I don’t usually watch Dancing With The Stars, but it’s a favorite at the cast house and has been gracing our tv weekly. Tonight was Results night, where the couples are whittled down by one pending the outcome of judges’ scores and viewers’ voting. To fill time around the 5 minutes it actually takes to announce who wins, they fill the 2-hour show with more dance routines, and in this episode’s case, clips of past season’s performances from artists, dance teams, and some surprising musical ensembles who used a bunch of rockin’ string players. I was pretty impressed, not just by the players and their sound and choreography, but by the fact that live tv showed strings in a non-traditional setting NOT used as a gimmick.
One group, a platinum-selling violin duo called Nuttin’ But Stringz, performed with Tiler Peck, the lead ballerina for the NYC Ballet. This duo had a solid sound and contained choreography, nothing too outlandish or flashy. The song they performed is one of their hits, “Thunder.” Go here for a little opening clip of their song, starting at 4:16.
I also found out through some research that David Garrett has performed on DWTS as a guest artist on their classically themed night. I don’t follow Garrett as closely as some of my fiddle friends do, but I have learned that he is a) extremely talented and performs mostly pop music of his own arranging, and b) extremely good looking and constantly wears his shirts half-open. I’ve heard his interpretation of Smooth Criminal, and I have to say I enjoy it. It’s very opera-rock, definitely grandiose, while still remaining virtuosic violin-wise. I can imagine many high-school string players begging their orchestra directors for the chance to perform this as their senior solo with drum kit, rock band, everything. I think Mark Wood would give a nod to this guy’s style for sure.
Now I could get all on my high horse and say the only impressive sounding thing about David Garrett is his effects and his ability to play really high. And truthfully, that’s basically it. But from a production point of view, I enjoy how he arranged the tune. I like all the parts of all the sections: the strings filling the song out, the core line being played by a mega-flanged guitar and beaten out on a drum kit. It’s an enjoyable tune. Would I personally buy this album? No. I don’t like processed violin sounds being run through effects generators and compressed to high heaven. But I have to tip my hat to both these artists for helping bring the violin a little more into the mainstream. It’s not the ideal way I want people to get to know the instrument, but it’s a start.