Yngwie J. Malmsteen

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Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Yngwie J. Malmsteen (born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbck, June 30, 1963) is a guitarist from Sweden who achieved widespread acclaim in the 1980s due to his technical proficiency and fusion of classical music elements with heavy rock guitar.

Born into a musical family in Stockholm on June 30, 1963, Malmsteen was exposed to classical music from an early age, and began playing guitar at the age of eight. Malmsteen was in his teens when he first encountered the music of the 19th-century violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, whom he cites as his biggest classical influence. Through his emulation of these pieces on guitar, Malmsteen developed a prodigious technical fluency. Malmsteen also cites Jimi Hendrix, Genesis, Uli Jon Roth, and Deep Purple as influences.

Malmsteen's contributions to the evolution of modern rock guitar, particularly his embracing of modal progressions and classical-influenced techniques not widely used in rock music, mark him out as a unique figure in the musical world.



In late 1982 Malmsteen was brought to the USA by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's playing. He had brief engagements with the bands Steeler for their self-titled album of 1983, then Alcatrazz, For their debut No Parole From Rock N' Roll in 1983, plus a live album in 1984 titled Live Sentence. He left Alcatrazz in 1984 and was replaced by Steve Vai, after which he began his solo career.

Malmsteen released his first solo album "Rising Force" (winner of Guitar Player Magazine's Best Rock Album and nominated for a 1984 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental) which achieved the impressive position of #60 on the Billboard album chart. This was followed by "Marching Out" (1985).

His third album Trilogy was released in 1986. In 1987 former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner joined his band, and the following summer he released his fourth album Odyssey.

Odyssey would be his biggest hit album, mainly because of its first single "Heaven Tonight". Shows in Russia during the Odyssey tour were recorded, and released in 1989 as his fifth album Trial By Fire: Live in Leningrad. Not only was the concert in Leningrad the largest ever concert by a western artist in the Soviet Union, but subsequent Malmsteen record sales in Russia totalled 27 Million. Interestingly that is as many recordings as the Red Hot Chili Peppers had sold in total by 2003, worldwide.

In late 1988, his signature series Fender Stratocaster was released, making him the second artist to have one made, after Eric Clapton.

Malmsteen's style was dubbed "Neoclassical" and it became somewhat popular during the mid 1980s, with notable contemporaries such as Paul Gilbert, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore appearing in Malmsteen's wake.


In the early 1990s he released the albums Eclipse (1990), The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection (1991), Fire and Ice (1992) and The Seventh Sign (1994).

Despite his early success, and continued success in Europe and Asia, by the early 1990s the gratuitous over-the-top stylings of 1980s heavy metal had become unfashionable in the USA. This was displaced by the Seattle grunge movement, where technical ability was replaced by simpler, more emotionally-driven songs, and more basic chord progressions. In fact, it is often argued that the grunge rock movement arose in part as a backlash to the overly technical hard rock inspired by Malmsteen and his contemporaries, which despite its often impressive technique was regarded by some as ponderous, bland and self-indulgent.

In the 1990s, Malmsteen continued to record and release albums under the Japanese record label Pony Canyon, and maintained a devoted following in Europe and Japan, and to a lesser extent in the USA. In 2000, he once again acquired a contract with a US record label, Spitfire, and released his 1990s catalog into the US market for the first time, including what he regards as his masterpiece Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, recorded with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague.


In 2003, Malmsteen joined Joe Satriani and Steve Vai with whom he toured as part of the G3 "supergroup". [1] (http://www.satriani.com/G3/)

Specialized guitar

Aside from technical prowess, distinctions of Malmsteen's guitar style include a wide, violin-like vibrato (inspired by classical violinists), almost exclusive use of Fender Stratocaster guitars, and use of such minor scales as the Harmonic minor, and minor modes such as Phrygian, and Aeolian. Malmsteen cites the Fender Stratocaster and the single coil pickups (of which he uses his own personal custom design by Di Marzio) as a large part of his sound. Fender manufactures a Malmsteen signature model Stratocaster based accurately upon this combination.

The guitars he uses are instantly recognisable by the scalloped neck. Similar to a regular guitar neck, but with wood 'scalloped' or scooped away to form concave shaped in between the frets, some of which are very large. Malmsteen coined this design from the days when he worked in a music store in Stockholm Sweden and came across a 17th century Lute with a scalloped neck using the raised wood as frets.


Although he was initially regarded with respect by the musical fraternity, and is practically revered by many guitar enthusiasts, Malmsteen's music has also been heavily criticized. Despite his impressive technique and his ambitious use of classical techniques, modes and progressions, some find Malmsteen's recordings repetitive or even boring. A review of 1988's Odyssey notes "little difference in approach from his previous output, lending credence to critics' charges that Malmsteen plays with mindless technique at the expense of substance, fire, and emotion." [2] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:bauk6j3h71q0)

The most frequent criticism of Malmsteen is that his musical style focuses more on showing his own technical prowess than on substance, although a comparison between his different solos shows that he rarely chooses to play close to the edge of his skills or speed. Furthermore, some of the lyrics employed in some of Malmsteen's songs have been questioned as commercial or 'cheesy', but it is likely that these were merely a tool to gain more exposure and radio play in order to showcase the technical mastery of his guitar playing. Whatever the case, instrumental passages such as "Sorrow" and "Far beyond the Sun" are generally considered to be his finest work.

Malmsteen's personality has caused criticism. Both his friends and enemies have said that he is usually a very pleasant and friendly person but sometimes gets provoked and acts intolerably, and "has a huge ego".


External links

es:Yngwie J. Malmsteen fi:Yngwie Malmsteen fr:Yngwie Malmsteen ja:イングヴェイ・マルムスティーン nl:Yngwie J. Malmsteen pl:Yngwie Malmsteen sv:Yngwie Malmsteen it:Yngwie Malmsteen


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