When Pop Meets the Classics

For many years, the enjoyment and consumption of classical music such as orchestral pieces, opera and symphonic arrangements has been considered an order of arts used only by the educated and the opulent. Since the encouragement and expansion of pop music though, artists have been employing these techniques created throughout classical music and adapting them into their own songs.

Naturally, we’ve all heard one song or another with some orchestral arrangement. Who can possibly forget Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve? The piece adds to the emotion and draws out aspects that highlight the lyrical content as well as expanding the audience that will enjoy it.

Lately there seems to be an ongoing trend, not only with symphonic introduction into music recordings, but also live shows performed to crowds of thousands. Bands and solo artists are exploring into the world of classical music to bring a whole new live experience to their already solid fanbase.

Ben Lee, and Ben Folds are two artists that have been approached by arrangers and producers who have found a little special something within their music. Both solo artists have toured around Australia playing special live shows in each capital city, showcasing their catchy pop songs which have been magically remastered into soaring orchestral pieces.
Ben Folds recently undertook his one-off show with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The artist who is defined simply by the fact that you either hate him or adore him, managed to win over a large crowd with the impressive arrangement done, and the orchestra pulling off each part with aplomb.

The process of the composition is as such: The artist is approached by an arranger or producer who deems their work worthy enough and well constructed enough to be rearranged into orchestral scores. From this process the producer and the artist pick a playlist of songs that they believe could be interesting enough to turn into an orchestral art-work. These songs are then sent off in their original arrangement to three different conductors or arrangers who then start work.
Once these arrangements have been made, each orchestra will play for the artist who then picks and chooses their favourite arrangement for each piece, which then makes up the final setlist.
This is the process until the practice component, in which the artist will finally play with a suitable orchestra for his or her work.

This process can take up to several months in order to complete, which may seem like a waste after the show can only last one night. However; with such work put in, it’s an amazing thing to see and hear when your favourite songs have been transformed into something of a timeless work of art.

These aren’t the only groups to utilise symphonic arrangements in their live music however; Silverchair with their 2003 stunner-album Diorama performed several times with a live orchestra to acurately recreate the album in all its glory. Metallica too, are well known for their performance of Nothing Else Matters with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

With these additions of the orchestra, classical music is slowly gaining back its reputation for being a highly sought after art form. The combination of pop music and classical is a harmonious mixture which definitely adds a touch of class, while letting the general public enjoy the rich and talented sounds of an orchestra.

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