Strings Aren’t For Chumps

Have you ever heard Chopin’s “Ballad no. 1?”  What about Mendelssohn’s third sonata?  No even as a classically trained musician, I have not heard them either.  Most everyday music listeners have not heard pieces like these, great as they are, because this music is no longer what is played on the radio.  On the contrary, what about “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, “Hallelujah” by Paramore, or even “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga.  Most likely even if you do not like these songs, you have heard of them.  Although the tradition classical music still has its value, many ensembles are turning to arrangements of new “popular” music for their performances with traditional ensembles such as string quartets.  This is because traditional music is not selling very well.  Many orchestras throughout the United States have had to close the doors on their concert halls because they did not have enough audience members to support their financial needs.  Most of them were and are supported by older people who merely want to hear the greats; Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, ect.  However, the younger generations no longer have the great appreciation for these composers that their grandparents did, therefore the seats remain empty.    Seeing this, a new movement has begun in which its members play their Bach tunes, but they also play Nirvana, Green Day, Taylor Swift, Linkin Park, and many more.  They also are willing to arrange new versions of Classical, Baroque, Renaissance, and Romantic music.    An excellent example of this is a group called “Vitamin String Quartet”.  They are a string quartet that started small, but have now gone global with their hundreds of string arrangements for popular songs.  A generation of people who turn their backs to Bach’s string music, beg for string music by their favorite artists.  Here is an example of  VSQ’s remake of “Bad Romance.”

In addition to VSQ, there are other groups such as Apocalyptica, John Schmidt, The Piano Guys,  or The String Quartet.  So before you knock Nirvana, try listening in a different light.  For the traditionalists in the music field, including popular music as a dignified art may seem foolish; but replace an electric guitar  with a violin and a cello then take a listen.   You just may change your tune.

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3 thoughts on “Strings Aren’t For Chumps

  1. Adam Tasma says:

    As a cellist myself, I have to say, I love the Vitamin String quartet. On a related note, they show up on my pandora a lot

  2. ha000840 says:

    I absolutely could not agree more with you on this post. Being a part of a modern Quartet/Trio, we have found the most success in performing contemporary pieces along with our classical repertoire. It catches people’s attention, and then they are more apt to invest in and encourage our business. I am a huge fan of PianoGuys AND VSQ. Bond, Manhheim Steamroller and the Transiberian Orchestra are other great examples of modern string groups that twist and create old tunes to create new and exhilarating pieces that are fun to listen to for all ages. It is rather unfortunate that the classic era is dying away, but let’s be honest – everything that goes out of style comes back around eventually, but always in an updated fashion. The Cello Song is one of my favorite examples of this.

  3. manoftheking says:

    I used to have a lot of trouble realizing that many of what we call the “classics” are now more fuddy-duddy than anything else in the eyes of society. What I hadn’t done, though, was think about what life was like back in the 16,17,1800s. There were no classics back then. There were favorites of the time, and always an array of “new releases.” That’s kind of what happens today. We have favorites of the recent songs, and then the new releases. Throughout history, we have always been encouraging new creativity and originality – even in the 1600s. Who knows. Tomorrow’s song could be a classic in two hundred years … after it’s rediscovered, of course.

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