Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wagner Inspires Pop Music

This was going to be part of Kenton Wagner, the previous post.  Then I decided that, when speaking of Wagner, brevity is a virtue.  So this became a separate entry.


The Los Angeles Times has been sending various performing arts critics to L.A. Opera's Ring performances. The current pop music critic is named Ann Powers (a name I had never noticed previously.)  She wrote this about the third opera in the cycle, Siegfried.

The blond hair of the title character reminded her of a certain punk rock figure.
Yet the mad twinkle in heldentenor John Treleaven's eyes -- not to mention his neon-yellow wig -- brought Johnny Rotten to mind, as Achim Freyer's reinterpretation of this classic hero's journey did something really unexpected, establishing a link between Richard Wagner and punk.

Her argument is that visual aspects of this particular production of Wagner reminds her of comic book heroes.  And comics were inspiring to the punk generation.  And so I guess she is implying that Wagner must have had this in mind all along.  Or maybe that all punk tunes are based on Wagnerian harmonies and Norse mythology?

Or maybe she just needed to fill out her review with familiar references.

Did you know that Cab Calloway was a great admirer of Wagner's Ring?


Ring Festival L.A. has its own original popular music arrangement of Wagner's scores on tap this coming Saturday, a concert by the deKah Hip Hop Orchestra.

This was originally advertised, before the Antonovich resolution, as "a new work inspired by the revolutionary spirit of Wagner".  Now the attitude has apparently been recast with Wagner as less of a hero.   Here's the current description (from the Ring Festival LA brochure):
Double G (daKAH’s co-founder/conductor/composer, Geoff Gallegos) is creating a new sound track, one that acknowledges a more sinister side of the Ring and marries it to distinctly LA flavors. Derived from source material within the Ring, Double G envisions his music will speak, in the most visceral of ways, of contemporary atrocities in LA. If Wagner was alive and writing a score for this city’s brand of “warfare,” this is how it would sound, adrenaline-pumping, fear-inducing and gut-wrenching. Double G’s work will reflect the intensity of both Wagner’s Ring cycle and, appropriately, the West Coast brand of Gangsta Rap.

I found this video of Double G himself. Some clues as to what he's going to do to Wagner.


In this short video clip Robin Williams, noted social commentator, speaks to the issues of Wagner and Hip Hop.

Leela, Peela!!


Another Wagner/pop music event, last year in Slovenia, came to my attention via the Internet.   It's called VolksWagner.  Yes, that's Volks as in Volkswagen.  It was created by someone/something called Laibach.

Westminster Gold album Die Walkure by Wagner - naked woman with VW hubcaps
Here's part of the description:
the collaborating artists have decided to seek in Wagner the rudiments of modernism, which first through Mahler, Bruckner, and Debussy, and subsequently through Schöenberg, Berg, and Webern, developed into the core of the jazz music of the sonic experimentalists, such as Miles Davis and Sun Ra, and to upgrade them with the ambient electronic spectrum that has been developing over the last three decades. In addition, the suite will address the history of the 20th century – modernism crossbred with pop art.
Apparently, someone, somewhere thinks every popular musician in the whole world during the last 150 years somehow owes their musical style to Richard Wagner.  What a sad world it would be if that were true.

Look, this picture proves that Louis Armstrong was a big fan of Wagner's Ring. 

The Rheingold ad came from here.

Read the first post about Wagner and popular music: Kenton Wagner

Robin Williams comes from a documentary Chuck Jones, Extremes and Inbetweens  in which Jones says:
I've never met anybody who could sit through the entire Ring of the Nibelung and come out sane.  Or even alive, for that matter.

Pop Wagner Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 comment :

Unknown said...

I came through "The Ring" in one sitting driving from Austin Texas to Fargo North Dakota. I lived!