So obviously the internet isn’t new, but there are some things that are relatively new to the internet scene. Recently there has been buzz around people creating their own versions of well known (and maybe some not-so-well known) songs and then posting them on a site like YouTube. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about covers.
Some covers are pretty amazing. Like Whitney Houston covering Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” amazing. And some are not – like American Idol audition bad. The good ones are often people who have amazing talents for a unique instrument or people who have arranged songs into a completely different style transforming it to the point where you have to know it’s a cover to appreciate how amazing it is.
Some favorite cover artists are Jake Shimabukuro who is a master at the ukulele and will dazzle you with his talent. YouTube channel ScottBradleeLovesYa has some fun covers of popular current songs arranged mainly in “old timey” styles like big band, ragtime, bluegrass, and western. Jimmy Fallon has a segment on his late-night television show called the Music Room where he brings in a current artist and using classroom playtime instruments, he, the artist, and the music group The Roots perform the songs.
For some artists, covers are what have made them who they are. The a cappella scene is rooted in taking other people’s music, deconstructing it, and putting it back together in parts for the voice. Rockapella (of Folger’s and Carmen Sandiego fame) and the more current group Pentatonix will blow you away with these complex arrangements for only 4 or 5 voices. To create something so rich-sounding is truly amazing. Driving the point home, who hasn’t heard of Glee? A lot of the albums and singles from the show are out-selling the original artists’ recordings.
The idea of taking someone else’s creation and putting your own spin on it could make one think that choirs and ensembles virtually do the same thing. Our directors have a vision for a piece and help us to achieve a sound and proficiency to complete that vision. Boundaries in classical and choral music can be pushed to touch people, reach someone previously thought to be unreachable. It can inspire other groups, thus perpetuating the cycle of creativity.
The arts is centered around imagination; creating something extraordinary. Not everything that OSC has done or will do is going to be unique or different, but the goal is to create great music. Our directors have the vision and ability to help us get there and we are the tools. So while we won’t likely be doing a choral arrangement of “Call Me Maybe” anytime soon, we can sure work hard and deliver a great performance at the Cathedral in a few weeks!