Yngwie Malmsteen – Guitar Master


Is it really possible to combine heavy metal with classical music? Yes, this fact has been proved by Swedish guitar player Yngwie Malmsteen. Many musicians have over the years tried combining various rock genres with classical music, with mixed results. In most cases, the sounds simply do not match. Examples of this include boogie and shuffle-versions of famous classical pieces. The most successful way you can combine any genre with classical music is to be faithful to the core of classical music. You need to include its musical theory, i.e. the scales and arpeggios. Moreover, you need to capture the correct rhythm. Shuffle is not part of any classical piece, and is therefore just wrong.

However, Yngwie Malmsteen knows how to effectively combine heavier rock music with classical elements. The guitar riffing resembles the progressions of baroque music, and the solos could just as well have been played on a violin. Yngwie’s songs are often full of solos, and some of them are pure instrumentals. In fact, his first album was for the most part instrumental with only two songs containing vocals. The debut was released in 1984, following his departure from the US band Alcatrazz. Swedish brothers Jens and Anders Johansson joined his band, both highly skilled and classically trained keyboardist and drummer, respectively. The next release, Marching Out in 1985, featured top singer (but at the time largely unknown) Jeff Scott Soto, who was perfect for the job.

Yngwie has always had problems working with other people than himself, and his band line-up has therefore always been a game of musical chairs. He is producing his own albums and sometimes handles the bass in addition to playing the guitar.