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November 20, 2005
"In the future, there will be no virtuoso musicians..."

Did you notice something really bad in the music industry recently?  (No, besides that...  And that...)  Look around, there are almost no recent virtouso musicians, no masterful influential players who aren't old timers.

I mean, if this were the early 70's and someone asked you to name some virtuoso guitarists, you'd have absolutely no problem coming up with at least twenty.  Lessee, perhaps something like: Fripp, McLaughlin, Beck, Howe, Allman, Garcia, Zappa, DiMeola, Hackett, Clapton, Page, Coryell, Parkening, Williams, Towner, Latimer, Martino, Gatton, Holdsworth, Akkerman.  Easy.  For extra credit you should be able to name 20 more.

But try to name any virtuoso guitarists that appeared on the music scene within, say, the last six years or so.  It's tough!  There's that John Mayer guy, he's alright, but he's no virtuoso.  Charlie Hunter is certainly a virtuoso, but he's been around for over a decade.

You can ask the same question about keyboard players.  For the early 70's you've got Emerson, Minnear, Banks, Corea, Hancock, Moraz, Duke, Sancious, Wakeman, Stewart, Jarret, etc.)  And now?

Or bass players (McCartney, Squire, Rutherford, Wier, Cassady, Pastorius, Clarke, Entwistle, Kaye, Jamerson, Graham, Swallow, etc.).

Or drummers (Bruford, Collins, Palmer, Starr, Moon, Baker, Cobham, Williams, etc.).

But it's truly sad; there really are almost no recent virtuoso players.  There's apparently not going to be a Hendrix or Coltrane of this generation.  That's a major cultural loss.  That's a lot of student musicians who are not going to be inspired to do great things.

(On the upside, this also means there's very likely a lot of market demand for virtuoso musicians.  And that a record label that puts some effort in this direction would do pretty well.  Hint-hint.)

Posted by DonTillman at November 20, 2005 12:38 AM

I disagree. I think that there are still virtuoso musicians around. I live in Memphis and I hear some from time to time. Major record labels don't sign them, though. They don't get famous and you never hear their stuff on the radio. I think that the music industry has 'figured out' their end of things. Their job is not to share the best music with the world; their job is to make money. They have their own formulas for picking bands and cranking out albums. My hope was that the internet would save music, but it's still difficult to sift through all of the noise and find the truly creative work.

Posted by: Richard Moore at December 20, 2005 06:36 AM

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