Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Attack of the Killer Bees

There just SOMETHING about The Flight of the Bumblebee! Not only do we recognize it from the Green Hornet tv series from yesteryear, but various artists such as jazz artist al hirt, rockabilly brian setzer and heavy metal band manowar have put their own unique spin on the tune.

And if you can believe it, brazilian Tiago Della Vega absolutely shredded his guitar breaking the 2008 Guiness world record for fastest guitar playing with the Flight of the Bumblebee at 320 beats per minute.

And perhaps not quite as exciting, the score has also been used in adverts for butter, mobile phones and allergy medications.

This little humble tune is the orchestral interlude from Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which was based on the Alexandr Pushkin poem of the same name.

The tune, written in 1899, closes act III, tableau I. This little frantic piece of music is such a challenge for musicians to play, with its uninterrupted runs of chromatic sixteenth notes.

And exactly how it makes one feels, there is a sense of urgency with the piece, as the magic swan-bird transforms Prince Gvidon Saltanovich into a flying insect so that he can visit his father, the tsar. (who doesn't know he's still alive) it is interesting to note that in the actual opera, there are lyrics to this tune, which the swanbird sings.

Most recently, The Flight of the Bumblebee have been tied to women who absolutely kick butt.

In 2003's Kill Bill movie by Quentin Tarantino, it's used in the pivotal scene where uma thurman boards an airplane to Japan to have the ultimate showdown with Lucy Liu. The tune was given a trumpet treatment, for that kitschy and swingin' 60s feel that's prevalent in Tarantino's other movies, such as Pulp Fiction.

But what's even more butt-kickingly awesome is Shanghai cellist Tina Guo's heavy metal take on the bumblebee. You can also check her out without the gold bodypaint, as she plays the tune in the studio here.

Guo has played as a soloist with San Diego orchestra, but has crossed over into other musical genres by playing with the Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban, John Legend, Chris Isaak, il Divo and her own progressive metal band, Off the Deep End.

She has performed at the Grammys, MTV Movie awards, the Jimi Hendrix tribute concert in Rio and Comic-Con where she played with the Battlestar Galactica orchestra. Guo is also featured as cellist for both Iron Man 2 and Sherlock Holmes scores.

And all by the age of 23.

From the humble little beginnings of being just a musical interlude to "I am woman, hear me roar", The Flight of the Bumblebee sure packs a sting!

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