Hardest instrument to play?

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by christos_liaskos, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. christos_liaskos

    christos_liaskos Professional

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    All I'll say is I'm a guitar man myself and I'm going to take a lot of convincing :D. The things that some people can do with one are just mindboggling, and when you take it to the extremes so people do I don't see how playing other instruments to an equally high level can be any harder
     
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  2. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    While easier to first learn, the piano will be harder to play than a guitar in an equally highest level.

    Total independence of both hands vs. a partial independence (the hand plucking the strings is linked with the hand on the frets, as in you need both to go together to sound)

    You can play ten notes at the same time on a piano, while you can't do that on a guitar

    Dynamics control on the piano is quite more complex than on the guitar. Fortissimi are louder than a fortissimo on a guitar, as pianissimo on a piano is just as quiet as a pianissimo on a guitar, meaning the dynamic range is heaps bigger.

    Expression: the need of use the pedals on the piano.

    Range: Academic piano suites and converti require a greater range of notes than a guitar,

    If someone asks me, the hardest instruments to play are the harp and the largest brasses (playing a tuba equals a living nightmare)
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
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  3. rdis10093

    rdis10093 Hall of Fame

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    the piccolo hands down
     
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  4. GoSurfBoy

    GoSurfBoy Semi-Pro

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  5. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Piano, guitar, piccolo, they all will produce a TONE without appreciable effort, so one only need worry about producing the melody. But strings, violin, viola, cello, etc. require considerable skill just to produce a decent tone, much less a melody.
     
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  6. thelastfurlong

    thelastfurlong New User

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    Sorry I have to butt in here...as a player of the piano, guitar & saxophone I have to say that there IS "appreciable effort" required to produce a tone from the piano and the guitar.

    I really don't think we can compare instruments in general though. There are just too many variables and at the end of the day it comes down to the sounds produced. All are difficult in their own way
     
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  7. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Huh? We have a piano, and I found that if I press a key i get a perfectly acceptable tone. Try bowing a violin if you don't know what you're doing and you get horrible scratchy noise. Not to denigrate any instrument but there are some that pretty much anyone, including my cat walking on the keyboard, can produce a decent tone on.
     
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  8. jonnythan

    jonnythan Professional

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    I was waiting for someone to mention violin/viola/cello.
     
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  9. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    IMO, the piano and violin are two of the hardest to master.

    I can't speak much for piano because I don't play but I think it is hard to play many moving parts, play octaves fast, play notes from far distances with the same hand, and some pieces are ridiculously fast lol.

    For violin, a lot of people say it is hard because there are no frets, but personally I don't think this is the hard part of playing in tune except when you constantly shift up from really high to low to middle to high, etc., or are playing on 3 + strings and you need to adjust your fingers. The hardest and most underrated part by lay people imo is that you have to master bow control and the many different bowing techniques (ie: spiccato or jumping the bow), because this affects whether you have enough bow to play, how musical and smooth you are, and many other different styles.

    Videos
    Piano
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8alxBofd_eQ&t=0m3s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqSulR9Fymg

    Violin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbZanmPRORo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF0ChBe9HHI&t=0m5s

    Whats amazing is that pros can make hard pieces look easy.

    Student: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehZX6_F3uBI
    Pro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KAgI7Qvxjs
     
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  10. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    (note: family includes a sister-in-law who majored in piano at Eastman School of Music, cousin who studied musicology at Columbia and whose instrument is piano, they always tell me the strings are the toughest because it's just so difficult to simply get a beautiful tone)
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I say auto racing ... :):)
    You gotta push every instrument to the max, as does everyone else you're racing against, and one mistake results in a blow engine, an expensive CRASH, with more consequences like dying and getting maimed.
    Some say a fighter pilot, but that's not just for the sake of competition, normally.
     
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  12. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    The Human Voice

    You think you've heard some awful screeching coming from a violin......
     
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  13. dave333

    dave333 Hall of Fame

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    Hmm hard to say, a lot of it is apples and oranges.

    As a violin player, I find the independent hands for piano to be very difficult. I find actually making a sound with wind/brass instruments hard, I suck at singing, etc.

    But I definitely feel like violin is hard to sound proficient at. At least with piano, you can "impress" with something beautiful like Fur Elise. It's a fairly simple piece but doesn't like it. There are also plenty of pop songs and arrangements you can show off with. It's very hard to sound good with a violin; it requires a lot of bow control as someone noted above. Even after 10 years of practice, the hardest part is still making sure I'm generating the best sound I can. Fingerings and stuff are fairly rudimentary after you play a lot, but bow control (because it's so subtle and there are a lot of techniques) is really hard.

    That said, French Horn is also notoriously difficult to sound good with.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, EVERY musical instrument is hard to play WELL, at the highest levels.
    A top sax player is just as talented as piano player, drummer, or violinist.
    Most anyone can make the noise, but it's the competition that makes for good or bad musicians.
     
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  15. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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  16. N23

    N23 Rookie

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    Piano for the reasons mentioned above. Additionally, drummers or percussion always seem to be difficult you include a bass set in your drum kit.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    A flute for TheBigShow (6'10" and 470 lbs.).
    A standup bass for a midget.
    A guitar for a onearmed person.
    A violin for the deaf.
    Drums for a parapelegic.
     
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  18. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]

    Beethoven became deaf later in his life and still played the piano very well.
     
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  19. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Have to disagree about the ease of the piccolo-- I have had trouble coaxing any tone from a flute, and I assume a piccolo would be similar. I think I might have an easier time getting a decent tone from a cello (maybe not the violin though--I tried one once and it sounded pretty scratchy).

    Violin and cello, etc. have the added difficulty that you don't have frets to guide your fingers, so it's harder to play in tune.

    Double reeds like the oboe are apparently extremely demanding as well.
     
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  20. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    great post!

    One thing I've found interesting is that instruments like guitar and trumpet don't have a one to one mapping of fingering to pitch. You can create the a different note by plucking the same string (by modulating the fret); similarly for trumpet and air pressure.

    Whereas piano, and to a large degree, flute have a more exclusive mapping, which makes them less complex in certain ways.
     
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  21. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    The harp is one of the most complicated and difficult instruments to play, due to the chromatic problems.

    The organ has the most complex music going on, including melodies for the feet. Organists are always amazing musicians.
     
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  22. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    Tony Melendez can play the guitar really well as well as write music! :shock:
     
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  23. Walenty

    Walenty Professional

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    1. French Horn
    2. Bassoon
    3. Oboe

    Believe me on this one.
     
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  24. CLL

    CLL New User

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    I'm starting to learn the piano, and I'm not quite sure how people are able to multi-task with their fingers...

    The violin on the other hand, easiest instrument to play.
    It probably helps that I started the violin at a very small age.
     
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  25. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    I think the trumpet deserves consideration as being physically difficult to play well, but is not that difficult from a mechanical or theoretical standpoint.

    Long ago I gave a trumpet lesson to a kid, in a music store setting, and he sat there for 30 minutes and could only blow air through the thing, never made a sound, despite everything I could suggest (which wasn't a lot, I was 15 and really had no business giving lessons.) But, when I was 8 and my cousin showed me her trumpet, I could play a scale on it within half an hour or so. (Guess she was a better teacher.)

    Turns out I learned zero music theory playing the trumpet, just how to play the notes on the sheet, and got so I didn't enjoy it. Everybody wants to play screaming high notes, and that hurts. Plus, it's kind of hard to practice quietly.

    I started fooling with a guitar around age 15 and enjoy it much more, even though I'm not very good at it.
     
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  26. jonnythan

    jonnythan Professional

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    [Totally the wrong thread.]
     
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  27. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    I agree. Large wind instruments are like living hell!
     
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  28. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    Anyone ever try playing a pedal steel guitar? Impossible.
     
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  29. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    Second fiddle is tough for me to play , what about you?
     
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  30. chollyred

    chollyred Rookie

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    As a drummer, I have to say the drums due to playing multiple intruments simultaneously with all four limbs. The poly rhythms, ever changing dynamics, and timing necessary to keep an entire band in sync.

    I know a bunch of drummers that have also learned to play guitar, keys, etc. but only very few other musicians can learn to play drums. (I play drums, guitar, and harmonica.)

    Now, can a drummer play by himself? Only during a solo. Drummers cannot realistically create a melody. A guitar player or a string player can entertain an audience by themselves, whereas a drummer needs a group setting. That does not mean that drums are easier to learn.
     
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  31. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    Disagree. I play bassoon (as well as many other instruments) and it is not difficult. (Reading tenor clef, however...) I played my first orchestral concert on bassoon after having had one in my hands for the first time only a week earlier.
     
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  32. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    What I am amazed at when I watch my son play piano and drums is the way he is doing completely different things in completely different rhythms with different fingers/hands/feet. I played the piano and trumpet growing up as a kid, but there are completely different levels of things the brain and body are doing at high levels of drums, piano, and I assume some other instruments. As far as instruments where you are playing one note at a time like the trumpet, there are levels of training, talent, and musical ability, but I could understand everything Doc Severinsen was doing, I just can't wrap my brain around a complex Liszt piece.

    Sometimes four hands are better than two?:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aajtw30-YG0


    Of course some of the all-time greats have played Liszt :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYM84n-2Sas&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rJvs46a5g&feature=related


    This is a really cool way of looking at it - you can see all the different things going on at once (it starts to get crazy at around 5:00).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWmTg3bHwuw

    and a cool look at some Liszt sheet music:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBwhh_5q8lI&feature=related

    and finally straight up:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H99FM6S8rU&feature=related
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
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  33. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    How about the didgeridoo or bagpipes?
     
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  34. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    As an accomplished pianist who has played pieces with poly rhythms, they can be quite difficult to master. You need to keep track of two different beats in your head and then translate them to said instrument.

    Gavin Harrison incorporates this to the nth degree on this song in his drumming.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctHTYChevvs

    Cue to the 5:15 mark of the song where he plays 4/4 on the hi hat, 7/8 on the bass and snare, and 3/8 on the ride cymbal, insane. Hard to comprehend how it would be to play 3 different rhythms at once, esp with one in an odd time signature.
     
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  35. Up&comer

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    A trumpet when you have braces.
     
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  36. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    The public as a candidate experienced during the recent debate on TV.
     
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  37. Slayer_of_Kings

    Slayer_of_Kings New User

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    I think those cathedral organs look pretty intimidating:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  38. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    So do some of the bigger places they are being used at.
     
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  39. Manus Domini

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    What instrument was Rach 3 composed for?

    /End of thread
     
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  40. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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  41. Uvijek Argen

    Uvijek Argen Semi-Pro

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    Maaaaaannn...you guys are tripping. Cowbell is the harder instrument. Try to do a whole concert and keep the tempo...ufff :)


    [​IMG]
     
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  42. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    Is this your cat?

    [​IMG]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J---aiyznGQ
     
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  43. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    As a former trumpeter (played from elementary school into high school) I'm surprised it gets mention here. Once you get the basics down it can be pretty easy to play anything on a trumpet. I've found guitar, piano, heck even for me the drums are harder to play at a high level than the trumpet.
     
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  44. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    Any harmonic instument is always going to be harder to play.

    My vote goes to the Piano as so many things can be happening at once in a given piece of music.

    Special mention to prog rock drums, though, particularly Neil Peart...
     
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  45. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    Thanks for that link. That is impressive. I will have to get that CD. Although I think we are talking how hard is an instrument for the general populace. Your example is an example of virtuosity, which is impressive no matter what instrument being discussed.

    What do you think of Steve Gadd's performance in 'Aja' with Steely Dan?
     
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  46. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    How about an E above high C?
     
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  47. tray999

    tray999 Rookie

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    This is a good question, so I asked my neighbor who plays violin for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. She said without any pause, the Harp is the most difficult instrument to master. Since she is a professional and I am a hack guitar player…. I will take her word on this debate!
     
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  48. chollyred

    chollyred Rookie

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    Steve Gadd is an incredible drummer. One of my fave's along with Jeff Pocaro, Rod Morgenstern, and Neil Peart.

    Don't know who that drummer is in "Procupine Tree", but he's very good.

    I haven't been playing much lately. This makes me want to...
     
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  49. Up&comer

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    Not incredibly difficult. You just have to have the right "fundamentals" and enough air. As I said before, braces make it a living hell.
     
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  50. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    Gadd is another monster drummer. Also a fan of Steely Dan.

    FYI...the song I linked to is off of Porcupine Tree's Nil Recurring. It was released as a second album to Fear of a Blank Planet. The album only has 4 songs but they are all good.
     
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