Monday, March 05, 2007

Pictures at an Exhibition:

Emerson, Lake and Palmer's entire concert of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" has now been posted on YouTube. In many ways, they cover Ravel's orchestral arrangement of Mussorgsky's piano piece (most are more familiar with the orchestral version which was arranged by Maurice Ravel).

Love it or hate it. I think it's great.

Out of all of the eras of concert music -- Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, etc. -- the melodies and harmonies written in late Romantic pieces like those from Mussorgsky or Prokofiev fit best with the hard rock idiom. Earlier stuff like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart -- the melodies often are too elegant to rock; and contemporary concert music, post-Stravinsky -- the harmonies too dissonant, the melodies too atonal or unsingable. Late Romantic music has melodies that are closest to the "riffs" in rock music -- exotic and funky, but still very singable.

Even many of the rock guitarists who claim to be influenced by Bach and Pagannini (Yngwie Malmsteen) do things in their melodies/solos, like stress the augmented second of the harmonic minor scale, which Bach et al. would never do in their melodies. Hence Yngwie et al., whether they realize it or not, often give their melodies a late-Romantic feel even as they try to incorporate ideas from the Baroque and Classical era.

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