I had to share this.  Turn the volume up (if you can).

This just goes to show that an instrument, a tool, is neutral. We choose to use them in certain ways.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. kbf says:

    I saw these guys play in Wembley Arena a couple of years ago. They are brilliant musicians and they don’t just cello-ise pop and rock songs, at least half of their concert rep is classical.

  2. Ellen says:

    Loved it! I am a quiet and conservative person who has a sneaking love for hard rock. I just got back from a concert featuring KISS and Def Leppard and was very happy to hear Paul Stanley tell the crowd he prays every night.

  3. incredulous says:

    The new orchestra for our Novus mass! Move over, bongo-head…

  4. CradleRevert says:

    “This just goes to show that an instrument, a tool, is neutral. We choose to use them in certain ways.”

    So Father, are you saying that you could envision a situation where bongos may actually supplement music which is appropriate to liturgical worship? ;)

  5. tominrichmond says:

    Or try this version of the same “classic” AC/DC tune:


  6. Cantor says:

    No cats were harmed in the filming of this video.

  7. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Wow! Two hundred years of the degradation of Western music captured in five minutes.

  8. kimberley jean says:

    I never realized how much I loved Thunderstruck before.

  9. KevinSymonds says:

    The Piano Guys are better.

  10. robtbrown says:

    1. The movement of their heads reminds me of SNL’s Night at the Roxbury.

    2. The music itself is full of angst and is a bit like the opening of the Hitchcock classic Psycho, but obviously not as good. It is interesting that the music in the movie is about a psychopath, qne the young cellists are taking delight in it. Welcome to the Post Modern.


  11. JesusFreak84 says:

    If you want to see instruments used as a weapon, check The Piano Guys’ Star Wars video ^_~

  12. Knittycat says:

    I have always been of the opinion that if the masters were alive and composing today, they’d be writing metal. :D I find case after case after case of classical music in metal. Far more so than in any other form of music. (other than modern orchestral stuff I suppose. I don’t like most of what is churned out today though. Too dissonant and chaotic) I hear Vivaldi in Arch Enemy, I hear Bach in Metalica (YES METALICA), Be ‘lakor is in a class of it’s own. Despite the growly vocalizations, and heavy distortion on the guitars, it’s breathtakingly beautiful music. (I’d say in addition to, but it’s to my taste)

  13. Knittycat says:

    I gotta admit, I’m pretty bothered by the obviously modern seating though. It bothers me. Once it’s been seen, it can’t be unseen.

  14. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    @Cantor: No, but the horsehairs took a beating.

  15. JesusFreak84 says:

    I noticed that; I’m a brass player but that still made me cringe.

  16. J_Cathelineau says:

    Well…its better than watching Fr Nottker Wolf OSB, Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation of the Order of Saint Benedict playing Highway to Hell.
    We are all instruments.

    By the way…I took my two sons (4 & 6) to hunt wild boars for the first time. So when they grow up they will know that cellos should not be played like that and that a hunter is not a killer and a priest is not a rocker. All in the same package.
    We had our finest hour.

  17. Tradconv. says:

    To be honest, I think I would rather see this in a novus ordo Mass than this…


  18. Darren says:

    @Grateful to be Catholic says: “Wow! Two hundred years of the degradation of Western music captured in five minutes.”

    Exactly what I was thinking.

  19. trespinos says:

    Loved the audience reaction at the end. Just perfect.

  20. robtbrown says:


    I can only hope you’re not serious in writing that the great composers would have wanted to write for Heavy Metal.

    Some years ago I saw Paul Simon interviewed, and the interviewer compared him to one of the great composers (Bach, I think). Simon grimaced and objected, noting that what he was doing was writing little songs that last a few minutes, but the Masters would producing very sophisticated, lengthy compositions.

    I do think, however, that certain elements of jazz have something in common with certain Baroque compositions.

  21. robtbrown says:

    should be: but the Masters were

  22. It ‘s not like Father posted… CHINESE OPERA!

  23. StJude says:

    Yeah!! Rock on!

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    When Switched-On Bach came out in 1968 (and was followed by The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, among other albums), the question was mooted as to whether Bach and other Baroque composers would have made use of synthesizers and other contemporary instruments even as they did of then innovative instruments (including, in some cases, the emerging fortepiano).

    And Rick Wakeman, for a good example, certainly did (and does) show influences and take up elements of ‘Early Music’ in his compositions.

    And, as Knittycat notes, there are striking and effective uses of Baroque – and later – classical music in metal: Rhapsody of Fire, for example, has some wonderful Vivaldi – or Vivaldi-like – guitar solos in their symphonic metal compositions, and I expect many will find that Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra” rewards trying.

    The adventurous can find any number of amateur and professional metal covers or versions of classical works by searching by composer and/or title and metal or metal cover on YouTube – some admittedly much better than others.

  25. JARay says:

    I, too, loved the reaction of the audience.
    I suppose some people will do anything to make a living!

  26. robtbrown says:

    Switched on Bach (1) is not relevant to the matter at hand. Sometimes a Bach composition was written without specific instrumentation (e.g., Art of Fugue). And over the years his works have lent themselves to a being played on a variety of instruments–piano, organ, harpsichord, guitar (Segovia), voice, chamber orchestra, and symphonic orchestra.

    Perhaps my most prized recording of anything is the Art of Fugue by the New York Woodwind Quintet/Fine Arts String Quartet. The music was transcribed by the late, great Samuel Baron, who also formed the Quintet at Juilliard. Its only existence was in vinyl, but a friend converted it to digital for me. Samuel Baron was also a member of the Bach Aria Group, which he resurrected in the 1980’s.

    Of course, Bach’s works have also found jazz interpretations, most famously with the Swingle Singers (Jazz Sebastian Bach), who are also to be heard on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And jazz pianist Jacques Loussier is known for his Bach improvisations.

    It is nothing new that Baroque or Classical melodies and riffs find their way into pop music. The 2d movement of Bach’s 3rd Orchestral Suite is well known as the “Air on the G String”. It also is found in the organ background of rock classic A White Shade of Pale by Procul Harum (which also has a reference to the Canterbury Tales).

    Paul Simon in American Tune used the main melody from Bach’s St Matthew Passion–JSB himself had lifted it from someone else. Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto was turned into a popular song, also the 2d movement from Rachmaninoff’s 2d Piano Concerto. And there are many others:


    Some rock musicians are excellent technicians, and some have been classically trained or at least exposed to certain classical works. Pop and Classical/Baroque are, however, two very different forms of music, the former with much more subtle differences of mood.

    Pop music is very dependent on rhythm–different styles usually use different rhythms. And I have noticed that in contemporary music, melody has been de emphasized, and sometimes all but been suppressed. IMHO, a situation which I think is a consequence of Be-Bop, not classical music.

    (1) Switched on Bach was the work of Walter Carlos, now known as Wendy Carlos.

  27. NBW says:

    “Wow! Two hundred years of the degradation of Western music captured in five minutes.” I agree with Grateful Catholic.

  28. av8er says:

    Bada**! I grew up playing the violin, now play the guitar and love playing this song, but this was great. So incredibly hard to this cleanly.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you for the ‘tip’ about the Samuel Baron transcription recording (which I have enjoyably managed to follow up online)! And, indeed, for a survey so full of interesting examples (ah, Swingle versions: I’ve even sung one of those from sheet music, in my time!).

    I think a good case can be made for the specific and general relevance of Switched-On Bach to metal.

    Specifically, for example, unless we can suppose that Hans Wurman’s The Moog Strikes Bach (1969) would have appeared whether or not Switched-On Bach had preceded it. For CirithUngol’s “Toccata in Dm” (1984) seems very like Wurman’s version of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (which suggested comparison is not intended as any kind of sweeping endorsement of Cirith Ungol!). While on the subject of metal versions of that work, Ulytau’s provides a fascinating further comparison (which, again, is not meant for any sweeping endorsement). (All three are accessible online!)

    As to general relevance, I would boldly guess that, for example, the imaginative richness of choices where timbre was concerned in Switched-On Bach had its direct and indirect influences on keyboard practice in various sorts of metal.

    It may, of course, be the case that various sorts of metal musicians would have hit upon the aptness of classical, and especially Baroque, adaptations without Carlos as forerunner, and indeed that many simply have done so.

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