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The Clements Blog

Mark-Anthony Turnage and the Beyoncé Connection

Tuesday, 8th October 2013 | 3 comments

The English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage is well-known for mixing up pop, jazz and classical styles. His instrumental piece Blood on the Floor is heavily influenced by jazz improvisation, and riffs and rhythms from funk and soul pioneers like George Clinton and James Brown can be found in hidden places throughout his music.

But when his new orchestral work Hammered Out was given its first performance at this year's BBC Proms at London's Royal Albert Hall it was clear Turnage had gone further than ever before in his homages to modern pop music. Because, as many members of the audience quickly recognised, Turnage had based sections of his piece on Beyoncé's hit Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It). Sounds too strange to be true? See what you think, thanks to this video mash-up:

Once people began to notice the connection it caused quite a stir among concert-goers. But was Turnage doing anything that new or unusual?

Composers have used popular tunes in their music for centuries, from Béla Bartók and Charles Ives, all the way back to Renaissance composers like Orlande de Lassus, who smuggled the tunes of bawdy drinking songs into music written for the church. However, Turnage may have been one of the first to reference modern R 'n' B like this, and is definitely the first to bring it to a concert series as traditional as the Proms. Despite the examples of earlier composers down the centuries drawing upon the popular tunes of their day, many modern composers are reluctant to do the same for modern chart pop. Maybe Turnage's little experiment at the Proms will inspire others to try the same.


Comments

TeresaD

Saturday, 2nd November 2013

This is great - I love it!

PianoMan

Saturday, 2nd November 2013

Well... yes, it is entertaining in a way but surely we cannot treat it as a serious piece of music? Were the organisers of the Proms aware of the connection to Beyonce and if so what were they thinking? I see it as nothing but a cheap thrill that has no place at the Proms.

jazzie

Saturday, 2nd November 2013

lighten up PianoMan! this is an example of how different genres of music can and should be mixed. Maybe it will help open classical music to a different crowd?

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