I find that non-musicians sometimes assume that classical musicians are brainiacs who would never condescend to listen to popular music.
Not true, at least not entirely. Granted, musicians tend to see through a lot of pop music tunes, if for no other reason than that they can hear the chords:
You can see why a person might roll his eyes or fail to see any brilliant inventiveness in such a tune. At the same time, musicians like music! They often find that the music that accompanies daily life gives them inspiration. I'm seeing more and more classical musicians jump straight in and put their artistic spin on the music that lives all around them, be it pop music from the last few years, or pop music from the last 50 years.
For example, witness this rather astounding cover of Smooth Criminal/Owner Of A Lonely Heart by Alex DePue:
And who can forget Adam DeGraff's "Sweet Child o' Mine":
How about Bohemian Rhapsody for four fiddles?
Maybe you do like pop music, maybe you don't; here is your chance to vote! Also, if you'd like to share more covers and pop-inspired music, please do!
These days I love toting my fiddle through life, and I'm happy to be a bit "different" because I'm a musician. But it wasn't always so.
My violin playing has always been a source of deep satisfaction, but when I was an adolescent, I struggled with a nagging embarrassment over carrying around my violin case, admitting how much time I spent practicing and also being unable to make people understand why I found playing the violin to be much more "cool" to me than any other activity on the planet. They just didn't get it. A few times it amounted to downright bullying.
Of course, some people did understand, but it took time to find them. When I did, it was like drinking fresh water after a long run. I still remember a bus ride with about 50 kids in my youth orchestra, when we were all coming home from an retreat in the mountains. One of the cellists had brought a big boom box -- you know how teenagers like to blast their music. We unanimously decided to blast Beethoven's 7th Symphony over the boom box -- it was a piece we had all played together. We spent the rest of the ride winding through the Rocky Mountains, with everyone singing their parts to Beethoven 7. I felt so…understood!
So I've created a vote on this subject, has anyone ever made fun of you for playing the violin? And you might want to comment on how you got through it.
I also wanted to share this video, made by the musicians in Time For Three: violinists Zach De Pue and Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer. They describe it as "the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it."
What is your favorite musical interval?
Minor 2nd - Jaws
Major 2nd - Frere Jacques, Happy Birthday
Minor 3rd - Greensleeves, This Old Man (slowed down, that's the Barney Song)
Major 3rd - When the Saints Go Marching In
Perfect 4th - Amazing Grace, Here Comes the Bride
Augmented 4th (Tritone): Maria, The Simpsons
Perfect 5th - Scarborough Fair, Twinkle Twinkle
Minor 6th - Love Story
Major 6th - My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Minor 7th - Somewhere (West Side Story)
Major 7th Bali Hai (first and third note of the tune)
Perfect Octave - Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Actually, the poll is here if you want to take it: http://www.twiigs.com/poll/Entertainment/Music/84661. It wouldn't embed. You can also just post your answers!
Did Steve Jobs change your life?
Think about it: do you store any of your music on an iPod or Apple product? Do you compose or arrange music using any kind of Apple computer?
Over the days since Steve Jobs' untimely death on Wednesday, I've pondered the spontaneous outpouring of appreciation for his life and work, and I think it runs deeper than simple gratitude for the fine products made by Apple.
One would think that people in the United States value incompetence over competence. Our entertainment tends to celebrate the mediocre and disdain artistic achievements that could be considered "elite." We put fewer and fewer resources toward the education of the nation's children, who increasingly live in poverty. Our politics and media chase scandal and peripheral issues, rarely delving into the substance of our national problems, prompting those overseas to indict us for our anti-intellectualism. Our economy of late is gamed toward short-term gain over long-term prosperity and wellness.
Yet Steve Jobs seemed to represent the opposite of all that.
The Onion may have said it best in responding to Jobs' death with the headline: Last American Who Knew What The F*** He Was Doing Dies. (The Onion didn't use the asterisks, in case you are considering clicking that link at work.)
A great many of us long for excellence, sophistication and even a simple devotion to service, in any aspect of our lives. Imagine, someone who is simply trying to make the best product possible, to serve you well. No scam to rip you off, no corners cut. Why do Mac users show a weird devotion to their computer products? Those Apple computers are some of the few things in life that serve, that deliver -- no catch.
So I dedicate this week's vote to Steve Jobs, and you are welcome to voice anything you'd like to in his memory in the space below.
More entries: September 2011
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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