Yngwie Malmsteen Explains How Sebastian Bach, Vivaldi And Paganini Shaped His Musical Direction


A successful guitarist known for his neoclassical playing style, Yngwie Malmsteen has touched upon the influence of Bach, Vivaldi, and Paganini on his music during the interview with WSOU 89.5 FM.

Accepting the heavy classical music influence on his music even as a teenager, Malmsteen first became known for his neoclassical approach to heavy metal in the 1980s. Johann Sebastian Bach and Paganini being the important figures he was influenced by, Malmsteen even collaborated with orchestras to perform such as the Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra. He also has an album which is a classical concerto suite featuring electro guitar solos, named ‘Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor Op.1.’ He composed all of the music in the album by himself and collaborated with the Czech philharmonic for performing them.

Well-known for his interest in classical music, Yngwie Malmsteen was interviewed by WSOU recently. In the interview, he confirmed that he believes music is a hundred percent mathematical, and mentioned Pythagoras as the Greek mathematician who invented musical scale. He added that he is instinctual during his process of making music although he is completely aware of what he is doing in terms of technical approaches.

Answering the question of where his inspirations and insights came from, Malmsteen said he was deeply influenced by the great composers Johan Sebastian Bach, Vivaldi, and Paganini who were also improvisers. He added that he grew up in a classically-trained family, although they were just playing what was on the paper, not improvising. He said he regarded the improvisers as the original composers, and improvising is the genesis of the song.

After sharing his opinions on how composing and being inspired happens, he claimed his way of making music is improvisation, and from it, compositions emerge. He was also asked how classical and metal music reconcile in his music, and he answered this question by saying he picked up linear notes, arpeggios, and classical baroque elements and played them through his electric guitar, making it into his style which is called neoclassical metal.

Malmsteen said in the interview that:

“The great composers – Johan Sebastian Bach, Vivaldi, and Paganini – they were improvisers. I grew up in a classically-trained family, and it was very strange because none of these people improvised music, they only played what was on their paper. Whereas the original composers were improvisers. So when you improvise, you’re actually composing because improvisation is the genesis of the song. So out of the improvisation, something will surface, like a theme or a melody, and you take that and you build on that.”

He then added:

“If you listen to my solos, they are all improvised, they’re not written out. Some parts are written out but the solos per se are improvised. So my way of making music is improvisation, and from improvisation, compositions emerge.”

Yngwie Malmsteen has an upcoming new album titled ‘Parabellum’ which will be his 22nd, and it will be released on 23 July with only 4 songs featuring vocals. According to Malmsteen, he found a way to use ‘the magic’ in the album: only using the elements he felt he was very inspired.