Modern hits meet antique symphony
A CLASSIC SPIN ON CONTEMPORARY TUNES
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 02:03
Many different cover bands are out there, doing everything from lame garage band rehashes to bluegrass reimaginings and jazz versions of modern songs. But the most interesting fad in music adaptation is taking contemporary tunes and redoing them in the style of classical music.
These songs are not only pleasant to listen to; they are making a larger statement about the history of musical inspiration.
Vitamin String Quartet is com-prised of two violinists, a violist, and cellist, with the occasional other string instrument adding texture. Its arrangements are in the vein of predictable classical styles, but the tunes that it plays are anything but.
Its discography includes over 260 titles, featuring adaptations of System Of A Down, The Smiths, The Black Keys, Coldplay, Adele, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Muse, and Paramore, to name just a few.
These compilations are a joy to listen to. The artistry behind each track is palpable—they are expertly arranged in a classical style, while maintaining the character of the songs that they are covering. Catchy tunes that are already stuck in the head get to see new light, reborn with class.
The violins flow along as the thumping cello gives a rhythmic under-pinning, with the viola chiming in its detail and full color. This is study music gold, staying within most people’s comfort zone, but avoiding unnecessary lyrics and persistent, migraine-inducing electronic tones or thudding percussion.
Each song gives a faint impression of familiarity without shoving the original composition down the listener’s throat. They are a testament to both the talent of the Vitamin String Quartet, and the versatility of the songs that it is able to so readily adapt into a starkly different form.
“What you end up with is music that, in most cases, transcends that of the original artists to show that melody exists where you may not have heard it in their initial versions,” said BlogCritic writer Fitz, in his review of Vitamin String Quartet’s Per_Versions. “When you strip away the electronics, distortion, and rock guitars, you end up with melody, musical themes, and hidden rhythms that allow such element to shine.”
In adorning contemporary tunes with classical arrangement, there is more at work than just mere gimmickry.
Music is an ever-evolving art form, each moment’s iteration always building integrally on everything that came before it. There is no such thing as a completely original song, for everything is based upon—at least in one way or another—the forms of our classical forefathers.
Especially when it comes to con-temporary chord progressions and melodic motifs, we have Beethoven and Mozart to thank for their groundbreaking developments in musical form and theory.
By taking modern songs that implicitly utilize theory that was born out of classical styles, and interpreting them in the classical style, the Vitamin String Quartet is giving our musical ancestors a well-deserved nod, acknowledging their unprecedented influence on all music we listen to.
And this intellectual idea is made all the more sweet by the delicious musicality with which it is executed.