Let's Get Classical...

In preparation for Classical Week next week on Gigseen TV, I've decided to give you 'classicalphobes' a little introduction to the genre that brought us such historical greats as Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn - and that's just for starters!

Also in conjunction with the BBC's Classical Proms, due to conclude on 10th September, we've got some special full length concerts coming up for you, so keep your eyes peeled.

So my challenge begins here; what piece of classical music or particular composer do you present to a rock n roll loving heretic? Then I thought to myself...hey! You used to be just that! So, as a convert to the classical side myself (with my foot still firmly in the rock territory, don't worry!), I'm going to attempt to look back at the pieces that so dramatically changed my mind.

Firstly, to ease you in gently, I'm going to draw on some examples you may well be surprised about. Back in the early 60's and late 70's, prog rock and heavy metal bands were hugely influenced by classical music. Yes, really! The influences stem as far back as the eighteenth and nineteenth century with composers like Bach, Paganini and Vivaldi, where composers were banned from using certain chord progressions and scales. For example, the Tri-tone, or the augmented 4th, was a sound so fear-provoking, people thought it must have been the musical embodiment of the devil, and acquired the name, Diabolous in Musica. Scary eh? It was sounds and compositions like this that were later to inspire and influence the work of one of the pioneering heavy metal bands, Black Sabbath. It then became common for heavy metal bands to evoke ideas surrounding the cult, mysticism, and the devil in their lyrics. I'm sure you know a few?!

The actual technicalities of classical music (symphonic and orchestral-like arrangements of songs, complex time signatures and virtuosic solos), were one of the largest areas of influence for prog rock and art rock bands like Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Yes and genesis. The classical influences evolved and grew into these bands' music because they wanted people to take their music more seriously and display their musical talents and skill. You've just got to look at people like Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie J. Malmsteen leading up to the 1980s, to realise the extent of classical music references.

So bearing all this in mind, I'm going to suggest a couple pieces of classical music, that I think the average rock music fan would get along with. These are also the peices that converted me. But you have to remember, that it's often the stories or meanings behind these pieces that make them just as fascinating.

Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique - Movement IV - March To The Scaffold

Much like any rock or metal music, this piece has a doom-laden and dark feel to it - especially as 'March To The Scaffold' is acting out the march to an execution. See if you can hear when his head gets chopped off!

Schubert - Symphony No. 1 Unfinished - Movement I

Again, this is a dark and ominous piece, and if you didn't know, is also known as the Unfinished Symphony, as Schubert got very ill whilst writing it..and later died. It is written in the key of b minor which Schubert truly thought symbolised death. Cheery fella, eh?!

So have a listen to them both and see what you think. If you don't get any kind of emotion from them...well...you can't be human! So be sure to visit again next week to embrace all that is Classical in the world of Gigseen.