Friday, June 16, 2006

Bobby Yang and Others

Here's e-mail from DQ reader Ian Dorsch that provides some music history about guys who shread on the violin:
Thanks for the link to the Bobby Yang site. The guy can certainly shred, but I couldn't help but find some of his promotional stuff annoying. For example: "The technique produces a sound that vacillates between the passion of a violin and the rawness of a guitar; it is a performance that leaves audiences proclaiming that they have never heard a violin create such a sound."

Sure, audiences have never heard such a thing because the younger audiences this guy is targeting generally have never heard of Jerry Goodman ( or Mark Wood (, both of whom are stellar but unconventional violinists who tapped the same rock-infused vein long before Bobby Yang came along. Jerry Goodman was tearing it up with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra back in the early 70's, and judging from the samples on Yang's site he has been more than a little influenced by Jerry's playing. Mark Wood has been featured playing with gleefully over-the-top acts like the Trans Siberian Orchestra, in addition to the work he does with his production company and as a solo artist. Both Goodman and Wood are chiefly known for playing electric violin (Yang strictly plays amplified acoustic) but the technique is very similar indeed.

Not to denigrate Bobby Yang in any way. He is clealy an excellent player, and the Eruption video is all kinds of awesome. His claim of 20 minutes to learn it is not too surprising: for a player who clearly has piles of formal training and a wide variety of professional studio work under his belt, Eruption is not really that sophisticated. A guitarist with Yang's level of training would probably pick up Eruption in a similar amount of time. It still kicks ass, though.

And here's more, this time from Raith Barber:
I watched that video of Bobby Yang, and he's definitely damn good at what he does. As you may have already guessed, he's not unique in the respect of taking a form of rock and playing it on a violin like Instrument. A group called Apocalyptica created a name for themselves by translating songs by Metallica into a style that was played on 4 Cellos. I'm not sure how familiar you are with Metallica or their music, but it's the sort of talent that learning guitarists of the genre aspire to someday be able to play. To think that four Cellists were able to recreate that technical and creative brilliance in such a way just blew my mind the first time I heard it. Here's the link to the Apocalyptica website:

A link to some clips from the album of Metallica covers that made the band famous. "The Unforgiven" is a good example, even with the short 30 second clips:

And finally, a link to some music videos of their original work. (WARNING: The Cellos in their original work are amped and heavily distorted. This is basically metal played on Cellos, and features various guest vocalists. Although I don't think any of the songs contain coarse language, some people may find the genre offensive.)

Heavy metal cellists. Who knew?

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