Culture Magazine

From Mahler to Meat Loaf

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Rock's Roots in the 19th Century Art Song

From Mahler to Meat Loaf

A modern composer: Jim Steinman.


Today, the 19th century art song (lieder in German, chanson in French) is not as popular a form of so-called "classical" music as the opera or the symphony. Art songs are small and intimate, micro-pictures and stories that last from three to seven minutes...wait...doesn't that sound like a description of rock and roll radio?
These compact works by composers like Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz and Wolf are essential to an understanding of the development of Romantic music. But you could also look at them as ancestors of the modern rock song as developed in the last half a century. Like rock songwriters, composers of art songs were interested in breaking new ground, ignoring the constraints of form to create original musical settings that resonate today.

Schubert's "Der Erlkönig" which has some of the drive and drama of rock.Performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.For the last 50-odd years, the rock world has been blessed with a surfeit of good songwriters, from the Brill Building composers to the sandbox fantasias of Brian Wilson. Wilson also incorporated complex harmonies, orchestrations and oddball electronic instruments like the Theremin on his masterpiece "Good Vibrations."
The Beach Boys: 'Good Vibrations' from the aborted Smile project.The team of Lennon and McCartney, and occasionally Harrison, actually absorbed classical influences (largely through their producer, George Martin) and studio techniques that were originally created for the preservation of operas and symphonies on vinyl. By the way the idea for this song came from a circus poster.

The Beatles: "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" from Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.Folk music developed in North America, where "folkies" like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger gave way to Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Those three artists also struck out in new and different directions: Dylan plugged in, Neil un-plugged and Joni worked with jazz bass god Jaco Pastorius. Like the composers a century before, songwriters put the importace of art over the happiness of their audiences or even commercial success:

Neil Young pushes the envelope. "Sample and Hold" from Trans © 1982
Like 19th century lieder, some rock songs are often based on poetry or literature. Heavy metal bands (Iron Maiden, for one) regularly raid the Oxford Book of English Verse, producing songs like "The Trooper", (Tennyson) and "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (Coleridge):

Iron Maiden performing 'The Trooper' from Death on the Road.These poems get rewritten into elaborate musical arrangements of power and bombast, much like the orchestral songs of Berlioz or Mahler. And speaking of bombast, the songs of Jim Steinman combine Wagnerian chord progressions with the '50s songwriting sensibility of Lieber and Stoller. He even rewrote some of his songs for a German musical called Tanz der Vampire, which brings things full circle:

Jim Steinman's "Gott is tot" from the musical Tanz der Vampire.This song was originally in English and called "Original Sin."Today, the music of a century ago continues to influence what we put into our IPods. In between outfits, Lady Gaga has repeatedly demonstrated the influence of her own classical training. Metal has its share of heldentenors. And classical instrumentalists have even tried their hand at reworking pop songs, like these guys: 2Cellos, covering Michael Jackson.



You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Five Things I Loved About My Wedding – Kayleigh

    Five Things Loved About Wedding Kayleigh

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts with a focus on those little things that make a wedding special. It is called Five Things I Loved About My Wedding. Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Wedincentralpark
    LIFESTYLE, WEDDING
  • Democracy and the Politics of Intolerance

    Democracy Politics Intolerance

    A democracy allows government to reflect the will of the people. Or does it? Here I would like to understand a bit better the dynamics through which radical... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Dlittle30
    SOCIETY
  • Cable Girls – 1920s Era Women with a Modern Twist

    Cable Girls 1920s Women with Modern Twist

    Las Chicas del Cable – four women in 1920s Madrid – Cloche hats, colorful flapper frocks and bobbed hair. What’s not to enjoy about the new Netflix produced... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Glamourdaze
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • BADASS Art Journal Page - All of Me....

    BADASS Journal Page Me....

    Embracing all parts of me and surrounded by miracles - Art Journal PageI found a couple of passports photos of myself recently and I was criticizing them becaus... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Realityarts
    CREATIVITY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Dutch Apple Loaf

    Dutch Apple Loaf

    This Dutch Apple Loaf is my kind of cake, soft and moist,  and filled with juicy chunks of apple and pecan nuts.  For a lovely hint of sweetness I have... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Shadesofcinnamon
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • A Jumbo Passion Project

    The climber, facing away from the wall, gingerly peers over his toes to watch his sky-blue T-shirt flutter to the ground. He takes a deep breath, then turns in... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Thervproject
    OUTDOORS
  • Top 3 Dim Sum Restaurants in Chinatown

    Restaurants Chinatown

    Chicago’s Chinatown is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Sundays can be especially crowded in this area, usually around brunch, as dim sum, a... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Urbanmatter Chicago
    TRAVEL

Paperblog Hot Topics