macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#1
I am wondering what a player of an instrument has to do to be a virtuoso? It seems that the term is just used to describe almost anyone that an individual likes. For example, I hear some people calling Eric Clapton a virtuoso. I like him, a lot actually, but could he really be considered a virtuoso when put against guys like Wes, or Vai, or what have you? Or cross genre-ing (its a word now) could you compare him to John Coltrane or Cannonball Adderley?

Im not trying to diminish Clapton, he was just the example. But what is the "bar" so to speak that one needs to pass as an instrumentalist before (s)he can be considered a virtuoso? More specifically, whats your standard?
Danjo's Guitar
UG's Math/Physics Major
Join date: Jun 2007
995 IQ
#2
It just means someone is good. I probably wouldn't say Clapton is one, but I wouldn't deny it either. He's good and influential and stuff, but I feel like his guitar parts only really hit me every now and again.

I think generally being a virtuoso is just based off technical skill, but it could also definitely apply to someone who just completely knows what they're doing and how to get what they want to get. Like John Frusciante, he's not a crazy shredder, but when he wants to get something across in a song, he gets it across.
AeolianWolf
Tonal Vigilante
Join date: Jul 2009
186 IQ
#3
the word has become extremely watered down in its modern context, IMO.

as such, i prefer not to worry about labels like that and just spend the time bettering my abilities.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Artemis Entreri
Panned
Join date: Dec 2006
5,250 IQ
#4
Virtuoso is a pretty loose term but it's generally applied to players whose technical prowess is far above that of the average or even professional player. While Clapton, for example is a good player for sure I wouldn't call him a virtuoso since most decently accomplished guitarists can copy his licks. Leaving the guitar world, Paganini and Liszt are both examples of true virtuosity, playing and writing extraordinarily difficult pieces for the sake of the difficulty.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
Northernmight
UG's Churchburner
Join date: Jun 2008
1,376 IQ
#7
Wasn't there a big thing on this, where someone figured out that ten thousand hours of structured practice should make you a virtuoso?

I remember a guy even did like .. a video-log, where he did this. And updated week by week.
FUCK YOU ALL!

666 BLACK METAL HOLOCAUST!!!!!
Tempoe
. . . ∆ . . .
Join date: Oct 2008
2,513 IQ
#8
^ I remember that, wonder where he is now.
AlanHB
Godin's Resident Groupie
Join date: Aug 2008
1,703 IQ
#9
Virtuoso today means someone who can play really really fast.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#10
Is it only about speed? What about just knowledge of the instrument? I know a guys who can "shred" but he doesn't know the notes on the fretboard or basically any theory. When asked to play C-F-G he didn't even know the open chords for them. He just uses scale shapes. he can't be a virtuoso can he?
CryogenicHusk
wannabe guitarist
Join date: Apr 2012
1,005 IQ
#11
I once read one of the more famous shredders (I THINK it was Vai, but I'd have to get back to you on that if I find it again) said something like virtuosi being defined by being able to play what they heard in their head effortlessly and at will, no accidents and on first try. This involves having significant knowledge of your instrument and of music in general.

By that definition, Clapton could possibly be considered a virtuoso. Maybe he can't play as fast as Michael Angelo Batio, but he's playing what comes from his heart/mind... what he hears in his head, what he means to play. One could argue the apparent disparity in "technique" (read highest tempo at which they can play) comes from stylistic differences.They're both playing what they hear in their head and want other people to hear.
Last edited by CryogenicHusk at Nov 16, 2012,
jazz_rock_feel
UG Resident
Join date: Jun 2006
2,342 IQ
#12
Taruskin says:
"...a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public."

And Taruskin is a boss, so I'd tend to believe him.
Aralingh
Intelligent person
Join date: Mar 2012
301 IQ
#13
Someone who possesses EXTRA-ordinary skills.

It's all about comparison really. If 97% of guitarists could only play open chords, the 3% who could play a solo over it would be virtuoso.
Last edited by Aralingh at Nov 16, 2012,
FrauVfromPoB
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2010
662 IQ
#14
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Taruskin says:
"...a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public."

And Taruskin is a boss, so I'd tend to believe him.

****ing Taruskin. Why do his textbooks have to so damn expensive? Why do they have to come with a 3-part anthology where two of those books I'll never use?
vampirelazarus
the one with four strings
Join date: Oct 2010
88 IQ
#15
Quote by macashmack
Is it only about speed? What about just knowledge of the instrument? I know a guys who can "shred" but he doesn't know the notes on the fretboard or basically any theory. When asked to play C-F-G he didn't even know the open chords for them. He just uses scale shapes. he can't be a virtuoso can he?


I believe what Alan is getting at is that the majority of people (mainly the majority of the youth) only care if you can play fast. They dont care what it sounds like, so long as its fast. Really sad shame, that. Really sad....

Oh, also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtuoso

I also would like to mention that Wolf had the same idea as me: Why bother with meaningless titles of grandeur when you can just play for yourself, and become better in your own way, and do whatever the **** you want?
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#16
Quote by AeolianWolf
the word has become extremely watered down in its modern context, IMO.

as such, i prefer not to worry about labels like that and just spend the time bettering my abilities.


^^^

as-is, i could probably be labeled a virtuoso just by virtue of being able to play fast and clean and being satisfactory in my performance of my instrument. i'm 19.

you should be playing for at least that long before you've reached that kind of a height of skill and mastery. i'd find it hard to even call mike patton a virtuoso and he's got like 90 albums under his belt in every genre from avant garde to metal to italian lounge music to rap and anything those might entail.
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
AlanHB
Godin's Resident Groupie
Join date: Aug 2008
1,703 IQ
#17
Quote by macashmack
Is it only about speed? What about just knowledge of the instrument? I know a guys who can "shred" but he doesn't know the notes on the fretboard or basically any theory. When asked to play C-F-G he didn't even know the open chords for them. He just uses scale shapes. he can't be a virtuoso can he?


Mate, I could probably listen to your friend and pick out how messy he really is, and the fact he's a lot slower than John Petrucci etc.

Sounds like this is a bit of frustration with some people being able to play faster than you currently. It's just a stage that you'll get over. Keep on playing those chords, as I say, can't play chords, can't play songs. Can't play songs, what's the point?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#18
Quote by AlanHB
Mate, I could probably listen to your friend and pick out how messy he really is, and the fact he's a lot slower than John Petrucci etc.

Sounds like this is a bit of frustration with some people being able to play faster than you currently. It's just a stage that you'll get over. Keep on playing those chords, as I say, can't play chords, can't play songs. Can't play songs, what's the point?


Yea I guess you're right. It is kinda annoying how he thinks he's mad good but he can only play scale sequences at 160 bpm and cant pick a song out by ear or discuss music theory with us (the other musician's in the grade).
AWACS
I want all of the things
Join date: Sep 2009
6,888 IQ
#19
Guthrie Govan is a virtuoso.

+1 anyone?
Caution:
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

Current Rig:
2006 PRS CE-24
Mesa/Boogie Mark V
Voltage S212 w/ V30's
Strymon Timeline
CMATMods Signa Drive
TC Electronics Corona & Hall of Fame
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#21
A virtuoso is just someone who is highly skilled. So someone who can play fast, or someone who writes complex music, or someone who can improvise in many different styles, fit in with the band and still sound like themselves, or someone who demonstrates a high degree of musical skill in some other way. Music's a broad field of endeavour and you can demonstrate skill in any number of ways.

Personally I would say Branton Marsalis is a virtuoso, Liszt was a virtuoso, so was Bach, Glenn Gould, probably I could add another 50 names to the list ...
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
Guitarra_acores
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2011
200 IQ
#22
Quote by CryogenicHusk
I once read one of the more famous shredders (I THINK it was Vai, but I'd have to get back to you on that if I find it again) said something like virtuosi being defined by being able to play what they heard in their head effortlessly and at will, no accidents and on first try. This involves having significant knowledge of your instrument and of music in general.

By that definition, Clapton could possibly be considered a virtuoso. Maybe he can't play as fast as Michael Angelo Batio, but he's playing what comes from his heart/mind... what he hears in his head, what he means to play. One could argue the apparent disparity in "technique" (read highest tempo at which they can play) comes from stylistic differences.They're both playing what they hear in their head and want other people to hear.

+1 for first paragraph
I don't agree with the second one though. I think it's more related to a general standard than something as subjective as you made it out to be.
Last edited by Guitarra_acores at Nov 18, 2012,
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,411 IQ
#23
Some songs are called "virtuoso songs" and they are only about showing off your skills. They are usually pretty fast and sound harder than they really are.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Ibanez Blazer
Yamaha FG720S-12
Tokai TB48
Laney VC30
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#24
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Some songs are called "virtuoso songs" and they are only about showing off your skills. They are usually pretty fast and sound harder than they really are.


paganini is the exception

those schlomo mintz recordings make my hands hurt when i listen and i don't even play violin
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
poisonousmetal
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2010
1,559 IQ
#26
Well check Satch Boogie on youtube, you'll get an idea of virtuous songs.

By definition well check Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Timmons, Malmsteen, Becker, Gilbert, etc on wikipedia
CryogenicHusk
wannabe guitarist
Join date: Apr 2012
1,005 IQ
#27
Quote by Guitarra_acores
+1 for first paragraph
I don't agree with the second one though. I think it's more related to a general standard than something as subjective as you made it out to be.


But who is setting the standard, then? Jimi Hendrix? Steve Vai? Michael Angelo Batio? This guy ? They're all better than almost everyone in their own particular way.
Last edited by CryogenicHusk at Nov 19, 2012,
Guitarra_acores
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2011
200 IQ
#28
Quote by CryogenicHusk
But who is setting the standard, then? Jimi Hendrix? Steve Vai? Michael Angelo Batio? This guy ? They're all better than almost everyone in their own particular way.


I think answering that question isn't helpful. When I talk about "standard" I'm thinking of something abstract... it is somewhat subjective, but not as much as your 2nd paragraph sugested IMO.

If my only goal is to be able to play an open chord, and one day I can play it perfectly, I can't call myself a virtuoso even if technique isn't an obstacle to my creativity... there's a certain skill level expected to be achieved before calling someone that. The 3 you mentioned definitely deserve that title.
CryogenicHusk
wannabe guitarist
Join date: Apr 2012
1,005 IQ
#29
Quote by Guitarra_acores
IThe 3 you mentioned definitely deserve that title.


I mentioned 4, so I'm guessing you're excluding Jimi?

It's ok that you disagree, but I am willing to bet there's things that you've never considered: the reason I said one could argue Clapton, Hendrix and Page could be considered virtuosi, is that they learned their trade from scratch. By the time those other 80s and later shredder guys were around, there was much more literature and knowledge on the subject of electric rock guitar than there was 20 years prior, so of course they had more time to dedicate to raw twiddly diddly finger skill, that you seem to be zooming in on the argument, than their predecessors who had to work stuff out on their own.

There was no tab online back then and hardly any songbooks, especially for their genre. They weren't classically trained (well at least Page and Hendrix, not sure about Clapton), and rock guitar teachers weren't that common, I'm willing to wager. It takes talent to work on those skills almost entirely on your own. Easy for you and I to take it granted cause we have the wealth of info on the internet... we have books, forums, online lessons, tab, audio manipulation programs to slow down song parts, etc, and I bet you've used at least some of these resources to aid you in your learning process.

On the other hand, maybe these 3 guys weren't as skilled in playing with their fingers what they heard in their head (a lot of people can play solos but relatively few are actually doing more than just playing over memorized patterns in the same key or taking their time figuring out something beforehand through trial and error and memorizing it then playing it, which can sound great, but doesn't equate in skill to hearing it first in your head and effortlessly playing it on the guitar without mistakes) and their solos were pretty accidental... I really don't know for sure. I mean they're definitely not just punk guitarists, but I am quite aware there's far better technical players.

I just think that despite not quite being considered virtuosi, they definitely exhibit talent and merit. But there's certainly room for opinion...
Last edited by CryogenicHusk at Nov 20, 2012,
Guitarra_acores
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2011
200 IQ
#30
Quote by CryogenicHusk
I mentioned 4, so I'm guessing you're excluding Jimi?

It's ok that you disagree, but I am willing to bet there's things that you've never considered: the reason I said one could argue Clapton, Hendrix and Page could be considered virtuosi, is that they learned their trade from scratch. By the time those other 80s and later shredder guys were around, there was much more literature and knowledge on the subject of electric rock guitar than there was 20 years prior, so of course they had more time to dedicate to raw twiddly diddly finger skill, that you seem to be zooming in on the argument, than their predecessors who had to work stuff out on their own.

There was no tab online back then and hardly any songbooks, especially for their genre. They weren't classically trained (well at least Page and Hendrix, not sure about Clapton), and rock guitar teachers weren't that common, I'm willing to wager. It takes talent to work on those skills almost entirely on your own. Easy for you and I to take it granted cause we have the wealth of info on the internet... we have books, forums, online lessons, tab, audio manipulation programs to slow down song parts, etc, and I bet you've used at least some of these resources to aid you in your learning process.

On the other hand, maybe these 3 guys weren't as skilled in playing with their fingers what they heard in their head (a lot of people can play solos but relatively few are actually doing more than just playing over memorized patterns in the same key or taking their time figuring out something beforehand through trial and error and memorizing it then playing it, which can sound great, but doesn't equate in skill to hearing it first in your head and effortlessly playing it on the guitar without mistakes) and their solos were pretty accidental... I really don't know for sure. I mean they're definitely not just punk guitarists, but I am quite aware there's far better technical players.

I just think that despite not quite being considered virtuosi, they definitely exhibit talent and merit. But there's certainly room for opinion...


Let me just make it clear I don't care how fast someone plays at all, I think speed is a good weapon to have when used in a specific context (to convey energy, anger, etc) but it's extremely boring when used as a gimmick. If the guitar player has groove and a gift for melody and expression, I'm instantly hooked.

But I do relate virtuosity with technique. Page, Hendrix, Beck, etc... are no doubt amazing musicians, I'm just unsure if from a technical point of view they can be called virtuosi. I agree we have it easy these days, who knows how much better they could be with the information we have, but we can only judge facts, not suppositions.

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter if they can be called virtuosi or not, they are still amazing musicians and artists who I would rather listen to than some guy going up and down scales at 500bpm. I don't think they even care(d)
Last edited by Guitarra_acores at Nov 20, 2012,
CryogenicHusk
wannabe guitarist
Join date: Apr 2012
1,005 IQ
#31
Quote by Guitarra_acores
At the end of the day it doesn't really matter if they can be called virtuosi or not, they are still amazing musicians and artists who I would rather listen to than some guy going up and down scales at 500bpm. I don't think they even care(d)


Amen to that.
NathanielLost
The Juggernaut.
Join date: Jun 2010
36 IQ
#32
I always took the term to mean someone who was not only technically skilled, but musically innovative. So for their time, Vai, Satriani, and Malmsteen were all virtuosos, but if some average joe shredder came along doing the exact same thing, I wouldn't as readily apply the status to him, since the style has been around for quite a while.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#33
Quote by NathanielLost
I always took the term to mean someone who was not only technically skilled, but musically innovative. So for their time, Vai, Satriani, and Malmsteen were all virtuosos, but if some average joe shredder came along doing the exact same thing, I wouldn't as readily apply the status to him, since the style has been around for quite a while.


those 3 are all average joe shredders tho
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#34
Quote by NathanielLost
I always took the term to mean someone who was not only technically skilled, but musically innovative. So for their time, Vai, Satriani, and Malmsteen were all virtuosos, but if some average joe shredder came along doing the exact same thing, I wouldn't as readily apply the status to him, since the style has been around for quite a while.


I have always thought that anyone who has mastered the instrument is a virtuoso, whether or not they are musically innovative.
The way i see it, a student who graduates from a conservatory with a bachelors in music performance in instrument X, they would be a virtuoso of that instrument. Anyone who levels on par with them is also a virtuoso.
iSouLeZz
Registered User
Join date: May 2012
222 IQ
#35
To me man.. A virtuoso is someone who hits the right note, every time. Someone that has no problem conveying their music however they want. The music also goes beyond technically.. It doesn't mean shred the whole song you're a virtuoso.. It means make sense of that shredding.. A virtuoso is someone who can make you stop and listen with one note or give you an eargasm with some amazing upside down legato trick.

Man.. the more I think about it.. the more it sucks.. I don't like labels.