Saturday, May 13, 2006

Classical Appropriation

I went to see the last Sacred Selection last night (Black Metal). The church was local and the whole performance was less than two hours so it was an enjoyable and easy-going evening.

Out of the music chosen for the night I only really knew Cradle of Filth. So I was coming at it from a very neutral point of view. I was not exactly sure how the important rhythm section was going to be handled and, in fact for the most part, it wasn't due to the selection of the pieces. Something like Cradle of Filth is already orchestrally arranged anyway. A lot of Black Metal albums and tracks also start with keyboard intros based on Requiem style church music anyway so I guess what was more revealing was not the adaption but actually the way it revealed the influence church music has had on the subject matter.

Listening to the recital also made me think about how limited the range of organ music I have heard is. Like many people I most often find myself in a church due to a wedding. At such occasions the music is of necessity mostly in a major key and relatively unobtrusive. It was therefore nice to hear the instrument really displaying a wider range of tone, style and key.

It was also nice to see that the audience was not just die-hard metallers nor the typical ICA art show attendee. Both were present but the audience was broader. It was also a relief to see that the audience for the most part respected the church and its environment as well as the genre. There were a few idiots but there always are at anything that is open to the public.

The show also got me thinking about the way that classical music seems to be plundering popular music genres for ideas at the moment. Over the last year I have bought a couple of classical reinterpretations of dance music and electronica. Generally such crossover traffic is in the opposite direction with electronica borrowing liberally from classical music to provide samples as well as ideas.

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