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by Seth Colter Walls

May 25, 2015

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Indie Goes Classical

by Seth Colter Walls  |  May 25, 2015

Back in 2012, when we first brought you Rhapsody's first "Indie Goes Classical" playlist, we noted that American alt rock and contemporary classical music have been intermingling "ever since Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore began learning their alternate tunings as part of Glenn Branca's guitar orchestra, in the early 1980s." Likewise, we observed that movement between these genres has only become more interesting and complex in the decades since.

It turns out the past few years of new classical have been especially active for the more serious crossover souls. Just this year, Tyondai Braxton—formerly of the math-rock band Battles—has contributed "Casino Trem" to an album by the contemporary classical musicians of the Bang On A Can All-Stars group, while the National’s Bryce Dessner has released a new chamber composition Music for Wood and Strings.

Those pieces join recent classical efforts by Wilco's Glenn Kotche, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Put all that together with ex-Shudder to Think vocalist Craig Wedren's appearance on a 2014 song cycle by composer Jefferson Friedman, and we've got more than enough fresh Indie Goes Classical work to consider.

Are you sweating the supposed difference between these genres? You shouldn’t! When Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs writes pieces for the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth ("Ansa Ya" and "Quizassa"), we don't need to think of categories or trends so much as we need to pay attention to the artfully arranged experience before us. Same goes for when arena-rock-sized stars like Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood leave amplification behind when scoring films by Paul Thomas Anderson.

So click play on our updated and expanded playlist, and you'll get the latest works from all the aforementioned artists, and others, including St. Vincent—who, under her given name of Annie Clark, once contributed a chamber piece to Brooklyn's yMusic ensemble ("Proven Badlands"). Our mix should help you uncover the surprising connections between two genres that might typically be assumed to be intellectual and cultural opposites. Enjoy!

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