Caprice No. 5 (Paganini)

Caprice No. 5 is one of 24 pieces composed by virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini in the early 19th century. The piece is known for its incredible speed and extremely high technical difficulty. Paganini is said to have been able to play it on one string, but there is no evidence to support or refute this.[1]

Transcription for other instruments

The piece has been transcribed for many instruments: saxophone, piano, cello, accordion, and guitar.

The piece is also associated with the movie Crossroads (1986 film) as "Eugene's Trick Bag",[2] which was written and performed by Steve Vai and heavily inspired by the caprice.

The first recorded true transcription of the piece appeared on Eliot Fisk's landmark recording that transcribed the entire 24 Caprices for the classical guitar.

Influence on contemporary music

Though written for the violin, the piece has also become known amongst guitarists, particularly because of its appeal to the technical proficiency of the shred guitar genre, as seen from virtuoso Jason Becker's version of the piece, re-arranged for electric guitar (see External Links) and for Yngwie Malmsteen's use of Paganini inspired techniques in his music. Yngwie Malmsteen created a guitar tab transcription (although, it deviated from the original score) for the piece in an issue of Guitar World magazine. The following are examples of the piece in modern music:

  • The piece has also inspired rapper Busdriver for the intermission part of his song "Imaginary Places".
  • The title track of Michael Angelo Batio's No Boundaries contains an arrangement of the piece.
  • Finnish neo-classical metal band Virtuocity used a variation in the song "Eye for an Eye" on their debut album Secret Visions.
  • German heavy metal band Domain also uses a variation in the solo for their song "Warpath" on the album The Sixth Dimension.
  • Joe Stump uses elements of the piece in the track "Paganini's Revenge" from the album Guitar Dominance.[3]
  • The first notes of the composition are used in The Faint's album, Wet From Birth at the beginning of the first track, "Desperate Guys".

References in contemporary art

Cory Arcangel produced a mashup video,[4] or Caprice No. 5 supercut, for his 2011 Solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


  1. Paganini, Mai Kawabat. 303 pages. Boydell Press (2013). ISBN 978-1843837565
  2. Milward, John (20 December 1987). "Lettin' it slide: Guitarist Ry Cooder won't follow rock trends". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. p. C28.
  3. Guitar Dominance! (CD edition liner notes).
  4. Arcangel, Cory. "Paganini Caprice No. 5 — Cory Arcangel's Official Portfolio Website and Portal". Cory Arcangel's Official Portfolio Website and Portal. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
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