November 20, 2007 12:22 PM   Subscribe

What's the Stairway of the violin?

I've just taken up the violin, and the first thing that I intended to learn (once I got past *&^% Twinkle) was Ashokan Farewell -- until I panicked momentarily with the fear that everybody goes for that one. My instructor has assured me that this isn't the case, but it led me to wonder: what is the song, or songs, that everyone in the biz groans inwardly when they hear it coming up as a recital or an audition piece?

I'm particularly interested in the violin, but I know that vocalists have "Memories," the bass has "Smoke on the Water," and of course there's always "Stairway to Heaven," so feel free to vent about the song you're sickest of hearing amateurs mangle.
posted by darksasami to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Chaconne in G minor - Tomaso Vitali
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 12:29 PM on November 20, 2007

Best answer: The Ashokan Farewell is really rather rare - I played it in a cello choir at a festival in 2003, but haven't come across it since (in almost 8 years of playing). It's neat for sure, though.

I'd put a vote in for the Pachelbel Canon as one hell of an annoying piece.
posted by roygbv at 12:29 PM on November 20, 2007

Canon in D, Pachelbel

The Galop from Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld (the "Can Can")
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:52 PM on November 20, 2007

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

It didn't matter how many concertos and sonatas and what-have-you I had managed to tackle... people wanted to hear Charlie Daniels.

I'm originally from Oklahoma.
posted by katillathehun at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I was taking violin lessons, Ashokan Farewell was the first tune my instructor had me learn. Your instructor is either a liar, or my instructor.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2007

Fucking goddamned Pachel-christmunching-bel's thrice-damned Canon in fucking D.

Also, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; Mozart.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:32 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]

Definitely the canon. And the easy Bach minuets, since they're in the first suzuki books. The difficult minuets don't have this problem.

I don't think Ashokan is that over-played; I've never actually had the sheet music to it. It's a good piece though.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2007

You are all wrong.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:44 PM on November 20, 2007

Dvorak's "Humoresque?"
posted by Iridic at 1:46 PM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: I'd seen the Pachelbel rant, but didn't realize that it was such a widespread problem outside of the whole cello situation. I'll keep that in mind.

I'm being taught Suzuki as well, but I wouldn't have expected the minuets to be as much of a problem -- I mean, by the time I can play them I'll hate them too, right?

Oh, and kiltedtaco, Ashokan Farewell sheet music can be obtained from the authors, autograph optional.

On preview: BitterOldPunk, that's not Turkey in the Straw at all! That's Chicken Reel, a staple of Warner Bros animation scoring.
posted by darksasami at 1:57 PM on November 20, 2007

Dammit, darksasami, you're right. I was deceived by the title and didn't bother to listen to the whole thing. Mea culpa.

I still stand by "Turkey in the Straw" as the most annoying cliched fiddle tune, though.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:13 PM on November 20, 2007

Well, since you reference "Stairway", maybe you're looking for a rock vibe? In which case, in an ideal world, "Everything's Fucked" by The Dirty Three is the violin piece you're looking for. Sorry I can't find a decent clip of it on Youtube or streaming MP3...if you don't know the song, I'm sure you can get your hands on a copy somewhere. Forget Pachelbel and Dvorak, this is the Stairway of Violin.
posted by Jimbob at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2007

This comedy piece says it all for Canon.
posted by wackybrit at 4:08 PM on November 20, 2007

Oh, that's easy. You're referring to "showpiece" numbers, or available standbys for aspiring violinists. Here's only a scant a few which I feel others (but not these performers) have beaten to death:

"Scherzo Fantastique in G Major, Opus 25: La Ronde des
", by Antonio Bazzini. It's alternately known as "Dance of The Goblins", as well as "Goblin's Rondo"

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee"

Joseph Haydin's "Concerto in G Minor"

And, of course, no list would be complete without the overture from Mikhail Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila.

Beyond classical, and more into the jazz spectrum, Ed Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton & Johnny Green's "Body & Soul" tends to make the rounds. (Note: I'm not knocking Johnathan Russell's playing in this one; I'm just referring to everyone else who heard Stephane Grappelli's rendition and thought, "Hey, I could do that..."
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:05 PM on November 20, 2007

I work full time in a violin store. I hear plenty of Ashoken every day.
posted by sourwookie at 6:32 PM on November 20, 2007

I took a Fiddle I class at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL. At least one person came into class with the express desire to learn to play Ashokan; that was his goal in its entirety. Granted, the sample there may be skewed due to the type of people the school attracts.

Nonetheless, I offer you my data point.
posted by fuzzbean at 7:11 PM on November 20, 2007

Just remember, if you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band. That lead guitar is hot, but not for a Louisiana man.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:22 PM on November 20, 2007

Smart Dalek - that's the Bruch concerto (nice piece) and the Ruslan and Ludmilla overture is for full orchestra, not violin solo.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:15 AM on November 21, 2007

And for a standard piece that everybody learns, I'd suggest Massenet's 'Meditation' from Thaïs
posted by altolinguistic at 2:17 AM on November 21, 2007

alto - good catch on Bruch, but some soloists have adapted the Glinka work for use in busking, or for showing off at recitals.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:57 AM on November 21, 2007

Nthing Canon. It's a true "Stairway" because a) it's way overplayed, and b) every single goddamn non-classical-music-appreciating mouthbreather with a copy of Classical Music for People Who Don't Like Classical Music in their cd player will ask you to play it.

posted by awenner at 11:39 AM on November 21, 2007

Response by poster: I think we have an overwhelming winner. Not only have more people cited Pachelbel than anything else, but searching through YouTube and Google Video for an actual professional performance is practically impossible, because it's clogged with seven-year-olds, stoners who think they're cool because they can play it on an electric guitar, and schmucks like me. 9/10 of the videos are shot from somebody's webcam, and half of them get the name wrong--one even calls it "Pachelbel's Christmas Canon."

My favorite so far is this one, which plays the whole thing in front of a badly-resized picture of a bald eagle flying in front of an American flag -- Johann would be so proud, if he weren't, y'know, German.

Thanks, everybody! I now have a whole list of things to avoid learning. You've made the world a less annoying place.
posted by darksasami at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2007

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