Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Niccola Paganini - Unleash the *&*^$% Fury

I'm not posting enough guitar stuff! I've gotten back into Paganini again, amazing 18th century composer and perhaps the first virtuoso solo violinist. I first heard of him when I discovered Ynqwie J. (don't for get the J!) Malmsteen back in the early 80's and he cited Paganini as his biggest influence. Being an impressionable young teenager at the time, and impressed by Malmsteen's near-perfect technique, I dug around and bought a vinyl copy of Paganini's 24th Caprice (Woohoo!, I found a link to the sheet music on the web).

I can't find a link to an audio violin performance of it, but I did find a link to an old guitarist I haven't spoken to in ages who used to play it on his classical guitar when he was 16 (he ripped on it!). His name is Andrew Mah, here, have a listen!

Anyhew... This piece is regarded as one of the most technically challenging, demanding, demonic, spanning all sorts of techniques, huge stretches, etc.. His masterpiece really. One thing I have read about Paganini is that it was quite obvious he wrote sections intended to demoralize other musicians. Gotta like that! Another thing is he apparently never practiced after age 30, but still had his chops at his fingertips whenever he wanted. Some of his technique may have stemmed from some sort of finger condition he had, where he was severely double-jointed, and capable of huge stretches, unheard of in those days.

Back in his day there were rumors he had sold his soul to the devil in order to play like that (maybe that's where Robert Johnson got the idea, seriously, can't we just be that good, do we always need fictional evil religious icons to make us better than other people?).

So.. I'm gonna dust off my old score, and slog through it and learn it on the electric guitar. I fitzed around with it ages ago as a teenager, but I never gave it a good go. It would be a nice piece to add to the repitoire, or just to accomplish somewhat. And quite a guitar workout! I'm surprised Ynqwie never put out a version.

And speaking of the Swedish virtuoso, just in case anyone missed Malmsteen's incident where he threatened to kill a fellow passenger on a flight to Tokyo Japan (where he is considered a god), his roadie recorded it on DAT. Check it out! He screams at her "Don't you know who I AM! You just unleashed the &%$*& FURY!" (he was having a bad day I guess, or maybe he's just an a-hole). Last time I saw him, he was getting pretty thick in the gut and slightly ridiculous in his leather pants and pirate shirt. But DAMN he can still PLAY!

More guitar blogs to come. It's what I do the most outside of work and kids and family these days!

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