CLASSICAL MUSIC AND HEAVY METAL #2

By Enrico Spinelli

THE RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES

THE "SMOKE ON THE WATER" BY RICHARD WAGNER. 1851

More and more often it happens that the well-known German composer Richard Wagner is considered the father of heavy metal: surely ours, with his solemn and epic works, has left a strong influence on modern metal, in particular the neoclassical one, and Manowar in "Warriors of the World" tried to ape him with the instrumental "The March" (dedicated to him), thanks to the use of recurring themes and the reference to mythology and folklore. There is no doubt that the tetralogy of the Nibelungen Ring is one of the main inspiring works in this sense, and precisely in the third part, "The Valkyrie", one of the first, if not the first, the riff in the history of rock is contained, the "Ride of the Valkyries".

I will not be here to tell you the plot of the 4 works of ours, indeed quite articulated, but I just point out a point about the Valkyries, creatures of Norse mythology committed, by order of Odin, to recover the warriors who died in battle to lead them, across the bridge rainbow, in Valhalla, where they can finally have a great time.

The famous piece is a real march with a solemn and epic trend, characterized by repetition in a crescendo on several occasions of the same main theme - something that we will frequently find in the rock and metal field - in which context the chorus of the protagonists is inserted, something that we don't always find in classical music collections.

VALKYRIE AND HEAVY METAL

The passage in question, partly because of its progress and the war atmosphere it evokes, has often been associated with war scenes, and famous - as well as perfectly fitting - is the scene of the helicopter flight over Vietnam in the 1979 film. "Apocalyse Now" by Francis Ford Coppola.

Speaking of music, leaving out the bands that have made a sacking ground for their albums in Nordic mythology and dwelling on the bands that have reworked the composition in question, the most striking case is those of the Italian band Domine who in their third work in 2001, "Stormbringer Ruler", re-propose the famous Wagnerian theme in the homonymous "The Ride of the Valkyries".

Finally, it is worth mentioning the German band Grave Digger who will reprise the piece on two occasions, the first in the title track of the 1995 album "Heart of Darkness", inspired precisely by Coppola's film. The second occasion, if you prefer more pertinent, we find it in the piece "Maidens of War", a song dedicated to the Valkyries in the album "Rheingold", a concept album inspired by the Wagnerian tetralogy: it must be said, in truth, that in both cases the famous theme is very slow and almost hidden and I myself have had a hard time grasping the quotation.

The fact that two bands territorially distant but rather close in the genre, epic and power, have drawn on the same song makes us understand very well the influence of the Wagnerian epic in a context of extreme music particularly accustomed to the re-enactment of myths and legendary battles.

MUSIC REFERENCES

- Grave Digger "Heart of Darkness" ("Heart of Darkness" 1995)

- Domine "The Ride of the Valkyries" ("Stormbringer Ruler", 2001)

- Grave Digger "Maidens of War" ("Rheingold" 2005) 

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