Appreciating Vai's music

This is the forum for all Steve Vai-related discussion including Steve's albums, videos, performances and frequently asked questions.
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Appreciating Vai's music

#1 Post by Maits10 » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:19 pm

This is a question for all Vai fans out there, do you all appreciate and enjoy Vai's songs the first few times you hear them? I'm wondering if it's just me, or if it takes other people a while to really "get" some of his songs. I always find that it takes me quite a few listens to really hear what's going on in most of his tunes, and often, it's only after actually watching Vai play them (whether it's on a DVD or live) that I take a liking to the songs; sometimes it can be months or years later where I am still finding little snippets of songs that intrigue me. I ask this because I am a very good guitar and piano player, very muscially inclined, VERY Vai influenced in my guitar playing, but I never seem to appreciate how good Vai's songs are for quite a while. Even the songs that I like right away, I always find something new every time I listen to them; probably because Vai is light years ahead of most musicians arrangement wise, as well as technically. Just curious if anyone else has this "problem", or if maybe it's just because I am becoming more educated on the guitar and able to comprehend more, I don't know. Comments/agreements/disagreements welcome.

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#2 Post by huckmonkey90 » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:31 pm

Cool, someone else feels this way!
I've always felt out of the loop when people talk about the first listen being the best. I really only start to like a song after at least a few listens, and sometimes I'll go back to an album that I've had for years but suddenly like a song that I didn't care for much before. I wonder if there's a certain type of mind that thinks this way, because I've never really heard anyone else say this.

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#3 Post by Olivia » Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:22 pm

Well... I think it's like anything else you listen to - some songs get to you straight away, and others grow on you... maybe you are too analytical, maybe you should listen more with your heart instead of wanting to figure things out right away. I went through a phase like that - focusing on the technicality of a song, trying to play it right away... but I think that then, you kinda lose the whole point of the song, because quintessentially, music is supposed to make you FEEL, rather than analyze... at least in the beginning...anyway, that's just my two cents! :D

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#4 Post by Derek » Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:19 am

I find that there are some songs that speak to me right away and others that sometimes have to grow on me. On the new album, Dying For Your Love was one that I initially didn't like at all, and it took quite a while for it to gradually speak to me, now it's one of my favorites on the album. The same holds true (for me) for lots of artists, so I don't ever make judgments after listening to something only once, I have to give it several listens and try to get at least one time where listening has my full attention, many times I'm listening to music in the background while trying to work.

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#5 Post by Mystic Fibrosis » Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:50 pm

Personally, I would agree that the first listen is always the best one. The first time I heard The Ultra Zone(the song itself) the beat just started coursing through my body, it was great.

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#6 Post by Eternity » Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:44 pm

The first listen for me is a feeling out process. Then I can see where he's going with it, and each listen after gets better and better. Sometimes it takes a while to "get it".

However, FTLOG was instantaneous for me. I had heard that song in my head for years previous. Which is quite freaky.

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#7 Post by Ant711UK » Sun Apr 17, 2005 1:22 am

He hits people in different ways with his music.

I like his melodies and phrasing and whatever else he puts around it.

Some people like him for the complicated wierd time signature stuff, some people like him for his lyrics. It's down to what you're looking for really.

I know that what I want is going to be there for me before I even buy the CD, because it always has been in the past.

I tend to like bits of songs instantly and grow to like the rest of it over time.


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#8 Post by Big Bad Bill » Sun Apr 17, 2005 2:43 am

I also have to listen to Steve's (any) music a few times before I start deriving any pleasure from it. I worried about being an inefficient listener, but compared to the much better musicians in my music theory class, I can always spot points of interest and the directions of melody pitch etc so I don't think I am. I wonder if it's something to do with what people listen for in a tune-is it the overall 'contour' (passive listener) or do you listen to the harmonies, melodies, syncopations etc (active listener)? I fall into the latter category and because of my limited brain processing power, this complexity can take me a good week of listening before things begin to seep in. But once a piece of music is assimilated into my head, every little squeak, twang and squealing harmonic is burned indelibly into my head!

One observation-if i do like a song from the very start, I generally get bored of it first and those that take a little time to grow on me turn out to be my favourites!

Don't you just LOVE good music?

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#9 Post by vaigod » Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:08 pm

It also takes a me a few listens to REALLY feel the tune. I am also a guitar player and I tend to pay attention the first time out to his guitar playing. Some tunes, IMHO, are easy to get the first time out. But at times there are these subtle layers that float by and on first listen its hard at times to catch them. Overall though, it takes me about 2 listens to really get the vibe of the entire cd..


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#10 Post by Maits10 » Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:24 pm

Some interesting replies, thanks guys. I guess initially I want to enjoy a song without having to listen for every little nuance that Steve throws in there (as opposed to about every other artist today), and then I just start hearing those things afterwards. I guess I'm the prisoner of listening to Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, etc... when I was growing up. Steve is so far ahead of those groups arrangement wise that the complexities are lost on me initially, even though now I know to look for them in his music. It just makes me appreciate it that much more when I do hear those little parts that set Steve apart, and when I do find them (which can be many times even in the same song) it finally gets me listening to that particular song and playing along with it instead of passing it by. It's a good problem to have. :)

Ex. - Never listened to the song Frank a whole lot, saw on a Guitar Pro file that those notes in the middle were all harmonics (didn't even think to look before), thought "that's pretty fucking cool, who does that?", listen to the song now. :)

Ex. 2 - Had the G3 Denver DVD since it came out, I Know You're Here is one of my favorite Vai songs, just "heard" Weiner's backing part behind the verse a few weeks ago, think it's awesome, adds enjoyment to an already awesome song. :)

Two different initial takes on songs, enjoying each more with time. Gotta love overanalyzing stuff. :)

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#11 Post by lightissound » Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:38 pm

Hmm, not for me -- my favorite Vai songs all hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard them. Some in just the first few bars.

Others that aren't my favorites may grow on me over time, or over time if it's one I don't really care for I'll become more aware of why specifically I'm not nuts about it.

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#12 Post by drake » Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:54 pm

i like vai song's.I usually watch him on dvd.Thats better for me.i can see the expression of him

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#13 Post by Feverdream777 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:19 am

For me its a bit of both. Instantaneous gratification yet growth and appreciation after I have learned to play the song.

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Vai appreciation

#14 Post by wattam » Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:46 pm

When I was studying music in college, I found that the pieces we had to analyze even though it might have been one of my favorite pieces prior to, after analyzing it, the song just lost it's special feeling for me. I no longer hear the music as one sound but could hear the clarinet parts separately - and it didn't sound the same ever again.

With Steve's music, I just let is wash over me. Some songs are so complicated to listen to that you really have to work to enjoy them. Other's slam you to the soul on the first listening. I think that is why we return to Steve over and over - you never know what you're going to get but whatever it is will be something special. Real Illusions was the first Vai studio CD that every track was easily accessible - yet the more you listen the deeper and deeper you get - as in REALLY DEEP spiritually as well as musically. This CD is musically the strongest CD yet - and a lot of it has to do with the use of his voice. An Amazing musician.

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#15 Post by GGGrev » Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:31 am

I guess because Steve's music is so complicated that it needs a few listen to know what is going on, but nevertheless, I always get his music within a few listen.

Also I found that some of the people that are brain washed by the popular music scene don't get his music AT ALL, they don't feel, or I should say they have not felt music because they've been brain washed by popular music and that they think that it's annoying to listen to tracks like "Tender Surrender", and complaining why there aren't any lyrics.

I hate that.

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