Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Country Classics

I heard the phrase after listening to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd, and so naturally it made me think of crossovers and fusion.

I tried to imagine Dolly Parton singing Vocalise. She undoubtedly has heard it, and could probably do a fine job with it. I’d guess most big-name singers were introduced to, and probably trained on, some of the classical composers. I suspect her fan base would be respectful, admire the result, and maybe even ask for it now and then.

How about the reverse? The themes are often similar. Consider Drinkin’ Problem vs Carmina Burana. And quite a few composers were inspired by folk tunes. For American tunes, think of Copland. I have to confess I’m not terribly fond of his work.

For apples to apples, and maybe some actual fusion works, you’d have to look at short pieces. Ballads can run on for a while, but I haven’t heard many that were musically complex, though some short country songs are. So "short" is mandatory. The most famous compositions by the big name classical and romantic composers are far longer than your average song, and generally quite complex, but they wrote plenty of shorter ones too, and modern songwriters borrow from sections of longer works. (a partial list) And besides tunes, country composers can borrow what melodic tools they please from the common heritage.

You shouldn't need a steel guitar or a fiddle to reproduce the country musical idioms.

I don’t see why this couldn’t work. Which probably means somebody did it 70 years ago and I never got the memo. I try to research posts, but there's a lot I don't know. I never got very far in music theory. There's probably some key word of jargon that would have made google tell me all.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Similarly, the complaint against praise songs in worship is that they are repetitive Christian cliches. Well, so is the Hallelujah Chorus. I guess you can say that it is what every praise song wants to grow up to be.

Unknown said...

Horrible sound and picture quality from a camera in the audience, but here's a video of Whitney Houston singing Dolly Parton's song "I will always love you" preceded by her singing Giuseppe Verdi's song "La donna è mobile" (from the opera Rigoletto), trading lines with Pavarotti, Sting, and Elton John.

And a video introduced with the line "it took the fabulous Itzhak Perlman to give us a taste of down-home fiddle, the way only he can play it":

Unknown said...

I'm further reminded of two things:

The weekly "Polka Night" at the Fireplace Inn in Interlochen MI -- the band being whoever showed up with an instrument and could read the charts. As it was the only entertainment within walking distance of the noted music camp, I performed with (and for) a number of rather noted classical musicians of the time who were visiting faculty or guest artists at the camp. In these days of everyone having a video-camera, I'm sure it wouldn't be the same.

And of course the Blaues Gras Cantata:

Deevs said...

Willie Nelson plays Minuet in G by Bach on the Red Headed Stranger album.