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  • Rock musicians vs. classically trained musicians

    I just returned from the symphony. A friend of mine (who is also a pretty good guitar player) plays violin and invited us. Afterward I asked him his opinion of rock musicians vs. classically trained musicians. Are rock musicians as good of musicians as those who are classically trained?

    Yes I know it's apples/oranges, but here is his answer. Classical music is a whole different discipline. Most successful classical musicians study and take lessons for years (he played and took lessons for 15 years before taking up electric guitar). Rock is more improvisational: classical is more confined. When you are talking about the top professional rock guitarists (Clapton, Ford, Carlton, etc), yes, they are very accomplished musicians. But most rock players aren't in the same league as classical musicians.

    So what do you think? Truth or is he just being a snob?

    (replys from people who have never seriously listened to classical music don't count)
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  • #2
    I think both are talented. I also think it takes years to be a good rock guitarist. Classical musicians can't just pick up an electric guitar and play anything they want. They will have to learn just like anyone else. Although their training and discipline will probably give them an edge as far as learning how to play. And learning good technique. But sometimes when I'm listening to classical music I'll think to myself I want to listen to some music. And then I'll realize I'm already listening to music. Classical music just doesn't move me the same way as rock. In some ways rock music is more pure. It has drums. It has rhythm. It sometimes has screaming guitars. I admire classical musician's ability to read music. But rock musicians can learn to read music too. A lot of classical musicians have a hard time improvising. But for a lot of rock musicians this comes naturally.

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    • #3
      i think that classical musicians have better technique but that is one of the main fundamentals in classical style.

      rock does have the edge on improvisation but most of the time they lack in technique.

      its very hard to compare the two style because of them being so different.

      i would say compare jazz to classical and get a better face off.
      Originally Posted by Echad


      People envy when they feel inferior. Doesn't matter about what.

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      • #4
        two opposite ends of the spectrum...but yeah rock are more improvisational and creative. But mostly we cant read a note (i'm generalising here!!) Classical musicians read well, understand music theory and can play well whats on the score. But they play old old cheesy music mostly.
        Before you judge somebody, walk first a mile in their shoes. Then at least you'll be a mile away from them and have a new pair of shoes!!!!!!!!

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        • #5
          there is plenty of improvisation in classical music, i have no idea why you think there isn't.
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          • #6
            well this is tough to compare not only because of the nature of the music, but also the fact that "classically trained" violinists etc which are of the caliber to be playing in the symphony are generally masters of their instrument. Most rock guitarists are not; however, as mentioned, if you make a more fair comparison with accomplished jazz guitarists, I think they are on par with the classical guys.

            Songwriting ability is also a completely different element that makes a big difference, depending upon what your definition of a "musician" is.
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            • #7
              i think that classical musicians have better technique but that is one of the main fundamentals in classical style.




              Yes, that's one thing I really noticed.... there were what?...15 or 20 violins? They were moving their bows up and down and vibratoing (is that a word?)PRECISELY in unison. Classical music is so precise.... by comparison rock is quite messy. But perhaps the rawness of it is part of it's appeal.
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              • #8
                Most "rock musicians" aren't musicians at all, in my opinion.
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                • #9
                  there is plenty of improvisation in classical music, i have no idea why you think there isn't.


                  True, particularly when featuring a soloist. At today's concert, however, if there was any improvisation, I didn't detect it. They were all reading off their sheets and each violinist was playing exactly what the one next to him/her was. On a whole I think it's safe to say that there is far more improvisation in rock (or jazz) than there is in classical.
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                  • #10
                    Generally speaking if he can't improvise he sucks and if he doesn't know basic theory he sucks. Most guitarists I come across have chops, ears, and technique.

                    I would not be surprised if the average guitarist knows little compared to other instrumentalists since its the new fad. Vocalists are probably the worst as far as versatility and theory though

                    This is all speculation though

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                    • #11
                      I'll give classical musician's all the props in the world for doing what they do. and yes, as some have said here, their technique is impeccable.

                      BUT.............................

                      Some of the greatest rock songs ever written wouldn't be the same with fantastic technique, each style is unique. Would sleazy southern blues played just a touch behind the beat even exist?

                      A friend of mine went to school for jazz improv drumming, and he is a fantastic drummer, but we can't talk about music because as soon as I say that I'm going to tune my guitar to open G for some slide tunes, he retorts with "down tuning or playing anything that's not in standard tuning is just cheating and the sign of a lazy musician." (hence I really don't talk with him anymore)

                      All styles are different, the one beautiful thing about music is that it's free and open to interpretation. If Neil Young feels that one note constitutes a solo, then one note constitutes a solo. If EVH wants to tap from here to kalamazoo, then so be it. There are no rules in music, only suggestions.
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                      • #12
                        I studied classical guitar for about 5 years. It's a totally different instrument. It's very disciplined. And it really doesn't translate to blues, jazz or rock well. Yes, it does translate to some forms of rock and metal well, but not the stuff that I like to play. It's just different. It really polished my technique but it stifled my improvisation skills. 20+ years later, I still don't improvise well. But my finger picking is down to a science. And I still have very clean technique. I cringe at the thought of using my thumb on the low E for example. But I have a solid knowledge of theory.

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                        • #13
                          my brothers ex gf was a concert pianist. one day i was at their house and i asked her to play something. she read the music and played. asked her if she could play a certain song, and she said she could only play what was on the pages.

                          my take is that classical players for the most part are robots. they are technically proficient and working an instrument and have absolutely no musical skills. they rely on someone else to create music and simple play it back exactly how the composer expects.

                          good rock (and other genre) musicians are likely to have little to no technical skill and 1000 times the musical ability.

                          theres exceptions on both sides of course, with rock robots and gifted classical musicians. these are the ones that dont usually last in their respective genres though. every once in a while you get someone who defies all this, but its a rare occurence.
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                          • #14
                            Apples and oranges.

                            When I started on electric, I couldn't improvise, couldn't pick out pieces by ear, and do all the stuff that good rock musicians take for granted.

                            However, years of classical training have taught me to read music well, sight-read difficult music, and have instilled really excellent practice habits. It's easy for classical musicians to write off rock musicians as power-chord-slamming neanderthals, and vice-versa as elitist, uncreative snobs who simply read notes on a page. But to do so is to really ignore the essence of both styles of music.
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                            • #15
                              my take is that classical players for the most part are robots. they are technically proficient and working an instrument and have absolutely no musical skills.




                              Not the best of them. Who do you think writes the stuff that they play? Not all "classical" groups are cover-only.....
                              ...but, this one goes to eleven.

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