It would be an understatement to say that Yngwie Malmsteen is an influential guitar player. In fact, he’s one of the guys who completely revolutionized the instrument. What the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore did back in the day, he took it to a whole new level, fusing baroque with metal.
But, of course, with a virtuosic player like Yngwie, it’s not unusual to have people bringing up the good old “shred vs. emotion” discussion. These two aren’t mutually exclusive, although it’s not a secret that there’s been a huge focus on technical skills rather than the music itself for a very long time. And Malmsteen has been accused of it by some guitar players and guitar lovers out there.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, the guitarist was asked to choose between speed and emotion and say what’s more important. He replied:
“I’m sure there are examples of empty fast notes. Those examples do exist. But if you listen to the way I play, and you hear a fast slur or a fast run, a fast arpeggio or whatever I’m playing, if you slowed that down, it would have full harmonic value along with passion and expression.“
“And just listen to my vibrato – that’s all I have to say. Nothing more needs to be said. You can’t tell me that has no emotion. You must be tone deaf.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Yngwie was also asked whether he ever had a “terrible show.” He responded:
“I’ve always had the ability to bounce back from almost anything. I have what they call ‘tennis memory,’ so if something starts going wrong, whether it’s my fault or not, I’ll just turn around and go, ‘Well, fuckin’ watch this!‘ and will do something outrageous in order to make everything better.
“For the last 30 years or more, I’ve never allowed myself a bad show. It’s always in my hands, so if I allow myself to let it slip and go out of control, it’s my fault and I will go off stage feeling shitty.”