Rachel Barton Pine Brings Metal Intensity to Classical Music

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Though she'll be performing selections by Bach, Mohammed Fairouz, Paganini, and more at her upcoming Friday, September 21, performance at the Musical Instrument Museum, she's down to rock, too, recording and touring with Earthern Grave, which draws from doom and thrash metal traditions.

"We have fast parts and slow parts," she says, "which allows our songs to have more scope. Sort of like Sabbath meets Slayer."

While the sweeping virtuosity of prog-metal is the clearest indication of metal's relationship with classical music, Barton Pine says the connection goes deeper than just an appreciation for technical skill.

"So many of the metal sub-genres are very influenced by classical, both the shredder virtuosity [drawn from the] violin tradition, as well the Romantic-era symphonic composers, just what they did orchestrally [in bringing that kind of] intensity and power to the music inspired other metal composers. It all kinds of makes sense," Barton Pine says. "There's a surprising number of music listeners who listen to metal and classical and nothing else. My interests are wide ranging, I love early music, folk music, Chicago blues, all kinds of different stuff, but the message I like to spread to my fellow rock fans is, 'If you love rock but you haven't discovered classical, it's not a mutually exclusive kind of a thing.'"

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.