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Visual Sound Theories [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 7.13
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details). Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

Product details

  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Red Int / Red Ink
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Sep 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000TV1STM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,305 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Vai, absolutely stunning 10 Feb 2009
By Simon Daultrey VINE VOICE
Visual Sound Theories is a truly special piece of contemporary performance. If you're anticipating just a bunch of Vai tunes that have been half-heartedly arranged for other instruments, think again.

The painstaking efforts that Vai has gone to, with the help of those involved, has resulted in a unique, vibrant show which is perhaps more Vai than any other. As well as showcasing his prowess as a musician and composer, it also proves that it is possible to entwine the modern with the traditional and create something beautiful.

Some of Vai's best loved tracks (for example, For The Love Of God, Answers, The Attitude Song) sound, in my opinion, better than ever, and what is more, EVERY single instrument and musician is made the most of. Nothing is spared in this show, especially effort.

I think Visual Sound Theories should appeal to a wide's not just for guitar freaks and Vai-ists. Enthusiasts of cLassical and orchestral music should find it just as refreshing.

Production is, of course, top-notch, sound is great, and the special features are decent too.

This has got to be the best music DVD in my collection, I cannot recommend it enough!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
First off, let me remind you that this is a Steve Vai DVD. Therefore, if you are even looking at this release, you are probably already a fan!
This is a great chance to see Steve doing what only he does in a brand new context - live in Holland with a full orchestra. The group is massive - all the normal orchestral instruments are supplemented with no less than 3 percussionists AND a drummer, plus backup electric guitars, bass and keys. It's nice to hear a real grand piano as well, which is so often missing from modern jazz and rock concerts - i never feel that any of the sampled pianos available to touring keyboardists touch on the dynamics and expression of the real thing.
It's quite bizarre to see Steve's posturing and posing alongside the relatively sedate orchestra, but you can see that everyone involved (especially the conductor) are having a really good time. The sound recording is generally of a very high standard, much better than most live music DVDs, and the film editing is also reasonably good, with a nice selection of camera angles and not relying on the cheesy video effects that often plague these releases. Personally I felt that the drummer was a little low in the mix, but I guess this was a deliberate decision to maintain the originality of the project.
The other thing is that the arrangements are, at points, brilliant. It is constantly a surprise and a delight to see how Steve and his collaborators have reimagined the original compositions to take advantage of the many timbres, articulations and rich, full harmonies available when you have 80 or so musicians on the stage... The songs sound very different but are still very much recognisable. Of particular merit, and for me the standout moment of the DVD is "The Attidude Song" which had me applauding in my living room!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast fingers, funny faces, and a tongue... oh yeah, and magic. 13 Oct 2007
By eleventy-one - Published on
As amazing as Sound Theories (the album) is, the audio version of this DVD is even more incredible. I can appreciate what Steve Vai did with the painstaking editing process for the CD, making it as perfect-sounding a "show" as possible, but there is infinitely more magic in this DVD. Steve spliced together every perfect snippet and edited out every flaw to create the tracks heard on the album, but the album represents a fantasy show. Flawless does not necessarily equal perfect (if that makes sense). In my opinion, the DVD performance, unedited, is more perfect. I mean, this show actually happened! There was a moment in time when Steve Vai and The Holland Metropole Orkest and the music came together for an astounding performance. It contained spontaneous emotion that simply cannot be improved upon.

The first part of the DVD showcases Steve Vai's guitar, and could be titled "Fast Fingers, Funny Faces, and a Tongue." Those are definitely some of Steve's trademarks, but none of them are done for mere visual effect. The fast fingers play many notes, each note essential; the funny faces are a reflection of the emotion that Steve conveys through those notes (I'm sure he'd make the same faces if he were playing in the dark); the tongue is used to give his guitar unique sounds (okay, maybe there's a little showmanship involved in the tongue thing). It is great watching Steve perform some of his tricks. "Gentle Ways," for example, contains multi-string tapping and a point where Steve hits the body of the guitar to revive a sustained note that dies unexpectedly. "For the Love of God" contains his "whammy bar windmill" technique and that "grace note crawl" thing where he plays the same note on a single fret multiple times using all four fingers like four legs of a millipede.

As you know if you've heard the Sound Theories CD, the orchestra makes old Vai songs sound fresh. I've heard "Answers" a million times, but it has never sounded as lively as on this DVD. Performing with an orchestra seems to have had the effect of elevating Steve's playing a notch (as Nigel Tufnel might say, "Steve goes to eleven"). Is there any doubt that Steve Vai is the most inventive, creative musician to ever pick up the electric guitar?

Why the hauntingly beautiful "Lotus Feet" was left off the album is completely beyond me. Thankfully, it is included on this DVD. It is such a sparse song (especially following "Answers") and it really relies on Steve's magic touch to make it work. There's no doubt that this version does indeed work; it's beautiful. I love the different types of vibrato that Steve uses, too. The differences in sound are so subtle. It is so much easier to catch details like this by seeing, rather than by hearing. That is certainly one value of watching this DVD.

"I'm Becoming" contains a neat moment where conductor Dick Bakker enjoys listening to and watching Steve as much as anyone in the auditorium. Steve gives the conductor a hilarious glance as the conductor is staring, smiling, and then laughing in absolute amazement of what Steve is doing with the guitar. Steve plays with wonderful tone on this song, and the faces he makes are priceless!

"Salamanders in the Sun" contains a guitar solo that, as Steve reveals in the commentary, was completely impromptu. It was the first time he had ever soloed there and his decision to solo was made at the last second. The conductor must have been wondering what was going on, but kept perfect command of the orchestra before receiving a little head nod from Steve to continue with the piece. It sounds as if the entire thing was rehearsed a hundred times!

Obviously, to me one of the real values of this DVD is the commentary track. On it, Steve makes sense out of some of the more complex material on Sound Theories. On "Shadows and...," for example, I wasn't familiar enough with Steve's music to catch everything that was being played. Now that it's been mapped out for me, I'm looking forward to listening to the original album tracks that were the source for many of the melodies in "Shadows."

After a couple dozen listenings to Sound Theories, the crazy chaotic rhythms and melodies don't sound quite as chaotic (still crazy, just not as chaotic). For me, the details are what make this release shine. On "Sparks," it's the violin chords during the solo section, and the overpowering staccato notes from the orchestra that forcefully interrupt the delicate violin run. On "Frangelica Pt. I," I love how Steve has the flutes mimic the quick trilling sound that he often makes with his guitar by letting the floating bridge vibrate.

The percussion section is mesmerizing, and the conductor is a joy to watch, too; he dances as he conducts "Frangelica Pt. II." Judging by the smiles and the nodding heads, the musicians really enjoyed performing "Pt. II." It is a fun jazz-fusion song played mostly in 4/4. I especially like the piano solo and the song's ending section. (I had no idea harmonics could be played on wind instruments!) But it is the bass guitar, played by Bryan Beller (who has played on Vai albums before and is currently touring as a member of Steve Vai's band), and the drums that really make this track great.

A complete performance of "Bledsoe Bluvd" is included as a DVD bonus feature. Throughout this track, one really gets the sense of how an electric guitar can be used as an orchestral instrument. The guitar (which is not played by Steve, but by Peter Tiehuis) is played with fantastic tone and there's a neat moment at the end of a brief solo where a sustained guitar note seems to magically become the note of a clarinet. "Bledsoe," like "Frangelica Pt. II," contains a nice piano solo. It's interesting to compare the jazz piano of "Pt. II" to the more classical style heard on "Bledsoe."

There are a couple of times during "Bledsoe Bluvd" where the common-time beat is kept by foot hi-hat, and the orchestra is playing five awkwardly-timed notes. I've rewound it many times, but still can't figure out exactly what they are doing. They're certainly not playing eighth notes, and not quite triplets. I don't know, but ingenious details like that are what I love about Steve Vai's music. Honestly, this is only one example of many that I haven't been able to wrap my brain around.

I'm definitely beginning to totally understand what Steve has accomplished with the music that is on Sound Theories, especially Volume II. This DVD is a great addition to the album, and for those who haven't yet heard the album, I'd say the DVD is even a better alternative to it. A version of every track from the Sound Theories album is included on this DVD except for "Helios and Vesta," and the excerpt of "Bangkok" has been omitted from "Shadows and..." due to publishing difficulties. The DVD contains all of the songs that are on CD one (and adds the spectacular "Lotus Feet") and includes the strongest stuff from CD two (although you really would be missing something by not hearing CD two in its entirety).

I know this review is ridiculously long, but it goes to show how much there is to appreciate in Steve Vai's Sound Theories. I can't wait to hear what Steve does next!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orchestration is great 21 Nov 2007
By F. Hemmer - Published on
Steve Vai is a great guitar player, as Frank Zappa recognized, but this concert shows Steve's talent is more than just a player. The orchestra is wonderful to watch by itself. I wish we could have more music like this live in the US. If you appreciate good music you need to see this DVD.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just saw Steve in concert 20 Sep 2007
By Scott Sonnheim - Published on
I just got home from seeing Steve Vai in concert at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. Great show!! Great Band. Just popped in the DVD and let me tell you, if you are a Steve Vai fan...this one's for you. Great concert with a backing orchestra. Steve is a perfectionist which make watching him that much more enjoyable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT! 18 Jan 2010
By Ashley R. Sissell - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
My boyfriend LOVES Steve Vai, and even though I'm not exactly a guitar wizard, I watched this with him and it was pretty awesome! Needless to say that this was a VERY satisfying gift. :D
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't take my eyes off it the entire time! 8 Jun 2009
By ForsakenPhantasm - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This dvd is absolute magic! I, being an orchestral player by educated profession (what I went to school for), am always on the lookout for unique and original uses of the traditional classical symphony, and seeing such an awesome group paired with one of the great guitar masters was incredible!

As a violinist, much of my tone is modeled off of Steve Vai. In fact, my mentor, a well-known electric violinist who has built a line of instruments with the range of a guitar, has many Vai-like qualities to his style, and likewise with Vai - in fact, they know each other and have worked together! So before I even know who SV was, I was totally into his sounds via electric violin, and when I finally saw him live for the first time, I couldn't believe he had a voice other than his guitar, because it's like an extension of his own being!

Highly recommended to watch, especially on a big flatscreen tv with surround sound :)
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