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Thread: Rock Versions of Classical Works & Prog

  1. #1
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    Rock Versions of Classical Works & Prog

    Sometimes, if one takes a classical work and plays it on rock instruments, especially with the addition of drum set, it automatically sounds like or could be described as progressive rock. I think it works especially well with certain works/composers of the twentieth century, where complex syncopated rhythms and changing/odd meter were prevalent.

    Below is a link to a rock version of a Bela Bartok string quartet, which I think is very well done. But two questions on this issue:
    1. Why/how might such arrangements NOT be perceived or described as prog?

    2. What are some of your favorite rock arrangements of classical works (whether or not you feel they are/should be considered “prog”)?

    https://youtu.be/6TcyOKJilHI
    Dan Maske

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    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Holst - Jupiter

  3. #3
    To my ears, "Toccata" is ELP's most successful adaptation of a Classical music piece (the fourth movement of Alberto Ginastera's Piano Concerto No. 1) and definitely my personal favourite of rock addaptations of Classical music works in general. The band doesn't stick slavishly to the original for a second, but makes it their own piece, both structurally and tonally. Apart from that, the extreme aggressiveness that characterized Emerson's early career is heard here for the last time and the lack of which is probably one reason why ELP was no longer considered authentic and credible by many in the following years.



  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Maske View Post

    Below is a link to a rock version of a Bela Bartok string quartet, which I think is very well done. But two questions on this issue:
    1. Why/how might such arrangements NOT be perceived or described as prog?

    2. What are some of your favorite rock arrangements of classical works (whether or not you feel they are/should be considered “prog”)?
    1) When there's not a teeniest bit of actual adaptation apparent, as in much of what Ekseption did and arguably some of The Nice as well (as in Emerson merely playing out Tchaikovsky or Sibelius on his keys and having the other two simply tag along). They get to be "salón up-popped classics" or whatever, but there's no creative elaboration, adjustment for aesthetic craft or reassembling of expressive momentum as to purpose or intention in doing it. However, Polish band Skaldowie for instance integrated themes by (a.o.) Borodin and Smetana or basically any composer who could historically in terms of mythical and/or conceptual affiliation be tought connected to the bigger ranges of the Tatra Carpathian region, and their very direct and basic reworkings essentially succeeded in transcending the cheap "salón" mark and actually gave the music an aura of cultivated elegance. This is particularly notable with their records Krywan Krywan and especially the lengthy title track of their 1976 release Stworzenia Swiata Część Druga.

    Examples of highly creative "reimaginations" on the other hand, include ELP's rendition of Ginastera's "Toccata" (I love it!), Vortex' interpolation of both Messiaen, Bartok and a snippet of Stravinsky in "Les Cycles de Thanatos", and Slapp Happy/HCow's complete makeover of Händel into an elementary hard rock/pop song which in turn becomes one of their straightest tunes ever (and I love the slightly distorted vox):

    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  5. #5
    Hello Dan,

    this one was released some months ago and I find it immensely entertaining and cool. I love its unpretentiousness, and it is as you describe it: you play the classical piece with rock arrangements, and it is prog straightaway.


  6. #6
    ^ That's an absolute mofo of an album. So exceptionally well conceived and executed, so damn eclectic and intricate throughout - yet also total unpretentious fun all the way. It takes certified love of music and genre to be this intensely set on producing a stylistic homage of such untouchable caliber.

    One of the year's finest releases thus far into 2022.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  7. #7
    Stern Combo Meißen - Bilder einer Ausstellung (Pictures at an exhibition)



    Stern Combo Meißen - Eine Nacht auf dem kahlen Berge (A night on the bare mountain)


  8. #8
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    There are many.

    ELP- The Barbarian

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    Stern Combo Meißen - Eine Nacht auf dem kahlen Berge
    I adore Weisses Gold and Mittelpunkt, but I can't stand their up-rocked corny variations on the "classics". The GDR already sported a band doing this to the extreme in the awfully dodgy Electra.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I adore Weisses Gold and Mittelpunkt, but I can't stand their up-rocked corny variations on the "classics". The GDR already sported a band doing this to the extreme in the awfully dodgy Electra.
    I suppose it's a matter of taste. I like Stern Combo Meißens versions of the classics better than those by Electra.

  11. #11
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    I always liked this interpretation:


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I like Stern Combo Meißens versions of the classics better than those by Electra.
    Oh, Stern Meissen were (and partly remain) a very good band - whereas Electra were, to my mind at least, a bit terrible.

    Panta Rhei, Stern Meissen, Bayon and Lift were the four riders of the progressive apocalypse in East Germany, as far as I'm concerned. I never cared for Rhei after they turned into Karat, and I don't like Puhdys either. But Electra were at times almost atrociously bad. My first try at Die Sixtinische Madonna still occasionally gives me succubusy micropenal lactate tractate prostate, and it's generally uncomfortable.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Oh, Stern Meissen were (and partly remain) a very good band - whereas Electra were, to my mind at least, a bit terrible.

    Panta Rhei, Stern Meissen, Bayon and Lift were the four riders of the progressive apocalypse in East Germany, as far as I'm concerned. I never cared for Rhei after they turned into Karat, and I don't like Puhdys either. But Electra were at times almost atrociously bad. My first try at Die Sixtinische Madonna still occasionally gives me succubusy micropenal lactate tractate prostate, and it's generally uncomfortable.
    I wouldn't go that far and I like both Karat as Puhdys. Panta Rhei is good as well. From Sachsendeier I still prefer Stern Combo Meißen over Lift and Electra, though I own albums of both groups.

  14. #14
    Prokofiev's famous Peter And The Wolf got a progressive rock-version by Jack Lancaster & Robin Lumley (which was recently been rereleased):



    The album also contains music inspired by the classic work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Maske View Post
    2. What are some of your favorite rock arrangements of classical works (whether or not you feel they are/should be considered “prog”)?
    Among ones that used drums, some are here:
    https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...MyYPp-vl1W1xtt

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    you play the classical piece with rock arrangements, and it is prog straightaway.
    I deeply question that assumption. Consider:

    If a bird can speak, who once was a dinosaur,
    and a dog can dream
    should it be impossible
    that a man might supervise the construction of light?

  17. #17
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Paganini, by Andrew Lloyd Webber with Colosseum II and guests.

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    Zappathustra,
    Shamblemaths is fantastic!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post

    Hello Dan,

    this one was released some months ago and I find it immensely entertaining and cool. I love its unpretentiousness, and it is as you describe it: you play the classical piece with rock arrangements, and it is prog straightaway.

    Dan Maske

  19. #19
    In general, “classical rock” is one of my less-liked subgenres. But every once in a while, a real gem emerges. Not better than the original, of course, but it does its own thing with a classic:

    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    I deeply question that assumption. Consider:

    Or this


  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    In general, “classical rock” is one of my less-liked subgenres. But every once in a while, a real gem emerges. Not better than the original, of course, but it does its own thing with a classic:

    It does indeed, and I mostly like it. I think mainly it is too short; it would have been nice if they'd handled more of the original piece.
    If a bird can speak, who once was a dinosaur,
    and a dog can dream
    should it be impossible
    that a man might supervise the construction of light?

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    Or this

    Wow, that is dire...
    If a bird can speak, who once was a dinosaur,
    and a dog can dream
    should it be impossible
    that a man might supervise the construction of light?

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    Wow, that is dire...
    I thought you would like it.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    Wow, that is dire...
    Cheese-tastic. Why do I get the impression the 'audience' were just told to wave their arms about withput any actual music to listen to?

    Horrified to discover Scott Fitzgerald is really William McPhail from Glasgow. I hereby apologise on behalf of my country.

  25. #25

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