Category Archives: Danny Wendt

A Tidbit About Paganini & Developing Pinkie Technique

Paganini’s “24 Caprices for solo violin” , the supposed epitome of virtuosity that every major violinist(or guitarist) records on Phillips or Deutsche Grammophon or includes in the repertoire in an effort to secure/demonstrate their place as a “virtuoso”, was written when Paganini was still a teenager… Paganini’s international acclaim as the greatest virtuoso to have ever lived did not start until he was in his 40’s. At the time (1830), conditions were not favorable for the general public and one of the only ways to get escape poverty for most people was to be a great musician, or have a talented child prodigy( ala Mozart). During these times almost every single person had some type of musical training and a general understanding of music. There was a virtuoso on every corner, 60% of the population at that time could play a musical instrument better than what you hear on modern radio every single day (even the most talented) that being said, it was during these times that Paganini literally scared the shit out of people by his command of the violin (also an equally talented guitarist) this was an exceptionally great feat for the time, almost every violinist performing during the 1830s was at least as good if not better than all the great modern violinists, if you weren’t good, you didn’t eat most of the time. When arriving in England for the first time, the Brits were outraged that Paganini would charge so much money to see him perform and bombasted him in the papers telling everyone to boycott him and send him packing….in response Paganini lowered his normal price for tickets and played a solitary show…the next day the same detractors published a full retraction and told people to sell their houses and everything they own to buy tickets and to go see Paganini’s next performance. No musician can do what Paganini did by any stretch of the imagination, the closest anyone has ever come was the great pianist Franz Liszt, who by comparison, is a much more proficient composer, and was known to make people faint (like Paganini) by his incredible technique. Paganini Was more than just a talented violinist, he was the first Rock-star to sell his soul to the Devil, the first Millionaire, one of the first classic composers to use his own natural long hair rather than a powdered wig.Mozart was a technical wizard on several instruments, and Paganini was known to have been one of the only instrumentalists to have done Mozart justice (and then some!).

So the next time you see or hear a guitarist trying to fumble through the 5th Caprice (again? ugh) tell them that was written by Paganini when he was 16 and that they have about 30 years more of 8-16 hours a day practice to come even close to what Paganini did. (and still no guarantees)Developing pinky technique.

When I learned that Tony Iommi had lost the tips of his main playing fingers before Sabbath broke, I learned that the first Sabbath albums were recorded using the index and pinky fingers (later development in prosthetics allowed him to use his middle finger in 1972 and then all his fingers since 1976, although he still favours his index and pinky)….at the time my soloing technique was solid and in place,but my pinky finger was sorely under-developed, so in order to be more like Tony Iommi(and all the great players)and develop my pinky, I used electrical tape and taped my middle and ring fingers together(if you don’t you will find it extremely hard at first to NOT use the other fingers,this helps MAKE you develop the pinky)and practiced all my chords and solos I knew up to that point with just the pinky and index fingers, after many months of this odd practice, I completely developed my pinky technique and have been using the pinky to even bend the low E-string up to three frets easy. As a result of this “taping fingers” technique, I also can tremolo with the pinky finger quite decent and all chords are much easier to execute. Yes, people think Sabbath solos are easy to deliver by comparison to other early metal players, but let those people try the ENTIRE first Sabbath albums(Black Sabbath,Paranoid,Master of Reality)using just the index and pinky fingers(that includes EVERYTHING)…I guarantee they will have a new-found respect for Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath(not to mention a more developed pinky finger…