A few years ago, Seattle’s classical music station, King FM, went public and is now a not-for-profit enterprise.  Commercial free, community supported, and still running strong.  Er, that rocks.

Almost three years ago, with the motto, “Rethink Classical”, they added to their charter an on-line radio station called Second Inversion.  You can listen to them streaming, read their blogs, and see what they’re all about on at www.SecondInversion.org .  They also have a YouTube station https://www.youtube.com/user/RethinkClassical , and I’m sure they have a foot print in other media.

I discovered them by picking up a business card they’d placed at a local record store.  Key point:  while you ignore as much noise as possible, never ignore a free opportunity to learn something new.  There’s a fine line there somewhere.

Seattle record stores always have free shit laying around near the exit – CDs, posters, flyers, cards, newsletters; generally, stuff.  (Is this true in other places?  My excursions in England have failed on this point.  Portland, sure, lots of stuff.  Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco: I can’t remember.  Other?)

The idea for Second Inversion is to re-imagine what classical music can be.  This includes re-interpreting 250-year-old pieces using different arrangements, different instruments, different combinations, or different tempos.  It includes using a full orchestra to play rock and roll.  It essentially includes doing anything you can think of when considering “classical music”.  The results have been outstanding.  I can list the reasons why I don’t listen to Second Inversion more: 1) I still have a day job, 2) there’s so much other stuff going on, and 3) I’m a rocker at heart.

I want to be clear, I love classical music.  I’m not terribly knowledgeable, but I love the stuff.  I’ve enjoyed going to the symphony a few times and listening to various things from time to time.  Classical music doesn’t need help; I like it the way it is.  Still, it’s always, always, a great thing to re-imagine what could be.  And thus we have Second Inversion.

My entire mindset is supportive of what these folks are trying to do.  For this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite finds from this virtual station; I’m interested if other people see connections between this project and more typical popular music.

Andy Akiho and the Friction Quartet with steel pan

Joachim Horsley — Beethoven In Havana

Passenger String Quartet — Mozart/Nirvana Mashup


To close, this concept isn’t new to me.  I’ve been a big fan of John Cale for a very long time.  His adaptation of Dylan Thomas poems to an orchestra is well known and has been a personal favorite.  From The Falkland Suite.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Moreover, here is a sample of his musical scores for the debut of two Andy Warhol films, Eat and Kiss.

Movement 3 [from Kiss]


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Photo credit Ram Mallari Jr.; see Steampunk Tendencies on FB.