skill have a noticeable impact on how much you enjoy a piece?

I apologize in advance if there's similar topic; the use of the search function and a brief scan of the forums yielded no relevant results (at least in the past few years).


Edited by RBlak054 - February 21 2013 at 16:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tapfret Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 12:48
Overall not essential, but it doesn't hurt. Certain genres, JRF and Tech/Extreme its kind of a given.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Viajero Astral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 13:01
Indeed, not essential, some good prog musicians aren't very skillful players. What I thing is more important is musical knowledge. Most of them have some degrees or learn theory at some point of their careers, so theory (at least the basics of music composition) is more important than virtuosity for this kind of genre.


Edited by Viajero Astral - February 21 2013 at 13:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 13:29
Virtuosity can be really sexy a lot of the time. Off the top of my head I really can't remember a single example where skill was successfully married with emotion. A good taste in tone, melody, and songwriting alone simply defeats the "importance" of virtuosity in music.

RBlak054, for how long have you enjoyed listening to music? I'm very surprised you asked this question.


Edited by Dayvenkirq - February 21 2013 at 13:30
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sumdeus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 14:55
virtuosity is not necessary for good music and neither is theory like someone else said above^. music is in your head and that's that . They can help make it easier for you to play what you hear in your head but at the end of the day you either got it or you don't. As well, they can also make it harder to play good music, with virtuosity leading to flashy self-indulgent playing and too much worry over theory can lead to very safe boring compositions that have nothing exciting going on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 15:07
^ Ok, first of all, who is they? Second of all, (and this question must have been asked quite a number of times during the period of this forum's existence) what do you mean by good music? Only a part of my idea of good music is music that is presentable. Otherwise, as Brian (Slartibartfast) has pointed it out once in my "should the artist care" thread, you are just making the music for yourself ("musical masturbation"). Theory is a great tool for helping you in expressing yourself to a greater extent while keeping your material presentable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stool Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 15:10
In many hugely successful and popular prog bands, there are musicians who are barely adequate players.
Virtuosity is for orchestras, in a nutshell.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sumdeus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 15:15
'they" was referring to virtuosity and music theory. As for the second question, not sure what you're driving at. it would be impossible for me to fully explain what i consider 'good music' and i don't think it matters much in the context either way. As for musical masturbation, that is what I consider self-indulgent playing. I think it's silly to say that making music for yourself is musical masturbation because I think all music is ultimately made for the artist. when i make music i certainly make music that I want to hear that I don't hear anyone else making
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HolyMoly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 15:20
Technical virtuosity is but a tool; the real fuel lies in the creativity.  A technically virtuous musician may have an advantage in the creative area, as he has more tools to use, and a wider knowledge of what tools there are; however, a technically virtuous musician may also have a disadvantage, if his training has narrowed his focus and made him an efficient machine rather than a creative craftsman.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Progosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 16:03

I have always enjoyed virtuosity in the music I listen to.  There was a time many years ago when that was almost all I would consider, but now that I am more experienced and jaded (meaning older), I have many other considerations.  For Prog, I do think it is essential, but that does not mean an artist has to go full blast  on virtuosity all the time.  In fact, when that happens, I grow tired of it quickly - it is all virtuosity and little to no music.  For example, I greatly admire Yngwie Malmsteen's guitar playing but grow bored with his music very quickly.  When there is no artistry, no finesse, no soul, there is very little to enjoy.  At the same time, if virtuosity is never exhibited in an album, that too will cause me to lose interest.  In a nutshell, it has to be a juggling act between the elements of music - melody, arrangement, rhythm, and good playing.  HolyMoly makes a good point about creativity.  There must be inspiration beyond technical ability, but technical ability, when put in the proper place, allows inspiration to be expressed.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 16:15
Originally posted by Sumdeus Sumdeus wrote:

'they" was referring to virtuosity and music theory. As for the second question, not sure what you're driving at. it would be impossible for me to fully explain what i consider 'good music' and i don't think it matters much in the context either way. As for musical masturbation, that is what I consider self-indulgent playing. I think it's silly to say that making music for yourself is musical masturbation because I think all music is ultimately made for the artist. When i make music i certainly make music that I want to hear that I don't hear anyone else making.
... ultimately made for the artist to enjoy? You think the Blieber enjoys what he makes? 

Well, if the artist is making it for himself and no one else (which is inherently what he wants to hear), then he is indulging himself, which is musical masturbation. If the artist is making it for himself and others (which is inherently what him AND others want to hear), then it's ultimately made for both sides.

But anyway, Back to topic


Edited by Dayvenkirq - February 21 2013 at 16:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sumdeus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 16:29
Beiber isn't music made by an artist, it's a product assembled in a factory... anyways yes let's get back to the topic because you are just nitpicking every little thing i say.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kati Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 17:25
Originally posted by RBlak054 RBlak054 wrote:

When discussing or defining progressive music, one topic that seems to inevitably arise is virtuosity. Without a doubt music in progressive rock and many of it's subgenres frequently demonstrates instrumental prowess and features what could arguably be considered some of the world's best musicians.

My questions to you, with this is mind, are:

How important do you consider technical skill to be for the quality of progressive music? As a listener, does technical skill have a noticeable impact on how much you enjoy a piece?

I apologize in advance if there's similar topic; the use of the search function and a brief scan of the forums yielded no relevant results (at least in the past few years).
 
Hi RBlak054 Smile
Overall I do believe that great technical skills certainly are necessary in prog moozik (being able to read music notes on the other-hand I don't think to be necessary, infact I can name a few great artists that cannot read music notes). This said,  I am not a fan of i.e. big riff guitar solos, I much rather prefer to listen to memorable licks and tunes. Many people like loud music, if it's loud to them it seems good but to me loud is not enough I get bored quickly especially if most tracks in one album sound the same. Also people seem to not bother with music quality, I can hear the difference (maybe because I like to listen via headphones) between 320k mp3 which is decent compared to less even so I still feel it's compressed compared to WAV files. All my cd's I covert the music onto my pc to WAV files instead of MP3.
Hug


Edited by Kati - February 21 2013 at 17:30
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 17:37
It's not a must to show brilliance, but I expect anybody who aims at being a top figure in his field to be technically proficient at it, being it music or any other field.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kati Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 17:39
Originally posted by Gerinski Gerinski wrote:

It's not a must to show brilliance, but I expect anybody who aims at being a top figure in his field to be technically proficient at it, being it music or any other field.
 
ApproveClap Gerinski, ditto you said it most perfect! SmileHug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ambient Hurricanes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 18:29
Originally posted by HolyMoly HolyMoly wrote:

Technical virtuosity is but a tool; the real fuel lies in the creativity.  A technically virtuous musician may have an advantage in the creative area, as he has more tools to use, and a wider knowledge of what tools there are; however, a technically virtuous musician may also have a disadvantage, if his training has narrowed his focus and made him an efficient machine rather than a creative craftsman.


I agree completely. 

Technique is the element of music that allows you to play the things you want to play the way you want to play them.  If a musician can play the things he wants to play the way he wants to play them, then his technique is completely sufficient for him.

Originally posted by Dayvenkirk Dayvenkirk wrote:

Well, if the artist is making it for himself and no one else (which is inherently what he wants to hear), then he is indulging himself, which is musical masturbation. If the artist is making it for himself and others (which is inherently what him AND others want to hear), then it's ultimately made for both sides.


You can make music for yourself but also desire to share it with others.  If you put your music out for the consumption of the public, then it's inherently not musical masturbation because other people can share in it.  It's also not true that an artist who makes music for others is making the music they want to hear.  It may be that he's making the music that they need to hear, or that he thinks they should want to hear.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Argonaught Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 18:49
Creativity vs. virtuosity : a great idea deserves a masterful execution, wouldn't you agree? 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ambient Hurricanes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 19:10
Originally posted by Argonaught Argonaught wrote:

Creativity vs. virtuosity : a great idea deserves a masterful execution, wouldn't you agree? 




Yes, but if the great idea is easy to play, then you don't necessarily need virtuosity to make it sound great.  There's more to execution of an idea than virtuosity, too; you need emotion and feel, also.  You don't need to be a virtuoso to masterfully play a musical idea; you just need to be a virtuoso to masterfully play a very difficult musical idea.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RBlak054 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 20:18
Some interesting responses, guys! I seem to be of a similar mindset as the majority of you.

I've always seen a musician's skill with an instrument as a means of translating musical ideas into actual sound. For me, a musician's abilities need only be as good as to competently play the music they create; the quality of the composition and how it is performed is much more important than how technically challenging it is. I definitely don't see virtuosity as essential to good progressive rock as often what I enjoy the most is innately musical but not actually very difficult to perform.

Sure there have been moments - as I'm sure most of you have experienced - when a particularly flashy or challenging piece really impresses me, but I find this often lacks substance if it is not presented in a musical context. Overall I would say that virtuosity has the potential be great, but only if the performer has the musicality to back it up.

Originally posted by Dayvenkirq Dayvenkirq wrote:

RBlak054, for how long have you enjoyed listening to music? I'm very surprised you asked this question.


I've been listening to and playing progressive rock for probably about four years now!


Edited by RBlak054 - February 21 2013 at 20:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dayvenkirq Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2013 at 20:36
Originally posted by Sumdeus Sumdeus wrote:

Beiber isn't music made by an artist, it's a product assembled in a factory... anyways yes let's get back to the topic because you are just nitpicking every little thing i say.
But don't think that I do this for no reason.
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