Thursday, June 02, 2005

No strings, please--we're skittish.

Why do music collectors have problems with strings in popular music--especially lots of strings? A few reasons come to mind. Anti-string-section attitudes are, in huge part, a legacy of jazz criticism and its relentless bashing of popular music. Also, there's the received stereotype of strings as anti-rock. And--let's face it--there are plenty of Brahms-phobic collectors who resent strings as symbols of that big, scary monster called Classical Music, even though they don't dare bash Classical music. That would be way too uncool. On the other hand, making fun of Mantovani's massive string section is no-risk behavior, and it can make the right impression on the right people. Good deal: solidify your status in the ranks of collectordom while bashing Mozart through Monty. Psychologists have a phrase for this: being completely phony. (Or, bashing Mozart through Monty.)

Strings in pop music equal crap--a weird notion, really, but try to get away from it. Is that possible? Well, we can start by listening to two superb examples of string-laden easy listening, neither of them the least bit boring (another strings-in-pop stereotype).

We have Vincent Youman's Hallelujah! as played by my favorite EZ maestro, Andre Kostelanetz:

And Andre, again, with You and the Night and the Music, from 1950:

(And the strings. They forgot to mention those.)




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