Virtuosity

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Re: Virtuosity

Post by BJG145 »

There's plenty of music that demands high levels of virtuosity throughout; say, Ravel's Ondine. But I guess the essential thing is that it has to serve a purpose. Virtuosity for its own sake, as a technical exercise, gets boring fast. Something like Surfing with the Alien has me lunging for the off switch, though obviously a lot of people like it.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by tea for two »

I dig Oscar Peterson. I dig Art Tatum even more about whom (Art) one of the foremost classical Pianists of that time Vladimir Horowitz reportedly said "If Art Tatum took up classical music seriously, I'd quit my job the next day."

Without their artistic sensitivity, without their musical sensitivity, without their sense of melody
where would Oscar, Art, Vladimir, Stéphane Grappelli, Julian Bream be.

This is what we are drawn to : their artistic sensitivity, their musical sensitivity, their sense of melody.
(These are the biscuit base of the cheesecake lol).
Because we ourselves posting on this thread have an artistic sensitivity, a musical sensitivity, a sense of melody.
Hence we all are on the same page on this (biscuit base), as to whom we consider virtuoso even though it may appear that there are loggerheads.

However some people's brains are wired differently. For them a gazillion notes a million mph floats their boat.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by OneWorld »

tea for two wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 9:50 pm

However some people's brains are wired differently. For them a gazillion notes a million mph floats their boat.

Well who'da thunk it :bouncy:
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Folderol »

Trouble is it's such a slippery word.
It could be exceptional skill with one particular instrument;
Moderate skill over a wide range of instruments;
Poor playing skill but exceptional arrangement capability;
Exceptional music reading and on the fly transposing while playing;
Or all of the above!
Very many moons ago I came across a pianist who could do the transposing. He was working with amateur singers and finding their best key for specific songs. He could also slip in parts of the melody while playing an accompaniment where the singer was struggling.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Martin Walker »

awjoe wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:17 pm When technique dominates, it's left-brain second-bestness. It's like the difference between dance and gymnastics.

Love this comparison! 8-)
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by tea for two »

Folderol wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:05 pm Or all of the above!

Spot on.

If a person is a virtuoso on their chosen instrument, pants at another instrument, pants at arranging, pants at composing for an ensemble this doesn't make them less of a virtuoso.

Similarly a person virtuoso at arranging can be pants at everything else music related. They still remain a virtuoso at arranging.

Julian Bream could well been hopeless on a Moog Modular, whereas Wendy Carlos is a virtuoso on Moog Modular whilst being pants at classical Guitar.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by tea for two »

Evelyn Glennie is my favourite virtuoso.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

blinddrew wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 6:54 pm I would suggest you've never heard Boo Hewerdine play. ;)

Boo Hewerdine is known for Patience Of Angels. Strumtastic! With a capo!

He may, though, be an artist. According to Picasso : "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." An artist, even if they have skill, may choose not to use it, and throw cans of Dulux at the canvas.

Salvador Dali had a lot of technique. Damien Hirst may or may not, but we don't see it.

I think we're into the old 'understand the rules so that you can knowingly and deliberately break them' here aren't we? I think that's a slightly different discussion.

I actually intended this as a get out clause. If you want a pass on music theory, here, have one. It was a get out clause in the sense that it seems unlikely Damien Hirst has any technique or skill in the conventional sense, but that doesn't make any difference to his work.

Somewhere I think you may be trying to land your argument, in the tradition of The Joseph II Memorial Society For The Prevention Of Too Many Notes, is that Boo Hewerdine is just as good as Mozart or Oscar Peterson, if not a bit better as he uses less notes. If Oscar Peterson, Mozart and Boo Hewerdine are all artists, then better or worse is short circuited. An artist can bang the guitar off the wall, play it with a violin bow, or grate cheese on the strings. Better or worse doesn't come into it as an artist uses music as the medium in which to make their statement.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

merlyn wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 11:37 am Somewhere I think you may be trying to land your argument, in the tradition of The Joseph II Memorial Society For The Prevention Of Too Many Notes, is that Boo Hewerdine is just as good as Mozart or Oscar Peterson, if not a bit better as he uses less notes.

Ah, this is absolutely not the point of my argument, but I'm really not sure how to express it any other way than I did in my opening comment.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

It's five in the morning and I am reminded again that a failure to communicate is more often a failure on the part of the communicator than the communicated to, so I shall try again.

My premise is that it is possible to have a virtuoso performance of material that does not technically require a virtuoso to play.

I'm not sure if it's singer-songwriters in general you have a beef with or Boo Hewerdine in particular (would this conversation have gone differently if I'd have referenced Molly Tuttle, Chris Tile or Richard Thompson I wonder?) but let's take him and them out of the equation.

Many years ago I was at a piano recital, I don't recall the name of the pianist I'm afraid (I was only there because my dad's parents loaned the spinet that was used for a couple of the pieces) but let's assume, for the sake of argument, that he met your niche definition of virtuoso. ;)
Introducing one of the pieces he said he always felt it was important for a programme to have a couple of bits that were less than 'masterpiece' standard. He felt (if I recall correctly) that it helped provide a bit more contrast and shade to the overall programme.
Assuming that he was a virtuoso, would he be able to produce a virtuoso performance of one of these lesser pieces?

Alternatively, Placido Domingo, as well as all his 'serious' music, has churned out a whole bunch of cheesy pop schmaltz as well. Let's say he headed down to the studio for a recording session for one of these pieces, and he happens to be in a real purple patch at the time, and he gives one of his best renditions. Is it possible that he could give a virtuoso performance on one of these tracks?

I'm reminded of a sporting parallel. Around 30 years ago I remember watching the men's gymnastics at the Olympics. One of the Russian competitors was in the form of his life and had already picked up a couple of gold medals (on his way to a total of five, again if I recall correctly). For his final attempt on the vault he sprinted down the track, hit the springboard, spread his arms and then 'flew' horizontally for a frankly implausible distance before nailing a perfect landing. There was silence and then rapture as people realised they'd just seen something truly exceptional.
Technically, probably any of the other gymnasts could have done something similar. After all, there wasn't a twist, turn, tuck, pike or other move to speak off. But you could tell from their faces that as well as lacking the audacity to try it they wouldn't have had the ability to perform it to that standard.

I'm rambling now, insomnia will do that, but hopefully that has clarified my suggestion that it is possible to have a virtuoso performance of material that would not technically require a virtuoso to play.

P.S. a capo is a very useful device for changing the tonality of a guitar by the way, it's not just for people who only know three chords. ;)
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by awjoe »

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

https://youtu.be/qWG2dsXV5HI
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by GilesAnt »

blinddrew wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 5:17 am
My premise is that it is possible to have a virtuoso performance of material that does not technically require a virtuoso to play.

Yes I think you can - a performance is more than just playing the right notes after all. But nevertheless I would say that the usual definition of virtuoso means a performer who can play music of the highest technical demands.

I also agree with the point made a little way back that we should separate the virtuoso performer from the composer/arranger. In other words you might appreciate the technical skill of Wakeman, Peterson, Tatum etc at the keyboard and yet dislike their music.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

@blinddrew Thanks for taking the time to explain that. I don't have a beef with singer/songwriters. They spend their time writing, no? so have less time for practising their instrument. A singer/songwriter's work doesn't need to be virtuosic. I've seen Richard Thompson twice, and he's good, but I didn't think he was a virtuoso. A good musician, yes, and I'm sure you'd agree he's not a great singer in the conventional sense. That didn't matter.

Using Frank Zappa's definition of "playing anything" there are not many virtuosos.

One aspect is that calling Boo Hewerdine a virtuoso sets a low bar. It seems music journalist pretentious, where column inches are filled with gush about the latest flavour of the month. In a world of Ed Sheeran, anyone who can play even a bit is a candidate for virtuoso status.

There shouldn't be a dichotomy between technical and musical. Fast or difficult passages should come out as music in the hands of a virtuoso.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by N i g e l »

awjoe wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 7:17 am Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
https://youtu.be/qWG2dsXV5HI

:thumbup: also on the same CD is "EQUINOX"
[its on spotify too]
In the pre WWW time, I thought, "thats the bloke that did Sweeny" !

JC Equinox
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m2HN2y0yV8
Sweeny open + end titles.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix6wTN_CH4g
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by tea for two »

JC for me is my biggest influence when I'm trying to play a lead line.
I know it doesn't sound like it as I don't get anywhere near but he is.
In my mind I'm trying to approach JC's free and raw and searing.

Blues is my 2nd biggest influence the short phrases (licks) with each phrase being similar in notes yet different sounding.

Miles is my 3rd influence concise with lots of space in between
: easiest for me as I can't play many notes lol also I need the space to find the next bit to play lol.

:

Sweeny.
What happened to our memorable TV theme tunes from 60s 70s 80s that we could hum and whistle.
Sweeny as soon as Sax started it jogged my memory I could hum and whistle it's theme.

Even movie themes of that era we could hum and whistle.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

awjoe wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:17 pm
merlyn wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 6:48 pm I would suggest virtuoso is a mostly classical music thing, where practicing eight hours a day is the norm.

Classical, jazz, rock, bluegrass. Chris Thile's a virtuoso, and so's Billy Strings.

As you may have guessed I hadn't heard Billy Strings. (I'd join you for a hoe-down, but my denim dungarees are in the wash. Honest.) I found this performance. I would wonder if you heard Billy Strings' music and thought "virtuoso", or if you read that somewhere. If Billy Strings is a virtuoso then what are the rest of the band? They can all do the running sixteenth note bluegrass solo thing. In fact I thought Billy's solo was the weakest, although he did try something other than a stream of sixteenth notes. Are they all virtuosos? Or are all bluegrass musicians virtuosos?

Billy Strings seems to me like an accomplished professional musician with good picking technique. I think virtuoso is a bit more than that.

There's such a thing as a rock virtuoso, is there? That may be a stretch. It's certainly an oxymoron to have a punk rock virtuoso. :D
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

merlyn wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 9:27 amIt's certainly an oxymoron to have a punk rock virtuoso. :D

I suspect we're all in agreement there! :D
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by awjoe »

Hey, everybody's a virtuoso compared to me, except maybe Johnny Cash and Aldous Harding. In fact, I think that many of the comments in this thread are awjoe-phobic and deeply offensive. Don't be surprised if bannings follow. ;)
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 12:04 pm
merlyn wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 9:27 amIt's certainly an oxymoron to have a punk rock virtuoso. :D

I suspect we're all in agreement there! :D

Maybe, but there is a tendency towards people wanting to eat their cake and have it. A band that are kind of punk, but people use the word 'genius' and maybe 'virtuoso' around is Cardiacs. You might have heard of Tantacrul. His composition lecturer recommended Cardiacs to him. They have some traction in academic circles evidently. I've tried a few times but I still find it a ghastly racket. I think punk is essentially anti-music, and it doesn't mix with angular, atonal melodies :D
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Almost scared to click on that link! :D

EDIT: ah, wikipedia, that's ok. :)
I've heard of the Cardiacs but not familiar with their stuff, not heard of Tantacrul though.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by awjoe »

Ghastly Racket is a good punk band name.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by awjoe »

merlyn wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 4:52 pm Maybe, but there is a tendency towards people wanting to eat their cake and have it. A band that are kind of punk, but people use the word 'genius' and maybe 'virtuoso' around is [Cardiacs].

Whoa! They're great! Thanks for that - best 'new' music I've come across in a fortnight.

But they're not punk, and they not virtuosos. I deeply suspect they're familiar with Zappa, though.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Sam Spoons »

I like that a lot too, elements of the Bonzo's and 'Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias' alongside Zappa.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Just having a listen to a track or two and I'm reminded of Suede and Muse.
I don't think I'm musically clever enough to appreciate a lot of it though.
But that happens to me a lot! :D
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Just watched Tantacrul's Sibelius video, as someone who always has half an eye on design and accessibility I found it very enjoyable. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKx1wnX ... =Tantacrul
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

The real Cardiacs aficionados like a video of them rehearsing the old stuff. It's a stripped down band, and for me that's a relief as it was sometimes the harmony that gave me a twinge. But this is pretty rackety. I think Tim Smith's punk roots are evident in the faces he pulls. Jibber and Twitch from their rehearsal space, dubbed The Rotten Shed.

It's very linear. A lot of it is doubling what Tim is doing, with the whole band in unison. Tim Smith appears to be most comfortable writing melodies or lines. Pretty weird melodies, but it seems endless lines poured out of him. There isn't any harmony in the conventional sense to speak of. I'm not too keen on the sound of triads played with distortion, and these are more of a rhythmic thing with a grating sound to me than chords as such.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by awjoe »

I enjoyed that, and I'm impressed by how fast and tight they are, but I wouldn't call any of them virtuosos. Which is interesting, because each of them is a far better musician than I am. Obviously, 'plays better than awjoe' is not the definition of virtuoso. So, what is? You know what, I'm starting to think that although complete mastery of the instrument (speed, dexterity, nuance, creativity, improvisation, feeling) is necessary to be a virtuoso, that part of the definition is role - if the focal point of the arrangement at any point is your playing - if you take a solo in other words, displaying as many of the above characteristics as are necessary - you're a virtuoso.
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by merlyn »

Do you think that's more punky? The raw energy of punk with the fiddleyness of prog. Could call it pronk. The Sex Pistols play a Yes song. On acid. On a different planet. :D
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by RichardT »

merlyn wrote: Sun Jan 29, 2023 9:19 pm Do you think that's more punky? The raw energy of punk with the fiddleyness of prog. Could call it pronk. The Sex Pistols play a Yes song. On acid. On a different planet. :D

Yes were often on different planets…
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Re: Virtuosity

Post by Arpangel »

RichardT wrote: Sun Jan 29, 2023 9:52 pm
merlyn wrote: Sun Jan 29, 2023 9:19 pm Do you think that's more punky? The raw energy of punk with the fiddleyness of prog. Could call it pronk. The Sex Pistols play a Yes song. On acid. On a different planet. :D

Yes were often on different planets…

When I was very young, Yes, seemed to be liked by grammar school boys, I was from a secondary modern, and I was listening to Bach, The Shadows, The Beatles, and Morton Subotnic.
Hated Yes, still do, the thinking man’s James Last.
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