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What is the definition of a Virtuoso?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by The_Ryst, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. I was wondering today, what is teh exact definition of a virtuoso. I mean, I'm heavily into Progressive Metal music which is oozing with virtuosity (fast playing, intensely hard stuff, requires loads of talent, filled with wankery, hehe) but there are other virtuosos.

    FOr example, today I was lisening Rush: Chronicles while mowing the lawn, and Geddy Lee is an absolutely amazing player, but I saw this advertisement/review thing for his bass for "The Virtuoso --- Geddy Lee" Is he really a virtuoso? He creates great lines that fit the song and no doubt blows lots of bassists away, but what defines a virtuoso?

    Is virtuoso just a bullsh*t term that's thrown around because from what I've seen it's mostly opinion...I wish there was a standard virtuosity test that'd just clear my mind on this...

    So three questions:

    How was the term "virtuoso" discovered, used, and applied to musicians (and when?)

    What makes a virtuoso?

    Who are some virtuosos you can think of, and why are they virtuosos?

  2. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
  3. Ummm.....yes it does dude, look at it.

    1. A musician with masterly ability, technique, or personal style

    I don't htink if someone has style it makes them a virtuoso though...hmmm.
  4. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Well style is just a part of it. You need the other two - ability and technique. To me a Virtuoso would be a bassist that can apply all kinds of styles and techniques to their playing, and make it look easy- fast finger-style, slap/pluck, stacatto, tapping, harmonics, chords etc etc etc. Someone with a natural talent for bass, something they are born with. We could break down the term even more so, but that is what comes to mind.

    Then again, one could argue that Jaco is considered a Virtuoso, yet he did not slap, which would make my previous statement false. :mad: I think a lot of it has to do with personal preference.
  5. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Jaco didn't slap so he's not a virutoso? Ok.

    So anyway, I think this term is tossed around too much. I think one must have mastered there instrument completely to earn this term. So I think it should be a rare term.
  6. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    :confused: I did not say that. Maybe you should review my last post and then get someone to slap you upside the head. :scowl: Nowhere did I mention that "jaco didn't slap so he's not a virtusoso". You misunderstood me, obviously.
  7. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I don't think a virtuoso needs to know every style of playing to be one! I think a virtuoso, in my opinion, is a musician who knows his instrument inside and out and can apply his/her playing to any style of music with little effort. I do believe reading is essential to being a virtuoso but many non reading musicians can dispel that requirement at the drop of a hat!
  8. to me a virtuoso is - one who has an indepth understanding of: their instrument, music and how they interact together
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Then I would have chose a different way of phrasing this:

    Your previous statement previous to "yet he did not slap" was "Jaco is considered a virtuoso"... so this comes of as he didn't slap... so he's not a virtuoso.

    I had to reread your post and then have someone slap me upside the head for your post to make sense.

    Yeah, thanks for being an ass about it, I appreciate it.
  10. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    n. pl. vir·tu·o·sos or vir·tu·o·si (-s)

    1. A musician with masterly ability, technique, or personal style.
    2. A person with masterly skill or technique in the arts.
    3. A person with a strong interest in the fine arts, especially in antiquities.
    4. Archaic. A very learned person.

    Your welcome. :p
  11. Hi - I would consider Jimi Hendrix to be a virtuoso but he couldn't read music - I can but I'm definately not a virtuoso.I think a virtuso is someone with a superb grasp of his/her instrument tremendous playing ability and style.
  12. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Anytime :D
  13. what is stacatto style playing??
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Despite my statement, I agree! I read very little!
  15. So let's start compiling a list of who we think are virtuosos...does this need another thread? Givens:

    Billy Sheehan (not just a wanker, although he has the ability)
    Jaco Pastorius
    Tony Levin
    Donald "duck" Dunn
    James Jamerson
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    And think of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles...probably not the best sight readers in the world.
  17. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, it is a terrible picture of me, but thanks for asking.
  18. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I would personally define a virtuoso as someone who is just a musical giant in general, not necessarily limited to one instrument. Someone whose musical proclivities transcend the specifics of what instrument they play and how they play it, but more about how much music runs through them. But, just playing a bunch of instruments doesn't necessarily make one a virtuoso, it wouldn't be like "oh I've learned to play X,Y,Z" it'd be more like "Music is so strongly rooted in my system that X,Y,Z are more or less irrelevant"
  19. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    I'm as surprised as you are.
  20. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Staccato (correction of spelling from my last post) refers to playing quick, short notes. Example - Staccato Octaves. Rob DeLeo of STP is one bassist who uses this style in his playing.