LISA MULLINS: We end today's program with a musical experiment that's captured the imagination of hip-hop fans, not far from Belgium, in France. The World's Marco Werman explains.
MARCO WERMAN: The notion that hip-hop and classical music could somehow be fused together isn't new. There was an experiment a few years ago in which a fat bass-line was injected into a Mozart aria. The aria was then sampled and looped. And the results were, well, kind of what you'd expect. A taste of opera with a bass-line. Along comes French composer and producer Sig. Sig, that's the only name he goes by, calls his project ï¿½Freespeed Sonata.ï¿½ The subtitle is ï¿½Classical-Hip Hop Sonata in Four Movements.ï¿½ You're hearing the first part of the second movement. It all began in Berlin last year. Sig had travelled there from Paris, and was noodling around on an old piano at his friend's apartment. Sig was sketching out short solo piano works, and was excited by what he came up with. A couple of days later, he jumped on a train to visit a friend and drummer in Switzerland. Christophe Calpini laid down beats over the new piano sonatas. The project slowly materialized with more trips between Germany, France and Switzerland. And beyond. The vocalist here is Joy Frempong, originally from Ghana, now living in Switzerland. Frempong is one of several international artists in Sig's rolodex. Sig holds a fairly distinguished place within the pop music avant-garde in France. France also seems to have provided Sig with a default classical sound for his sonatas, French modernism. The impressionistic sound Sig created with his Classical-Hip Hop sonatas actually drives a narrative. Since this is impressionistic music, allow me to caption what's going on. The first movement of Sig's work follows a poet into a quiet town. The second movement goes back to the poet's youth. The poet returns, blindfolded, to the town in the third movement, and must contend with ghosts. And at the end of the fourth movement, the poet continues his stroll through the town. Clearly, when the music is minimalistic, there can't be a lot going on. The light-touch though of Sig's piano melodies is the ideal foil for the heavy beats that he pairs with it. For The World, I'm Marco Werman.
MULLINS: You can see how Joy Frempong and Sig pull together the classical hip-hop formation live. That's at TheWorld.org. From the Nan and Bill Harris Studios at WGBH in Boston, I'm Lisa Mullins. Thanks for listening.