In the 1970s, Walter Murphy recorded a modern rock ‘n roll version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Though it may not have been the first, it was at the time the most popular instance of converting acoustic or orchestral music into modern rock. Through the years, other artists have done the same with classical compositions. Acoustic country and folk music has also been converted into electric / electronic rock.
In the late 1980s, the opposite became trendy: performing popular rock tunes “unplugged”. Surprise, surprise: good compositions sound good on squeaky acoustic guitars, plunky pianos, and other ancient unplugged instruments. (The only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century was the steel drum).
If music is like language, then converting it from one genre to another is like translating something from one language into another. It is expressed with different sounds but has the same meaning. Sarah McLachlan will be performing her hits with symphony orchestras around northern America beginning in June.
In 1993, Sarah released her quintuple platinum album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. One of the more popular tracks was the new wave tune “Possession“. The song opened the album and an acoustic piano version was also included as a “hidden track” at the end of the album.
As part of CBC’s Toque Sessions, Sarah performs the song live on piano. “Possession” is such inspired composition that you know it’ll sound good whether it’s done with an orchestra, a banjoist from the U.S. deep south, an electronic wizard from Iceland, or a Jamaican reggae artist.
It’s Friday, and we’ve all had a challenging week at work or school. Grab a coffee or tea, sit back, relax, and enjoy Sarah McLachlan (and don’t forget to don a toque, eh):