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Partying to an orchestra: Why unusual cross-genres are in fact amazing

Partying to an orchestra: Why unusual cross-genres are in fact amazing



The Youtube algorithm is annoying. Click on a few videos from the same broad ‘topic’, and suddenly your entire Youtube home page is filled with similar videos elbowing out all your usual ones. It then takes quite a while before your ‘normal’ recommendations start appearing again.

So, the latest Youtube rabbit hole I’ve recently tumbled down into is a very particular and specific one - orchestral ‘club’ music.

It’s basically music you’d associate with clubbing - usually EDM but not limited just that, but performed by orchestras instead of the typical DJ.

The correct answer is always.. Darude Sandstorm

I enjoy classical music, especially orchestral music, though I certainly don’t listen to it on a regular basis. But I do enjoy a good orchestral concert (the most recent Distant Worlds was glorious!).

And yes, while I won’t say that I’m a massive fan of EDM or dance music in general, I think there is a part of me that finds that kind of music… familiar. After all, it’s music that I was regularly exposed to in my younger, partying days. It’s far from my go-to genre of music on a day-to-day basis, but it can be occasionally invigorating. I do enjoy it, time to time.

What I find particular intriguing and interesting is the intersection of the two.


On one hand, you have orchestral music, which is often thought of as very bourgeois, atas, high-culture, etc. It’s also exactly the kind of music that most people would associate with being quite high-brow, perhaps even a little stuffy – orchestral performances would stereotypically involve people in tuxedos and evening gowns sipping champagne.

On the other hand, you have dance music. Nothing against it personally, but I think there’s definitely a perception among many people that its ‘clubbing’ music (and the perceived debauchery that can be associated with it), which can be construed as ‘less-classy’. Instead of tuxedos and champagne, it’s maybe more crop tops and tequila shots.

You could certainly make the case that on a so-called ‘musical spectrum’, these two genres would exist on either far end of it (though I would not for a moment propose that any ‘spectrum’ would exist in a simple, linear form). You typically won’t expect fans of one to like the other.

matty-adame-nLUb9GThIcg-unsplash.thumb.jpg.944e7df06cf4942d3704fa3ce7d99a57.jpgAnd it’s fascinating when seemingly opposing worlds collide. 

Part of why it is so intriguing to me is the basic assumption that they “could not”. How could these seemingly disparate things intersect, let alone flourish?

And this doesn’t solely apply to music. In all instances, I am fascinated when people manage to make the “unworkable” work. Hamilton: A marvellous intersection between cutting political commentary, hip-hop beats and rap, and the musical theatre stage. Chess Boxing: People alternate between sophisticated strategy and punching each other in the face. Even TV: When a serious drama suddenly decides to do a whole episode as a musical.

Beyond anything, you must admire the ambition that goes into these endeavours; daring to not just think outside the box, but break it, even. Such experimentation may not always yield success, but when they do, the results tend to be impressive.

But back to classical EDM.

Proof of concept that orchestral EDM is awesome: It's even now featured at what is arguably the biggest dance festival in the world

I particularly like how many of these acts now perform at events/festival within the same lineup as ‘normal’ DJs, playing to the same party-loving crowds. I do think it speaks to the universality of music, and also underscores the fact that music, at its very core, is constructed using a pretty standard ingredients list. To be fully technical, it’s really just notes and frequencies, right?

So, regardless whether it’s a trumpet, oboe, cello, or synth, these are all flavours developed using the same fundamental ingredients. And in the specific case of EDM, a lot of it tends to be constructed using digital versions of real instruments.

In the case of these symphonic interpretations, you could even see it as the orchestra taking the tracks back to their original roots – played using instruments rather than a KORG MIDI pad.

aditya-chinchure-ZhQCZjr9fHo-unsplash.thumb.jpg.ade2f3c04a21d70177ee3662887e5dfd.jpgLook past the technical aspects, however, and I think the other aspect that I enjoy the most is the ability to bridge these two seemingly unbridgeable worlds. Just as you see the crowds lapping up EDM classics, so too are the musicians in the orchestra bopping their heads and playing with massive grin on their faces. And of course, the conductor absolutely having the time of her life (it’s a fun contrast against a more ‘typical’ depiction of a conductor, such as in the movie Tar).

It’s fun precisely because it embraces the fact that its different and unusual. And yes, maybe it says something about me also that unusual things especially appeal to me.

And even in a traditionally 'classy' place like Royal Albert Hall, this same cross-genre of music has gained traction

Music, like many (arguably most) other things, exists across a wide-spanning spectrum, and people can often be too ready to pigeonhole themselves and each other some way or another.

It is perhaps in these daring crossovers that we can all better appreciate the commonality of all the things we enjoy, and to embrace the fact that our lived experiences, while certainly different, don’t have to remain distinctly apart.

Now, time to find a new Youtube rabbit hole. Drunk History might be next.

~ Desmond

Images from Unsplash

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I'm a fan of the Metallica concerts playing with the San Francisco Symphony which they have done twice now, in 1999 and twenty years later in 2019.

Strange mix also, but it works well.

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